Of pests and other co-walkers

Given that I squeeze out precious walking time from the intervals between running behind a child prone to climbing over walls (the park in our building is over the car park and therefore technically on the first floor), acting out Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies and deciding to swing lying with his head half off the swing, I am manic about the little time I actually get to actually, gasp, walk.

But there seems to be a species of women populating the park and the walking track who have come up with an interesting gambit and conspiracy to ensure that I dont manage to get any walking done. For one they assume that if you are walking alone it is their god given right to put you out of your solitude and fall in step with you. Without invitation. I am now terrified of even cracking a smile while I march on, lest it be misconstrued as an invitation for company. I have also learnt to stare vacantly at the tiled pathway in front of me and avoid all unnecessary eye contact. It kills me. Really. As anyone who knows me will aver, I am really really a people person.

These are women who are all twice my width so it would actually be nice to walk with them and be the thin one in comparison. You know, the old rule, go out with girls uglier than you are, so you are the pretty one, kind of thing. Never managed to do that too, all them friends are six feet tall, model thin, glamazons, so I get stuck with the funny one tag, everytime. Anyway, back to the park. Woman A, in striped collared tee obviously filched from the hubby and loose track pants which she could do a belly dance in should she want to, such brilliant flare and fall. Walks fast enough to keep pace with yours truly but insists on carrying on a droning conversation about what she’s cooked for breakfast lunch dinner, snacks and such like. Does not take the hint when I say sanguinely that I hate cooking and tries to enthuse me about getting into the kitchen. I then have to say rude things about how if I ate my own cooking I wouldnt need to lose any weight and she laughs and continues right on sharing her tips about how to get the idli batter to rise perfectly. I mention I buy mine ready made from Dmart and she perceptibly blanches and sidles away from me like I’ve a real bad communicable disease.

Woman B is recently down from a stint abroad. Her husband is still abroad. She has a home abroad. She misses her husband. I sympathise. I will even direct her to a shop where she could buy requisite aid that runs on batteries and makes a woman complete and bring some joy to her life. But the drip drip drip of her woes goes far beyond that. Her neighbours are mean. Someone stands looking into her balcony. The people above pour water on her drying clothes. Someone slashed her son’s bike seat with a blade. The telephone department guy who came to instal her telephone asked for a bribe. So? Thats his birthright, I told her. Welcome back to India. And keep the notes handy.The watchmen stare at her funnily. Frankly, after a couple of rounds of the park, so did I. I did the inching away here.

Woman C is nice, and chirpy, and has a son the brat’s age and would be the perfect companion but she is given to standing and gossiping with every stranger on the path. While I must need lumber on cracking the paved tiles. So she’s out.

Woman D will talk about her health problems. She started with her onset of arthritis and managed to reach upto Diabetes until I cottoned on, and vamoosed at a speed higher than what she could keep up with. Call me mean, but I would have been dead by the time she reached Z. Is there any illness at Z?

Finally, I discover that the phone can be a lifesaver and forbid anyone from falling in step with me. I message incessantly and make the most boring walk companion. And thankfully, am left in peace to do my rounds on my own. Guess I wont win any popularity contests here.


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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13 Responses to Of pests and other co-walkers

  1. Average Jane says:

    That line about buying Woman B aids that run on batteries and bring much needed relief was classic! You are a woman after my heart:-)


  2. phoenixritu says:

    Oh wow!!! Have you met the ladies who discuss the price of aloo and pyaz and compare it to the good old days? They seem to home on to me – I must look like a female scrooge. By the way there is an entire section on diseases with Z called Zoonoses that are infectious diseases that can be naturally transmitted from animals to humans.


  3. Devaki says:

    🙂 I love the way you manage to bring out the funny stuff in everyday situations! About the various specimens you’ve mentioned, could it be that some of them were shy and kept talking nonsense just to cover up their shyness? I catch myself doing that sometimes, and have noticed it in some now-friends-then-strangers too.

