Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Indian Railways worsts Indian Army!

 Two incidents dominated yesterday’s proceedings, one good and one bad! Good one first; 
 A visit to my friend and batch mate, Sunita Vedantam was long overdue. Yesterday I got a frantic call that her grandfather (a Gandhian, all of 95 years!) wants to meet regarding his broken charkha. I found him to be sprightly, alert, good eyesight (w’out specs) and hearing. He showed lot of interest in my spinning and was overwhelmed that I wear shirts made of yarn spun by myself. After examining the charkha, I suggested that he could replace it with a new one which I could arrange from the workshop opposite the Sabarmati Ashram. He was quite insistent that he would like his one repaired. I sent him a spare spindle and some cotton. He has lot of plans for nutritional meals scheme for young children and wanted me to join him. His memory is quite good and recollections from his father’s involvement in the freedom struggle kept us going much beyond our bed times. I was struck by energy and enthusiasm at that age and I came back rejuvenated to start something myself!
 After typing the bad news, refrained from posting for two reasons; firstly, it could be considered too petty an issue by some and secondly, it is best reserved for my memoir. The very act of discussing it in the morning run and then typing it had the required cathartic effect on me. 
 Delay in writing has had the effect of overwriting my yesterday’s run experience with today’s. Suffice to say that a distance of 32+K was done in 3h:22m, a decent time.
 I have been observing a morning ritual of cocks crowing at about 3 AM every day. Maybe, they want to hold on to their Khandani Pesha, even if relegated to non-prime time slot with the advent of Sab-ke-haath alarm (read mobile!). A mystery vendor comes around the same time and I have not been able to decipher what he is purveying. Today, I was able to see the cycle borne vendor. (His voice and clanging of cycle bells reminded me of Hubli baker who was my pacer during morning runs!). He is your regular Chukku-coffee vendor and the guardians of law and guards of the colonies are his customers. Biscuit, was still asleep when I had to wake him for his walk at 3:15 AM. He sleep walked through his morning routine and did not linger over any socialization. 
 Today’s fare for the cow was very healthy, radish and carrot peelings and a few Jola-da-roti (Jowar ki roti which have gone stale), it made a conspicuous and heavy bulge in my pocket. We started at 4:02 AM.
 Most part of the bad road has been relaid and is now easy on my feet. The Taj hotel guard gave a knowing smile finally spotting Sundar Purush and me together (he is also one of the proponents of the theory that Sundar is my son!).
 My legs seem to have recovered fully and the run was at a decent clip and without discomfort. Lighthouse reached at 4:40 AM. Today, I finally got introduced to the guy who was being described as the one with an elaborate greeting with a clap. No surprises, he is another Sreenivasan, but, from Kerala. He was a tad disappointed that I was not from Kerala. I get this feeling that Lord Venkateswara comes to meet us every morning in the form of people named after him.
 The first cow though grazing at the far end of the enclosure, came at our first call itself. I laid out the full meal on the grass floor and allowed it to eat at its pace. While this was on, another cow, decided to join the party. While Sundar and I were discussing if they would fight for food, the second cow proceeded straight to him and stood looking at him accusingly. Even with our limited knowledge of their language, both of us agreed that it seemed to be asking as to why no food comes from Sundar’s house (food for thought Sundar!).
 Neither the dogs nor their Annadata (read Parle-G lady!) were in sight, have they shifted the venue? Today seems to be the walking day for a few of the runners, the one who goes
 Today we decided to do the loop of the Island ground in the clockwise direction, the logic was that the Sivananda road and Mount road are better lighted than the flag staff road. We crossed a few armymen who were in their morning run. They take longer to start socializing. We completed the loop and reached Light house at 5:42 AM, not express, but, nothing to scoff at either!
 Today seemed to be Army’s day out for running. When we reached the Napier bridge for the anticlockwise second loop, we saw quite a few of Army men of all ranks assembling for the start of a run in whites. I told Sundar that we could join them for the loop. We had timed it perfectly, their run also started and we joined them. In the usual bravado of the uniformed men in matters physical, they zoomed past us. Sundar gave them an indulgent smile. We let them all cross us while Sundar had his drinks break opposite the War memorial. Then the Chennai Express exploded and Hubli Passenger followed suit. We slowly ticked off them one by one from the back. First came the not so fit Senior officers and finally when we drew abreast of the jawans contingent running in a group, not only the onlookers cheered us, even their escorts in battle fatigues gave us a grudging smile. We then crossed their lead vehicle and ambulance. The leader who was panting was surpassed with ease and finally we met a runner in full battle gear gun and all. I asked the vehicle following him if he was doing punishment round. I was told it was his practice run. We gave him an appreciative clap as we crossed him. The receiving party at Napier bridge of two jawans gave us a rousing welcome. 
 We did the rest of the run in a daze almost like a cool down run, even a youngster crossing us and looking back as if challenging us, did not provoke us to race with him. Indian Railways was savouring its sweet victory. Thanks to their pacing we reached Gandhi statue at 6:38 AM ( 56’ loop!). Not many runners today, are people already tapering for the TWCM?
 Reached home at 7:18 AM, a 3:16 32+K run, hugely satisfying! Biscuit seemed to be celebrating National Milk Day by favouring milk in his diet today, he was going easy on the solids!

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