After a long, tiring and hectic week, there's nothing so refreshing like a Sunday evening walk. It revitalises your spirits, energises you, removes the lethargy from within you and pumps up your spirits. Walking as an exercise is so simple, yet it pumps you up like few other forms of exercises. Yoga is perhaps the only other exercise that give you as much as a nice, brisk walk does. Being a South Bombaite fortunately, my options are Worli Sea Face, Hanging gardens and Marine Drive. I'd like to take a walk at all these places turn-by-turn to avoid monotony.
I never go to Worli Sea Face alone. It's always with my neighbours. For them, it's a Sunday evening ritual. It's almost like rain or shine, they have to go there, even if it's extremely windy during winters. If they can't take a walk, then at least a motor ride. GOD forbid if they do not take a walk here on Sunday evenings! And yes, they travel in a motor, not a car. :p
The sea face promenade would be around 2 kms. I start at the Worli dairy end, brisk walk and all, keeping pace with professionals, go right to the end at Worli village, just before the road takes a right and proceeds towards Century Bazaar, touch the wall - you must touch the wall - and then return. I think the total walk to & fro, should be around three and half to four kms. Unfortunately, Worli Sea Face these days seems to be like in ruins. A big portion of the sea wall is broken. Infact it broke so badly, I suppose because of no upkeep and also tides, that a large portion of the footpath has also caved in. The authorities have cordoned off this area because of which a large portion of the footpath, towards the Worli dairy is not available for pedestrians. Yet another portion of this pavement, towards the Worli village end, is also cordoned off because of the Bandra-Worli sea link. The sea link that starts from Bandra will culminate here and merge with the Worli sea face road.
Unfortunately, because of these disruptions, it's not possible to walk seamlessly. Plus, the promenade is always over-crowded on weekends, especially Sundays. Even though for regular walkers its a paradise on account of a long and beautiful stretch, you always have to maneuver your way through the Sunday leisure crowds, large families, canoodling love-struck couples and friends and acquaintances who bump into one another inquiring about stocks markets, families and the week that went by.
Hanging gardens, comparatively, is less crowded. Partly because it's on a hill and a little cast away from the main city, you mostly get serious walkers there. There's the garden in the middle where the leisure crowds, families, north Indian migrants sit and pass time in gossip, etc., the serious walkers walk on the red-muddied pathway that encircles the large garden. Hanging Garden was one of my childhood's hotspots where my mom & I used to go there on weekends. It's a beautiful place to walk and better than Worli Seaface, but since I have to climb the Malabar Hill to reach there, I feel a little lazy to go there. Uh-oh, if the Batliwalas were to read this, I am in for a big lecture :P
Marine drive is my sentimental favourite. I have been on marine drive all my life, yet I can never get tired of this place. It's also called the Queen's necklace because the coastline, when fully lit up in the nights, resembles like a necklace worn by a queen. I was there for 10 years of my school-life and I have been passing by it for the past seven years to & fro my office. So Marine Drive is very close to my heart. If I do not see Marine Drive for over a week, i feel very cut-off - like I felt when I worked in a bank at lower parel for six months.
Crowds at all these places are quite different. Worli Sea face is mostly frequented by the slightly rich and urban crowd. You do have fisher folk from the nearby fishing colonies and also the young crowd, but it's mostly the CEO-type that you get to spot there. I think, slightly rich-type, is the right word.
Hanging Gardens is the place for the rich Malabar Hill Gujarati housewives of rich Gujarati businessmen. Saree-clad ladies with tight blouses, bunch of keys tucked in their sarees that pull their waist-line further down, much like low-rise jeans, exposing their fat stomachs (that's why they take walks in the first place, I suppose) and fair skin, brisk up and down in their Nike's and Adidas that their husbands must have got from abroad, discussing affairs from their kitchens, neighbour's kitchens, Tulsi Virani's kitchens and all that sort of thing.
Marine Drive, on the other hand, sees a healthy mix. you have people from all sections of society there. The promenade is newly done up there, so the pavement is very smooth to walk on. Since it's also very wide - the widest footpath you will ever see in the country I think - Marine Drive never seems crowded. It's perhaps the only place in South Bombay that you can also run and jog comfortably, without having to sweer right, left, right, left.....
The sea wall though, towards Chowpatty, is full of north Indian migrants. As you move towards marine drive and churchgate, you spot families, couples and collegians in groups. The sunset, as watched from Marine drive, is awesome. It's a kodak moment as you watch the sun glide down towards the horizon and slowly disappears in the distance, from behind Walkeshwar and Hanging Gardens. If you come to Bombay, you must take a walk here and watch the sunset. And if you meet me there, do say 'hello'.
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