When I walked out of the colony gates after earning the wrath of the sleeping guard, for not having spotted that the gate was not locked and that the chain with lock was just wrapped around the two leaves of the gates, at 4:30 AM, I was fondly remembered the friendly banter I used to exchange with Rehman bhai at our colony gates in Hubli (sometimes as early as 2 AM!). The full moon greeted me on my morning run meaning it is already a fortnight since I touched base in Chennai on the auspicious new moon day of Mahalaya Amavasya.
The last two weeks have been hectic and we have undergone turmoil in bidding farewell to Hubli. Even though transfers have been many in my two decade long career, the pangs this time in parting with my NH 218 and its friendly denizens has been quite painful, maybe, the Hubli passenger is getting old and mushy!
Biscuit (my six year old Labrador, for those who have not been introduced to him!) also on his part having been used to a duplex residence with an ample lawn and attached golf course has found the concrete jungle of a colony and a 5th floor residence on a flat quite a challenge to say the least. He has learnt to travel in the cramped lift even if some higher mammals find it difficult to share the lift with him, requiring him and his master to climb/ descend the 5 flights of stairs.
The leave taking at Hubli from the Railway friends was quite emotional and this Gandhi wannabes delicate stomach found the well intentioned Love-Jihad of delicacies of my friends a little too tough to handle leading to a tummy upset. It could be the fear of getting through the mammoth task of shifting our life’s belongings by coordinating with so many agencies.
My wife got things to reasonable shape at home yesterday and bolstered by her kitchen’s diet for a day, I advertised for the run today. Sundarpurush a veteran of Bangalore Ultra and a good friend since 2011, offered to chauffeur the Hubli passenger through the maze that is the metropolis, Chennai. While I was waiting outside the gates of the colony, the policemen on duty showed no interest in the half naked, barefoot baba, while the dog kept up its incessant bark at me for being improperly dressed and being out before time. I tried to wear it down with a gentle smile, but, I think she being city bred will take longer wooing!
We started the run at 4:36 AM and the initial part of run was all about exchanging our life events since our last meeting in 2011 and about my experience in turning barefoot. He pointed out the various landmarks for remembering the route so that I could attempt a solo run if I so desired. Though the route looks straight forward, I would take some more guided sessions before I would venture on my own. Most of the stretch was well lighted except a small stretch near Poes garden (probably in mourning for the famous resident’s continued incarceration!) We got to discussing why most people are feeling some sympathy for her plight. My take is the inordinate delay in meting out just desserts for the purported crime and her behavior in the interim in winning the hearts and minds, particularly, of the poor and needy. We ran up to Gandhi statue on the Marina and did a loop from that point to the Napier bridge and back. There were many familiar sights and friends, not to forget the dogs near the Labour statue, in that stretch. A beggar gave a smile of recognition and I gave a wider one in return, the Hubli passenger’s warmth is slowly but surely thawing the metrozens! Sundar called for a stretching break at half way mark and the time was 5:43 AM. The return trip was also pleasant as the Sun was still not up and warmed up. A water break at Sundar’s joint was the only stop over thereafter before the duo reached outside the colony gates at 6:49 AM. I am given to understand that the Hubli Passenger may have logged 20K in the process. We parted promising each other an encore tomorrow!