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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
Time-out Walking in the Park
It was a lovely sunny winter’s day and as I had already quit going in to my office on a Friday, I decided to take a walk in our local park in Ramat Gan.  It is less than a half a mile away from my home, but I was obliged to drive there, as it is already impossible to walk along the pavements of my small neighbourhood of Ramat Chen. The automobiles are parked bumper to bumper; many of them on the curbstone and together with the projecting uncut hedgerows and the tall new plastic refuse containers that no longer fit into the previous low recesses for the old ones, but are scattered along the narrow sidewalk, walking along the pavements has become  impossible. So my well-intentioned walk to the park disreputably would start in the drivers’ seat.

   When you finally get there, it is not exactly like London’s ‘Regent’s Park’.  It is simply a large green public open space, reasonably populated with a number of glorious mature trees, wide lawns, a small lake, and some classically laid out flowerbeds.  But most importantly, the Park is located alongside an adjacent crowded working-class neighbourhood, fulfilling the essential social function of allowing those families to get out of their small apartments on a hot evening and into the fresh air and the wide open green spaces. But the Park seems also to serve a complete cross-section of the town’s residents, which gives the place a broad heterogeneous character.

   That is why I like to go there. I not only do my own minimum quota of walking, but these days, an even more significant amount of sitting down on various favorite park benches, observing the splendid procession of the other people walking around the park.  To observe people walking is almost as satisfying as reading a good book. The walkers in the park reveal themselves as a myriad of characters from an inestimable number of novels, all because of the way they walk.

     You have the real walkers, smartly stepping it out to preserve their already good health. Then you have the lesser mortals, some of them youngish but mostly middle-aged with noticeable paunches, who have obviously been told by their doctors to get moving. .. Then you have a great variety of older walkers, a category into which I pretend not to belong. Some of them lean awkwardly backwards as they plod it out, endeavouring to correct a still discernable stoop, while others resignedly amble along, having given up hope of adopting such dissimulation and bravely walk into what seems unlikely to be a particularly long future.  But then, of course there are so many other varieties of walkers passing me by as I superciliously observe them from my perch on a favorite park bench. It is particularly fascinating, that amongst each variety of the walkers there is so many different shapes and sizes, so many types of faces and upon each one an infinite number of changing expressions

   After having enjoyed reviewing the usual parade of walkers, I noticed in the far distance, a tiny figure walking as if in slow motion. It must have taken her a full five minutes until I could see that it was a very frail old lady who was quite alone and with the aid of a walking stick, was .step by painful step, moving across my range of vision.

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