On my recent short visit to Chennai, my morning walks were in and around Kilapuk, where my mother lives. The first day, I was up and ready by 5am, which is when i try and get out in Delhi. But it was still dark (the sunrise is 20 mins later than in Delhi) and finally I set out at 5.30 AM.It is important to make a really early start. Kilpauk is an old residential area with wide main streets and an early start lets you enjoy these tree lined roads.
And a large number of the original bungalows built in 50s, are still standing untouched. Of course, the conversions into flats is happening, but not with the same pace that you see in central Delhi colonies.
The approx 5 Km route I took, took me past at least half a dozen high schools and a few temples, including the one on the pavement just outside my mother’s house. The lady selling flowers was all set up on the pavement, well before 6 am as were other vendors with their push carts.
There is a pavement of sorts all along the roads, but they range from 30 to 50 cm in height. Since this is a residential area with mostly bungalows, there is a driveway every 50 metres and so any efforts to use the pavement, converts a walk into a ‘stepper’ exercise! So, you stick to the road and by 6 o’clock there were a fair number of other walkers on the roads. It was interesting to note that there were almost as many women as men walkers, but few young people. They were probably in the two new air-conditioned fancy gyms that have come up in the area.
As I walked past the couples/groups of walkers I also heard a sprinkling of languages other than Tamil including Hindi, Gujarati and Marwari.There were also some disturbing sites, such as the cluster of leprosy afflicted beggars in their carts, and a large cluster of pavement dwellers outside one of the the larger temples in the area. While the roads were by and large clean, there was the ubiquitous Indian site of uncollected garbage overflowing in the dumps. And, finally as I was reaching the home stretch, there was this group of kids having a blast with the water at a construction site!!
All in all, the walks had their own points of interest and we urban dwellers have to do with what we can get!