Usual story got up late today. New reason, was posting the previous day’s blog till midnight. 3 O’clock wake up got postponed to 4:30 in increments of 15 minutes, like late arrival announcement of an Indian Railways train. No spinning or devotional music today. Straightway I put the hot water for tea, poured hot water on green tea and let it brew. Got ready and left for Biscuit’s walk at 05:30 finally, could not resist a peek at facebook for feedback on previous day’s blog and updated status for forthcoming Mumbai marathon.
Biscuit likes to be the first and by himself while visiting the Golf course in the morning, much like the first person of the country feels about Mughal gardens. More mundanely for reasons for which I like to get up early on trains to have first use of the loo. He does not mind mixing with commoners in his evening walk. Due to the late hour today, some early bird walkers intruded on Biscuit’s sojourn and he had a tough time finding his spot. Much to our relief he finished his business and made an exit from the VVIP rest house side gate (First couple out of headquarters), reserving more thorough inspection of the grounds for the evening. Moon also could not concentrate on showing him the way what with so many walkers to guide through the thickets in the early morning darkness. Today’s morning visit was businesslike and not lingering walk of the leisurely kind he has got used to with me on leave.
On return he refused to get into the house, his way of trying to ask me to bunk the morning jog. I attacked tea for finishing my quota of hydration for the run and expected Biscuit to wear out and come in himself. He was adamant today. Having got ready to leave and not wanting to lock him out in the cold, I woke up my wife to close the door after I went out, as I expected Biscuit to get in after I left. She gave me a glare, asking me non-verbally about when I would taper for the marathon (She has been reading my peers messages on Dailymile, a site for us runners). Between Biscuit and my wife, they made me guilty about persisting with my run. How could I tell them that more than the run, it was the call of the Sunflowers and more importantly the story of Raghavendra and Shaheen!
I started the run with apprehension (whether Biscuit was giving me a sign, a ka Hachiko). Into my first KM, my stomach and nerves settled. The guards were back sleeping inside the ATM and the banks money was safe! Apart from the usual passersby of people rushing to catch morning trains, kids going to tuition and old people burning calories, today I saw three ladies walking and chatting animatedly, I could not get the subject of their heated debate, but the kolaveri exhibited in the talk left me in no doubt that the agenda item must be their MIL. They sure were releasing tension and doing a lot of good to their BP, I was not so sure of the calories burnt considering the leisurely pace.
After crossing KM2, I saw the pig family squealing together, like the famous huddle the men in blue get into when in form before taking on the opposition, before attacking the garbage bin. They could also be arguing out about where to go out for breakfast today. Little further down the road, a pig and a dog were settling their differences heatedly over who gets the first pick from the garbage bin. I left them to settle among themselves. I reached KM3 in good time and in need of a biological break, I had unwittingly intruded on a pack of Romeo dogs chasing their object of affection with gusto, clearly love was in the air. The scene was straight out of Sholay where Gabbar’s horses were giving Dhanno a run for her life. Here the lady was giving the dogs a run for their money and she definitely did not need any help from me. I pushed for the climb of the next two kilometers after the much needed break. The cleft in the trunk of the tree had the farmers travelling clothes of pant and shirt while he must have got to work in his work clothes.
Met Anup beyond his turning point and greeted the singer on his return after his calisthenics at KM7. Birds were leaving for work in hordes noisily discussing their bosses. The HT wires were busy as usual, their words speaking louder than their actions. Sai baba had got ready earlier than usual, today being his special day and he must be expecting a big crowd today.
It was already 06:45 when I crossed KM7. I have really delayed my friends of KM8. Hope they stay on for me. I could not find either of them when I reached KM8. The water gatherers were having a noisy argument about their waitlist position. When I reached the point on the highway where the lane leading from Raghvendra and Shaheed’s house met the highway, I could see Raghavendra walking upto the highway. I was impressed with his timing. He must have been waiting for me, I felt guilty. He informed me that He and Shaheed had come up to KM8 and waited for me for 15mts and then they completed the run by themselves. I put the blame on Biscuit having overslept. I asked him if he had a mobile, so that we could synchronise our run time. Neither of us having a pen, I wrote my mobile number with a stick in the mud for him to copy and give me a missed call. The long and short of it being, no Raghavendra or Shaheed for company today, I felt low. The Sun was sulking behind clouds, not that I minded the cool weather. He was in mood to talk to me as he was jealous of the attention I have been giving to my running friends.
I must describe here a wonderful symbiotic relation which exists between shepherds and farmers. Shepherds travel with their family and bring their sheep to the fields after the crop has been harvested. The sheep are penned in the field for two to three days, where they graze on the gleanings of grain droppings and the fodder and their droppings become manure for the field. This is also the time for the shepherds to trade with the villagers and vice versa. What a wonderful and environmentally friendly practice!
I spied the 3 ladies walking down the bridge over the culvert near KM11. I wished them and for want of a topic, asked them about the missing dog in the native language. I was getting better at it. I was actually getting response. Having actively practiced the native spoken language since New year, I can confess that this was my New Year resolution to learn to speak Kannada. My inspiration is my hero, Gandhi, who I found out, was learning Bengali, two words a day, right up to the day of his assassination. My wife has been more adventurous with the local language, she tries it out on the maid and neighbours unflinchingly. I tell her it’s her way of getting the State for not giving due share of Cauvery waters to our home state, the neighbouring TN.
