Yesterday, I had the chance to walk down from Kadavanthara junction to my house in Vyttila. The reason why I had to walk is too complicated to enumerate here – just let it be understood it was not of my own wish, and I did not have a choice. So, I walked roughly 2 kilometers through one of the busiest roads in Kochi, and at peak time too – around 6 PM.
Used as I am to whizzing past by in my car on this road almost half a dozen times a day, it certainly was a fascinating experience as I walked instead. Imagine the scenario – impending doom in the form of storm-filled clouds (yup, no umbrella on me), cars and two-wheelers careening all over the place, and the street vendors getting into the swing of things. People stared, dogs followed, cars honked and the clouds threatened.
So why would this ordinary errand be fascinating? We walk every day for different reasons, and why would this be any different? It is because I had the chance to notice things I have never done before from the confines of my car.
For instance, while I was waiting to cross the road, an old lady standing next to me muttered – “This is the reason why I don’t come to the temple any more.” I saw this mother shouting at her kid who was playing by the canal – “Get inside and study!” I saw the street vendor (he makes one of the yummiest uzhundu vadas and parruppu vadas) throw a small piece of vada to a cat that was patiently waiting its turn amidst the crowd of customers. I noticed an old man struggling to stay safe as the cars hurled towards him – the footpath on his left was filled with tall grass and dog poop.
Vignettes of life pass us by everyday. The more I mingle with people, the more I realize mankind is the same. We all have the same aspirations and yearnings – better future and a safer present. I did not realize a crowded street meant an old lady could not longer visit her Gods. I did not realize today’s rat race meant less time for kids to play. I did not realize that you do not have to do great things to prove you are kind and generous – small acts would equally do.
Would I have these “aha” moments if I were to walk again? I doubt it. Yesterday’s walk was a close communion, not with nature, but with the people we pass by everyday. I doubt if I would even remember these events, or the insights it gave me, as life takes over. Yes, this would be an affair too pedestrian to remember.
But while I do remember, I wanted to commit it to words, so that one day I could read this and recollect some of that delight, concern and warmth I felt when walking down the road to my home.