Monday, 16 January 2012

Of incognito royal visit on my chariot

This is my blog of events of the 13th before leaving for the Mumbai Marathon.
This must be becoming all too familiar to my readers, my getting late to bed due to late night creative effort of posting of the blog. I don’t know whether to call it ruminating the day’s experience to perfection or procrastination. I slept after uploading my previous day’s blog at 12:30 AM. Woke up late, Biscuit co-operated; his walk was businesslike and finished in 25 minutes, his personal best. No spinning today, nowadays my literary effort is interfering with my Gandhian karma-yoga; need to find a different slot (I wonder how Gandhi found time to do so many things in the same allotted 24 hours).
I had announced to my better half the previous day that I would not run today; when I was humming and hawing at a loose end after returning with Biscuit after the walk; sensing the signs of my escape into another run, she came and stood with hands on hip challenging me to try it! Discretion being better part of valour, I settled for a bi-cycle ride, without disclosing the route or the distance. I wanted to say my byes to Raghavendra and Shaheed and not to forget my own Sunflowers at KM 15.
I set off on my bi-cycle (my daughter’s lady-bird cycle which she used to absolutely prohibit me to ride and embarrass her) for my visit to the Sunflower patch. I also wanted to test if the flow of creative juices on my run was the physical effort of my legs, the route or a combination. Will the juices flow if I substitute bi-cycle for my run?
Owing to the late start and change in mode of traction, people did not take notice of me; Mother Theresa looking down from across the St. Mary’s school’s boundary wall also did not acknowledge me. I felt like the kings of yore who used to travel incognito to get a first hand feel of the state of their rule and the well being of their subjects. Mother Theresa’s police escorts of the night had left trusting the Sun to dissuade miscreants from any misadventure. I found my effort of riding to be easier on my body than running, but, I think some part of mind was unconsciously engaged in balancing my steed, hampering my mind to freely wander around and collect thoughts.
I saw my friend Anup walking back from his point and recognizing me (my disguise was not so good after all), gave me a big smile of welcome; I was riding on his side of the road. I answered the unasked but the obvious question he wore on his face; I had traded a bike for my feet, as I was resting for the Mumbai effort the coming Sunday. He wished me luck and moved on. Was I doing this to get as many ‘Best of Luck’ for my upcoming SCMM?
The conventional manuring of the plot by the shepherd’s herd of sheep was still on, but, they seem to be winding up; must talk to the shepherd on my way back! Raghavendra and Shaheed with one more of their friend of age between the two of them were lying in wait for me at KM 8. They were pleased to see me but the look of betrayal on their faces of my having graduated to a bicycle called for explanation. They were supplicated with my answer but were disappointed that I would not be accompanying them on their run today. I collected good wishes from them and promising to meet them by Tuesday or Wednesday, pedaled on. They set off on their run after me. The moulvi and the decorated dog were missing outside the mosque; hope to catch them on my way back.
The headstones of the Communication companies OFC cables were acting in a stand-offish manner. Their conspiracy of silence was similar to the one by suspects after they have been read out the reading out the Miranda warning and were waiting for their lawyer to come to their rescue.
I stopped at the Aavarum flower spot near KM 11 for a leisurely session of gathering with much needed rest and water break; the ladies and their dog did not make an appearance today (may have finished their walk earlier!). The bunch of farmers with their scythe and popular lubricant can with their supply of water for the day on bicycle (characters I had named contract killers in my earlier posts) crept on me from behind. To my surprise, the last of them stopped and enquired as to why I had traded a bicycle for my regular jog and asked me to stick to jogging (much like General Mush telling our Captain Dhoni to stick to his long tresses!). How wrong we are in judging people by their appearance and profession, I am reminded of a story of a butcher here, whose devotion to his profession is famed to have led him to salvation.
Though I was carrying my mobile today, I resisted taking photographs; I didn’t want to be tempted to post them and spoil the imagined versions of my characters for my readers. Nothing eventful happened further till I reached the half-way mark. The sunflower patch awaiting deliverance seemed to be giving me a guard of honour for the impending SCMM.
On the way back, I broke my promise and got tempted to take photos of the scenery. I took snaps of cotton plants bursting with bols; red chillies looking daggers from behind the cotton plants; I plucked two red-chillies to try out in the Thai recipe of noodles I saw the previous day (Program on one of the Tamil channels by my favourite anchor, Menu Rani Chellama for the cookery inclined).
Moulvi was sitting with his band of followers warming himself over a fire. I having got down from my steed on the steep climb after KM 9 was walking. He called out o me. He asked the obvious; why the cycle? ( much in the tone of Why this Kolaveri?). Satisfied with my excuse, he promised to accompany me on my run one of these days. One of his followers translated the conversation the Moulvi had with me in Hindi in the local lingo for the benefit of the audience who had gathered. He showed keen interest in the Marathon, the distance and the maximum time allowed. When I told him that the distance of 42.195 KM has to be completed in a maximum of 6 hours, he after calculating in his mind, declared to the crowd that it was doable. I told him that I would try to do a sub 4 hour marathon, he was suitably impressed.
Luckily, I met Shri Kalappa, who I found was gathering firewood on the other side of the highway; he is the shepherd keeping the organic manuring tradition going in the face of the relentless onslaught of the chemical fertilizers. Finding him not knowing either Hindi or English, I subjected him to my brand of Kannada. I could gather that they come during the harvest time for manuring and that they spend 3-4 days in each plot and are paid in cash by the farmer.
I photographed the trees lining the KM 4-5 stretch which have more flowers than leaves and present a great sight to the tired body after 25K of run; it was only my tiredness at the stage of meeting them and lack of expression which has kept them out of my narrative till now. I met the puppies at KM 3 playing with their parents (they seem have taken a day off to fare me well for my SCMM); I took their photos too! I continued clicking the self help temple, Reliance fresh sipping into its morning dose of cool drink, Mother Theresa’s statue and the small muslim place of worship near my finish point. Was it my farewell visit to this route, or, am I getting sentimental?
Except Biscuit and the Sunflowers, to whom I cannot explain my departure and the period of absence, I had taken proper leave from all my subjects. Leaving Biscuit behind is the toughest part of going out for Marathon, but, knowing that Mathew and Nirmala (couple who host Biscuit in our absence from town) take good care of him and in that they have recently taken a young Labrador pup, named him Chiku to rhyme with Biku (short for Biscuit) to keep Biscuit company, self and wife leave peacefully to Mumbai.
I completed the bicycle ride of 30 KM and the photo-shoot in 2 hours 31 minutes and 15 seconds. Look out for my next post on our experiences at Mumbai!

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