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Walking

Wednesday November 3 2004 09:02 IST

By Karmayogi

Walking is an essential activity. Incidentally, it is an excellent exercise as it strains most of the muscles in the body to some extent. People in the village walking ten miles was common in those days.

Even when there is a bus service, some people would prefer to walk. E.I.D. Parry & Co. has several legends in its long history. One such was that the most important cane farmer in the seventies was one who walked 19 miles from his village without taking the bus or train in order to save 18 np. The journey is 38 miles up and down.

Today it is unthinkable. Members of the present generation find their feet swelling when they sit in one place for several hours continuously. The habit of walking is less, as they ride a vehicle, use lifts and do sedentary jobs. After fixing a measuring device at the hip and connecting it to the shoes, it was calculated that a housewife walks eight miles a day. Walking has been decorated as ’constitutional’ when undertaken for health.

Going around a 300 acre farm is to walk four or five miles. It would be the smallest of farms in a country like USA, where farms are of 10,000 acres or 600,000 acres.

There was a time when one walked all over such farms in the course of work. Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and Coleridge began a Scottish tour on foot. Coleridge branched off by himself at Stirling and continued for nearly 300 miles until there was nothing left of his shoes.

In the nineteenth century in Europe, a walk of twenty miles was nothing. Sarah, the first wife of the English poet Hazlitt walked a total distance of 200 miles to visit places of interest. Captain Berkeley Allordice (1779-1854) was noted for ’pedestrian feats’.

In 1807 he did 87 miles on hilly roads in fourteen hours. The next year he started at 5 am, walked thirty miles for grouse shooting, dined at 5 pm and walked sixty miles to his house at Ury in eleven hours; after attending to business, he walked 16 miles to Laurence Kirk, danced at a ball, returned to Ury by 7 am and spent the next day partridge shooting.

The next year at New Market, he walked a thousand miles in a specified time for a bet of 2100. As similar records are not available in our country, we do not now who did what. What appears to us as impossible or a feat was, in those days of no transport, a routine affair all over the world. Imagine an illiterate or a neo-literate who reads a sentence in five minutes observing a person reading thirty pages in one hour or even sixty pages.

Each period makes commonplace what was a wonder and a rarity in the previous century. Man’s energies and resources are infinite.

He can achieve anything on which he sets his Mind, provided it is already an achievement of the society. It is unthinkable for us to conceive of hundreds of geniuses in the future. It will be real when the society fixes its mind on it.
 
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