Paris on Foot – Walking and Exploring

After spending a week in Paris, one thing I enjoyed most was exploring the city on foot. Given my liking to long walks which I developed in Bangalore, I loved to explore and observe all the little details of Paris which is possible only when walking. The luxury of walking without a time line and a destination makes it such a fun activity. You can stop anywhere you want, stare at whatever catches your attention, get into a conversation with locals, or just continue walking. Below are a few highlights of Paris which I explored by walking around.

We could see people from almost every country

We could see people from almost every country

Walking by Siene
The river Siene is Paris’ lifeblood. It flows right across the center of the city, and most major landmarks are situated around it. A stroll along its banks is the best way to discover Paris anyday. There are numerous bridges along the length of the river, each of a different architecture and historical significance. On both sides of the bridge, there are tourist spots as well as numerous cafes and restaurants. Every pillar, piece of rock or metal is beautifully designed and it is difficult to keep our eyes (or cameras) off them.

One of the many beautiful bridges across the Siene

One of the many beautiful bridges across the Siene

The Cold Wind makes Walk feel even better
Considering Paris is rather cool throughout the year, there is a cool breeze always blowing. And if it rains, like it did when we were in Paris, the winds can turn to chilly. Walking is the best way to get some body heat and enjoy the beauty that Paris has to offer. It is always refreshing to take detours into the little alleys and absorb the little details.

A Souvenir shop, discovered only because of walking

A Souvenir shop, discovered only because of walking

Walk-able City
In contrast to our cities back home, Paris comes across as a walkable city. Most of the main sights are close to each other. The streets can be small but there is always a foot path to walk. There are numerous cafes along the way so you can always drop in and take that cup of coffee or beer if you get tired.

This is arguably the most famous shopping street in the world

This is arguably the most famous shopping street in the world

A queue outside the Louis Vuitton store

A queue outside the Louis Vuitton store

Arc De Triomphe to Champs Elysees to Tuileries Gardens
One of the best stretch we walked in Paris was from the Tuileries Gardens to the Arc De Triomphe. The garden is right next to the Louvre, and there were people of all ages relaxing in the sun. After that, we walked on the avenue des champs-elysees which is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the world. We walked there, stopped to see the various branded shops we saw there. There were people from almost every country out there, and I must say it got pretty crowded in the evening. At the end of the avenue we have the Arc De Triomphe, with its unmistaken similarity to our own India Gate.

Arc de Triomphe - find it familiar?

Arc de Triomphe – find it familiar?

What was it while walking during Dandi March 2 in Bangalore?

As you know, Dandi March II walk was held in Bangalore on 26 March 2011 in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Over 400 people walked over a distance of 11 km under 4 hours. To my surprise, many people walked the full distance, completely overcoming the physical boundaries. After the march, I asked a few of them to detail how / what it was like while they walked? What did they feel? Anything which they wanted to share. I have got replies from a few of them and I am sharing them below.

Prasann Garg (walked full distance)
At least for me, It was first time experience of participating in any such event. And really felt the best way to start the weekend despite little pain in the legs. Honestly speaking, I was expecting little more younger people there considering the number of people from middle or above aged participated. When I heard about this Dandi March 2, like every other person, I also felt how it is going to help ? And once we finished it, it felt we achieved a lot. One thing is for sure, it was never to blame the government or bring down the government. We are well aware such things can’t happen. But it was a great way to show the awareness. At least we made our political leaders realize the mood and understanding of the common man. This is the best thing we could have ever achieved through this Dandi march.

I don’t remember, how many times I have used this Vande Matram and Bharat Mata ki Jai once I finished my schooling. Probably never. Probably we are loosing all these things. Feels like as if these thing are only for school children. We need to have more and more such events to keep it alive within us.

My favorite four colors, and they make for the best picture when put in this order

My favorite four colors, and they make for the best picture when put in this order

Sandeep Khurana (walked full distance)

I have been to many government offices including police stations. At almost all places I was asked bribe, either directly or indirectly. Corruption is quite deep rooted in our society. The biggest issue is that we as a society have learned to live with it. This should change. We are entitled to corruption free governance. When there was a call to be part of peaceful Dandi March in Bangalore in Saturday 26th march, 2011, I decided to participate. It was quite interesting to see a couple of foreigners there too. It was quite a spiritual experience for myself. While being in that march, I kept asking myself about what I expect to change in India and why and how my being here can help to bring about this change.

People like shop owners, passers by, small vendors etc were quite curious to see such peaceful march against corruption. Since they do suffer because of it, the pamphlets given to them by volunteers were keenly taken and immediately read. When evil thinks that it can go on forever then there comes a time when good has to rise and defeat it. It has been happening since the beginning and it will happen again.

Shashank Teotia (walked full distance)
Do we think one day the sky will open and the clouds will part to drop a messiah who will fix our problems? While we are Facebooking and retweeting, the corrupt cash registers are ringing and people are selling the country to the dogs and if we don’t sit up and do something as a group, there will be a day when some power hungry corrupt official will snuff us out. One by one. Do you think your blood will boil then?

I went to the Dandi March organised in Bangalore and there were at a point maximum 400 people in it. 400? I am not taking anything away from the fact that there were honest people out there in the sun, trying to make themselves heard but seriously.. 400 is not a number which will dent. And a dent is not enough. Do you want to join those 400 and make it 40000 or are you one of those who will just click on the *Like* button or perhaps *Share* and believe that it is contribution enough?

