Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Let us claim the Republic for the Mango people

Biscuit tempting me with his Chota Jumbo and growling at my attempt to leave was just the excuse I needed to take a break yesterday. I seem to need a break after an FM day in Chennai weather, and, we are not into summer yet! Being the last day of solo running with Sundar Purush and the Doctor scheduled to come back today only was another reason for snuggling back into the bed. The hung over feeling for the rest of the day was something we runners are quite familiar with!
Sundar texted yesterday night rescheduling the rendezvous to Light house at 5:45 AM. There was no word from the Doctor. However, having now agreed upon a flexi running plan each one of us is free to start at their own time and run to one’s appetite. The timing at Lighthouse viz., at forty five minutes past every hour starting 4 AM onwards being just the guidance for meeting up.
I started at 4:18 AM overriding a Biscuit’s growl (meaning ‘Tussi Na Jao’). Today my thoughts continued to dwell on my decision to stay away from paid events. I must admit that participation in events, the gadgets, cheers from crowds are initially necessary to get one hooked to this sport, but, once you get the taste of it running is an end in itself, it needs no accompaniment. I compare this to Saguna and Nirguna schools of Bhakti. Saguna is where one prays to a God with form and it is essential for a start. But, for an evolved Bhakta, the formless one or the Parmatma which is said to reside in each and every living form is enough to meditate. As in Bhakti, so in running one graduates from the gross to the fine. I still found staying away from Mumbai marathon quite tough as even though I was running in Chennai, all my thoughts were in Mumbai. This renunciation will take time.
Reached Lighthouse at 4:59 AM, not finding Doctor (who I am sure must have started his loop by then!), I started my run. I had no chance of keeping to 5:45 AM schedule at Lighthouse after one loop. To make matters worse, the cows pampered by the Mattu Pongal (a festival during Pongal time when the cows are felicitated for their contribution all through the year) attention refused my humble offering of banana peels. My trusted one horned cow made sure that I did not face the ignominy of taking back the Tiffin (mothers must be relating to what I am getting at, child bringing back the Tiffin box unopened!).
There was a huge mobilization of people of the three services and NCC for parade rehearsal for the ensuing Republic Day. The traffic policemen, smartly dressed, were out in large numbers to regulate traffic. I have now started pitying them, looking at how many days they are required to do bandobust duties for all and Sundry event management. This however must be special being for a national cause. My regular waves to the policemen ensured I was waved on in my run. I met Manish Suri and some other Marina Minnal runners.
I decided to do the second loop before completing the Napier bridge to Lighthouse stretch later. I calculated Sundar would meet me somewhere in the Beach road stretch. Near War memorial into my first loop, I thought I saw the Doctor, I called out to him, but, there was no response. He was on the other side of the road and behind the high divider. I reached Lighthouse at 6:21 AM, there was still one more loop to Napier bridge and back. Momentary lapse of concentration had me tripping again on my left toe, luckily it was not as bad as last time. I reached the Gandhi statue at 6:55 AM.
On the way back, I found the right side of the road cleared of traffic. I found it quite comfortable to run, in any case I prefer to run against the traffic. My luck with Traffic police ran out today. The austere looking policeman asked me to take the left side of the road which had lot of traffic. I argued with him trying to explain why I can’t run on the edge of the road and in traffic. I asked him the reason for not allowing even pedestrians and runners in the other half. It came out that it was not their concern for our safety, but, it was because some VIP movement for RD parade practice was due to happen. I argued with good support from an old man and two cyclists and managed to claim my right of way. I don’t know what got into me to argue, I think it was because they were herding people to one half of the road for some VIP movement. I felt like starting a satyagraha, Gandhi style.
Soon enough, a convoy of vehicles crossed me and it seems it was VIP’s practicing for the RD parade. This took my goat, I can understand marching contingent requires rehearsal, but, to replicate VIP movement for four days looked preposterous. The traffic policeman who confronted me next near Gemini circle was quite apologetic about the restrictions when I commented to him that we Mango people must claim the Republic from the VIPs! The next two kilometers on Nungambakkam high road had jam packed traffic and I updated my daily friends (vehicle drivers!) about the cause for the jam and was allowed passage through them. I met Sriram Raja during this time. I finished my run at 7:36 AM, a three hour eighteen minutes 32K in the kitty!

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