Of walks, talk and walking the talk
By Random Access Memory (RAM)
Most of us urbanites go for walks for our exercise. It is a most popular mind-body wellness pursuit and is in the main, free. One may have the cost of fuel for the car to get to popular walking spaces or hosting breakfast for walking colleagues on an occasional weekend. But the spaces, the breeze or the fresh air, the routine but many faceted sunrises and sunsets, the sounds of natures' silent whispers, all come free of charge.

It is indeed interesting to observe the phenomenon of walking men and women in the cities. Some opt to walk round and round the Independence Square, the Vihara Maha Devi Park, Kandy Lake Circle, or the playgrounds of the several cricket clubs. Others pace up and down the Galle Face Green, Parliament Road, Marine Drive, other spacious paved-ways or the Mt. Lavinia beach and the like. There are also those who seek to walk around in their own neighbourhoods.

A small but an elite group also 'walk' in stationary positions on their exercise machines at home or go to the many gymnasiums that have sprung up around the city and suburbs. They are mostly those who need 'privacy, safety and security', away from being exposed to the people at large and/or are seemingly hard pressed for time.

Most walkers are accompanied by a walking partner or several partners. In some instances affinity clubs are formed. Like golfers claim that the golf course is a platform for nurturing business deals, some walkers also turn the morning or evening walks into a networking platform.

Walking the right spaces, with the right people, is seen as another forum for informal networking in Sri Lanka. Top public personalities are seen walking with other not so public personalities. A very rare occasion of a political personality, walking shoulder to shoulder with several others, followed by plain clothed security men, can also to be observed.

Talking while walking, is a popular pursuit of networks of serious walkers. Just as most Sri Lankans living abroad, solve problems of this country and its body polity, when they meet at social events over a few drinks at each others' homes in the various capitals of the world, most use their daily routine of mind-body-wellness pursuit of walking, to update themselves on the societal and political gossip, and to offer solutions and remedies of their own, for all the problems the nation faces.

Walking for a cause, is a noble phenomenon that mankind has known for a long time. Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad and Mahatma Gandhi all walked, traversing varied terrain and situations to source and seek change in society. In Sri Lanka, a most recent development is to 'walk' to raise money for the old school. Walking for causes such as workers' rights, children's rights, women's rights, creating awareness on AIDS etc. also takes place, most often with lesser intensity and importance.

While walking and talking are both physically and mentally stimulating, 'walking the talk' can be an even more productive exercise. A good beginning may be to get those who are in positions of influence, to walk around their own neighbourhoods.

They could then better understand the issues and problems these areas face and take corrective action as needed. Such neighbourhood walkers' groups can also consist of multi-disciplinary teams that can provide fresh ideas and actionable solutions to improve infrastructure, minimise waste, conserve resources and solve problems.

'Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country' were the words of late John F. Kennedy. Since we waste too much time and effort in cursing the darkness surrounding us, this perhaps is an opportunity to go on lighting little candles.

Stopping the waste of valuable water through getting a leaking public tap fixed, the broken waste-water drains repaired or facilitating the cleaning of a canal infested with mosquitoes may not be too big a deal. But it is said that little droplets of water is what makes the vast ocean. The morale of the call is to let talk of corporate social responsibility begin with our daily routine walks. It may well ensure that all our hearts and the heart of our nation will begin to beat in tandem.

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