The choice, my dear friends, is ours and frankly, so is the consequence.

Maybe I was also a regular guy who had never participated in a rally before. Trust me, it may feel a little awkward at first, but when I cried Vande Mataram with 400 other Indians, it did something good to me. Just participate for that feeling. You will get addicted for life.

I have also asked other friends who walked to share their experiences with me. I will update this post as soon as I get those. If you want to share your experience, you can mail it me – sumit4all[at]

We walk for change!!

It was a sight to see,
And a moment to experience!
Just a walk, nothing fancy,
When people walked out of conscience!!

Flagged off by a freedom fighter,
We took a route embedded in history!
400 awake citizens walked together,
On a day which was hot and sunny!!

The heat was no match to our will,
For we were united against corruption!
We marched for the Jan Lokpal Bill,
And demanded it for the whole nation!!

We walked for change

We walked for change

There were people across cultures,
Students & professionals, young and old!
Seeking punishment for the vultures,
A new age dawns, this is the threshold!!

Four hours and eleven kilometers,
Posters, slogans and the flying tricolor!
The knife of the money launderers,
Will not be allowed to go any deeper!!

Many joined us on the way,
Knowing the end is far, but in range!
Our country you will not betray,
We walk in peace, but for change!!

When spirit overcame the boundaries of physical limitations..

“People from IT profession are normally busy and get up late on Saturdays, weren’t you surprised to see 400 people turn up for the Dandi March 2?”, a journalist asked me yesterday. My reply was “Considering the kind of response we got leading upto the event, I was surprised to see ‘only‘ 400 people turn up”. But there was one thing which surprised me, around 200-250 people walked the full distance of 11 km which took around 4 hours. Considering the weather which was quite hot (despite a light drizzle the previous evening), I watched as many people kept on walking despite having pain and discomfort in their legs. I think the joy and excitement of being a part of something good diminished the physical.

So how did I get these IT professionals to ‘pick their lazy asses’ (as another friend put it) and walk for the country. Frankly speaking, I did nothing but spread the word about what we are doing and why? I think we all feel for the rampant corruption in India today and are frustrated because of it. We (IT professionals) don’t always seem to care because it doesn’t really pinch us directly, and we see no hope from the prevalent situation. That builds on the resignation and cynicism about the current situation in India. Also we don’t see any options to show our frustration and anger in a collective way. So I think this walk against corruption caught the fancy of people and they were motivated enough to get up at 6 and reach the venue at 8 in the morning. After all, people are not lazy, it is the situations which call people into action, and Dandi March 2 was one such opportunity to show they care for their country.

The queue of people walking stretched to around 1 km at its longest

The queue of people walking stretched to around 1 km at its longest

But what surprised me more than the 400 people turning up was the number of people who walked the full distance. I walk a lot, so I know it is not easy to walk more than 5-6 kms in one stretch if one is not exercising regularly. That too under the hot blazing sun in temperatures around 35 degree celcius. I had many of my friends and colleagues walk during the march, and I was totally surprised with almost all of them walking the full distance. What’s ironical is they disregarded my advice of leaving after a few kms and continued to march despite many of them having pain, cramps and discomfort in their legs. After all, it is the spirit which matters. And like my friend Tripti, who was on painkillers for the last two days put it, “I will not regret it at all, if something fruitful comes out of this”. It is about hope, hope for change, for a better tomorrow which propelled people to walk together to show they care.

This is what Kishan, a fellow Yahoo has to say
“I decided to act and became the part of the Dandi March II held on 26 March 2011. I reached the staring point at 08:00 AM and realized the enthusiasm of each and every person there. The feeling was very special and i was remembering each and every freedom fighter of India. I was realizing how it actually feels when you decide to lead from front or be the part of it. We started the march and we finished it without having any sort of pain. It was all enthusiasm which was driving us to make it happen successfully. That was the time when I realized one fact that ‘Don’t wait for the change, instead be the change'”.

The future is bright without doubt

The future is bright without doubt

Seeing such participation and commitment from people towards the cause of a corruption free India, I have no doubt we have a great future ahead of us. We might be plagued by many problems right now, and there might seem to be no end to the tunnel, but this Saturday we saw and witnessed the light at the end of it. It might take some time getting to the end of the tunnel, but considering the enthusiasm in the youth of today, I am sure it will turn into a collective movement with people from all walks of life joining.

Let us Walk

Working hard all day,
We all earn whatever we do!
Every month we get our pay,
Where it goes do we have any clue?

A big part is deducted as tax,
To be used to run the country!
While we sit back and relax,
Our money becomes a mystery!!

It is meant to be spent on the needy,
And to build roads, bridges and dams!!
Instead it fills the pockets of the greedy,
Leading to frauds, rackets and scams!!

How long will we be silent,
Till when can we shut our eyes?
Its time to stop acting decent,
Like the phoenix let us all rise!!

Let us be a little mad,
Nothing wrong in being angry!
All our money if we add,
Can feed all who are hungry!!

It is time to rise from our sleep,
And demonstrate we will take no more!
They have burnt our pockets deep,
This is our time to show them the door!!

Together if we all stand,
We can give them a big shock!
So holding hand in hand,
Let us walk, let us WALK!!

Dandi March II against corruption

Dandi March II - in more than 50 cities on 26 March