My Love for Walking & India’s Culture

I love walking. I love walking fast, much to the annoyance of all my friends. I guess I walk fast because I’m trying to compensate for running. (I can however win an Olympic race, because once I start running, everyone competing with me will be on the ground, rolling with laughter). My issue with walking, however, is that I can walk from point A to point B. No matter how much the distance, as long as there is a need that will be fulfilled by reaching that point, I’ll walk. (Which actually also doesn’t let me stroll, again to the irritation of my friends.)

So to stay healthy, I keep telling myself that I should go for a brisk walk at least once a day. It happens every fortnight finally. I just came back from one and as I was on my way back, I was wondering how I can add purpose to the walk. I have a lovely golden labrador at home in India and thought to myself how it would be great to walk her on these wide footpaths. I am fortunate to live in a lovely part of London and just wished my dog was here to inspire me to walk. Then made a mental note to myself that whenever I go home, I shall walk her myself at least once every day. (And I mean walk, not taking her out to do her business.)

I love my dog to bits and started questioning myself as to why I don’t do it at home that often. Then it hit me – India has no sidewalks! Every inch of sidewalk that might have been planned by the government (higher chance that they left it by mistake and then pretended it was part of the plan) has been taken over by encroachments. Even service lanes in so many areas are simply lined with cars. To walk my dog, I have to walk on the road. Maybe the sidewalk “equivalent” perhaps – mud, dirty mud, with enough dog shit and rubbish already lying about.

This made me think, that India, as a society is deemed collectivist by nature. You know – ‘hum saath saath hai’ type families, kids living at home forever, the dire need to be accepted by the society. However, I think India is a very individualistic society. The collectivist culture is a facade that is put up, but at the core, it’s all about “I“.

Don’t think about sidewalks, where people can walk, think about extending my huge garden by just a few more inches.

“Oh but my flowers are so pretty, I’m sure this is social service by making the area look pretty.” Really?

Keep building metro/tubes in Delhi, but shall I walk on a rainbow to get there? Indians have also, unfortunately, earned the label of trying to make a fast buck. Also explains why Indians are so good at haggling because deep down inside, one knows that everybody is trying to take the other for a ride. So you try to outsmart them.

“Let’s fill up our news channel with a ridiculous amount of ads. Yes people tune in to watch the news but who can blame us, it is expensive to *make* news to maintain ratings.”

India can be the new land of opportunity. I don’t bother with Indian politics, don’t follow it or understand too much of it, but what I always do hope is for the current oldies, with their old reservations to kick it soon (as bad as that may sound) and allow the younger, educated and liberated generation to come in. Ofcourse Raj Thackeray doesn’t count in this, but I live in hope!

I feel if India would get rid of its collectivist nature and accept just how individualistic they are, it would be a better country. Atleast everyone then starts respecting each other, not prying in each others lives and most importantly, everyone knows that each man will only work for his own benefit and so, work bloody hard for your own! Let’s stop pretending it’s all about the society and the culture, because it’s really not! In India, 53% women between the ages of 15-19 think that it is alright to be hit by their husbands. If the society indeed is that collectivist, why aren’t these women comfortably talking about this and more importantly, why isn’t someone telling them they are out of their mind to think that way?

7 thoughts on “My Love for Walking & India’s Culture

  1. sheladyanne says:

    First, I also love walking, like you I also do walk like from point A to B. I do walking morning and aftie esp. When i go 2 college. To make my walk not so tiring i made a silent investigations 2 my surroundings, frm.the newest building down to the people that i passes by, Secondly, i agree with u bout india’s culture. I think india is one of d most beautiful country. Ive seen it by watchng movies like 3 idiots, slumdog millionaire. Correct me if im wrong but i think that mostly indian people follows ancient traditions and its hard to say that theres a division to its society. Anyway, all the best d best for india. Nice post

  2. saritha says:

    I have a lot of people telling me that they saw me walking in some part of my town…yes i prefer walking to any other mode of transport.Although i avoid walking on those shaky slabs that form our footpaths( that cover the drains). One mishap..and nobody would know where i dissappeared. The more i walk.. the more i love my waistline.

    i do agree with you about how our parents generation is worried about keeping the society in good humour at the cost of losing their individuality. My father died few years ago, my mother has not worn a bright coloured saree..not even a pale pink.. . only because someone commented on her mauve and white coloured saree some time back. I know how much she cares about her appearance coz she has not stopped colouring her hair..( i’m going grey and i’m not bothered to hide them ).

    • Mallika Nanda Khanduri says:

      You should encourage your mother to not care about the world and be herself! I understand where you’re coming from as I was in the same shoes many years back. Your mum should live for her own self and do whatever makes her happy. The society talks, but only until they find their next victim!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “There are deep problems in our society that have been growing for a long time: a decline in responsibility, a rise in selfishness, a growing sense that individual rights come before anything else.”

    That was Mr Cameron re the uk.. Guess this is what we have been battling against in India all along

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