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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.