Just a walk in the park…
The morning is draped with long tendril-like wisps of fog. The sheer whiteness of it, the fog, is striking, almost startling. It is even a little unnerving to see their tentacles grasp the dew-laden leaves and the trees. It is in the midst of such a werewolf-movie setting- at the very break of dawn- that thousands of people around the city set off for a jog in the park.
With the satellite channels and the glossy magazines placing an increasingly greater emphasis on health and fitness, Bangladesh is catching on. People of all ages, male and female, are putting on their jogging gear. They are trying to get a breath of fresh air that is so difficult to find now in urban confinements, and in the process attempting to get in shape.
“This park is a great place to jog,” says the 26 year old Dilruba Khatun, “It is difficult to find a decent place to walk, and the streets are too crowded and dusty. At the same time, it is important to keep the body fit.”
For those who are not all that hard-headed on earning a good physique, a park still has much to offer. It is not at all unusual to see an old couple perched on a bench. Some come merely to stretch their feet, others gather for small chitchats. You may even find people reading the newspaper, with a cup of tea bought from the tea vendors who hawk the park.
Abdul Rashid, a 42 year old civil servant falls under this category. “I just come by for a breath of fresh air now and then,” he says, “Sometimes I feel that I must get away from all the pollution, all the city rush, and just take some time off. It is necessary to let all the worry flow out of you sometime… and these small morning escapades give me exactly that.”
Moreover, parks nowadays are equipped with much more than a simple walkway. The Gulshan-2 Ladies Park, for instance, has a sports area for basketball, mini soccer, and so on. “This is where I can get my basketball practice done,” says Rashed, a student of East West University, “I don't have any other place to practice and my house doesn't have a basketball court. So I'm trying to make the best use of this opportunity.”
Park authorities are further going the distance to facilitate the needs of the park users, especially joggers and walkers. Most parks now have clocks hanging on different spots to make it easier to count the walking time. Many even have marks that indicate distance from the original point. A few others have taken steps to make the walk or jog even more pleasurable- for example by playing music from speakers attached to the trees adjoining the walkway.
Yes, walking in parks is becoming much easier these days. Instead of having rubbish-cluttered parks with a handful of trees and patchy clumps of dying grass here and there, cleaner parks are coming into the scene. There is music; there are decent paved walkways and so much more. So the next time you think of easier ways to get fit or just take some time off to unwind, you know where you can haul yourself off to. So get those walking shoes out and pump away…
By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky