Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Of Raghavendra and Shaheed…

Inspection of the Golf course by Biscuit was very thorough today. Neighbour’s cat was sent scurrying when it tried to get friendly. The VVIP guest house minus the VVIP and RPF escorts gave a deserted look, lighting was toned down suitably, Moon was not feeling threatened by the earthly luminaries today. I set off for the run with 400ml of plain water in a Minute Maid bottle in hand and tea leaves and dried gooseberry tucked in mouth.
I reached the gate of the colony almost completing the perfunctory stretches on the walk. I put on the head band and reset the stop watch and set it ticking and eased into a slow run after crossing the road. The street lights on the road were off while the colony street lights were on, maybe, the electrical staff was late today or the Electrical department must be ahead of the conservation target for the month.
Mother Theresa was looking down from across the compound wall benignly; she seemed to have forgiven the vandals their act of indiscretion of last Christmas day. The local administration which had posted a posse of policemen in a riot van since the incident has now reduced the police presence to a few men. They were warming themselves by a fire made of paper waste. What an irony, the statue of the lady who shunned all fanfare and was said to have had a worldly possession of only two saris including the one she was wearing, has to be guarded by a posse of policemen. Thankfully, the father of the nation at his ashram at Sabarmati is spared this ignominy so far! To top it all we hear the State is planning to impart religious instruction in Bhagwad Gita to school children, is this what is called the Devil quoting the scriptures?
The ATM’s were deserted; the guards must have found a warmer place for the night, trusting the meager balance not to be attractive enough to attract thieves in this cold night. The Reliance fresh outlet was aglow in bright light and abuzz with activity, the headstone of RCIL of the younger brother seemed to glare from across the street emphasizing the break in communication between the sons of the first family of commercial enterprises in India, despite the recent get together at their family home.
Seeing a vehicle with bright lights parked at KM 3, I decided to postpone my biological break to till a little farther down the road. My singer friend was not to be seen today. I completed the climb upto KM 5 without much ado after a break in between KM 3 and 4. A bird was trying to render Morning Raaga above the din created by the static on the HT wire. I started looking out for the elusive new found friend, Anup. Just as I crossed the lonely tree before KM 7 (which I have now onwards named Anup point since this is his turning point), I saw a heavily dressed figure walking from the opposite direction. I wished him calling out his name and was reciprocated warmly.
Now for the straight killer stretch from KM6 to 8. I was eagerly scanning the horizon for Raghavendra and Shaheed. Neither of them was there at their usual spot at KM8. Just as I turned on the culvert I could see a row of thirsty colourful plastic pots sitting bumper to bumper. Only a few at the top of the line had their owners present, others were loitering around catching up the latest on politics, weather etc. My friends Raghavendra and Shaheed were waiting patiently, their sight lifted my heart. Raghavendra was back in his shoes. He said they were late today so they decided to catch me near their house itself. They wanted to accompany me as far as they could. I cautioned that they should turn back when they have enough gas to reach their home. I carried on with Shaheed from where I had left off yesterday. He was unusually silent today, maybe, in deference to his senior. I asked Shaheed if he knows how to operate a computer, to which he replied I the affirmative. I asked if he was on facebook, both feigned ignorance, maybe, I was expecting too much. I told Shaheed that with computer we could communicate with people around the world instantly. I informed that his story I got yesterday has already been shared with my friends across the country and that they wanted to know more about him. I told them that if people do not believe that they exist in reality, I would post their photo on the computer. Raghavendra said that he would love the publicity but only after he clears the exam. I asked Raghavendra if Hindus and Muslims are friends and he said that the relations are very cordial in their village (Kusugal). I joked with him that I that case he will be out of job after becoming a constable.
I ribbed Shaheed about his wanting to become engineer just for money, I told him to approach each subject with an open mind and the choice will be made automatically. Raghavendra asked me if I was a big man, I didn’t know what to say. I told him I make enough money for my family and some to spare and that I have a decent house and a loving family and asked him if that made a big man by his definition? I told them the story of how Obama (they both knew him) on visiting the room where Gandhi stayed (both knew him also) commented on how a man who had the whole country at his command and brought the mighty British to their heel lived with so few a physical possessions.  The idea was to impress that big or powerful is not necessarily having more! I hope I did not lay it too thick and that they would come back for more tomorrow. We crossed KM 10 to curious looks from onlookers. I know we must be making a funny trio ranging from 50 to 13, running and making animated conversation. I asked Shaheed the meaning of his name, he didn’t know and made up saying that it appears in an ayath. Let me see if he finds out and tells me tomorrow. They started panting when we approached the culvert before KM 11 and decided to turn back. I bid them bye and promised to see that tomorrow. No ladies to welcome me at KM 11, the Sun was sulking having been neglected in my preoccupation with my friends.
