Saturday, 1 November 2014

Ekla Chalo

I was at my grumpy best by yesterday night after two days of no running. Thursday run was aborted due to suspected splinter/glass in my right foot. Luckily it seemed to have cleared up on its own with a day’s rest. Yesterday I bunked because Sundar couldn’t join me and I had decided to go solo only after the month of October came to an end!

So when I read a message from Sundar that he would not be able to come today, I braced myself for my maiden solo run in the big bad city! First I waited for the rain to subside. Biscuit’s walk got rescheduled to 4AM. He took his own sweet time over the walk as there were so many smells after the showers. It was 4:48 AM when I hit the road. It felt strange to run alone again. I felt I was going slow with nobody to pace me. Even though it was a late start, the traffic was very sparse.

Today I was able to set up a conversation with myself and the reverie was broken by the beat policeman at the turning leading to the Poe’s garden. He loudly advised me to not run near the divider. I politely explained to him in what I thought was chaste Tamil that I would take care of myself and thanked him for his concern. As for educating him about why I avoid the edge of the road, it will have to wait for another day.

Reached Marina without any slip, it was 5:30 AM by my mobile when I reached the Lighthouse. I did a quick calculation and decided it would be only two loops today if I have to reach home before daughter left for her classes. The still wet, but, drying platform was just perfect for the bare feet. There was no discomfort on the right foot, the body must have neutralized the invader.

The attendance of the cows was thin today. Finally I spotted a few sitting in a bunch with their backs to me. They did not respond to my calls or the rustle of the plastic cover containing the banana peels. I felt rejected and put back the cover back in the pocket to look for a hungry cow. M S Amma continued to give me the silent treatment. The good thing was more walkers and runners were exchanging greeting as I ran past them. I was attracted to one old man who looked very dignified even in his tattered clothes and he was reading loudly from a book (looked like a religious book of verses!) and I wanted to attract his attention and establish eye contact, but, he was deeply engrossed in his chanting. A pair of young pups, one of them limping in one foot, decided to accompany me for a part of the stretch much to the amusement of the walkers. They kept a constant distance from me and having run, maybe, a hundred meters gave up on me. I will have to work on their stamina.

The strays at the labour statue unmindful of the upheavals they have caused on the facebook were playing around without a care. I took a biological break at the Napier bridge beginning (the police booth adjoining was empty today!). Police presence means we shift the scene of action to the other end of the bridge!

Stopped to greet the army person who guards the war memorial, started to talk in Hindi, but, seeing his name badge showing him from this state I switched to the local language. There is a traffic policeman at the entrance of the Port Trust (opposite the War memorial) who is seen collecting money for letting Container trucks into the city. I asked the army man whether he feels anger at the goings on opposite his watch. I expected an angry response of Nana Patekar (I forget the movie where he is the Commando instructor and settles scores with lawlessness in civilian life), or, Angry Indian Kamal Hassan, but, he just gave a smile in exasperation!

Reached RBI at 6:04 AM, a very slow run for the 5K stretch, just shows that the Hubli Passenger with too many stoppages and no Chennai Express to hustle it is very slow indeed! I put my head down and decided to be more businesslike on the return trip. Despite having to  weave through a thicker crowd of walkers and runners, it is to the credit of The Hubli Passenger that Lighthouse point was reached at 6:35 AM. I did look out for a cow and did scan the group of runners doing stretches near Gandhi statue during this stretch.

I finally found a cow standing patiently and I could recognize it as one which has tasted my fare earlier. It did justice to extra peels I had of the last few days. I remembered, the practice of Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis to take food from a random house everytime and never to repeat a house, the idea is not to form attachments by repeated interaction. I must also follow some such thing for my cow feeding!

The stretch was now clear of sleeping people. The beggar who keeps his artificial limb next to him as a qualification for begging was doing brisk business. The decent old man had finished his reading and obliged me with a full smile, must have noticed me in my earlier loop! No sign of the Parle-G lady today and the dogs had dispersed, probably to find their feed on their own! A bunch of mounted police crosses me on every day of my run. Today I made bold to wave at them, it pays to keep the police on your side!

Reached RBI at 7:07 AM. There was a girl running at a distance and it looked I could catch up before reaching Gandhi statue, that looked a good game to break the monotony of the fixed loop running. Without trying to stretch myself ,but, keeping her in my sights, I tried to catch up. The stretch where I have to get off the pavement for crossing the road set me back every time it looked like I have caught up. Finally, thanks to her taking a break in between, I was able to overtake her before the Gandhi statue.

On the way back, I stopped at the police post near the Poes Garden road and talked to the policeman to explain why I run towards the middle of the road, it turned out that he was a different guy from the one who gave me the friendly advice in the morning. He took a break from his paper and after hearing me patiently, appreciated my logic. Hope he educates the men in uniform! Found a mini cab full of school students, I was greeted with a loud guffaw (this is the familiar sequence!), but, a few kids peeping out of the van and clapping for me was a quick transformation (made me nostalgic of my Hubli school friends!). Reached home at 8:15 AM. Looking forward to a full marathon tomorrow!

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