If I had a favourite form of exercise (and I don’t), it would be walking. Of course, this is near impossible in Bangalore where if bikes are not parked on the footpath, they’re riding on it. Now, if you are looking to cash in on your health insurance, I might recommend a nice long stroll down the swanky new pavements in the CBD, breathing in toxic fumes, smog and vehicle exhaust. Ah, lovely.
Cities deserve to be experienced by a person in motion. Wandering cultivates the mind and it’s hard to wander when you are not free to walk. I’m told (too often for my liking) that walking regularly is good for your brain – it significantly lowers your chances of developing vascular dementia, as well as boosting your immune system and making for a healthier heart. Walking is how I usually discover a city when I travel. The streets and buildings may not change often, but there is a cast of people that do, and almost always, you will see things you never would have otherwise. You will stumble upon places you would have missed, had you been in a bus / car checking your Facebook feed for the 72nd time and realising that no one had commented on your cat video yet.
Most of us don’t really live in our cities. We live in our home, travel to work, and then we have compass points: that friend down the road, that biryani joint near work, that after-work pub with the Monday – Friday Happy Hours, the microbrewery with the big screen for the IPL matches. It’s not really as glamourous as we make it out to be. Now, imagine being able to just go where you want, and see what you get.
While you’re still dreaming of that day (post-apocalypse by my reckoning), here are places you can still go to walk in Bangalore:
1. Your rooftop – avoid in summers unless you’re courting sunstroke.
2. Your 10 sq. feet balcony – if you walk to and fro really quickly, it might make you feel like mice in a maze.
3. Cubbon Park – during the day, it turns into a parking lot, in the evenings, you deal with traffic. Mornings are best, if you don’t mind the terrible air quality, which apparently hits its peak at around 7.00 AM.
4. Lalbagh – green, lush and beautiful. I’m sure the state is plotting to find a way to ruin this too. So, make the most while you can.
5. Gated Townships – you know the kind where you can spot an expat every mile?
6. Madhavan Park / Krishnarao Park / neighbourhood parks – if you can tolerate a little crowding. Also check to see if dogs / children are allowed. Just because they’re green doesn’t mean they’re open-minded.
7. Your garden – if you’re still one of those lucky few to have a house attached to a big garden and have not had to move because of people building 20-storey apartments in 60 x 40 plots next to you.