Today when I passed by the Lord Venkateswara temple on the Beach road in my first loop at around 4:30 AM, I said a silent prayer. For one having decided to not keep a count of mileage, it was a milestone requiring acknowledgement. It was 8KM into my run today, the 32nd day running totaling to a 1000KM uninterrupted. I know after what Sameer Singh, the faith runner, has done, all runners gloating about 10*21KM etc., has stopped. He did the unthinkable of 100*100KM. After, reading about it, I made a pact with myself. I would replace his 100K per day with a more manageable 32K and instead of aiming for 100 days, I planned to go on as long as possible unbroken. I compare it to Snooker where each visit/break is counted by the number of points scored. My last attempt ended tantalizingly close to 1000K on the 29th day. The idea is to continue uninterrupted the daily diet of 32K and silently prepare for the 100K attempt after retirement, Insha-Allah, Knees willing!
Monday, 3 April 2017
Amma had the uncanny ability to take anything her opposition did till her rise in politics to a whole new level and she beat them hollow at it. The poster and cutout warfare was one such activity. With her demise her opponents have slowly found voice and wall space to express themselves. I was thinking of this and some more while trying to read her eulogies (by trying to read tamil poster by putting together letters!) at my usual biological break point opposite the US embassy. It was such a colossal waste that she decided to take this path when she had the power to define politics. Just a few hundreds of meters from that point I saw unfinished wall paintings about man’s relation with nature and the need for saving trees with a theme ‘Hope for the World’. It was ironical that this was being heralded from the boundary walls of Stella Maris college, the alma mater of Late Ms. Jayalalitha! It was as if they were atoning for their illustrious senior’s follies!
Since my last post and my splinter in the foot episode, I have moved on. I thought about why I suffered the injury after so many years of injury free barefoot running. The fault was in my trying to hit out my way out of trouble, a.k.a. Virender Sehwag style when faced with a splinter in the foot. The trick is to land softly and if anything pokes and does not fall off by the next landing of the same foot, stop and examine. What had compounded the problem was repeated pounding on the injured sole hoping to beat it into submission. I have gone back to basics and now grind the opposition Rahul Dravid style, ‘vinamrata se’! If you land mindfully and softly, one could run over a bed of arrows too, I now believe Bhishma could have lain on a bed of arrows by a similar technique!
As for my continuing battle with my hobbled left knee, I see light at the end of the tunnel. By running daily, even if with a very painful start, by keeping at it the swelling at the shin and the place where knee meets the shin, it has got better. The trick I think is to be patient and not be too hard on the injured part, coaxed gently it turns up for the party and once warmed up, it really party’s hardest!
While celebrating regularity and punctuality Hubli passenger style, I have been seriously offended by an article sounding very medical that running long distances is bad for the kidney. I know that this has affected runners of all shades going by the number of posts sharing this news. Serious addicts like your’s truly will never get dissuaded by such dirty tricks, but, there is a nagging fear that this could be picked up by our better halves to discredit running in general. While the country is investigating foreign NGO’s, we must also investigate the source and motivation of this study, I fear it must be the handiwork of distressed spouses affected by the long runs! We runners do pull down obese people and couch potatoes by calling their liver and hearts names, but, going for the kidney in retaliation is literally hitting below the belt! Coming as it does when the weather Gods have been conspiring to deliver the knockout punch to the Chennai runners, the timing could not have been worse! Going by the ever increasing runners on the Chennai roads in the mornings defying such studies and the adverse weather, we are sure made of sterner stuff!
Romeos are not having an easy time, Our neighbor in Delhi had a pet by that name and the ailing Labrador (about the same age as Biscuit!) lost the battle to the dreaded disease Cancer and moved on. I am sure he can live up to his name in the other world. Meanwhile a crow couple (normally one sees a group of them aptly called Murder!) has taken residence at the tree next to Couum river near Napier bridge. Going by the unfamiliar and incessant chatter the couple keeps up, they sure seem to have moved from the persecutions of Yogiland! South has long been a safe haven to persecuted people.
Last but not the least, your’s truly crossed one more year of running and being of the age when every passing year reminds one of slog overs with asking rate going up all the time, the greetings (does anyone know how to turn off the birthday in the facebook profile!) only exasperated the feeling. I did what I know best, another 32K of the sweatiest. Thank god for small mercies when runners can indulge in this age-defying exercise and forget the inexorable march of time!
