Since the petrol prices have been raised, a lot of people have started walking to their offices. But I had no idea so many of them have been doing it till I came across them as I was myself walking to my office this morning.
The first person I came across was Mr. J.R.D. Tata. He was wearing a safari suit and canvas shoes and walking alongside him was his cahuffeur. "Going to Bombay House," I said. "Yes, thank you," said Mr. Tata, as always, the perfect gentleman.
A little further slong the road, I came across Mr. Sharad Pawar. He was walking from Varsha to Mantralaya and already he had lost two pounds. Police Commissioner Ramamurti, who was accompanying the chief minster, partly to give his company and partly for security reason, told me that Mr. Pawar was looking forward to going back to Varsha in the evening, because then it would be all uphill and he was sure to lose at least four pounds.
It took me some time to recognise M.F. Husain, because he was walking barefeet, like thousands and millions of Indians who lve and sleep in the streets and cannot afford shoes. He told me he was going to paint a restaurnat. "There is more money in painting restautnat walls than canvas, which fetch only Rs. 12.50 lack per painting and which also people don't pay sometimes after buying it."
Advertisement executive Alyque Padamsee was walking briskly and athletically, though a little bent at the shoulders, from Christmas Eve to Lintas. I did not disturb him, since he was evidently thinking of a public service advertisement on saving petrol.
I also came across a small cluster of men and wome, walking purposefully and waving flags, Mr. Sunil Dutt, MP, leading them. I was informed they were not walking to office, they were walking to office, they were walking to Punjab or Ayodhya or somewhere.
I also came across Sheriff Nana Chudasama. As he was walking along Marine Drive, he was watering the plants. As people looked at him, he smiled and said: "I believe in killing two birds with one stone. Why not!"
Mr. Nani Palkhivala was on his way to the ACC, taking a shortcut through the Brabourne Stadium, scene of his post-budget speeches. He told me: "If the average international pricing of crude ranged at 25 dollars a barrel, and we had taken into account the additional burden of Rs. 5, 000 crore in foreign exchange, firm commitments could have been made of undervaluing the inputs of surplus agricultural commodities. As it is, the surchage of the additional 25 per cent on petroleum products makes India the highest surcharged country in the world, higher than Mexico, Argentina, and three times higher than the Philippines."
Finally, when I reached the office, the chief asked me: "How was your walk?"
"Oh, quite good," I said. "But the streets are getting overcrowded with walkers."