13/11/2015 8:30 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

I Started Walking To Work Every Day And It Changed My Life


The best part of my day is usually in the morning when I get into the car, turn on the music player and listen to the Beatles on full volume while driving to work. It's a good feeling when someone tells you that the sky is full of diamonds and the world is getting better. This is also the time when I daydream and am the most hopeful.

One day, in the mood to do something different, I decided to tweak my routine a little. I decided I would not take the car and would walk to work instead. The reasons why I took this decision are completely different from the reasons why I will continue this practice. At first, I thought walking to work would give me a valid reason to skip the gym in the evening, and that getting a little morning sun can only be a good thing.

"Interactions with strangers, I believe, can teach one a great deal, and walking is a great way to facilitate one-on-ones with new people."

I woke up a little earlier than usual and set out early in the morning with the audio book of Freakonomicsplaying on my phone. On covering a little distance, I started noticing the usual brouhaha on the roads. At the same time, I became aware of the unusual stares from my co-walkers, who were mainly labourers and domestic helpers who didn't seem to own transport.

Before this life-changing activity, I thought it didn't make sense for people who owned means of transport to wake up earlier and take the pain of walking to work, adding to the tiredness of the day. But on reaching office, I realised that it actually did make sense. And in order to find a reason to continue, I ended up with many.

As a species, we are really into the habit of undermining the power of an idea, good or bad. While it has become second nature to follow the herd and do only socially acceptable things, trying something different for a change can be extremely gratifying.

This walk of mine was me doing something different and while at it, I came up with a hundred ideas with all the new information I was being fed just by observing the world around me.

For the people who can afford to, it has become a trend to "hit the gym" every day, where socialising comes for free with the exorbitant fee that we pay for exercising, which actually is a second priority. Going to improve our health in a place with no sunlight and no air conditioning filters is a scam we participate in. As a personal observation, most people go to this godforsaken place to provide proof of good social standing and to suppress the guilt of gluttony. Adding to the comicality of the situation, people drive to the gym and use the elevator to get to the final destination.

"After I started walking, I've become a more conscientious driver."

To avoid this entire wastage of time and money, the solution is to walk to wherever you want to go! If the ubiquitous pollution is a concern, wearing a mask is a good solution. Escaping the fuss and letting your body out in the open will also increase its resistance to unwanted particles, making you more immune to diseases. And eventually, if more people started walking, pollution would also reduce because of the significant drop in the number of vehicles being used.

In addition to this, getting enough vitamin D from the sun can help prevent some forms of cancer, apart from yielding in other benefits to health.

As I walked, I encountered people who I could talk to and I did. I spoke to a traffic police officer who stood out there for eight hours in the sun, giving instructions to people who didn't give a damn. I spoke to a child on the road who stopped going to school because he couldn't afford it, despite the government's schemes of free primary education. I interacted with a labourer who didn't have enough covering for the night to shield him from the cold.

Interactions with strangers, I believe, can teach one a great deal, and walking is a great way to facilitate one-on-ones with new people. It can also be a ground for empathising with others and providing solutions.

While driving, most of us can't wait to reach our destinations, honking and doing whatever we can to get past the traffic signal first. In doing this, seldom do we realise how these little actions have a lasting effect on the people who walk. After I started walking, I've become a more conscientious driver. I have become conscious of the number of times I honk and I also let walkers cross the road first instead of overlooking them in the race to pass the signal.

"When you walk, you are likely to notice the filth around and as a result, you won't have the heart to litter again."

With the recent public interest and in keeping our country clean and movements synonymous with this cause, walking on the road will make you an active participant in the cleanliness drive. How? When you walk, you are likely to notice the filth around and as a result, you won't have the heart to litter again.

The financial aspect can't be overlooked either. Imagine saving at least a couple of thousand that you'd usually spend on fuel every month. This money could possibly be of use to satisfy the philanthropist in you or, anywhere else for that matter.

So, if the distance that you're covering is reasonable and if you aspire for a better India, think about this idea, and don't let it go away. Rest assured, this is a real and literal example of "Ek idea jo badal de aapki duniya."

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