Saturday, 4 February 2012

Day-12, of cotton picking and related stuff

I have been on a guilt trip questioning my addiction to running even if it meant leaving Biscuit behind with people he is not comfortable with, the fact that he had not eaten solids for the whole day rankled. Yesterday night I had slept with a vow to only run if Biscuit let’s me go whole-heartedly. Woke up at the usual time, did only a little bit of spinning (rationing till I am able to go to the Ashram and replenish my cotton stocks). Took Biscuit for his morning constitutional, he was his usual self and seemed to want to prolong the walk. He had a nice rolling session on the greens (don’t tell the golf club members), it seemed to cool him and also brush the top of the green, his helping back to the kids who sweep the greens before our ‘Tigers’ arrive for golfing. Returned and set Biscuit his bowl of favourite food and milk and started coaxing him, all along eyeing the clock. He did not get down from side on the sofa, sensing that if he fed himself, he would be marched off to the Crèche. After sometime hunger took precedence over principle and he deigned to lap up the milk, till refusing solids! I did what I have seen Mathew doing to him earlier when Biscuit refused food. I took the food in the palm of my hand and kept it near his mouth; he tentatively took in a few pieces and spat some down. Eureka!  He could be fed even if it would take a little longer. Bit by bit he finished the whole bowl and I felt satiated.
I also did another Psychoanalysis of Biku’s behavior of refusing to go to Mathew’s place. I realized that on other times when we left him there, he could see our packed bags and realized that he has to be with Mathew till we are out, whereas, now seeing me in my running gear while dropping him off did not go well with him, maybe! I decided to drop him in my morning walk clothes only.
The love of a ride in the car overrode his dislike for being separated from me and he happily got into the car. I saw one schoolboy with a backpack walking/running towards the St. Andrews school on the way to Mathew’s place. I slowed the Car, lowered the window and asked him if he wanted a lift. He was grateful, I asked if he was afraid of Dogs, to my and Biscuit’s pleasure he said ‘NO’. He got into the car and informed us, after Biscuit had given him a quick nose-over, that he had a 4-year old German shepherd at home (Biscuit does not discriminate among breeds). He got down at the school, where a crowd of parents and assorted types of vehicles had come to see off their kids for a picnic. We said bye to Louis and promised to meet again, Biscuit had made one more friend. Let’s see if softens him up to get off at Mathew’s place without demur. True to form, our man refused to get down on reaching his crèche, but his resistance today was of lower intensity. I got down and handed him over to his matron for day-care. I looked at my mobile, it was 06:00AM, and I could start my run at a not so late hour for office. I parked the car at office so that I could go straight to Mathew’s place after office to pick up Biscuit.
I set off at 06:10AM after going home, changing into my running gear and stuffing a bag in pocket for shopping on the way back. I had a good excuse for no warm up, I hate them anyway!
During the initial part of the run, my mind was pre-occupied on the issue of Biku’s behaviour and travails of a single parent. Biku has become much undisciplined in the last few days, I have been hesitating to discipline him, I wonder how single parents manage to keep their child disciplined. I guess you require the two poles to blow hot and blow cold and alternately support the child when the other parent has blown hot! I gave money to the dairy shop and asked him to reserve 2 litres of toned milk which I would collect on my way back. I was feeling lighter and safer after having parted with my cash, now I can sweat freely. I crossed the municipal dump outside Madhura colony where piglets were sleeping warmly piled over each other, having called a temporary truce to the fights of previous day and having reserved the right to fight again after daylight if need be. An early riser was dumping the household waste neatly tied up in plastic bags. The mother sow was patiently but with alacrity supervising the delivery as if making sure the provisions for the day has been correctly delivered.
Near the HDMC limit, I could hear sounds of loud plodding and heavy breathing behind me, instinctively, I increased my pace. Frequently some morning joggers break into a run for a few 100 meters on seeing me run. I took this to be one such case, but, the panting grew heavier and nearer. I turned back and asked him if wanted to accompany me on the run. He smiled and joined me. It’s nice to get company on the run to break the monotony of the run. The readers also are fed some fresh matter instead of the usual nature stuff the next day. My running mate for the day was Beerappa, a police/forest guard hopeful. Talisman for entry to those high offices was to run 2K in a timing of 10 minutes. He asked me the usual questions about running after judging my credentials as a runner myself. He accompanied me for another kilometer and dropped back after promising to meet me again.
Though I had resolved not to stop for cotton picking on the way due to the tight timeline and also that my pocket was bulging with the SCMM carry bag in it. But, some of the beauties freshly blown away from the mother plants are too tempting! I stopped and took it off the ground; it required a minor tussle with the grass/twig which had held the cotton boll to ransom. I prised it apart carefully so as not to hurt it and stuffed it in my pocket. You know it’s like peanuts with cotton picking off the highway it’s difficult to stop after one. I continued my rescue humanitarian assistance with the vested interest of some day learning to gin and press (with the help of Dr. Google of course!) and be able to convert this to yarn. That set me thinking, what if it were as easy to take into our fold the street children as it would be to convert these abandoned cotton bolls to cloth to be worn close to our heart (am I wearing my heart on my sleeve!). On a more mundane level, seeing more cotton flying around than what was left on the plants to be picked, it seems to be a case for Agri-scientists to research ways of avoiding this pre harvest wastage. This surely must be seriously denting the economics of the cotton farming (have I found the cause of cotton farmers distress?). A simple mesh like contraption, like the one Kalappa uses to pen his sheep, around the field at maturing time could be a possible solution!