Monday, 6 March 2017
Barefoot running has its downsides; Just when I was thinking I had perfected the art of watching my steps and skimming the surface, a sharp prick on the sole of my right foot nearing the end of my run a few days back jolted me. I hobbled a few steps over the glass shard strewn area, responded by grazing the sole lightly over the road surface after reaching cleaner part of the road. All was not well was clear when the pricking sensation only got worse and I could somehow reach home by favouring the unaffected part of the foot. My hobbling around the house could not get past the eagle eyes of my wife and I confessed to a lesser crime of having hit my toe against a stone.
One thing barefooters would tell you is running barefoot on Indian roads is considered an adventure sport and hence not covered by insurance and against Doctor’s advice. As luck would have it, I had a busy day and could find no privacy to lick and probe my wounded foot during the day. To rub salt into the pregnant foot a few acquaintances who met in office asked if it does not hurt to run barefoot! By end of the day the foot had got painful and I was finding it difficult to put weight on my right foot (observant readers would have noted that the right leg was in serious trouble with a wounded sole joining a weak knee!). Biscuit also was at his playful best during the evening walk sending shooting pains up my leg when I landed on the affected part. My previous experience with thorns or shards in the foot has been that the culprit when tracked down and exposed looks very small and helpless. I could fully relate to Nana Patekar’s famous dialogue which I made the topic of this episode, only the humble intruder in my sole is the villain in place of the mosquito in my case!
I was able to probe the vicinity of the intrusion with a pin over the next two days, the last being a Saturday to boot, needless to say I could not run for two days. I finally succeeded in neutralizing the intruder by Saturday afternoon. The effect of constant probing had left the vicinity of the crime badly mauled. The joy of being able to land the weight, even if gingerly initially, on the Sunday morning run was plain ecstasy. The escape from the accusing eyes of the wife and probable sermon from the Doctor was by no means any less cause for celebration.
My brother who has recently been trapped by the running bug has been seriously infected with my Sister-in-Law complaining to my Doctor brother that he has started getting up at ungodly hours and running for hours. I was telling my brother that we must add another category of widows to the existing Bridge and Golf variety, the running widows, Only this sport is more gender-neutral and the affected party could be of either gender. My Sister-in-Law must be ruing the day she complained about his sedentary lifestyle.
Talking of running being patronized by both genders, a recent article by a woman runner pouring out her angst on the atrocities people commit on the fairer sex who come out to run. I was telling my daughter of the article and I was shocked to hear her experiences both in Gym and on the roads. It was really courageous of the lady in telling all and I started to look upon runners of the opposite sex with a new respect from then on. The girls talking out about the violence on the DU campus swelled my heart with pride. Here I was pussyfooting about making political comments on poster war on in the State fearing reprisal. Time to redefine the weaker sex!
Wednesday, 1 March 2017
The story in the weekend edition of Metroplus of a corporate executive throwing his job for a career in making and dispensing curries and his salary going from Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 8,000 made me think during my run today. He goes on to say that he finds more time to read books and the joy of feeding people for a job is satisfying. That the descendants of the people who invented the Zero and its significance one day realizing the probable insignificance of the same to the quality of life is surely ironical to say the least.
I am usually fascinated by a mad man who is normally found performing a dervish like dance i.e., whirling ( made famous by Hrithik’s Khwaja Mere Khwaja number!) to the accompaniment of loud peals of laughter on the iconic Kamrajar Salai not far from the power center of the TN government. Today he was challenging me to match his state of undress. He matched my toplessness of attire by going bottomless, but, the long shirt kept him from testing the bounds of decency. I was surprised to find him on Egmore suburban station where I get down for work. He was performing his trademark whirl perilously close to the suburban train. Now fully dressed, I could not relate to his madness. He seemed to be mocking me and asking me if I could match the passion in my morning run with my daily grind in the office!
Time to close shop, but, could not keep these thoughts continuing to crowd me in my tomorrow’s run!
