Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Saga of the Sun and the Sunflowers … contd.

Today Biscuit did not wake up till 04:45 AM. The publicity on the web seems to have got to him. To be fair to him, the weather was very cold today and it was pitch dark even when we got out at 05:00AM. Moon on its wane after reaching full size yesterday was fighting a losing battle with the forces of darkness and the stars contributed their mite for what it was worth. Biscuit took his morning walk with alacrity conscious that his delay would mean my running in the sun.
Today I added a spoonful of dried gooseberry (Amla) to my quota of used green tea leaves for chewing cud while running. It sure was contributing to increased salivation. The street lights were switched off as soon as I started the run, as if in the precarious power situation the State was in, expecting street lights beyond 06:15 AM, however dark the night was being greedy. The roadside prayer place at Keshwapur cross was spreading the incense of smell. While I crossed the re-consecrated statue of Mother Theresa standing on a pedestal in the compound of St. Mary’s school, I was reminded of the hatred certain fringe elements poured over her statue previous Christmas. It would take more than Shaheed and Raghavendra running together to keep the secular fabric intact. The competitor dairyman neighbor of my dairy vend was busy setting up shop, he was also late today.
Few people were up and about, some to tuitions, others to catch morning train to work and the others still of the elite morning walkers who need to walk to burn their indulgence of previous day. I was thankful for the few vehicles from the opposite side as they lit up the road for me to warn me of the potholes and ubiquitous speed-breakers (the new status symbols). I crossed the devotee who was in the process of appeasing the roadside self-help temple with his own mix of rituals. I now reached the first gates of Madura colony after crossing a few ATM’s where the guards had taken refuge inside for shelter and warmth. The Pig family members had each taken a plastic cover of their choice of take-away and were enthusiastically tearing into their order. They were making sure that the municipal workers would have enough work when they turn up later.
The Sun seemed to be on-time and clear skies ensured that lightening of the eastern horizon made the way clear by the time I reached the KM 3 mark of municipal limits. My singer friend, having given us a song the previous day, was coming down vigorously swinging his arms to keep himself warm. I asked him in local language as to why he was not singing today. I am sure that I could request songs very soon, if our familiarity keeps growing at the present rate. I emptied my tank and took a deep breath and prepared to attack the next two kilometers of climb. The HT poles were making a lot of fuss of carrying power to people downstream. The crow sitting on the HT cable was not impressed. The all night petrol bunk’s claim of being all night was not tested today, it wore a deserted look.
I eased into the level stretch leading up to the temple keeping  my eyes skinned for the mysterious jogger in track dress of day before yesterday. Just as I had just given up on him, I saw the jogger, heavily clothed for the cool weather of today, walking towards me from the opposite side. He seemed to have taken my advice of running against the flow of traffic. I asked him his name and was informed that it was Anup. He works for a private company and he has been in Hubli for the last two years and that he has been running for the past week. He could not come yesterday because of some work. I must thank my employer, Indian Railways, for allowing me the luxury of running every day. We parted promising to meet again. Sorry, about the whole build up of apparition of my yesterday’s narrative having to be broken on the altar of reality. Busy with Anup, I missed wishing Sai baba, shall have to make amends on the way back.
I now kept my eyes skinned for my young friends who should be waiting at KM 8. At a distance (the stretch from KM 7 to 8 is very straight and that’s what makes it so boring) I could spy only the younger form of Shaheed, Is Raghavendra taking a biological break nearby? Shaheed gave me a smart salute and I reciprocated with a warm greeting. I asked him about the missing Raghavendra, he told me about him being held up on some work. Shaheed suitably reduced his stride so as not to stretch me. We had free-wheeling discussions about his school, his hobbies, favorite subjects and what he wanted to become. Though he liked Hindi, English and Urdu, he wanted to become an engineer to make lots of money. I asked him if he knew the best engineering college of the country, if he has seen the movie 3-idiots. He named some college in Bangalore where his senior from school has gone. I educated him about IIT and that he should do well in Maths to be able to do justice to Engineering education. Having found out that he helps his father in the fields, I asked him about what they grow and educated myself about the crops on the either side we were crossing. He said something excitedly pointing to a man pushing a trolley with a lot of plastic pots carrying water. Coming closer, I recognized the driver to be Raghavendra. He said that there was no water at home and he could not come to run today as he had to fetch water instead. I bid farewell to Shaheed and Raghavendra and inched closer to the 10KM mark.
