Sunday, November 29, 2009


So, about India. Despite the number of automobiles and cycles and the changing way of life there, so much of the beauty of India - cultural rather than physical - remains.

They have neighborhoods with markets of all kinds at the end of the street. Remember those days? When I was a kid in University City, Missouri, we were able to walk three blocks to an intersection where we had a full service grocery store, two 'drugstores', a deli, a dry cleaners, two gas stations, an ice cream shop (remember Velvet Freeze), a dentist, a vet, an appliance store, a cobbler, a hobby shop, a barber shop, and a butcher shop. All of that just 'down the street'. In the U.S., this type of neighborhood probably only survives in NYC and Chicago.

In those olden days, we walked the one mile each way to school (no, not uphill both ways) in all kinds of weather. There were no 'snow days' as there were no school buses! We walked three miles or so to the Loop to watch a movie or shop, about 2 miles to ice skate, three or so miles to the pool in summer, and to any of our friend's homes. No one drove us anywhere! Even my dad walked the three blocks to the bus stop to catch his ride to and from work every day. Mom got the car as her job was farther away (and she was one of a handful of working moms), and she still had all the errands to run.

In Chennai, it was so nice to be able to walk just down the street to buy fruit, a bag of milk, or a book. Good exercise and efficient. Had I stayed around longer, the locals would have come to know me. On my very first trip to Chennai (back when it was Madras), the local grocer who knew my father in law very well, ordered extra shipments of Coca-Cola just for me. Years later, the local druggist ordered extra tubes of acne meds for my teen son. Try that at Walmart!

It was charming to see children actually walking to school, backpacks and lunch bags in hand, chatting merrily as they strolled along. How many of our kids are able to walk to their neighborhood schools? How many go to neighborhood schools??

Walking also has the 'unintended consequence' of getting to know one's neighbors. This is true any time, anywhere in the world, I believe. How could one walk the same streets day after day and NOT get to know others along the route?

So, at least for now, India's cities retain their neighborhoods, their local 'down towns', their friendly environs. All this makes it safe to walk - if you can avoid the out of control traffic!

Remember my 100% GUARANTEE. Should you decide to stop walking and resume your old habits, I personally guarantee that you'll get back 100% of your former life - your pain, your lifestyle, your attitude.

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