The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dressed at dawn

A-cube sneakers
National Basketball Association jerseys
ATR (above the rim) caps

All in a morning's wear when it comes to starting the day from the Maidan.

At 6.30 on a March morning, the walking track along Victoria Memorial resembles a ramp as fitness fuses with fashion and the morning walkers' baton passes on from GenEx to GenX.

So, while the oldies have had their stroll and catch a breather on the benches, it's time for the young and trendy to take over.

For this gang, it's not just about sweating it out but also about doing it in style, not just about beating the bulge but also bearing the right brand.

If you think 6 am is just too early for the young to get into action, just make it to the Memorial one morning.

If you think morning walk is all about white and grey, just make sure you have a pair of shades handy to beat the gear glare.

'The motive to come out early in the morning is to feel good. So if opting for colourful clothes over the monotonous whites early in the morning helps, then what's the harm,' demands Romi Ghosh.

The 24-year-old sporting the trademark Sania Mirza look of cap, ponytail, nose ring and tee (but paired with a pair of tracks, not a mini), adds: 'The basic objective of a morning walk is to stay fit. And when you are fit and in shape you want to wear clothes which look good on you.'

Beat bulge, bear brand

The trend of youngsters wearing their attitude from dawn ' to dusk and way beyond ' is mirrored by the movement on the racks of sporting giants like Reebok and Adidas.

'There are two types of walk-ins at our outlets. The first category is seriously into sports, coming to pick up specific stuff. The second category is of people who want to associate themselves with a sports brand because that is fashionable. The young morning walker normally falls into the second category, going in for bright coloured apparel and various accessories,' reveals a spokesperson for Adidas. 'Keeping in mind these consumers, Adidas has launched various products like summer hats and bandanas, which are not directly associated with any sport.'

So what is hot and what is not when it comes to taking those first steps on any given day' 'The National Basketball Association, National Football League and National Hockey League jerseys are hot favourites with the youngsters. Besides the brand name, it is the fabric and comfortable fit that makes them opt for these,' says Rajat Chabra, of the Reebok outlet at the Grand Arcade.

The more adventurous walkers or joggers slip into Black Eyed Peas (Don't Phunk With My Heart) T-shirts and 7/8 pants (ending just above ankle height) or Levi's anti-fits (defying gravity and staying precariously in place).

Capping the morning gear is branded headgear. 'Applying gel on the hair so early in the morning is not advisable. Caps serve the dual purpose of camouflaging the bed hair and making a style statement,' says 26-year-old jogger Arnab Mukherjee.

The pocket pinch for the sum total could touch Rs 3,000.

Jog the ramp

The portrait of the walking track as a ramp is not lost on Akbar Ali, who sells sattu outside Victoria Memorial. 'I have been sitting here for the past 15 years and have seen the crowd change beyond belief. Earlier, the bachchalog came, but were accompanied by their parents or grandparents. But now they are not accompanied by any seniors and they often wear strange clothes,' remarks the old man.

What they wear often has a lot to do what they want. For a date at dawn ' blind or wide-eyed ' or just catching up with friends is not uncommon.

Swapan Kumar Bhattacharyya, senior professor of sociology, Calcutta University, Alipore, explains the trend: 'First, the fitness aspect. The youngsters of today are subjected to more strain and tension than previous generations. So they need to be physically as well as mentally fit. Morning walk is one of the ways of doing so.

'Secondly, the adda that was a part and parcel after a hard day's work is on the wane because of lack of time. Some people have come up with this innovative way of socialising during morning walks. With less and less leisure time, this trend is bound to increase.'

Who has the time to socialise in the evening, exclaims Shruti Sharma, a BPO executive in her twenties whose workday begins at noon. 'A stroll in the morning serves many purposes. Besides staying fit I can catch up with friends. We chat while on the rounds and time just flies,' smiles Shruti.

And those whose bastion it used to be in the mornings, do not mind seem to mind the invasion of the fit and fashionable. 'Previously there were so few people who would come here. Now it seems like one big family in the morning. We welcome these youngsters as it is heartening to see them taking their health seriously,' says Vijay Kumar Arora, a morning visitor to Victoria for the past 25 years.

He has no problems with the likes of Shruti doing the rounds with friends. 'Each round of the Memorial ground is 1.5 km, so it's a good idea to do it in a group,' feels the member of the Morning Walkers' Association. Arora's middle-aged son Rajiv adds that the 'levying of Rs 4 as entry fee' has weeded out unwanted elements and made youngsters feel safer.

Only some like businessman-cum-DJ Sushant Sethi grumble about the gladrags gang taking over the Memorial in the morning. 'I am very serious about my jogging, which is often disrupted on the track because of these groups walking and gossiping.'

But if morning does show the day, the mix of fitness and fashion, sweat and style is here to stay.


The cool

Anti-fit jeans
Black Eyed Peas T-shirts

The (brand) conscious

A-cube sneakers
National Football League/National Hockey League/ National Basketball Association jerseys
ATR (above the rim) caps
Summer hats for women
Multi-coloured bandanas
Head band/Arm band/Finger band

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