A long run was long planned for this festival day. Despite my wife scaring me about crackers burst early in the morning in Chennai and how I could get hurt as I run barefoot, I remained firm to do a full today. A full in Chennai was becoming like the elusive 100th century of Sachin.
Biscuit has been having a torrid time with crackers going off at all times of the day and night and the sound getting enhanced due to the close confines of the flat we stay in. He is very fussy about choosing a spot for his morning ablutions and needs absolute silence (He is like Scooby Doo and is even scared of Autos and trucks!) while he is at it. To give him a peaceful walk, I took him out at 2:30 AM itself before settling with my Charkha. Despite his creating a scene for negotiating a stationary truck (we believe he or some of his near and dear would have been hit by truck in his earlier life!), he had a peaceful outing. I had an uninterrupted Charkha session for little more than an hour.
I left at five minutes to 4 AM with two pieces of Jaangri (Imarti if you please, one of the few Vegan sweets I permit myself!) to wish Happy Diwali to Sundar before the run. Punctual as clockwork he was at the gate at 4:02 AM, he only took a very small pinch of the sweet and I took both the pieces. Why I am saying this in so much detail is that I paid dearly for this indulgence in the first hour and half of the run. For such issues my solution always has been to keep the head down and run it down. There is no GI issue arising out of excess indulgence which cannot be quelled by enough running, at first if it does not work, run some more!
The streets were deserted and though random loud reports, air thick with acrid smoke and scraps of paper from bombs presumably burst the previous night reminded us of the dangers of sniper fire, we got lulled into a sense of security after sometime.
Today the plan was to avoid the Poes garden detour and reach Light house via the Gandhi statue which was to give us 6K (Sundar was wearing a Garmin today and most of the distances proved to be more than what we were counting previously!). Three loops of Lighthouse to RBI and back was to give us 30K making the distance a full marathon with the return distance of 6K being taken. Sundar runs about 1K from his house to reach my colony gates, so he does 2K over and above the distance I report. Today I made a conscious decision to not look at my mobile clock any time during the run and I successfully stuck to it.
The Saravana Bhawan outlet which we pass everyday and gives us free coffee aroma was closed today, a local tea shop was doing brisk business without the competition. The street dogs we crossed were looking haggard and tired, presumably, because of the sleepless night they must have had. I was never a fan of this festival which does so much damage to the environment and puts families into financial distress in their trying to keep up with the Jones (or whatever their neighbours are called in Chennai!), the agony the animals suffer due to the bursting of crackers has made me Enemy No.1 of this festival, and then there is the issue of child labour in this industry. The cracker usage had come down drastically in Delhi through the ten years we stayed there due to a successful campaign by the State Government involving the school children, Chennai seems to have a long way to go in this regard.
The skies being clear today, the rush of morning walkers was back to normal and there were a bunch of walkers exchanging ‘Happy Diwali’ near the Gandhi statue. We started our first loop from Lighthouse after the Garmin confirmed that the distance from my home to Lighthouse was more than 6K.
The cows were busy grazing behind fenced enclosures and I could not find a way to get to them (I must find out how they get in the first place!). Further down the run, I found a solitary cow grazing with single minded devotion, and, I decided to try my luck with her. I stood at the fence and called out to her (it was an impolite sound as she has not been previously introduced to me!). Hearing the promising rustle of the plastic cover and maybe the smell of the goodie within, it came to the edge of the fence and accepted the offering. She also allowed me to pet her on the forehead. I took a close up snap of her and accepting this as part and parcel of the meager offering and submitting to it politely, it returned to the main course of its meal. Sundar has now got used to the routine and scouts for cows and points them out to me and politely waits while I chat up my guest of the day.
Today of all days, I expected M S Amma to bless us with her rendition, but, she was conspicuous by her absence. The only explanation to cover her absence could be that she must have gone to give a live performance to the celestials (how can mere mortals like us compete for her affections with the celestials!). I had kept up my hope of hearing her even if later than usual every time I crossed that Perumal temple in all my three loops and had to return empty handed.
The first loop was in darkness and Garmin showed 12K covered in one and a quarter hour when we stopped at RBI (the distance from Lighthouse to RBI was again confirmed to be in excess of the 5K we used to take it to be!). The walk-way being dry meant a good grip and pace today. In the second loop the light also improved, but, this meant the Sun making his appearance. I actually welcomed him as this meant the running clothes would finally dry well! The queasy stomach and rising bile were conquered by the second loop. Sundar took a drinks break in the second loop at his regular shop and this upset his stomach. When we reached Lighthouse he said he may not be able to do the third loop. He insisted that I do the third loop while he waits near the Gandhi statue. My third loop was tough in the grueling Sun, but, he tells me that I took lesser time than he thought I would. The watch at the signal near Gandhi statue showed 8 AM when I reached there. We reached my house at 8:41 AM and a 4:39 FM was my Diwali present! Now for hogging uninterrupted, this is what I call a Pre-paid plan, as opposed to those who would eat and hit the Gym tomorrow! Happy Diwali All!