Just Walking

[2 MINUTE READ] Friends in the time of solitude

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When I first traded my Nokia phone for a Blackberry, I discovered how hauntingly addictive a red notification button could be. If I must trace the origins of where the ability to live slowly with focus began to first erode, it is here that I would begin. The experience of life can absorb only so much information, opinion and entertainment – before it begins to lose its timbre.

A few years ago, from deep inside the smartphone rabbit hole, I signed up for a 50 km walk. To practice being quiet over long periods of physical activity. A lot of things are resolved when we give silence the steady patience of time.

I spent six months training outdoors. With a group of people who came together like the pieces of a happy jigsaw puzzle. Each one of us was here for a reason. For some it was the call of the outdoors and the bonds forged when people come together to pursue an inspiring goal. For others it was an act of renewal, to rediscover the things that matter after the inevitable setbacks that punctuate life.

We had to be organized into three teams of four each for the event. I ended up in a team with three women. The sort whose noses relax into their knees when they touch their toes.  One thing an all-boys school leaves you with is a persistent melody that plays in your head in the company of women. Transforming the world into a land devoid of voices where everything is moved by the hidden hand of rhythmic patterns.

Our training walk routines made us rediscover a city stirring itself from sleep. Snaking through the multiple inclines of South Mumbai, a muted predawn emptiness revealing the seductive illusion of space slipping away into an overcrowded reality. We would end as the sun began to rise in the sky and the streets braced themselves for the onslaught of another day. Our legs bathed in sweat and bodies drained of all energy. As this routine wore on, distances lost their imposing aura, time trickled away more quickly and our confidence that we could spend a whole day walking looked less misplaced.

I grew up in Mumbai but moved to Vadodara twenty-five years ago. I am now suspended somewhere between a lingering residue of big city sophistication and the more spontaneously earthy temperament of smaller towns that eludes me. When you feel like an outsider wherever you go, it is easier to question the myth of personality and be comfortable with not having anything to say.

Making new friends has never been easy for me. While it put a subconscious strain on me during my adolescent years, as I grew to accept myself as I was, I also realized that our most important relationships are a part of the natural world. Deepened and sustained organically by intangible bonds that are effortless and unconditional.

As I walked alone, spoke little and my steady breath became one with the incoming breeze on the marine drive promenade, my own need to be with silence was cushioned amidst the warmth and camaraderie of my co-walkers.

It reminded me that all humans are so fundamentally interconnected, that even the peace of solitude needs the love and kindness of other people.

28 thoughts on “Just Walking

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  1. Beautifully written, as always…
    Loved the part where you wrote _each one of us is here for a reason.
    Also, that we are all interconnected.
    Very insightful.
    Your blogs are always so profound and you portray your experiences , about live so well.
    You have the ability ,with your innate honesty, to touch the inner cord of the reader.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Silence! Silence is the key.
    Where the mind is free to wander and to think and to ruminate, the body anchored as it were in a minimal physical activity, steady and repetitive, to set the rhythm – like walking, knitting, sifting the rice…and telling the beads. Silence is the medium, rhythm sets the pace, and the mind gloriously comes into it’s own, free to discover new worlds, new dimensions and new meanings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Discovering yourself? i wouldnt agree that you dont make friends easily we met on a train and found we had many common connects cos your no longer full time in the city.
    I have always straddled living in the city and in a smaller town and enjoyed what both offered me ,each has its plusses. One can be surrounded and yet enjoy silence

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning dear Anand ….. you didn’t only enrich my vocabulary but also my mind ….🙏

    Oh I agree so much – this is what I learned during my time as a flight attendant – it’s so obvious how human beings are connected – sometimes it’s only a short smile and I felt related to a person …. I always had the feeling „ we don’t speek the same language but our hearts understand each other „

    I also love beeing in silence and by myself but I only love it because I don’t feel lonely and this I assume is a big gift like you experienced it in the solitude of your walks with your group of “girls“

    A big hug to Mumbai ….☘️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is such a delight to read your post . I don’t think I can ever forget this quote “When we give silence the steady pace of time” . Words truly come easy to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good evening Anand.
    The experience is profoundly expressed,
    ‘The silence within ,connected through the energy of breath and outer cosmic energy of cool breeze with
    Conscious awareness in silence.’
    An experience of
    CHITH SABESAN the lord of infinite space of consciousness,wonderful experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Suddenly the name rang a bell. We travelled together in First AC in same compartment from Vadodara to Delhi. I was transferred after 10 years stay at Baroda to my home town , Delhi
    Since I had been in regular touch with you on official work, it was a beautiful and pleasant journey back.
    It’s been a pleasure to your ecstatic Note on silent walk. Would be happy to be in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A very well written fdeep from the heart piece! Even Praful & I when we go for a walk a myriad of thoughts & feelings keep lashing like the waves ! It was enrichi to read your blog!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You write so beautifully – much like a walking meditation. I find long walks in nature essential for the soul…and yes, the warm friendship of others too.

    Like

  10. What an absolute pleasure to read. As always. Your words do have a way of just leading the reader into the present moment. Thank you.
    Deciding I belonged was the greatest gift I ever gave myself.
    Beautiful post… always
    Thank you again Ananda

    Like

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