I had reached KM 11 in 58 mts, and that’s a fair clip. I decided to take a break to pluck some medicinal flowers, ‘Aavarum poo’ (poo for flower in Tamil), which grows in the wild near KM 11. These are a thorny bush with bright yellow flowers. Let me tell you how we discovered this flower: We were told that dried flowers of this plant soaked overnight in water and the water had in the morning after squeezing out the flowers was very good for controlling Diabetes. We had bought 50 g of these for Rs. 100/-, later we found that the same were available at Rs. 50/- for 250g at Chennai and finally we saw them growing in the wild in great abundance all along the road to Badami. My wife, Mohan Menon, a batch mate of mine and yours truly had in fact collected a polythene cover full of them on our way back from Badami. These plants were about 25 KM from Hubli on the highway (NH-218) I take my morning run on. I also tried bringing some small plants for growing in our garden, they didn’t survive.  I discovered these plants at KM 11 and onwards in the last few days. Nature may have been insidiously pushing this natural medicine to counter the Diabetes menace in our city. I usually pluck a few petals of this flower and add them to my diminishing cud of green tea leaves for me to chew on, on the way back. Today I had brought a small plastic cover for collecting some to confirm with wife that they were indeed ‘Aavarum Poo’ and to preserve some for my Mumbai marathon on the coming Sunday. I lost or may I say invested 5 minutes in this venture. I didn’t stop my watch during this time out.
The fields on both the sides showed a lot of wheat and the native Jowar and Maize were valiantly trying to hang on to their shrinking vote bank. It is imperialism of a different kind. We must propagate the goodness of these coarse grains. One more interesting observation on Jowar and Maize, while jowar carries its grain in full view on the end of the stalk, the Maize has a decorative plume at the end of the stalk while the real cob grows unobtrusively from the side. Much like a lady wearing imitation jewellery on the visible parts and hides the Mangalsutra under the folds of her pallu.
The Mc Dowell bottle was missing from its perch on the TTSL OFC headstone. The OFC marker was looking inconsolable. The tenacity shown by the bottle was almost Annaesque, finally it relented and quit. Surely, the headstone will feel liberated once it got over the hangover. The fallen RCIL OFC marker next to it lying low since the New Year day was overdoing its overworked stunt even if the information overload of New year greetings were a little on the high side. Time it stopped malingering and started communicating. The younger Ambani can ill afford loss of share in the face of aggressive Mittal.
The Sunflowers as feared were still standing as if in Tapasya for the elusive boon from Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, heads continued to roll of the plants having assets disproportionate to known sources of food gathered. Sun was giving a searching look of a CBI and IT sleuth team all rolled in one. I reached the half way mark in 1 hour and 37 mts ( same as yesterday after discounting 5 minutes of flower gathering).
On the way back, I saw what looked like a honey comb of the size of a big size Uttapam on my path near the sunflower patch. Seeing no tree or perch from where a honey comb could have fallen, I stopped to inspect gingerly with my foot. When I turned it around, it was a sunflower minus the stalk. It looked as if an angry demon had decapitated a plant and the head had fallen this far. I picked it up and finding that the mother cannot be saved, removed a fist full of seeds for saving the progeny. Much like the Knights o yore used to carry the locks of their beloved in a locket around their neck. I will go and plant this in my garden as remembrance. After coming about half a KM, I remembered that I had forgotten to give the mother a decent burial. I did not have the energy to go back, it will have to survive today and wait for my visit tomorrow.
I met Raghavendra minus his heavy woolen and cap riding a bike with a pillion carrying a bundle of cornstalks at KM 9. I recognized him when he came closer and wished me. This was, maybe, his routine before going to spare parts shop in cotton market where he worked for a living. The moulvi gave me a smile o his way back from the tea shop. Having provided chicken soup for the souls, he may have felt the need for a cuppa of the cup that cheers for himself. The red ripening chillis and the green leaves persisting to hang on created a good mosaic in the chilli field. The scare crow was standing bored and unkempt with straw peeking out of his turban. The two bullocks were standing with yoke on as if they were given an imposition and that they would receive no mid morning refreshment today. The farmer was nowhere in sight.
The killer stretch from KM 8 to 7 was gone through in a grind with two breaks. A van load of children screamed for me as the van crossed me just before the temple. Either they had an extra class or I was late. I checked my watch, I was on target but for about 10 minutes of diversions with the fallen sunflower and the Aavarum Poo.
I saw the gentleman who was offering namaskar to Sun god at 9 AM yesterday repeating the offence again. The Sun was not amused and glared at him. He did not seem to bother; he seems to habitually apply with late fee. Met with a youngster with a back pack on bike. He has been greeting me for the last few days, must find out his name tomorrow.
Gandhigiri with the drivers has been reasonably been successful barring a few sand lorry drivers and a few other RTC buses who believe in getting you off the road and exult in it. Some of the vehicle numbers are becoming familiar. Like the one with 8085 (the microprocessor based on which UPTRON made its first indigenous data entry machine), I must remember more with some associations. I must digress here to talk of Ramanujam (famed as the man who knew infinity), he is said to have told the British mathematician, Hardy , on being told that Hardy’s taxi number was 1729 and boring, that the number was the smallest number which can be expressed as a sum of cubes of two pairs of numbers( to wit 1, 12 and 10,9). Since he came from the same village from where my ancestors come, I should try my number crunching skills a bit more.
Today I met two cyclists with water bottle in their carrier coming up to KM 10. May this movement grow and flourish. I reached KM 2 and now the toughest part, when my defenses are so low, the smiling lady fully laden with jewellery beckons every day from a big billboard to a shop on Kopikkar Road, reminding me of the approaching marriage anniversary. Little does she know that by the time I have had a cold water bath, fortified myself with breakfast and checked the bullion rates of the previous day in the Newspaper, the Accountant in me is easily able to nullify all the charm of the smiling assassin. She has no chance of snaring me into this trick.
My run lasted 3 hours 21 minutes and 15 seconds.

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