All this cotton rambling had seen me to the doorsteps of the mosque before KM9. I talked to Shri. Mohd. Sheikh and asked for an appointment for the next day and inquired if it’s ok to enter the mosque in shorts. He agreed to all my shortcomings, this was very sporting of him. Promising to meet him the next day, I chugged along to see if my friends from the Islamic school are out on their holiday. No luck there, the Sun however was in no mood to relent as he caught me a full 2K away from our usual rendezvous at KM 11. Pockets bulging with cotton, shopping bag it were going to be a tough ask negotiating the Sun’s glare for the entire stretch. The Sun’s warmth now was welcome though considering the chilly breeze flowing. The lone eagle met me at KM12 after a long gap of absence. It held its pose, flapping in the air effortlessly tantalizing me to get my camera from my cotton laden pocket. It flew away just in time to beat my mobile camera. It would have taken the dexterity of Quick Gun Murugan and a faster camera to have had any hope of catching my friend eagle in the act.
I could hear squealing of pigs as I approached the canal near my sunflower patch. Was this a case of transporting pigs the opposite of cattle transporting for slaughter so vehemently opposed by the Governments in some states. I found as feared pigs stacked like sardines in two berths on the back of a LCV. The driver of the vehicle with able assistance from his assistant was giving the reluctant prisoners their last bath. Are Governments or broad minded and kind hearted Hindus listening, will they step in to rescue the poor pigs. This would be the right response to politics over animal slaughter and my friend Gandhi would definitely approve. Maybe, the uniting of animal slaughter protesters would produce another Mangal Pandey, readers would excuse my reminding people who would otherwise have repented for forgetting history, he was the revolutionary leader of first Indian war of independence in 1857 who united soldiers of both faiths over fat being used in the new Enfield bullets.
There was no sign of Benkiya or Badaria, they seemed to have done quick work of nursing their allotted piece of mother earth and returned their master to his school.Reaching the original midway point, I made a decision; I could not be expected to run the last 1 KM from Reliance fresh with provisions and groceries. I decided to extend the run by 500m so that the mandated 30K would end at the Reliance Fresh. Brilliant, you would say. But, how does one turn after 500m (remember I am armed with only a mobile, no Garmin), I went till the culvert after 1K mark and finding a private vehicle parked with the family scattered for relieving themselves. I located the driver, who I was informed knew passable Hindi, and asked him to honk twice when he crossed KM 15 if it was more than 500m away from our place. He looked surprised at the request but agreed to oblige. I was relieved when I heard 2 honks after some time. I resumed by return journey.
On my return journey I met an old man warming himself to the heat from the Sun, seated on logs of wood under a tree. I asked him if I could take a photo of his, before he could respond, kids playing near him told me to go ahead. They however, refused to share the frame with him. His old man’s name was Turkappa and he asked if I came from Hubli and if I was Kannada, I answered yes to the former and no to the latter. A young man in his lungi looking down from first floor of a house nearby asked if I was from the God’s own country. I said no, but, felt like a celebrity with at least two warring neighboring states of my mother state claiming a piece of me as their own. I strongly recommend running for wider acceptance. The old man let go of my hand taking longer than Krishna’s handshake with Hina, only after I promised to meet him again same time, same place. Down the road before Raghavendra point (where road takes off to his house from NH-218), I found an equally old lady if not older than Turkappa, carrying a load of firewood over her head. Recognising the photo-op, I asked her without much ado if she would mind posing for a snap. She gave me a stern look reminiscent of an English royal frowning on such vulgar display. I retreated severely castigated, learning a lesson that not everybody can be wooed by offering to take a photograph. Maybe, I would have to work on her longer to win her confidence.
Contrary to the style of Benkiya and Badariya style of nourishment, Kalappa believed in longer care. He had now moved to the Sai baba side of the highway. What a divine existence for Kalappa’s charges, God by the side and an opportunity to give back to Mother Nature her strength and all naturally without any fuss. I was quite late to have any hope of meeting my school friends; I had to make do with the waves from late pair of gossiping prospective NIS students of Oxford school. The Navratan Ad lady greeted me with a sly smile that she had me on the mat today (figuratively, I mean) what with the combined effect of the blazing Sun and the extra KM of run. I passed her with my head bowed waiting for better times in the coming days when I could be equal to her.
I reached Reliance Fresh in 3 hours and 29 minutes, pleasantly surprised to find Mohammed, the guy who helps unload fresh vegetables from the cold storage vehicle, recognizing me from his daily waves on the highway, one more friend!

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