Walking is the way of life in lockdown

SHILLONG: For some people it is a way of breaking away from the shackles of lockdown. For some it is a healthy way of life and for many others it is simply necessity. But for all, walking is the way of life amid lockdown.
With multiple phases of lockdown since the end of March, more and more citizens are getting into the habit of walking long distances, something that was unusual just two months back when local taxis and private cars defined obscene luxury and sloth. For the poor and the middle class, walking is undoubtedly the cheapest way of commuting. John Diengdoh and Somiki Lawai, both residents of Mawlai, are among the security staff at Woodland Hospital. Though the hospital bus picks them up from home in the morning, they have to walk back home in the evening. The Shillong Times met Diengdoh and Lawai at Police Bazar on Sunday when they were returning home. “Our duty hours are from 8am to 4pm and while coming back, we take the Khyndai Lad-Riatsamthiah route. It takes us about 50 minutes to cover the distance from Dhankheti to Mawlai. Pre-lockdown, we would take local cabs,” said Diengdoh.
However, the duo said they do not mind walking as “it is good for health”.
Larisha Kharmyndai and Anjula Singkli find the walk back home after work “a bit tiring” but options are nil.
They too are security guards at All Saints’ Diocesan Higher Secondary School. “Now, walking back home has become a regular affair. I stay nearby but she has to go farther. We walk 4km up and down every day,” said 19-year-old Kharmyndai, who stays near Nazareth Hospital. Singkli is from Rynjah.
Walking becomes tiring or difficult when the weather is warm or it is raining and there is little hope of local taxi service starting soon. So Lakerlin Kurkalang walks to work and back.
Kurkalang stays in Laban and works at Vishal departmental store. The petite lady was carrying a heavy backpack and an equally heavy carry bag when this correspondent met her on the way. “After the lockdown started, walking has become a routine. Earlier, I would take a cab to save time but I do not mind walking,” she said, recalling how there would be a rush for taxis and somehow feels a sort of relief without it.
It is the same with Purnima Baraik, a tribal from Jharkhand who stays with her family near Shillong College. For her and her husband, walking is a compulsion to earn money. “We are not getting ration and work is hard to get now. So we have to go out when there is work,” she said.
Walking has been a boon for Shrest Chokhani who lost 20 kg in a month. Chokhani stays near Police Bazar and goes for a brisk walk every day. “It is the healthiest option. I used to go to gym, besides walking. Now, I only walk and I have benefited a lot. I was 115 kg and now I am 95,” the youth smiled.
Atsole Elah walks both for health reasons and to get out of her small apartment. “There is not much space. So walking helps get fresh air and some exercise too,” she said.
For some like 60-year-old Gopal Mishra, lockdown has affected the walking habit. Mishra is a priest and takes care of the temple on the premises of Police Reserve. “But there are no pujas these days and I am jobless. I am managing with a few regular households. Before the lockdown, I would walk around the city. This disease (COVID-19) has changed everything. Now the stars are not in the right position. Once the celestial configuration improves, this crisis will end,” he said.
The stars may fall in place and the lockdown will definitely end but a long walk will always remain the best option to stay fit and close to nature.

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