'Surprisingly, the most frequent of the walking squads are the Auntyjis, those you'd hardly credit with such dedication.'
'Yet, they're always present and the sprightliest of the lot in their salwar suits and saris,' says Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
One of the better things Akhilesh Yadav did before he lost the chief ministership of Uttar Pradesh to Ajay Singh Bisht was to gift parts of Noida with a cycling track.
One of these came up beside our colony, a small but visible stretch painted red.
I haven't seen any cyclists use it, perhaps because it peters off as abruptly as it starts, but it is not entirely wasted either, having developed into a trail that is used by joggers and walkers.
At first, my wife was reluctant to join me, choosing the sylvan trails of the colony's parks that allow for such distractions as plants that might be pinched, dogs that might be petted, neighbours who might be greeted, and friends who might be indulged with gossip.
The returns were less satisfactory.
Exercise merited little of the time spent away from home, and her weight betrayed the gap between intention and execution.
At some point, therefore, she decided to join forces with me on the cycling track, even though our walking paces rarely matched.
The track is not entirely without its diversions, though they consist entirely of sub-species of walkers.
The most frequent among these are the migrants, who appear so infrequently as to be labelled endangered.
They are likely those who have been forced unwillingly out of bed and can't endure it beyond a day or two.
The more intrepid among them congregate at a tea shop instead of devoting themselves to their constitutionals, and it's a surprise their families haven't cottoned on to it yet.
Most of all, I envy those who jog effortlessly past, running being something I find loathsome.
These include couples who match each other stride for companionable stride, which makes my wife walk faster to catch up with me, but, alas, that remains a work in progress.
Others simply squat on a patch of the tracks, some to practice pranayam, while others appear more adept at evolved yoga.
Some find a convenient kerb on which to place a mobile with music to which they match their calisthenics.
We have now become familiar -- but not friends -- with a group of women walkers whose numbers wax and wane, a threesome that on occasion shrinks to two or grows to four, their world-view on everything from landlords to bosses and kindergarten teachers providing some entertainment.
We sometimes linger alongside them but since they never end their tales, we're left unsatisfied about how a saga ends.
Surprisingly, the most frequent of the walking squads are the Auntyjis, those you'd hardly credit with such dedication.
Yet, they're always present and the sprightliest of the lot in their salwar suits and saris.
There are a few Unclejis too, of which, one odious representative seems to spend much of his time talking into his phone while the other hand seems to constantly be exploring the nether regions of his anatomy.
In contrast, are a bunch of millennials who block the tracks with their cars, tumbling out in their fluorescent Ts and shorts, their hair sleekly held back by headbands, earphones plugged into devices that convey instructions, or music.
They preen and prance, bending at knee and hip, taking photographs, but tiring of it all after some time and hopping into their cars to head off to somewhere where audiences are a little more appreciative.
Leaving us to walk alone along Yadav's misnamed cycling track.