I am generally a morning person and for the last many years, a morning walk has been part of my daily routine. During the years that I lived in Sanjay Gandhi campus in Lucknow, the green surroundings and traffic free roads were taken for granted. The campus was large enough to provide some variety in the daily route, which could be tailored to suit the time available. It was always the longer route (5-6 km) around the campus periphery including the new campus or “Hudud” on holidays, around the original campus (3-4 km) as a daily routine and to the “gate and back” ( 2-3 Km) on days when you were in a hurry. There was bird life in plenty and occasianlly you would sight the herd of nilgais that were residents of the campus.
The move to Gurgaon was traumatic in many ways and in none more than this routine. The walks were reduced a circumambulation of my housing complex, a distance of approx 800m and the only variety was to do it clockwise or anti-clockwise. I do venture outside this campus on some occasions. But there is a total absence of sidewalks and in the construction-intensive area where I live the air is always dusty! Although some neighboring areas like Nirvana do have sidewalks and tree lined streets, getting there itself can be a challenge.
The morning walk is therefore, high among the many pleasant aspects of the visits to Goa. From Caranzalem ( a suburb of Panaji), where I usually stay on these visits, Miramar beach is half a kilometer away. And the non-beach options are innumerable – along the Bandodkar Marg towards Kala Academy and Mandovi riverside, along the fields to the Taleigao church and for a greater challenge uphill towards the University, along Miramar beach itself to the Caranzalem fishing village, and so on. And there are sidewalks everywhere, like the recent one on the road from our village Calapore to Panaji. The littering levels seem less (this may be an illusion) and of course, the air is so fresh that it is addictive.
Today I am at the end of my stay and I am heading to the sterile, ‘modern’ environs of Gurgaon (of course the family is there and I have missed them) – and on each visit I rue the fact that I have let my schedule and activities to restrict the time I spend here to these short trips!