Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Out For A Walk

Today I'm thankful for sidewalks. This was not something I found in Amritsar much. Delhi had them and there was a short stretch of sidewalk at some parks but nowhere else that I visited. I loved walking before going to India and I really missed being able to go out walking while I lived there. Sure, I could walk on our terrace but it's just not the same as going out and seeing the trees.

Another problem in Amritsar was that if you went to the park to go walk there were almost always some neighborhood boys out and making people uncomfortable. It didn't help that I was white as it only seemed to invite more stares. I also couldn't go to these parks alone. The family didn't feel it was safe and I think I agree with them. I would not have felt comfortable going alone and potentially getting harassed by these unruly young men. Some of them made comments despite the fact that I was not alone so had I actually been by myself they could have attempted much worse than just leering and talking.

I did manage to get in a good amount of walking when we went out shopping. Again though, every trip was shadowed by unruly young men staring, commenting and sometimes following me. I'm a tad bit aggressive and had I been in the US I would have certainly said something if an incident like this happened. However, in Amritsar there were too many, I wasn't confident they would understand the language etc. So instead I opted for handing out a healthy dose of the evil eye. A few times I did say something and that seemed to dissolve the situation.

Walking in the streets wasn't safe. Those of you who've read my blog for a while should remember how I got ran over by a scooter once and another time I got hit by a bicycle rickshaw. This doesn't even begin to cover the near misses. The streets are very crowded and Amritsar is just not yet ready for the amount of traffic that travel its streets.

Here in small town America where I live now and in most of the states I've lived in and traveled to (15 that I remember lol) sidewalks are easy to find. People don't generally walk on the streets as they are concerned for their own safety. Even with cars, many Americans love to walk or choose to walk and save gas when going somewhere close by. It's one aspect of American life I've learned to appreciate now that I know how difficult getting exercise can be without it.

What is something you learned to appreciate more after moving away from your home country?


  1. Oh man, I totally miss side walks, public transportation without creepy men, wide open spaces, fresh air...and eating in shady shwarma joints. You just can't eat in shady/dingy places in India without risking your life (so it's just not worth it).

  2. Oooh, and I also miss the diversity. Having lived in Vancouver and Toronto, I miss seeing and interacting with people from many different ethnic / national backgrounds. Here it's just, well, Indians.

  3. I miss the sidewalk and the pedestrian friendly infrstructure big time in India. My neighbourhood in Bangalore had decent sidewalks and not surprisingly I was walking a lot because of that. My neighbourhood in Mumbai is a bit mixed in this department, you have some good sidewalks for short stretches, and then nothing but hazardous terrain to walk on.
    My new building is tiny and there isn't much space in the complex to walk, but there is a big road going around the whole enclave, the problem is that as of late there have been more and more traffic on it and it makes it hard for people to walk. There is one big sports ground in the enclave too, but it's not a place I feel safe walking alone. A few months ago however I found a gem of a park tucked away in a small lane of my enclave that has a nice paved jogging path and has many trees so that when I have time after dropping my daughter in school it is still in the shade. Until 2 weeks ago I was walking my 6-7 kilometers there happily, now the insane humid heat of Mumbai's Summer has caught up with me and I had to give that workout a miss, until the better cooler days come back that is :-)
    But yeah I was so used just walking absolutely everywhere in Switzerland, even thinking twice about hoping on the tram or bus to go somwhere. India has had me become more sedentary, and mostly because of the lack of sidewalks rather than the climate, as there are only 2 months or so I find it difficult to do it in Mumbai and still have to do 3km a day to pick and drop my daughter in school.

  4. True, those places are not worth it. When I was there, hubby went out and got the food from those shady places and brought it home for us to share.

  5. I missed that too! I love being able to walk out of my door and pass several other cultures as I go through my day. In India I had a British friend, one German friend and one Australian friend. So 3 people in a sea of Indians. :P

  6. In India I had to go to the park - when I could get a ride - that was a few km away to walk. I think I only got to go 5 or 6 times in over a year. It's left me mushy and weak since coming home. It's so hard to rebuild that muscle tone once you lose it.