Today I did not stop for collecting flowers. I was greeted loudly by a gentleman walking briskly on the other side of the road. He looked familiar, I had seen him on and off and he invariably greets me. I decided to talk to him. I was aching for some human company. I asked him where he was coming from and upto where he intended to walk? Now, hold your breath for his answer, it surely took away mine, when he said he was going to Yamanur which was 32KM from Hubli to visit his family deity, Yamanur. He said that he makes this journey every Thursday on foot from Hubli. He returned after darshan by bus to Hubli. He started from Hubli at 05:00 AM and reached Yamanur at 10:30 AM. Now if somebody thinks I am crazy to run 30K every day, I surely have company. Now for the third Yamanur of the title today, surprise, the mysterious walker’s name was also Yamanur. He returned the favour and asked me how far I run and when I said 15K up and back, he wanted to touch my feet, I gave him a warm handshake instead. We were surely becoming a Mutual Admiration Club. I promised to accompany him next Thursday on his pilgrimage on my bicycle ( hoping I recover from the strains of Marathon by then). He told me that the deity was very powerful and that I would get a special pooja, if I mentioned his name to the pujari there. He also informed me that he worked in Gangavati textiles shop in Dajibanpeth in Hubli. My wife tells me it’s a famous textile store with good collection (dangerous territory for my purse!). I have put in all his personal details because I have taken his consent for putting him and his deity on the World Wide Web. I told him that I will meet him on the way back after completing my 15K stretch. My growing popularity with the Kusugal villagers is giving me delusions of grandeur. I was telling my wife that if we had insufficient rains this year around, these villagers may ask me to grow a beard, wear saffron and fast a.k.a Dev Anand of Guide.
The TTSL OFC marker of the liquor bottle fame had recovered nicely. He was basking in the Sunlight and meeting the sun in the eye, no hangover. His neighbours and peers seemed to have taken him back to their fold. They did not see his one off indiscretion as too serious. The speculators plot was getting some more barbed wire for standing out as a sore thumb amongst hard working neighbours. Between this and that, I had sneaked in on the Sunflower patch. The plants had now started falling under the weight of their pods, in large numbers. I could not find the flower who had reached the footpath and whose seeds I had taken to grow at home. I hope it was able to go back to its family. I shall go over this stretch on my way back more thoroughly, I would synchronise my water break with this stretch.
I reached the half-way mark in one hour and 37 minutes, not bad after accounting for time spent in making friends with today’s protagonist, Yamanur.
I located the sunflower of yesterday lying face down in my path, I took it with the intent of giving it a decent burial at some subsequent KM stone so that I can identify its resting place. I was being sentimental. It will be difficult to run with one hand carrying water bottle and other hand carrying the sunflower the size of a Frisbee. I was feeling like a soldier who drags the dead body of his fallen brother in the front to give him a decent burial back home!
I started running with the sunflower gingerly held in my right hand. After a while I realized that there was no point in carrying it to a KM stone, I had nothing to dig with, I had to carry it home to bury it in the place among where its children would grow.
On the way back, the entire Muslim family came out to wish me, I must find out their name (they would be the next target or my Kannada). The children were in new clothes and very happy, maybe, bunking school for some family function. The mosque at KM 9 was also decorated and had large number of visitors, is it some festival or a family function. How does it matter, the children got a day off!
I am now frequently crossing bands of men carrying scythe and a huge lubricant plastic can for water on bicycles. They look like contract killers who slay crops for a price. Patch after patch of crops was being slayed and crops stacked as corpses. When will they come to deliver the Sunflower patch?
Huge stretches of marigold were giving a colorful look, giving a message that there is more to life than bread alone! I have now started crossing a number of cyclists in tracksuits with fancy water bottles, the exercise bug is surely catching on. The bus of Sanskar kids crossed me before KM 8 itself today. A batch of Ayyapa devotees had parked near the Sai baba temple and were about to start again after completing ablutions and performing pooja to the portrait of lord Ayyappa perched on the fender of their vehicle.
The sunflower in the hand was really becoming a drag, not allowing the free swing of the arm. Today I realized how much we run with our arms. The Sanskar kids were listening to their colleague rendering morning news. The item I could hear getting favourable wind direction was about need for environment protection, I was tempted to share with them the video of ‘Why this Koila mining’ set to ‘Kolaveri song.
The puppies were having a day out in the sun near the speed breaker at the police check post at the HDMC limit board. Mother must have gone prospecting for their lunch. The puppies were safe with the guardians of law at hand and the vehicles on the highway reducing speed there for negotiating the speed breaker. The dog and the pig was lazing on their side of the LoC. They must have settled their difference amicably, there was no need for an UN intervention.
The lady calling the slaves of Mammon to Navratan jewelers wore a sheepish grin, she had realized the futility of trying to play temptress with my credit card. She was not unduly bothered, she was sure to get enough faithful to meet her sales target. A bunch of loudly cheering daily wagers on a tractor trolley who see me daily greeted me cheerily, breaking the spell of the Navratan lady.
The run was accomplished in 3 hours 16 minutes and 27 seconds. No run tomorrow, will come back with my edition containing the trip to the Mecca of Marathon in India, the Mumbai marathon. Wish me and my muse luck!