October 4, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

I remember about two years ago, in this same column, I had written about my daily routine of running/walking 2.5 km in the morning and again in the evening. The reason why I am writing this column now is that in the passage of two years time many things appear changed.

My particular route every morning, while going to work from home. I also return back the same way in the evening, but the whole scene changes at that time. I start off at about 6.30am when everything is calm and quiet. I find the roads almost empty and quiet. Except for a few cars etc, here and there, I do not see any transport at that time. The situation becomes totally different when I return back at about 6pm. The route is the same, the distance too. However in the evening I find roads filled with traffic, shops open and people on footpaths.

With no change for myself, or my timings, and the distance and route, I notice changes around me. Since the changes occur slowly and it’s difficult to notice them and keep in mind, so I took some time to rewind my memory and compare the present days with what I found in my memory.

The first important thing is that I miss two people who I used to see almost every day in the evening while returning back home. There are some people in a particular area, mostly the elderly, who put chairs in front of their houses to chat with each other. In summer they spray water in front of their houses which makes it a cool evening for them.

Their houses are right on the road, so they sit on a pretty small place on side of the road. I had never spoken to them, but they all knew me more than I knew them. Every evening, we made a habit to just wave hands to each other while passing through. We never spoke, but recognised each other. Over this passage of time, two of these people are no more. I do not find them sitting there anymore. First I had thought to ask someone, but never found the courage to ask. So our regular practice of nodding to each other continues, minus two persons.

The next important change is that a big flower shop that was on my route is no more. That also had been an important place for me because it was situated right in front of the ATM booths of two banks, and people usually parked their cars in front of the shop. At that particular spot, it had always been difficult for me to even walk, since people park their cars carelessly. So I always had to be very careful at that point. Thus that flower shop had become an unforgettable spot for me. Though the traffic is still there. The people are still parking their cars, disturbing both the traffic and the pedestrians, yet the flower shop is no more. The shop has been vacated, and no new tenant has yet taken it.

It is not just the flower shop only that’s no more there. Two other shops, selling baby clothes and other relevant items also have vacated the shops. I have been used to seeing people going in and out of these shops all these years, but I now see them vacated. A new market has opened nearby but there are no small toddlers, who were always there asking their parents to buy them one more dress.

Of course not to forget are the dogs on the route. In the morning I used to find dogs on my route. Over a long period of time, I had developed a good understanding with them. When I use the word “understanding” I mean that they no more bark at me. One of them had been following me daily for over a kilometer. Every morning he was there at one particular spot on the route. He was there always at that time. He followed me, sometimes at the front or behind me, but mostly on the other side of the road. He always maintained distance, and never came close. But never left me unattended even for a day.

But now for the last few months that particular dog has disappeared. I do not even find any other dog in that area in the morning. But interestingly I see two white dogs roaming in that area in the evening, but not in the morning. They simply look at me and let me proceed.

I wonder what those who see me daily on that particular 2.5 km route, both in the morning and the evening, think about me. Have they noticed any change in me?  I cannot say.

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