Tuesday, 4 November 2014

My friend Venkatesan

It has become customary for me to begin my writing with an excuse for the missed run, today shall be no exception. Yesterday’s bunk is attributable to the rain god’s bad timing and Biscuit’s insistence on a walk. That much has to be granted to Biscuit, considering that he patiently sits (to be frank dozes!) for the few hours of spinning session in anticipation of a walk. A steady rain started at 3 AM and there was no sign of a let up till 3:30 AM, when I decided to call off the run (Sore limbs from two days of 32+ and 42+ runs also must have played its part, only, I am not being honest!).
In fact the first item of agenda on ‘Run Pe Charcha’ with @Sundar at the start of  the run at 4:04 AM today was whether to declare the day after FM as holiday for running, definitely it will not be after the Full moon run coming up this weekend. We got to discussing what kind of jobs have come up in cities after the so call boom in Services sector, ATM guards, security guards etc. and how it stifles the human being, being caged in a small cabin/gumti (even A/C does not make it any better, golden cage!). The creativity of working in a farm under open skies and being with nature is too high a price to pay! Where have all the artisans gone. And there was this link posted by @Natasha yesterday about how children in Dharavi are malnourished not because they don’t have food, but, because they have junk food as the mothers work the whole day and cannot cook at home. An idea just struck me, why can’t ladies in that place do community cooking for a price so that the kids get a crèche/food.  Found a guard hosing the road outside a swank hotel and chided him for wasting so much water while the city struggles for drinking water.

The run was steady till the lighthouse and we hit it at 4:44 AM, I think the distance from my house to lighthouse must be more than 6K! Next item on the agenda was locating today’s beneficiary of banana peels. The first gang of cows who were chatting and grazing gave us the cold shoulder despite both of us trying our wooing skills. I wanted to reserve it for the Ramu, Shyamu duo, but, true to my promise of no favouritism, I tried my hand at the lonely cow in the next enclosure, she was quite sweet about the whole feeding episode and went back to grazing, telling me clearly that she appreciates the change in taste, but, the quantity is too small for all the bother.

Surprise-2, the Parle-G lady had come early today and contrary to what her name suggests, she had decided to serve Indian food of some kind of cooked rice to her wards today. Going by the way the dogs were dozing when we met them on our way back from RBI, they must have done justice to the menu today! I won’t take credit for the change in menu from packaged food to cooked food, unless it happens regularly! I resisted the temptation to talk to her and find out.

The two traffic constables were busy talking outside the Port Trust gate and Srinivasan was busy shielding their actions from the war heroes. The weather being cold in the morning the pavement from War memorial onwards was crowded with late risers and we had to weave through sleeping figures. Some kids had got up before their parents and were busy at their games and fights. Reached RBI at 5:16 AM. Sundar set a scorching pace on the way back and I hopefully did not let him down, the result was hitting lighthouse at 5:47 AM (so much ado for just shaving a minute!). Set off the second loop without a break. Today the timing was such that we missed the thought for the day of both 5 and 6 AM. The weather remained cool and pleasant and Sundar suggested that I could stay back for the third loop and complete a FM as it was a holiday for me. Since, I had not mentally prepared before starting, and, the excess during the very first loop, I declined. So two loops it was for today. Reached RBI at 6:18 AM. It’s been a good consistent pace today.

Now is the time for the protagonist of today’s blog to make his entry. A man riding a cycle crossed us and commented ‘Super Thalaiva’ or something to that effect and whizzed past. I remember having mumbled something to me a few days back and I wanted to hear the full praise. I caught up with him and asked him what he was saying, he said that is an ATM guard near Royapettah flyover and sees us every day and has talked about us to his friends. Sundar said that we would meet him on the way back.

We met a youngster running quite briskly near the Labour statue, I commented that he had given me a run for my money last Sunday. He didn’t remember. We ran neck and neck the most part, I losing out every time I had to cross the road break in the pavement. In the last stretch before the Gandhi statue, his having put in a good lead, he relaxed. We stepped on the gas and caught him near the Gandhi statue. My mistake, I said, caught you! He just took off after that as if he was shot in the back. But, he turned around a few meters away and all of us had appreciative clap for each other.

Just as we approached the flyover under which our friend Venkatesan (that’s our friend and admirer’s name!) guards the fortunes of IOB, Sundar alerted me to a smartly dressed guard waiting at the road for us. He shared his story, he is 55 years old, rides his bicycle from beyond Tiruvanmiyur (going by Sundar’s reaction, must be quite far!). He wakes up at 3 AM on the days he has day shift and cooks for himself and rides to work. He advised us to get somebody remove the evil eye off us (we have a practice of warding off evil eye by using salt, dry red chilies on nominated days, and my wife confirms today is just the day, @Sundar do come in the evening!) as lot of people observe us every day. When he found we were smiling at his advice, he said his name is Venkatesan and ‘Naan sonna Perumal Sonna maadri’ (to the Rajni’s tone of ‘Naan oru daravai sonna nor daravai sonna maadri’!). He was very effusive in his hand shake and send off. We felt completely charged after meeting Venkatesan. Chennai you are not as impersonal as you appear!

Reached home at 7:24 AM, a good satisfying run today!

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