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Walk into young history

Company specialising in walking tours encourages youngsters to turn into guides.
By Sneha Mahale | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON SEP 25, 2011 03:53 PM IST

It’s time to see Mumbai’s history through younger eyes. Raconteur Walks Mumbai, a company that specialises in walking tours around the city, is encouraging youngsters to turn into guides and show foreigners and Indians alike the city as seen by them. The tours, currently only restricted to South Mumbai, offer a glimpse of Mumbai’s rich history but the company, is in the process of expanding this with the intention of covering other areas and focusing on culture, art, religion and sports as well. These new tours are expected to be up and running by the year-end.

“The basic aim is to promote Mumbai tourism by actually experiencing the city and roaming around in its bylanes. There is a misconception that there isn’t much history in Mumbai but it was an important city during the British Raj and has a lot to offer,” says Viraat Kasliwal, a former HR college student and founder of Raconteur Walks Mumbai. The company’s tours are designed keeping the likes and dislikes of customers in mind, and focus on the actual experience of being in Mumbai. “We also have tie-ups in place. So, we could stop for a cup of coffee, head to a paan shop for a paan or meet a dabbawallah and learn about their life.” Kasliwal adds that the people opting for these tours are mostly foreigners but some Indians too have taken the walks .

The guides give information on the general life in Mumbai, apart from the factual and well-researched information on the actual sites and places of historical importance. “We are student-friendly company and encourage college kids to become guides. A youngster is more dynamic and gives a contemporary perspective. Also, these experiences can help shape their personalities,” says Kasliwal. He adds that they are given extensive training and taken on multiple dry runs to ensure that they get an idea of the places, routes and learn how to handle tourists. “We also take their exams and college schedule into account to ensure that they aren’t inconvenienced and keep their timings flexible.” However, he is quick to add that experienced guides can apply too and there is no discrimination. But what happens if a student doesn’t know some historical fact? Kasliwal says, “They are trained well and are kept in the loop about anything significant. But if there really is something they don’t know, they can just say so.” Students seem overjoyed by this new employment option. Karan Shah, a history student at Mumbai University, says, “Such an experience would add a practical side to my knowledge of history and I am definitely going to sign up.”

And there’s the health angle to consider too n Research has shown that walking at speeds of 3.5 to 4.5 miles an hour produces cardiovascular benefits.

A woman of average size can walk comfortably at brisk speeds of 3.5 to 4 miles an hour, while the average-sized man can walk at 4.5 to 5 miles per hour. n Slower walking (two miles per hour) can be advantageous for older people, cardiac patients, or people recuperating from illness. nWalking at 5 miles an hour can burn as many calories as moderate jogging, but even slow walking can burn 60 to 80 calories per mile.

When and where

The walks offered are:
The Apollo Gate and Front Bay Walk
The Churchgate and Heritage Mile Walk
Bazaargate Walk

All three walks concentrate on the history and cultural heritage of Mumbai. The walks run on a daily basis from 7.30 am to 10.30 am in the Fort heritage district of Mumbai.

To be a part of the walks or for any other details, call 9820025496 or 9769327288. or email raconteurwalksmumbai@gmail.com

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