Monday, 27 February 2017
Having chewed up the life out of his old leash (to be fair to Biscuit, my going on nine Labrador pet, has stopped feasting on his leash for some years now!), but, trusting him to behave his age he was gifted a pretty red coloured leash. He did not mind the age of his instrument of bondage, but, we hated to be seen with a decrepit leash. Biscuit sure looks smart in with the new leash! He needs all the smartness what with the new Pomeranian (I call it the Snowhite till they get formally introduced!) having moved into the next block. Biscuit insists on a round of our block after his customary stroll in the other colony complete with MukkaLaat with Tiggy. The female (I hope!) of the species has been showing interest in him by peeping out from the third floor balcony at the appointed time every day, it looks like a scene from ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
Biscuit continues to limp on his right foreleg as if in sympathy with the pain in my right knee. We have both actively been practicing the ignore therapy for our issues with our legs. I made the concession of mentioning my problem to my Doctor Brother during my recent visit to Pune. He being a runner more than a Doctor was the only one I trusted who would not ask me to stop running. The fact that the pain goes away after a few kilometers into the run and the pain becoming bearable in time for the next day’s start means things are under control. Don’t we runners believe that what does not kill makes one stronger!
Talking of running in our family, my youngest brother (the Doctor above referred) and yours truly are well into running and the two siblings (a brother and sister in between) feel left out when we lapse into runners lingo. They have started to feel left out and that ‘Sweat is thicker than Blood’. Not being able to beat us at it, they have decided to join us and as a result we have the two enthusiastically posting their running exploits every day. We are looking forward to an extended run when the family meets! Not only families even the corporate leaders, be it the Facebook boss or our very own anointed to the Tata Sons, have shown that business is best sealed over bonds of sweat and no longer with popping of Champagne bottles. This gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘Sweat equity’!
Talking of sweat, I seem to have found the reason for my canine friend couple jumping all over me enthusiastically near Marina swimming pool could be for licking off sweat off me. Will test this theory further by drying myself before reaching that spot and report. The weather gods continue to be benevolent on residents and particularly runners of this city, let us add miles before the Sun gets back with full vengeance!
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
The kids had demonstrated to perfection the Gandhian method of peaceful protest. An ordinance legalizing the sport of Jallikattu had been promulgated the previous night. When I started for my run that day, my thoughts were similar to that of a Bull let out to face a crowd of testosterone raged youngsters. I was not sure if endorphins were enough motivation or I should have temporarily kept aside my Gandhian qualms and had a few quick stiff ones!
The ‘Occupy Marina’ movement had virtually relegated the police, politicians and reel heroes from their midst. The youngsters had given a stellar example of how to implement Swatch Bharat, the young man riding a Corporation garbage lorry proudly adorning the protective gear made a lasting impact compared to all the celebrities ceremoniously wielding the broom for the media cameras! The volunteers regulating traffic without use of power or challans, but, just a cheery smile set the bar high for their counterparts in white who have tarnished their profession by demanding bribes not far from the War memorial! That the conventional politicians of all hues were rattled was best seen in the way the leaders of a popular political denomination trying to stop suburban trains were made to appear foolish by kids travelling in the train with me. They asked the protesters how they would reach Marina if the trains are stopped. The protesters beat a hasty retreat shamefacedly. Clearly, the rules have been changed by the younger generation!
Most telling image was that the who’s who of the state bureaucracy, who used to strut around pompously in the dress rehearsal of Republic day, were relegated to a side road in the Army area this year. The policemen who used to be brash with commoners were appearing suitably humbled. In my last loop near RBI when one traffic policeman with sporting a trademark paunch imitated my running, I took him on and said had he been more genuine and regular in his copying of my running, he would be more healthy and could get rid of his paunch. He had the final laugh when he said that I do not seem to have conquered my temper despite Gandhian wear and regular exercise. Guess, I was feeling emasculated by the crowd of youngsters shaming the entire state machinery (not that anything could hurt more than the top civil servant of the state having been caught with a stash of money recently!)
In my last loop near Napier bridge I was stopped by a posse of determined policemen who absolutely refused entry to me on to the Marina beach road. I tried Gandhi, then anger, but, to no avail. I cursed them that may they be relegated further away from the public discourse for their insensitive behavior to an old man for extending his run by four more kilometers by asking him to take an unfamiliar and alternate route. Little did I know that the young man in uniform was doing his duty and preventing me from getting embroiled in the police protestor tussle on the Marina.
In my opinion the victory coming so easily made the youngsters feel that that had bid low and could have asked for more. Having won the ‘Right to Fight’ the bull, were they doubting their ability and the bulls will to fight? My take is that we as elders have failed to define virility and manhood to this generation of Pokemon chasers that they had to go as far as Sangam literature to resurrect Bull taming. My prescription would be taking to running to woo a girl as well as staying as a united family!All in all let us celebrate the youngsters at Marina for validating Gandhian methods, even if for a doubtful cause, hoping that they would come back with worthier causes. If nothing else, I am sure it would give pride in work to the many sanitary workers, humility to the police and the powers that be! Long live the Republic!
