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We all fall under the influence of myths. I have too. I've wanted to be a flaneur because various literary works and films have sold me on the idea of walking through the streets and soaking in the sights of people chatting, skipping and hopping, arguing and yelling. A walk for me was to be a panorama of life. I was to soak in people's laughs, witticisms, and casual remarks that use a turn of phrase that I've never heard before. Teenagers gossiping and switching between valley-girl slang, rough punk swears, or the attitude-laden style of ebonics. These things are memorable impressions that are stored up in the back of your consciousness to be randomly replayed like forgotten mp3 files that you only remember by accidentally clicking on them.

But it's not only that... people watching is not just about their conversation, but much more about their bodies... Everyone has their own way of walking. Some people have forward postures and an aggressive heavy step. Even their arms rotate as they walk, lending them an athletic profile. Others tread languidly, their arms dragging by their sides, their feet spread apart broadly. They are the ones that drag themselves like primitive primates or children who have recently learned how to walk. Posture is not just pure mechanics; it's mood. That's why a mere walk through the city is about meeting people whether you shake their hand or not, whether there is single word exchanged or not. People reveal themselves simply by walking.

So, yes, I did enjoy urban walks and people watching to the extent that suburbs have left me dispirited. Streets deprived of human presence have suffocated me with the greyish-black vapour of melancholy... The exhaust coming from car fumes created some kind of a fog around my eyes that made things more blurry and unreal.. And yes the blur of a suburban walk makes itself felt in every thing. The repetition of the same suburban elements all over again makes them all seem like a mental mirage. You ask yourself if you are seeing double because the houses along a car-heavy street blend one into the other.

Its possible to walk along the same street for many miles and yet feel that you are still in the same place. There's yet another lawn with the sizzling spitting sound of sprinklers. And there's that same white fence that blocks off the yard from the road and the same insistent barking from the dogs trapped behind it. Yes, I do know that white fence number three is not the same as the one that came before it just 10 minutes before. However, about a few minutes later, they all get muddled together and I won't even remember how many there were. The only other time the identity of objects is so unclear and uncertain is in recollection of dreams.

After taking many walks like that, I've realized that there was something wonderful about them. It's true that there was no joy to be derived from human contact... But there was the pleasure of entering a new sci-fi world that was exciting, though de-humanized..... The cars that I watched flow by raptured me by their speed... I myself was walking at 5 miles per hour while they roared past me at 60. And I somehow accelerated with them. My walking speed did not change but my vision became more acute, intense, and fast. My sight tracked the second-long voyage of a car from being right at my side to being just beyond the horizon of my vision. The car was there one second, it ran past each tree, each house, each fence in what felt like milliseconds, and then sped out of my sight. You see, as my eyes kept up with the speed of the cars, they jumped from each object in the field of my sight in the time period of milliseconds... My feet were walking slowly, but my eyes were flying along with the cars...

Now, can a walk like that compete with the pleasure of people-watching? I am not quite sure if that is true. But it certainly has its own charms just like an amusement park ride. The isolating experience of walking not among humans but among machines certainly gave me the feeling that I left the world of humans. This is a genuine illusion that you acquire during such a walk. If you are surrounded by fast-speeding cars for a half-an-hour or an hour, it begins to feel like you've been there forever. It's like a trance: I watch a car whir by, then another, and then yet another. The houses, lawns, and fences register in my eyes over and over again as the cars pass them by. All this for about an hour long. By the time I've left this high-traffic stretch of road, it feels like I've woken up from a deep hypnosis. Walks like these often end up in a downtown destination full of social places like stores and cafes. Even humble parks are overrunning with people. There you glimpse the elderly reading newspapers, teenagers playing basketball, and adults jogging or biking.

But by the time I encounter all these people, their presence strikes me as odd. It takes a few minutes to get the whirring sounds of cars and their speedy trajectories past lawns and fences out of my head. The regular and predictable rhythm of traffic is like a song that repeats the same chords over and over again and manages to imprint them on your mind. The song puts you to sleep. Once it's done, what has been before feels like yesterday and what comes now feels like morning. A walk along urban routes needs its own mythology so that its beauty can be appreciated. I'll sum up its merits by saying that it lulls you into somnolence but in a way that's refreshing and invigorating. An experience like that is definitely a plus. Even Windows needs to be rebooted once in a while to recover from crashes, memory gaps and to update its software configuration.

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