Every time we come to Kharghar I usually walk from our place in Sector 10 to the market in Sector 7. The distance of 1 km. is usually covered in the early morning. The mission is to walk the distance and reward myself with a dosa naram (soft dosa) at Sai Puja restaurant in the imposing Hiranandani complex.
As I made my way tentatively at first, I wondered if I had the same fitness levels as before. Moreover, after I had bought myself a new pair of sports shoes a week ago, my ankles seemed to be protesting. Whether my balance was not right, or it was Mr. Triglycerides playing up again, I was not sure.
The road stretched before me ‘like a tedious argument’ to quote T.S. Eliot. I tried to steady my frame. I even sat myself down at the kerb. But I recalled the wise words of an AIR colleague of mine in Delhi. She used to say ‘Bhet gaya, tho bhet gaya’. Roughly translated it means ‘If you sit down, you will not reach your goal.’ So I rose, remembered Vivekananda, and took the plunge.
I was surprised to see that after the warm-up I began to get into my stride and I was actually enjoying the pace. The uneasiness around the ankle was dissolving. With the Pune-Mumbai Expressway to my right and the open spaces on my left I knew I was going to make it. Even the sun was smiling.
As I walked on the Tuesday morning I saw many faces. Most of them were of young harried executives rushing to work. They were scanning the road impatiently for that elusive autorickshaw, or their expected mode of transport. Some gents with bloodshot eyes sucked on their cigars. I also saw a poor aged woman sitting down on the median. Very few were like me, relaxed in capris and a cap to shield from the sun, with a pair to sports shoes to boot.
It crossed my mind that it seemed like I had already retired. Yet there was a job to be done. I had to collect breakfast for the family. So with a spring in my step I reached ‘Kharghar Mode’ i.e. Kharghar junction and headed for Sai Puja ‘Pure Veg’ restaurant.
As I made my way, at first I saw the area deserted. But as I walked closer I noticed vendors selling tea and poha to single men who gulped morsels before rushing off to their destinations. For a moment I wondered whether these roadside start-ups had squeezed Sai Puja out of business.
Lo and behold, there it was. A crowd of respectably middle-aged men and women with families had congregated outside the entrance. There was no place! I was thrilled. Perennial values of good food, courteous service, and a comfortable ambience had won out.
As I sunk my teeth into the soft dosa at Sai Puja I felt in tune with life. The walk had made me fitter. I had made the grade.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 11 June 2017. Pix of Sai Puja restaurant taken by the author.