In the morning while walking I try not to think anything else. A first round that lasts for fifteen minutes helps me to focus on my body movements and the next three rounds my body automatically moves in increased pace rhythmically till the heat of moisture develops between my back and the T-shirt. Walking in the same park, almost at the same time every day brings you closer to people as the initial curious looks in their eyes give way to a budding smile. There is an acknowledgement in the air in which people feel comfortable in their jogging tracks; some lost in the music flowing into them through the ear plugs and some lost in their own thoughts, and yet another set of people seriously lost to the world in their animated talks between each other. Namastes, backslaps, guffaws and hushed up secrets are passed between fellow walkers on the tracks where very few like me prefers to walk alone in utter silence. The moment I enter the park for my morning walk Haruki Murakami welcomes me like an apparition and I remember his most touching book on jogging and marathon running, ‘What I talk about when I talk about Running.’ Murakami has said the best things about jogging in poetic, romantic and very dream-like words that would make a reader just get on his feet and run.
When I walk I do not want to talk but my mind keeps conjuring up things and eventually I talk to myself about things that are gone by and that are yet to come. It is very difficult to keep the mind silent and I look at those people doing silent meditation on park benches or under the trees and wonder whether their minds would let them be in utter silence and stillness. I am nobody to judge their minds or bodies or souls only because my mind does not remain silent for a moment. However, of late I have found peace with myself while walking and once I have found peace with my own body and its rhythms, my mind could go vacant. If I find it really difficult to keep the mind from wandering into the past, I give a topic to myself so that I could formulate ideas around it. Some exciting ideas come to me like that of which a few of them are used later in my writings. When the mind is really silent and moves with the rhythm of the body, then the totality of my existence starts listening to the surrounding sounds. I could hear the birds singing from the bushes and trees, beetles and bees bussing, dogs barking, cats mewing, parrots chirping chorus and pigs snorting from behind the thickets. I could also hear the voices of souls from the annals of Sultanate history in Delhi as the park has a few ruins of forts, mosques and temples. I am sure the temples are new arrivals. If there is a mosque can temples be far behind?
Sometimes I get really curious about what people talk while they walk and over a period I have come to realise that they not only speak but also emit certain fragrances, very peculiar to the place. What I hear often is the word ‘money’. From the talks I could recognise the profession of the people. I do not say most of them are into real estate development. They must be from varied backgrounds but most of them speak only about money. I smile to myself when I eavesdrop on their chats. Someone complaints about the money has to get. Someone is worried about the money he has paid. Someone else is hopeful about the huge sum he is going to make out of a deal. The more they walk the more they pant and talk about money. I feel there is no end to this talk of money. I see couples seasoned by age and experience walk in unison talking about money. I wonder why people are so much hooked up to one single word, money. Everyone needs money and everyone makes money. But everyone is overtly worried about money. I remember Ruskin Bond talking about money. He says that we all need money but just to live and a little more. There is no point in amassing wealth. If you are gifted in making wealth out of nothing, yes you should and amass wealth. But such people are not greedy about making more. It is their responsibility to create wealth out of wealth. Unfortunately the majority is not gifted with this talent of making money from nothing or out of something. They keep worrying about what they already have, complaint about the money that they don’t have and aspire for what they would have at some point of time. But they are simply wasting time. In this world, maximum number of people wastes their life in worrying about money.
Women talk about food as if they do not have anything else to talk about. I have walked in many parks in many parts of the world. Only in India I hear morning walking women speaking about food. I hear the words ‘paratha’, ‘aloo’, ‘dal’, ‘roti’, ‘sabji’, ‘chawal’, ‘kadi’, ‘dahi’, ‘pulav’ and what not. They just do not talk anything else. People say women gossip about other women or men. But my experience is that most of the women worry about the food that they have laid out on the dinner table on the previous night or they are going to do for the lunch. Some are worried about the lunch boxes of their kids and husbands. Some are worried about the food that they would cook for their guests. I feel sad. Don’t they have anything else to talk? Men make money. Women make food. Period. Life goes on. Men make money, they take the women folk for shopping, and they shop, come back, cook food and feed the family. Between money and food people waste their lives. They forget to see that there is a different world of sight and sounds, of birds and animals, of little things waiting for them. Even in the middle of the nature they speak about money and food.
They have fragrances too. Some of them smell of potatoes. You do not need to sniff them to know the smell. From a distance itself you could recognize their smell. It is an internal understanding which cannot be explained. Some women smell of aloo parathas. Some of them smell of chilly power. Some of them have the smell of seas. Some of them have the smell of markets. Some of them emit the smell of hopes. Some of them have the fragrance of dreams. Some of them carry garden within them. Some of them smell like paints and turpentine. They are like landscapes too. Some of them look like white landscapes. Some are green ones. Some are like endless sea shores. Some are hills, some are valleys, some are storms and some are showers. Some break out like a lightning and some others boom like thunder. Some are like whimpers. Some are like an unsaid word. Some are like a broken rainbow. Some are like a swan with a broken wing. Some are like monkeys and some are like caged tigers. Some carry an aviary with them. And some are like sea shells carrying the memories of seas.
I see them all. And my mind after a point goes blank. Someone asks me time as I am wearing a wrist watch. I take at least thirty seconds to tell the time. The habit has gone. Now a digital screen shows the time. But I can measure time without looking at a mobile or watch or computer. I am like a blind man. I can count the paces and calculate the distance. I can look out through the window and tell the time. I am going behind the time. I am going back in time. I live my life in a cave. Like primitive human beings I try to learn things from the scratch. I do not understand most of the things around me. But I understand that happy people smile and angry people frown. I know that if I extend my palms I may receive alms. I realise that if I am empty and ready to receive whatever they give me, I can fill myself with their love and charity. I understand that they more you go near the earth the more you touch the truth of things. I have reached a stage where now nothing matters. So I walk four rounds in a park and the world reveals its truth before my eyes.