A very Bandra morning walk

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I wake up late, start my day late and then feel that day has gone by without my achieving much.”

“Why don’t you get up and go for a short stroll and then come back? Writers tend to reflect and nothing like a solitary walk to do so. Try it,” said S and therein lies the story of my morning walks..

It started of as a stroll with my waking up when I usually do. With my shades and cap on to keep the migraine at bay.

I began waking up earlier as the days passed by and the stroll became a morning walk. Sandals replaced by sneakers. The duration of which was enhanced thanks to the Apple Watch and its step count. I have missed my walk for just one day since she gave me this suggestion. I am proud of this. As I am of giving up post dinner snacking. Bringing my dinner time up. Stop having sugar free ice creams after dinner. All these lifestyle changes showed in my recent HB1C score drop. I still have miles to go.  

Every morning I wake up, brush. Feed the boys. Of late, Baby Loaf has his wet food too. That makes me happy. Nimki loves his food and it is a pleasure to see him dance with joy when I serve him his wet food breakfast. I set off after that. 

Here are some of the things I see when I start my walk:

Our elderly watchman at the gate. I give him a paper bag to keep.

The car wash man pouring buckets of water on the cars parked outside.

A young boy from our building was jogging, holding his dog by its leash.

Bored dog walkers standing in a corner, checking their phones desultorily, their wards standing patiently. It is easy to figure out when one is not loved. 

Every now and then a dog owner walks with their dog and the ones with dog walkers seem to look wistfully at them.

What’s common among all walkers is that the poop is left behind. The last time I saw someone with a poop scooper was when saw a young brother and sister duo carry one  a few evenings back.

A chai wala comes cycling down. He stops in front of our gate and asked the Methuselah at the gate whether he wants tea.

“No” he shakes his head.

Is he waiting for his younger companions, the building drivers and sundry workers  to share a chai with? Or is he saving every precious Rupee to send to his family home?

Happoos. Taiyar hapoos.

 An elderly man goes down the road hawking Alphonso mangoes. Does anyone even buy from him? The going rate is Rs 1,200 – dozen.

 Paaplet. Jhinga. Machhiiiiiii

Pomfret. Prawns. Fish.

My mother-in-law had once called the fish seller up. Not fresh, she’d concluded.

Bhepu Bhepu Bhepu

The idli sambar wala walked down the sfdeejf to blowing the sort of horn that the rickshaws of Kolkata use.

Chakuuuuu Chhhurrrii.

Sounds like jhal muri. The Kolkata snack. 

In reality it is the knife sharpener.

There are two ladies who pick up the garbage from houses. They take a break to talk to each other.

I wrinkle my nose. Then feel ashamed. This is their life. The reason why ours are unsullied.

The folks from the BMC sweep the roads. Then they use large cardboard pieces to scoop up the dirt and put them into the bins and dump the contents into the mini vans driven down by busy-looking drivers who are at the top of the food chain of the council’s cleaning mechanism. They are no foot soldiers,

At the turn by the signal is a woman begging. Holding a baby in her arms. Word on the street is that these babies are kidnapped and drugged. 

Then an elderly man sits down with a bunch of ball point pens to sell. A young boy gets down from an auto and buys a pen much to the mirth of his friends.

What has happened to the scrawny white haired man with a stubble, in a dirty white vest and dhoti? He has worked this corner forever. Looked the same. Trying to sell agarbattis in a shrill voice. All ways to disguise that they are seeking alms.

There is a milk shop biy ahead. A lady is waiting  for fresh pouches of milk to be delivered. 

The minutes go by. The step counts increase. Vegetable  sellers plant their baskets on the pavements. Hopefully some, if not all, will do good business. Delivery apps are increasingly making them redundant.

A calico cat sits in a loaf position below a parked car.

A stop at the local French bakery. The one that’s enshrouded with the smell of possibility and dreams of holidays past. Coming out with a bag full of Madeleine and half a sourdough load, sliced.

The last of the pav-valas for the morning cycle by. Most have delivered their daily bread to houses. Eggs too.

The tender coconut guys stand at a corner. Hacking away so that their customers can easily reach the promised ambrosia inside.

The walk comes towards its end and the delivery guys go whizzing past one. Some carrying breakfast. Other eggs, bread, milk, cooking oil, tomatoes, dosa batter… manna for the modern disorganised nuclear couple. 

Cement mixers churn black smoke, the sound of drilling begins, clanging too. Yet another quaint and cheerful Bandra cottage giving way to a daunting  modern monument of glass and steel. 

Immigrant labourers sit on the pavement in front of the construction. Taking a break, sipping cups of cutting chai. Dreaming of the house they hope to build in their village someday. 

The bhangarwala’s hand pulled cart goes by. They buy discarded goods and recycle them. Be it family heirlooms, lovingly  passed down generations, or assembled faux wood stuff from modern malls, they all fetch the same few currency notes. A reminder that at the end we are all the same. What a poignant thought to start a fresh new day with!

I have clocked 50 minutes. My highest ever. But I have unfinished business.

I take the paper bag from the watchman and drink from the bottle of water in it.

I walk parallel to the park to ‘our’ spot. I try to find a place that does not have dog poop.

Smolu. Scoobu. Smolu. Scoobu. Jugsu. Snappy.

I finish calling out their names and out comes Smol dashing to me. Rubbing his cheek against my ankles. Brushing his tail against them. Marking me as his. He has known me since he was a kitten and K had named him Smol.

Scooby, the Sumo wrestler with a ‘pleasant disposition’ (as Sam puts it)  ambles out and lies down on my sneakers.

Then comes Jugs. I named Jughead as he was frantic about food when he first joined the pack that I call the Kitty Blinders. He has calmed down now.

I take out the box from the bag I’d left with the watchman and from that the  ‘plates’ that I have fashioned out of the boxes in which the Starbucks cappuccinos that K calls forcome in.

I place them on the ground. At a distance from each other. Put down kibble. The Peaky Blinders eat. I replenish the plates when empty.

Our friend Sam feeds them at 7.30 so they are not very hungry for food. Just for love.

I head home. Climb the stairs. Open the door.

See our boys waiting for me.

I take off my sneakers. Wash my hands. Pat them. Hug them.

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