The Lost Art of WalkingTuesday, 6 January 2009
Geoff Nicholson’s amusing and illuminating ramble through the history of walking starts with a useful quote: ‘Walking isn’t a lost art: one must, by some means, get to the garage.’
Having got that clarification out of the way Nicholson proceeds to walk around Los Angeles (a city which would appear most un-walker-friendly) and a lot of other places.
Along the way we meet some famous walks and walkers, like Hitler’s Minister for Armaments & War Production Albert Speer, who in 1955 set out to walk from Berlin to Heidelberg. Well the 620km distance between the two cities at least, round and round the Spandau Prison garden. It took 2296 circuits of the 270 metre course he’d mapped out.
Or Mao Zedong – who apparently didn’t take the Confucian saying that a ‘journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ to heart. Two people never took even a single step on the 10,000km of the Long March, one was Otto Braun, a ‘Prussian advisor, and an ideological opponent of Mao’, while the other was Mao Zedong himself, who either rode a horse or was carried on a litter by four carriers. Nor was the Long March quite so long, English walkers Ed Jocelyn and Andy McEwan retraced the Long March in 2002 and only clocked up 6000km in their 370 day walk.
Nicholson’s list of walking expressions doesn’t include my favourites. The word for ‘road’ in Indonesian is jalan, but when you’re just going for an aimless stroll it’s jalan jalan, ie ‘road road.’ Want to say ‘goodbye?’ Well if you’re leaving it’s selamat tinggal, ‘farewell you stay at home,’ but if you’re saying goodbye to somebody leaving then it’s selamat jalan, ‘farewell and hit the road.’ For more Indonesian check our Indonesian Phrasebook.