Monday, 1 December 2014

Man’s best friend?

 After a week of uninterrupted runs there was a temptation to take a break today, but, the chance of running again with Sundar Purush and the awesome weather with a likelihood of rain tilted the scale in favour of running!
 I frequently get questions about transition to barefoot, injuries from barefoot running, diet tips and running alone. Yesterday’s question from Virender Singh about how to manage stray dogs menace during early morning solo runs, set me thinking. I thought about how I used to be mortally scared of dogs and how Biscuit (my 6+ year old Labrador pet for those of you who still haven’t had the pleasure of knowing him!) coming into our life has changed all that. I have observed with Biscuit that he barks mostly when he is threatened by some fear he feels. I have used this fact to understand the stray dogs I encounter on my run.
 Most of the dogs are not interested in you, they have bigger problems and better things to do. They bark or come in a group at you when you surprise them with the sound of your footfalls. Stopping in the tracks and looking them in the eye (not challengingly, but, fearlessly!) helps. This should quieten them down, then walk slowly and gain speed. In the unfortunate situation of they continuing to maintain a hostile stance (which I have only faced a few times), I bend low as if to pick a stone and shoo them away. It has normally worked, even if the act is UnGandhian! I have been able to demonstrate these techniques to my running partner during our run together. The ultimate state is when the dogs of various locations (they have their jurisdictions!) accompany you like a royalty gets a pilot car with flashing red light. On a more spiritual level, our own prince Bharat on whom our country is named is said to have counted the teeth of a lion cub and Budhist monks are known to stay with lions who are absolutely tame with them. Ultimately human beings are able to co-exist by taking a non-threatening attitude and not by showing brute force.
 I have elaborated so much on what may be uninteresting to many of the readers only for the reason that I was deeply hurt when one of the neighbours blamed Biscuit for having growled at him, when I enquired further, he quoted instances pre-dating our arrival in Chennai itself. Unless Biscuit haunted him in his dreams, there was no way he could have been guilty of what he has been charged with. It looked like a case of mistaken identity, but, what hurt me most was the tone taken and as if we humans cannot co-exist with even domestic animals. What can we talk of wild animals!
 The whole discussion today was about how to win friends and influence dogs, the success of the lesson to Chennai Express being effective was gauged from the fact that when in the second loop near war memorial where he takes his water break, he spied a stray pup sleeping in the back seat of an auto and wanted me to take its snap for the blog today!
 Today’s run started at 4:04 AM and finished the run at 7:32 AM for a 32K+ run. Other salient events during the run were;
1. The mystery of the silent morning walker on the MRF bridge was solved today as we found him walking our way. I made the first move and got his name, Meet Balu!
2. The tuck van for the dogs at the Labour statue was late today and they were restless and growling at each other, scene was like the orderly queue for the General compartment which breaks as soon as the rake is backed into the platform.
3. I have conquered the state of Punjab with the Sikh army walker responding to my ‘Sat Sri Akal’ with ‘Jai Hind’, a lesson for the Hubli passenger that nation is always to be kept above religion!
4. Our friend Venky was late to start for work today as his grandsons were to leave today. The result, he came with only one side of his face shaved and his coming in white pants instead of his uniform colour blue. He was very downcast for the error, hope he is not taken up for indiscipline. I cross the ED/IOB’s house on my way to office every day, will have to intervene for his good behavior and the extenuating circs.
5. Finally, a new friend I have been dying to report (yet to be on first name basis!), the traffic policemen near the busy pedestrian crossing near Nungambakkam station. I befriended him with smiles and then an enquiry about why he does not wear a mask on his nostrils and mouth. He now regularly gets me across the road on priority! Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai!

Remind me to tell you about another friend Parthiban and his style of Chi(?) running tomorrow!
Signing off in a hurry, more tomorrow!

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