I have always been attracted to parks and open areas. When I was a kid, it had something to do with the vast expanse of play area that suddenly opened up to us. We felt free and unshackled; a park was like an endless fairytale playground where we were the kings and queens of our respective realms.
As I grew older, I also began to appreciate the jogging and running tracks that sprung up around parks. While Dubai has no dearth of pavements where one can walk and/or run on a daily basis, the setting up of tracks for this exclusive purpose was welcomed by fitness enthusiasts as it gave them the freedom to walk, run or jog without worrying about bumping into pedestrians, stopping at traffic lights or other impediments to the natural flow of exercise.
In fact this sense of freedom is much like what we felt we had as kids in a gigantic park. I had a whiff of that feeling recently when, having shifted out of Karama, I realised I could no longer patronise my perennial favourite Zabeel Park as it was too far from my new residence.
Upon doing some research, I realized the closest park was Al Barsha Pond. It turned out to be a pretty place with a lake, a running track of 1.5kms, sandpits with colourful swings for kids and best of all, a host of rabbits springing up to surprise you now and then.
There is something rather awesome about being on an ‘exercise’ walk and encountering a rabbit looking most comfortable in its surroundings. It reminds me of a paragraph from one of English humorist and author PG Wodehouse’s books, where he described the calming effects of staring at ducks in a pond.
Having had a tough day and my mind being a little frazzled, I experienced a similar effect when I chanced upon the rabbit. It glanced at me as if to say, “take it easy”. Or maybe that was my takeaway from the experience. Had I read one too many storybooks in my childhood? In any case, I walked on feeling a little lighter at heart.
After my round of the track, I sat down on one of the many benches scattered around. I watched barefooted kids enjoying their time on the swings, oblivious to the heat and everything else except the need to have as much fun as they could pack into their evening outing. I felt sweat trickling down my face and the rush of exhaustion from physical exercise.
Across the pond on the horizon an orange sun seemed to hesitate before sinking slowly into the space between two skyscrapers. As I mused on the eventful evening I had spent at Al Barsha Pond Park, I decided to take the rabbit’s advice. I would take it easy. I would go home to my happy space, curl up in my recliner with a book and perhaps cup of tea, toss my worries out the window for a while, and look forward to my next visit to the park.