When I ran alone yesterday I did not realize that I would have a full house today. I would first unburden myself of the yesterday’s run;
The two siblings Biscuit (my 6 year old Labrador) and my daughter have been suffering from cold for the last one week. Since my daughter owing to her heavy schedule could not fight the virus unaided and opted for an antibiotic, Biscuit chivalrously became the control group and roughed it out manfully. Biscuit is fighting fit today while my daughter has routed the virus, but, if fighting the after effects of the antibiotic. Between them they have proved the old adage, Cold takes a week with medicine and seven days!
Despite his infection, he never missed a walk and was manfully inspecting the colony at the wee hours in the morning. Not being a member of the Railway Protection Force, dog squad, does not mean that he shies away from doing a thorough inspection. I don’t know if he knows that the Rest house surroundings which he so fondly inspects is going to have the General Manager of the Railway in residence for the next week or so. I hope he can continue his mock drills!
I recently received woven cloth of the cotton yarn I had sent to the weavers. I have been asked by many people the conversion factor of length of yarn and the cloth in meters. Though it depends on the thickness of the thread spun, at my current level of proficiency, I found that one hundred bundles of five hundred meter yarn translated to 15.5 meters of cloth. So, at 1500 meters of yarn per week, I take a little more than a fortnight to get enough yarn for one meter of cloth. Though the work the weaver does is priceless, but, for the record I was asked to pay Rs. 375/- for 15.5 meters of cloth.
I left for the run at 4:15 AM. It was a moonless night, but, the city lights have rendered her inconsequential for the lighting needs. The weather was quite cool and I could feel some very light drizzle on my face. As I crossed the treacherous initial stretch till the Nungambakkam high road, I was reminded of the saying, ‘Eternal vigilance if the price of freedom’. I realized why this fits into my barefoot running, for continuing to enjoy the freedom of barefoot running, I need to keep my eyes skinned and mind concentrated on the road ahead to avoid a painful poke!
I passed the brightly illuminated big board of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India silently hoping that it would vouch for the Hubli Passenger’s running stats in case the likes of Limca book and Guinness show some interest at a later date!
I crossed the complex Gemini flyover to get on to the Cathedral road to ease into a smooth road and this is where I get into auto mode till I touch the TTK Music academy flyover. Today I did not meet Babu, the cook, whom I had advised to catch up on his sleep. Even, the regular Balu seemed to have given his morning walk a go by. Hotel Saravana Bhavan and its competitor Madras Café next door were slowly waking up and spreading aroma of fresh coffee. The AVM marriage hall was displaying the day’s cast of the couple at the start of their ultra marathon called life.
I reached the lighthouse station at 4:59 AM. It was a difficult proposition to run through the stacked bamboo poles and other building material not to talk of nails etc., so I got on to the road which thankfully was cordoned off for the march past practice. Cows had shifted their grazing operations a little away from the Gandhi statue as spot where the father of the nation stands was chosen as the venue for the high and mighty to witness the parade. Mr. Srinivasan, the man with the elaborate Namaskaram greeting where he lets out a loud clap while putting his hands together, had come dressed in a monkey cap. I have now started taking the refusals from cows to my offer of banana peels in a stride. I try till I get a cow with a taste!
Now that the Parle G lady has stopped feeding her charges with the said biscuits, I thought of promoting her to the post of Kindella (as opposed to the famed ‘Cruella’ of the 101 Dalmatians fame, this name suggested itself to me as I saw her walking proudly among her tail wagging friends).
As I turned into the Sivananda road after completing one loop two people, whom I will introduce as the Laurel and Hardy (I don’t know if I have already introduced them, they among many other well wishers had advised me a few days back to run on the side of the road!), crossed me. Hardy who was ahead of Laurel apologized for his friend having advised me and said he does not know about running. I assured him that I understand that they do so out of their concern for me. I don’t know if other runners have people stopping them for a chat, my theory is that I get more than fair share due to my earthy attire!
In my second loop from Lighthouse one gentleman who has Verappan style moustache, but, a very kind smile decided to race me. We are otherwise regularly meet each other running in opposite directions and invariably greet each other most civilly. I think the Doctor has infected me with his competitive bug. We raced till Kannagi statue where he grudgingly gave up. Maybe, there is something in my easy running style to encourage the competitive instinct in men of my age. I found him doing stretching exercises on my way back from Napier bridge, the smile exchanged indicated that the competition was a friendly match!
I have now started to thank the municipal workers who I find are sweeping the edge of the road of the pebbles which come off the road surface. I explain to them how thankful I am for what they do as it reduces the pricks on my bare feet. While most of them give me a smile for the compliment, a lady brought in the jarring note asking for a tip. I did what I do best when I sense a touch, turned out the pocket of my khadi short to show that I don’t carry money. I was reminded of the coldness that has crept in (at least on my side!) after our friend Venky (of the IOB ATM fame!) decided to bring in commerce into our dealings. I finished the run at 7:36 AM, a decent pace thanks to Veerappan’s challenge! A phone call in the evening from Sundar Purush (as opposed to a text message!) means we could have a run riot the next day!
Sundar was at the gates at 4:03 AM bearing a gift for me from his visit abroad. I could not run with it and I did not have the heart to wake up the guard who was in deep sleep. The thought of waking up my sleeping wife/daughter even if with a gift was daunting. I decided to drop it in my post box hoping nobody pries into it and hoped that I remember to collect it after my run.
We started at 4:05 AM. He had to return by 6:30AM and planned to do one loop leaving me behind for my second loop. But, for a little talk initially about his trip (my running schedule in his absence anyway he was up to date on), we ran in silence for most part. Thanks to his fresh legs and my ego to keep up with him, we reached Lighthouse at 4:45 AM. We had just run about 50-10 meters when we saw the Kakinada express chugging in. He briefed us on his travails at not getting accommodation on his way back as he was competing for scarce resource with Governor’s men. He ended up travelling in a car for eleven hors and was poorer by a fortune. There was some discussion on the Kiran Bedi/Kejriwal faceoff ,but, the conversation petered off. Politics and running do not mix well! Cows were spoiled for attention with the three of us pampering them, but, I got lucky only the third time. The eagerness and speed of dispatch of the offering by the spotted guest for the day made up for the spurning by her predecessors.
No skaters and very few army men meant a quite run for the three of us. Sundar departed at the Napier bridge turning after reminding me to pick up the gift from the post box. The Doctor and yours truly had a silent run for the most part and with about 2-3 Kilometer to the Lighthouse, the Doctor gave me the charge. I also pushed myself without a care for the second loop and the return journey. We finished together drenched in sweat, but, with the satisfaction of an honourable draw. We parted at Lighthouse with each one deciding to run at a pace comfortable to oneself. I had to spill on to the road for many portions to avoid the crowd on the pavement. I was able to complete the loop and the return journey without a break even though at a leisurely pace. I finished the run at 7:24 AM, a 3:19 run of 32K, thanks to hustling in the beginning by the Chennai Express and the sprint with the Kakinada express later. Watch out for the Three Musketeers at the same time same place for a run riot!