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The Passionate Walkers

I hate walking. My wife is a walker. She has converted one daughter into a walker and is working on the second. I have resisted it for 10 years. If human beings were made to walk they would not have manufactured cars. I don't mind an amble from the door of the house to the garage or a gentle saunter through a rose garden but when it gets to that sort of dedicated "evening walk" situation then I baulk at the very idea.

No one is more passionate than the walker. That look of stiff determination, the unquivering lip as they march forth to do battle, that "don't come near me I am walking can't you see" expression written deep on their faces. Walkers love to dress for the occasion. The fierce way they tie their shoes, put on their sweatsuits, tie bandannas in their hair and then stride around the park dripping determination. Us tennis and squash types we just go and have a game and that's it, after which we blame the other guy for calling outs when they were ins and that is why we lost. Golfers are far too busy planning how they'll discuss the game they are having after the game is over so they don't really care how they play as long as it makes a good and deadly boring narrative to relate. Soccer players no one wants to hear about so they play in silence.

But walkers, they are a tribe by themselves, their rituals absolutely overwhelming to those of us who do not vote for walkies. Like in hundreds of homes husbands wait with trepidation for walk-wives to say, 'coming for a chukker of the park?' Busy, says husband, lots of paperwork. It'll be good for you, says wife, lacing up her shoes like she was loading a bazooka, where is my mini water bottle? Love to, says husband, but you toodle along, love of my life, I'll make a living. Sometimes, of course, husband gets caught and next thing he knows is he's out there on the yellow brick road, trying to keep pace with wife and dozens of other reps of the human race grimly going about their business. Even if you pass someone you recognise you just exchange solemn nods and cross, worse than passing ships in the night. No one is having fun. It is as if having fun was sort of against the grain and there will only be worthwhile fallout if one is engaged in funless pursuit.

People who walk also labour under some peculiar fallacy that if they roust the house at 0445 hours before the early bird has even thought of the flipping worm this will be beneficial to their health. If they don't go hell for leather into the dawn they want to do it once the Sun goes down, the evening walk now becoming so much of a passion that nothing (not even house guests on transit visas) can change the itinerary. Where are you going? Walk. But we have guests in the house. So you want me to give up my walk. (You want Armageddon now?) Can't you miss it one day, it won't look nice? Miss my walk? (Why not just shoot me in the head?) It is 46 degrees and there is a sandstorm and you can run up and down the hall if you like. Doesn't work. Off they go, the walking wonders, round and round the park, so smug and special in their exclusivity.

Walkers have their own hierarchy and it is rigid. Amateur walkers can be recognised by their pained expressions and the fact that they would rather be elsewhere but are weak folks and have bullied into submission. Professional walkers won't walk with just anyone. They have their little cliques and you can't just join them, you have to be admitted into the club. Soloists won't walk with anyone, they huff and puff on their own and woe anyone who tries to "keep them company." The purist carries designer water bottles, towels, fortified vitamins and switches off the mobile phone. The only other people who take their exercise as seriously are the gym types, but that's another story.

Article by Bikram Vohra
Courtesy: Gulf Today


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