    My pet peeve are the slow walkers who want to walk with me and drag me down to their speed. Now what’s the use of walking so slow, I ask? Might as well stay in and laze around!


  4. Altoid says:

    LOL. You sure have your challenges cut out for you. Have you tried plugging your ears with ipod headphones? Usually people do leave you alone then, even if you arent really listening to music.

    Thats the good thing about my walking stints on a trail. Everyone is out there biking, walking, jogging – basically doing their own thing and dont welcome company themselves. Keep walking K 🙂



  5. dipali says:

    I was going to suggest that too- ear phones!
    Makes you look busy:)
    Have re-started, with docs permission, and after my fifteen -twenty minute apology for a walk, my calves have been killing me.
    Got to get the old muscle tone back!


  6. Suki says:

    Yup, I third the earphones. Recently been hit by random ppl in buses who think I look the friendly sort.
    Yesterday someone started by asking if I worked in HSBC BPO, continued to ask if I was in literature and ask the meaning of a sentence in a Saki book, then finished by asking if I planned to work in a BPO. WTF?!


  7. Priyanka says:

    Lol… “she perceptibly blanches and sidles away from me like I’ve a real bad communicable disease”
    Oh yes… earphones – with or without the music are an effective deterrent. In the housing complex that I lived before the current one, they even had a kitty party once for all the women who meet up during walks!! What are they going to talk about – the perfect weather for walking?? Go figure!


  8. Kiran Manral says:

    Jane: Would even buy one for her to get her out of my hair!!!!

    Ritu: Have one like that too, forgot to mention her. Tells me where to go to buy fresh and cheap veggies. I tell her I pick up mine at Spencers or Hypercity when the brat is in the playzone (supervised of course by MIL or driver). I think they all hate me now. Or maybe I should put her onto the MIL.

    Devaki: No, not shy, these women. They dont hesitate to go up to perfect strangers and pick up random conversations. I wish I had their courage.

    Alotid, Dips, Suki: Am going to buy ipod. Any recommendations on models etc? Have been an ignoramus as far as the things are concerned though have bought four for the hubbys nieces and nephew.

    Priyanka: Tell me about it. And I so have nothing in common with them that it is painful…not being uppity or anything, just theyre so content with cooking and cleaning etc. And conversations too revolve around that or bloody K series serials which I never watch.


  9. Eveslungs says:

    Tell the bak bak types to bugger off with a cold stare . Tell them you have to preserve the good old O2 for your walk and they should do the same . Also no messaging – just listen to music – works wonders in fixing that metre to your walk .


  10. lol!
    get urself an ipod or listen to the radio on your mobile…its a great way to get rid of boring ladies…


  11. sraikh says:

    I am in India right now and walk at a park near my inlaw’s house. Its funny seeing the ladies drive up, walk sloooowly 2-3 rounds and then drive off. Hmm but no one chats with me maybe because I scare them off. I walk with music as well. Oohh you should get the Nordic poles.. no one will bother you 🙂

    Regarding ipods..the shuffle is a basic one, its small, clips onto easily and is cheap.
    Then you have the Nano, it has a screen so you can create a playlist and all that. Available in 4 and 8 GB I think
    FInally the Itouch and the Classic, heck you might as well just get the Iphone 🙂


  12. sukanya says:

    i know someone who reads while walking. yeah, isnt that interesting? and i am not talking leisure walks here…this is her work out for the day. brisk walking with a book in her hand. she walks at a park to avoid killing herself getting run over by a vehicle ( or creating accidents). and she walks without bumping or colliding into anyone. i dont know how she manages that but she does. i guess others just stay out of her way!! it surely is a sight!

    music does help….get yourself a basic ipod. you not only prevent people from nagging and harassing you but also get to listen to your favorite music.


  13. Dottie says:

    ipod seems like your best walking pal! which one to buy? we have the 5th gen. 60GB.


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