I could see a lot of wheat fields with marigolds interspersed. They make a pleasing sight. While it may make economic sense to grow wheat to coarse grains like Ragi and Jowar, it also meant reducing cover for the local staple grains. Let me digress here to narrate the goodness of the coarse grains. I frequently go to Railway hospital for blood test for measuring sugar level for her to see if it was in check. There is room full of people waiting to donate blood for the same purpose there. Talking to the Medical officer colleague there, i was told that all the people there were Andhra and TN migrants and there is zero incidence of Diabetes in the local population. He stated that it was because of the diet of Jowar on which they sustain. It also came to light that the women do not suffer from osteoporosis because Ragi is rich in Iron and Calcium. It is sad to see that the local good will be overtaken by commercial consideration. There is lot of sense in expanding PDS to procure local grains and supply the same to the local population. It will give a boost to cultivating of the local grains. Let us celebrate differences.
Approaching the bridge on the culvert near KM 11, I could see 4 ladies returning from their walk, they were escorted by their local dog. They kept shushing him, but, he wanted to prove his worth. He growled and I stopped to show that I was not afraid of him. We exchanged greetings (me and ladies, I mean) and the dog walked off disinterestedly. I am sure he will come back to fight another day.
The sun was nice and warm and the climb to KM 12 had to be started without the usual biological break at KM 11 because of the fair company. I decided to combine the water and biological break between KM 12 and 13 on the bend. This was turning out to be good for I had run without a single break after KM 3.  The liquor bottle was standing proudly trying to stare down the Sun in its drunken bravado.
The sand Lorries continued to feed off the plunder somewhere in the interior. Hope, the authorities wake up soon before it is too late. Onion laden tractors and trucks gave an assurance that they have done their bit in bringing down food inflation and reduced head-aches for RBI and the finance minister. Maize laden Lorries also added to the traffic, and the crows dotting either side of the highway feeding of the spilled grains seemed to say that in these hard times we cannot afford to waste a single grain.
While it was a pleasure to see my sunflower patch, now, I got depressed when I saw them still standing desolate and sad. I wish it was not the case of the farmer having deserted them and they would be put out of agony soon. The maize patch right at KM 15 had grown to full height and their plume swaying in the wind inviting me to play ‘Love-me, Love-me-not’. The beautiful thing in Maize is that while the plume keeps our attention to the, unnoticed the cob grows, two sometimes on the side. They look like Quick-Gun Murugan ready to take on the Non-vegetarians. I had reached the half –way mark in 1hour and 32 minutes.
On the way back, I saw a lot of cotton bolls lying. Taking a lesson from the crows, I picked a few and stuffed it into my pocket to try out on my spinning wheel. I am sure Gandhiji would approve this backward integration effort of his disciple. Let me also see if I can plant the seeds in my garden and get a crop of cotton.
The bullock beyond KM 9 were taking a doze in the sun after a quick breakfast. The buffaloes were feeding under the thatched roof. The on-duty bullocks were feeding with their harness on next to the chilli patch. I was relieved as I did not see Raghavendra waiting to challenge me with his fresh pair of legs to run with him till KM 8. I took a long water break on the up from the masjid gate. This break and the cotton gathering must have spoiled my average. The maize patch had sprouted green shoots and mother earth was exulting in the joy of creation.
I now entered the toughest part of my run till I reach municipal limits to engage with the school kids. I reached KM 3 mark after one more break and three sips of water. A van load of cheering children crossed from behind; must be richer cousins of Shaheed. For, Shaheed had told me that he comes in city bus and attends second shift school. Steady procession of autos and school vans kept me interested in running without a walking break. The children of SBI school before Madhura colony were taking an impromptu games period before the school assembly.
I completed my run at a decent 3hour 12 minutes and 49 seconds.

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