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The Lost Art of Walking, by Geoff Nicholson

The Lost Art of Walking

Almost a decade and a half ago, a friend and I did something many considered somewhat batty. We walked from Juhu to Versova along the beach. It isn’t really much of a challenge, the distance being about four or five kilometers. For some reason, large swathes of the beach were empty, deserted and relatively far from the touch of civilization (I’m sure that has changed now). We had never walked there before, nor knew anyone who had, nor in fact knew that there would be a way to get from Juhu beach to Versova (where I lived).

We encountered many things, but what I remember is a solitary camel sitting across a shallow creek that we had to pass; I remember deliberating over our safety in case the animal decided to be unfriendly. We went through; all we got was a quizzical stare.

This delightful ramble of words celebrates walking for walking’s own sake. I walk these days to reach places, to exercise, to photograph; but I cannot remember a recent time when I walked just for the sake of walking, and seeing what would show up – both within and without.

The book is many things – a collection of trivia about walking, wonderful descriptions of walks that the author has taken, an argument that walking works wonders for mental health, but most of all, to me, it was a reminder that walking is not just an abstraction. Walking can be a screen on which life is projected — obvious when you compare the way people walk in New York with those in a small town. Walking can be a wellspring of creativity – many greats, from Dirac to Dickens, have been inspired during walks.

Reading this brought back some fond memories and taught me to try and not treat walking as only a means to an end.


  1. S# wrote:

    Got me reminded of one of the most amazing commercials I can recollect in the recent past:

    Here’s to hoping you’ll give this elixir a chance in 2010 :)

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  2. Sherene wrote:

    Whenever you visit the UK, set aside a day to get out of London and walk about in the English countryside, presuming you visit in summer, of course… it’s a rewarding activity in itself, and I don’t do it as much as I should!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
  3. Anshul wrote:

    S#: Nice one! (And fat chance..)

    Sherene: It’ll probably be a day (or half) set aside to be *in* London, with the rest of the trip in the countryside; or places worth going – like Oxford and Cambridge.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  4. Sherene wrote:

    *gasp* Such injustice to my favourite city :P I’ll turn you into a London fan, just you wait :D

    Friday, January 8, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
  5. tejsweeta wrote:

    This brought back a flood of memories, it was a rewarding art once, you had to be in the mood , and beautiful , unexpected things often emerged during the many kilometers covered.

    It does seem an art lost now, perhaps in the onslaught of destinations. The ends now, wayyy more important than the means.

    Good to be reminded of it, shall certainly catch the book if I get a chance.

    And a Happy new year to you!

    Monday, January 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  6. Anshul wrote:

    tejasweeta: Thanks for the comment :) Happy new year to you too.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 6:08 am | Permalink

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