Day 5 – Walk it out

6 Jan

One of my fondest childhood memories is going for really long walks with my parents. I was an only child for almost nine years till my little sister was born. My dad is in a transferrable job and all my growing years were spent away from my extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. So this meant that my parents and I were really our own unit of three and I seriously never gave my parents a minute alone. We had a live in maid for several years in my childhood but they never insisted I stay with her in the evenings. Maybe it was her downtime for the day too when we were all out of the house. From the time I was maybe 6 years old, several weekday evenings after dinner we set out for a walk. I was definitely a good walker for my age. I could keep up with their pace and usually walked in silence while they talked to each other. I was quite an imaginative child and I made up tons of stories in  my head as we walked.

My biggest issue used to be the fact that I picked terrible shoes to walk in. We were living in Hong Kong at the time and  I remember distinctly walking by the promenade and then finding a spot to sit down as my flimsy plasticy sandals were bothering me . My dad pretended to chuck them in the sea and I remember being so worried at first and then bursting in huge guffaws of laughter at the joke.

Another incident was when there was some fantastic ice cream sale somewhere and we walked tons to get several scoops of ice cream at dirt cheap prices for several days in a row. Mom always choose different flavors each day, while dad and I stuck to our favorites. This is just like our personalities – mom is the more risk taking , adventurous sort, while dad and I play it safe.

Once we moved apartments and were fairly close to some new park that opened up and I loved walking through the park fountains in the dark. My parents indulged me and we even took a change of clothes for me and our camera on one night to get some pictures of me behind cascades of water.

We moved back to India when I was 7 and we found ourselves in a very secure township in Bangalore. So on one of our nightly walks, we came across a drunk. He was muttering furiously and ambling straight towards us. I remember mom and I screaming and running in the direction of home, while dad ran behind us too. Later at home, he scolded us for screaming and running like that, saying he hadn’t been scared at all but he really did run as fast or faster than mom and I did.

We also dealt with street dog issues for those few years in Bangalore and mom with her crazy irrational fear of dogs, refused to walk on several by lanes. So we ruled out quite a few streets in the small colony – with drunks and street dogs galore.

My sister was born then and for a few years in between the walking stopped .That is when my parents gained all the extra weight that they still have. We moved to Bombay when my sister was a two year old . During my first summer vacation in Bombay, mom , sis and I walked all over Colaba Causeway. We were shopping for extended family and I fondly remember how I helped mom pick out the right colors for everyone , while my baby sister complained furiously that we didn’t bring her stroller with us.

Bombay was also where I was first assigned the task of baby sitting her every evening as they resumed their walks. We could see them from our apartment window and kept calling out to them and waving the entire duration of their walk. What pains we were!

Through high school, I often accompanied my dad on long walks on Marine Drive on weekend mornings. We chatted a lot about random things. I remember being cricket obsessed for a short while then and I suspect most of our chatter was about cricket. I remember family holidays in hill stations with a lot of walking. Darjeeling, where we walked from the Ghoom monastery to a small amusement park somewhere. My sister was two and a half at that time but I remember her being a brave walker during this particular trip. Walks in Ooty, pausing to get Mirchi Bhajjis somewhere.  Lovely walks in Panchgani and Matheran.

When I started college, the family was divided for a little while with my dad’s transfers. Mom and I stayed in Bombay, while my 7 year old sister and dad were posted in Chennai. When Dad finally came back to Bombay for my final year at college, he resumed his Marine Drive walks. He often asked me to join him, but by that time I had no intention of getting up at the crack of dawn. And I more often than not missed these walks. This time also marked the very dark period in our lives when I was battling for them to accept my then boyfriend, the husbadoo and any alone time either parent got with me was spent in lectures and uncomfortable reproaches about how I was taking bad , immature decisions and I avoided these situations of alone time with them like the plague. I regret now, maybe I could have used this time wisely to maybe calmly talk to my dad, rather than the avoidance techniques and filling him and my mom up with a bunch of lies techniques that I employed for those years.

I have not really walked with either of my parents much in recent years. Maybe I should have on my recent trip to India. Especially with dad. But I choose to sleep in – genuine tiredness this time and not avoidance! I see mom huffing and puffing for even short distances these days and I have to dig deep in my memory to remember the strong 30 year old woman who walked up the Peak with me in Hong Kong. I wish my parents had not given up on their walking. It kept them fit and virile. They both have never gone to a gym, not even the one in their apartment buildings. It was the regular walking that helped them in their youth and I really wish they are more regular with it now.

As for walking in our current life, it was almost inexistent for the first 4 years of our marriage. The Husbadoo has strong opinions about walking being only for the old people and he prefers playing a sport. I too was fairly regular at the gym and was getting my exercise in somehow. We walked a little bit during my pregnancy and it was such a  wonderful, bonding time. The weather was lovely in Texas and we always followed these walks up with dinner outside.Not very healthy I know, but we atleast walked.

This last one year, we have done quite a lot of walking. Living in NYC makes it a necessity. We hardly ever take cabs or use public transport when we can help it for reasonable distances. I still love walking more than the husbadoo does but he no longer turns up his nose at it. I realize now that I am quite close to the age my parents were when they started to gain weight and become less fit as a whole, and it scares me. Hopefully this walking as a family thing is here to stay for us for the rest of our lives.

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3 Responses to “Day 5 – Walk it out”

  1. smdeea11 January 6, 2015 at 12:43 am #

    Your memories are so clear. I could imagine all this happening. Walks indeed is a good time for bonding. I have been asking PIC to accompany me because I am too lazy to go alone.
    This post is like a kick in my butt which asks to begin my morning walks again.

  2. popgoesthebiscuit January 6, 2015 at 1:17 am #

    It is really good bonding time. Like you, I am bored and lazy to go alone too. 🙂

  3. Dil On The Rocks January 6, 2015 at 2:45 am #

    Walking is so much fun. We are family of walkers too (Gee..not the walking dead walkers. lol). But our walking begain only after we moved to the city. Same problems as you noted.

    Ahh. Texas weather. How I wish. 🙂

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