I could not let another day of playing a dutiful uncle eat into my weekend run! If it was the visit to the Railway station yesterday for my niece, it was to be the airport for my nephew today. Yesterday at least I had the fig leaf of resting after a comeback from injury!
I announced in a tone which brooked no argument that I shall run from 3 AM to be in time for being at the airport at 6:30 AM. Sundar Purush was informed of the change so that he could do his own thing. I was willing to sacrifice and make do with a half marathon (hope my nephew realizes, what it is for a runner to sacrifice his Sunday Long run, when his friends are running the AirTel Delhi Half Marathon!). Sleep and wake up times were suitably advanced, Biscuit’s morning walk routine was delegated to my daughter and niece (He wouldn’t have minded a morning walk at 2:15 AM, only it would eaten into my spinning time!).
Biscuit got a Bun when I was carbo-loading more out of guilt for having cheated him of his morning walk than it being his feed time. He ate it gleefully without realizing the price he would be paying for it! Though he did jump around me when I changed into my running gear, he did not resist too much when I did not take him out. He did give me a hurt look from the window looking on to the balcony.
I was at the gates at 2:55 AM and the target was to be back by 5:30 AM. The policemen camping between Cakewalk and Diva shops did look up at the change in schedule, but, I was not called to explain, only an internal inquiry among the guardians of law was enough to close the issue! The road laying work at the start of College road on Friday had been completed and they seem to have done a good job, the surface was smooth and warm to the soles. Not all were as understanding, a young man (must be returning from night revelries!) cursed me with the choicest bad word in chaste national language as he passed me. I did show my fist to him, I am yet to learn self control. I am really saddened at the unhappiness in the youth who seem to have everything money could buy and are still so angry with life so early in the day. I hope next time such a thing happens I can pray for them instead of trying to pay them in kind!
I did my strip tease as I turned into the Nungambakkam High road. The impassive guards outside the Taj hotel did not seem to take notice of me, or, is it so? One of the guard’s query about why my Son was not running with me today (read Sundar!) showed that they do observe. He went on to ask why I don’t wear a T-shirt. Dressed as he was in full gear with Cap and boots to boot, I asked if given a choice would he not want to be top less in the sea breeze? I told him going topless keeps me cool! A few days back my friend Venky (the IOB ATM guard near Royapettah flyover!) had asked me a similar question as to why I don’t wear regular shorts and T-shirts. I could sense that he wanted me to look smart like Sundar. My answer to him was, ‘Did Gandhi change his gear even when standing in company of such well dressed personalities put up about him on the beach road?’
Two dogs near the IG’s office decided to shout me down and the policemen on guard tried to give me moral support by trying to call them back. They did not care for the force of law and only returned after they had given me their piece of their mind!
Beach road was not deserted, I could still see some walkers. The sanitary workers were working, their bangles clanging joyously. My mid went back to field hands I used to encounter on my run in Hubli. But, what a difference, there if they were working to produce food, here it was the Sisyphusian labour of endlessly cleaning at night what becomes dirty again the next day. The entire work for these people is largely because of the insensitivity and carelessness of the so called civilized city people!
I reached Lighthouse at 3:39AM. The cow was sighted very soon and a hungry one it was. It was only my new found courage that I was able to feed her without dropping anything and keeping the plastic cover out of her reach.
I was surprised to find the man with an exaggerated pranaam to be my first greeter in the run today (he would certainly vouch for my run today, if Guinness do decide to document this!). It was too much to expect the regular residents of the pavement to be up so early even if was their busy business day! The dogs at the Labour statue were loitering around like the early Mess goers in our hostel walking around the Mess waiting for the gong to go! The policeman’s room near Napier bridge was open and lighted, but, he the ruling deity was not to be seen. There was a steady stream of Container trailers leaving out of the Port trust and they were making merry while the Traffic Police was not around (this must be the happy hours for the drivers!).
I had crossed some youngsters in T-shirts and shorts on the beach road and they confirmed that they had volunteered for the previous night’s Dusk to Dawn night half marathon, they must be waiting for the first buses to their homes. There was lot of activity seen inside the Island ground as I crossed it, I did not stop to locate Neville (who must be tired after the hectic organizing for the run the previous night!). The road was better lighted and I did not have an excuse for getting poked on my soles. I completed the loop in decent time without a break. When I came back, I found the youngsters still waiting for the transport to go home. I was rewarded with one more elaborate pranaam by my good friend on the return trip. There was not much progress on the state of awakening of the residents of the Republic of pavement, the dogs continued their vigil for the Parle-G lady and her Sunday special.
I crossed one runner coming from the opposite direction and we both greeted each other warmly as Robinson Crusoe must have on seeing another human on his island. I reached Lighthouse at 4:42 AM. Though slow, I had enough cushion to catch the Airport express.
Venky’s partner was sleeping on duty and the Yesudas look alike was surprised to find me on the flyover. I changed my return route to match the same route we take while going out to spot Sundar. I waved to one runner who looked like him. After repeated calls from me, he turned around and addressed me by name and mentioned his name and said he is a Hyderabad runner (I did not get his name!). Sundar was late today. We crossed him returning from his run when we were returning from Airport around 8 AM outside my colony. I reached my colony gates at 5:28 AM, in time for a quick shower and airport duty.