Oh, for that pre-dawn walk!

A brisk morning walk for good health. --Photos: K.R. Deepak  

Before day-break over the coast, the characteristic ringing of the alarm clock suddenly starts. A hand stretches out to stop the sound. After a languorous glance out of the window to feel the cool freshness of the pre-dawn air, the tracksuit and sports shoes are quickly put on. And off goes the morning walker out on to the streets.

At 5 a.m. it is still dark outside, and the clear sky reveals a few bright stars peeking through the heavenly canopy. The faint outline of ships far away on the horizon is all that is visible. But, on shore, a crowd has gathered, hoping to get a few breaths of pure air before the automobiles start disgorging the hated smoke.

The visitors to Beach Road are silent - at times, ambling, strolling, walking, jogging, running, exercising and playing. It is good to get the blood circulating with a little exercise, before plunging into another sweltering day.

The chirping notes of birds are loud and clear. A whiff of fresh air blows gently.

Against this idyllic ambience, men and women of different kinds, fat and thin, tall and short, take a stroll.

For most people who usually rise with the lark, a quick stroll by the beachside has become a contitutional. It feels like the refreshing smell of the coffee beans, they say.

And what better way to start a day than to warm up by watching the golden rays rise from the tranquil waters of the sea!

One gets to meet different kinds of morning walkers by the beachside - the slow jogger, an enthusiastic talker, the silent admirer or the animal lover. But there is one thing common to all of them. They all love their refreshing morning stroll.

"Besides these health-conscious people, others, who have problems like diabetes, hypertension and obesity, also come here to take a walk," says M.V. Raju, who has never failed to turn up for this morning ritual in the last several years.

Beach walkers can get ecstatic about their morning walk experience watching the sky transform from a blue-black to a dull grey and then orange and yellow.

Says Suresh Kumar, "Sometimes beauty is best revealed in the early hours of the day, so try taking a walk around sunrise and see what happens!"

There is an increased trend nowadays among youth along with the older people to adopt this healthy practice every day. "I like the perspective of the walkway and the mood created by the morning mist. The sea looks serene and calm in the morning hours," says Vidya, a student.

"The morning walk has become almost an addiction and I feel lost without it when I move out of Vizag," says Sumitra who is a part of a 10-member walkers team.

Oh, for that pre-dawn walk!

Doctors vouch for the 'positive' qualities of this addiction - a jog or brisk walk near the beach where the ozone content is higher tones up muscles, increases stamina, cuts down calories and cholesterol, and improves health for diabetics.

For some, however, it is not just morning walk. They try to do some service, too.

Meet V. Sudhir, an animal lover. After his hour-long walk, he picks up biscuit packets from the roadside shops. But these are not for him; they are for the street dogs! And the dogs wagging their tails gleefully follow him every morning till they get their quota.

With the changing social scenario, morning walk has gained different dimensions. For the older generation, it is a time to share a word or two with their fellow walkers which otherwise they are deprived of at home.

For the likes of V. Sriman Narayana, the early morning walk is also a chance to catch up with old friends. His companion, Nirmal Baid, says: "We are 10. After an hour of walking, we all sit together for a chit-chat session." So before they depart, there is a round-up of politics, corporate intrigues, religious philosophy, and at times even family gossip.

Some have their grievances about the growing menace of the walkers population and along with them their vehicles as well. Says P. Raju, "Because of the rush of vehicles on the roadside, the early mornings seem like the busy evenings."

The other problem is that these people sit on the pavements facing the road and smoke indiscriminately, he laments. Most women are reluctant to pass by that place. "Also there are no facilities for public toilets," he observes. Well, that's something to think of!

Finally, all the walkers unanimously agree that a morning walk certainly gives the most refreshing feeling and is an enthusiastic way of starting the day. It rejuvenates you by giving you peace of mind. It can be best summarised in the words of poet Langston Hughes:

Being walkers with the dawn and morning,

Walkers with the sun and morning,

We are not afraid of night,

Nor days of gloom

Nor darkness

Being walkers with the sun and morning.