Thursday, 19 January 2017
With the battle for the ‘Right to Fight’ raging and the crowds of youngsters taking to my running arena these last two days (and nights before I am told!), I have been riding the horns of dilemma. Though the subject is hugely topical and emotional, the fact that the Bull for whose well being and virility everyone seems to be speaking for, I wanted to speak up for him. My interest in bovine matters is of recent origin, after I turned Vegan and realized the withdrawal symptoms after voluntarily abstaining from the species better halves nurturing offering. The crowds on the Marina beach are largely peaceful and the interest of youngsters in matter agricultural is heartening. Gandhiji with his head bowed would have appreciated their means of protest, but, the ends seem suspect.
The stated reason for the popular uprising is defending our culture and virility (the Bull’s I meant!). With all the emotion and heat surrounding the topic, I have not been able to understand about how letting they play ‘Taming the bull’ for once a year would make the vanishing breeds survive. The problem of dwindling native species of the male kind is ominous in the days of the sperm banks and IVF even for the males of the human kind! What chance does lesser mortals in the foreseeable future of designer babies!
On a serious note, the imported breeds being preferred by dairy farmers, because of their much superior (even if unhealthy(?)) yield, over native bulls is all too familiar like the hybrid and GM seeds threatening the native seeds. The solution would be to work on the growing awareness of superiority of things Órganic’! Governments and NGO’s should support preservation of native breeds and sell the produce (even if costlier on face value!) to discerning buyers. Animal husbandry department of the government and enterprising and educated dairy farmers would be a key to this. To promote local and native produce can be marketed as promoting nationalism and patriotism (which is the flavor of the season!). The anger and emotional energy aroused by the issue of ‘Jallikattu’ should be channelized to sustain and nurture their interest in farmers and farming.
Only recently in the Hindu Literature festival held over the previous weekend, the fact of largely docile Indian public in the face of queuing for days for cash after demonetization was suggested for a wider sociological study for what makes us Indians so docile, sure enough, the empire struck back so bullishly vindicating their virility!
As a result of the all night vigil on my run route, I have had to reduce the number of loops on the Marina with the longer part of the run being relegated to the Fort and military area. My unusual dress or the lack of it, I feared, could be the proverbial read rag to the bullied youth! I need not have worried, they gave me a rousing cheer when I crossed them and I felt like in the home stretch of Mumbai marathon which I had recently ducked in keeping with my abstention for commercial events!
Enough on the bulls, as I feel that even if it is the steed of my namesake lord, which with their better halves have hogged lot of footage even to the exclusion of matters concerning the human beings. Biscuit (my aggrieved pet due to this partiality!) has not had his limp on the right foreleg not being reported in the press. Then, there is the minor issue of the pain in my right knee which threatens to break my routine runs. We both have decided to soldier on even if limpingly and at the time of going to press, we both are better!
Though I wanted to restrict this post to matters Bullish, but, the chance encounter the day before cannot wait for my next blog. I usually take my final (and a longish!) break near Gandhi statue before my return trip. A man accosted me opposite the DGP’s office. He asked me about my father and, without even waiting for a full reply, said that he is the grandson of freedom fighter VOC! I know any amount of pride in my grandfather’s accomplishment could have been no match for his lineage. I have seen the movie on VOC and Sivaji’s proud visage in that role came alive to me. He said he spoke seven languages and broke into a rousing song (I confessed that my Tamil was only passable!). He had his right hand amputated from below the elbow and he claimed to work as a security guard. The pride in his voice and his sincere face told me that he could be telling the truth. I was reminded of V Sriram, the Hindu columnist who writes about Madras Miscellany every week about lesser known facts of the city, who spoke in the recently concluded Litfest about the stellar ladies of Chennai of yore. I think if this reaches him, he could test the authenticity of the man’s claim and we should help the descendant of the freedom fighter, who staked his all for the country’s sake, so that even if his genuineness is proved we could help him as he seems to be in bad ways! There never is a dull day when I take to my run in the morning (a creaky knee notwithstanding!) and with such VIP acquaintances any furlough could be costly!