Friday, 9 January 2015

Meeting a school friend

Biscuit (my six year old Labrador for those who haven’t had the honour of knowing him yet!) has recently been complaining of lack of footage in my daily dispatches. While I have been struggling to settle into the big city, He has beautifully adapted to living in a flat and that too on the fifth floor. He looks forward to the ride in the lift and has adjusted to the smaller empire for him to inspect. He has learnt to negotiate the cattle trap at the colony gates. He is slowly trying to get over his fears of the trucks. He finds the smaller house easier to chase squirrels (he was unequal to the squirrels pace and agility in the wide open grounds at our Hubli house!). He has made friends with the crows who get to share one of his rotis. He seems to be getting more exercise in the smaller house chasing squirrels than in the house with a big lawn. He seems to be giving a bigger lesson to us that happiness is not related to the size or location of the house!
Woke up to the alarm and Biscuit’s prodding at 2 AM. Had a banana and a few dates. Kept green tea for brewing, set up the charkha and called Biscuit for his walk. Today was a quiet and contemplative walk. Biscuit did not react to his friends who must have been sleeping after a late night (curse the traffic which roars on till 11 PM). Even the friend’s heavily chained Rottweiler who usually barks and tears at the chain as if he would jump down to have a ‘Mukalat’ with Biscuit seemed to be having a peaceful sleep. Biscuit reclaimed his territory and the flora quickly and was ready to get back home for his second innings of sleep.
After little more than an hour of spinning over hot cups of green tea, I got into my running clothes. Biscuit was warming up on the sofa in the hall through my spinning and only went to bed after I left for the run. He did not protest my leaving today. A little bit of stretching, pocketing the banana peels for the cow and tucking in the spent green tea leaves in the mouth for chewing during the run, I reached the gates at 4:02 AM. Sundar Purush again excused himself from the early start and promised to meet DrAvk Mohan and me at Lighthouse at 5:45 AM.
I ran at a leisurely pace knowing that I could reach Lighthouse terminus in time for the scheduled arrival of the Kakinada express. The sanitary workers, tea shop owners, guards and regulars who wait for the first bus at the bus stops exchanged glances and at best waved. They very constituency which started out with cat calls and now accepted me and taken me for their own. Even the policemen on their patrol cars and manning check posts have switched to friendly waves rather than converting me to running on the left side of the road. Mr. Balu, my friend of the bridge continues to greet me by calling me by my name to show that he remembers it. Venky (the ATM guard of IOB near the Royapettah flyover for those who don’t know him yet!) was in his dreams (a man of healthy habits like cycling does have his perks!).
I saw the clock near Gandhi statue show a little past 4:35 AM and I relaxed. As I turned into the Beach road, Kakinada Express steamed in on the pavement towards the Lighthouse. It was like two trains entering a major terminal at the same time. The first question I asked him was as to whether he was able to stay alive in office after the killer run and sleep deprived night before. He seemed to have coped well and was back for more. If my passion for running is bordering on madness (not mine, my wife’s quote!), then he can be my witness to plead sanity by comparison!
We left at 4:41 AM keeping a cushion for the 5:45 AM schedule of Chennai express later. Today the Doctor was a little slow and I kept taunting him keeping just a step ahead of him, but, kept the pace slower. The black cow has now become my regular for receiving banana peels. So fond is she of the stuff that I today feared that she could take the thing with the polythene bag in which I brought the peels. I have now overcome my fear of the cows and am able to address them fondly as I do Biscuit, and, I think they understand!

The first topic of discussion was my defense of why I suggested his cutting short his run the previous day. I was fresh from reading the case of a young CEO who was a regular runner and had died of a heart attack. The reason attributed was lack of sleep. He digested it quietly. Lot of army guys were out for a run today and the Doctor said that it was partly due to his regular running every day. The skaters were just arriving and setting up shop.

I had a surprise waiting for me when I was on the way back to Lighthouse, a man stopped me and asked ‘Pehchaan Kaun’?  At that time of the day and the place I was in the usual suspects are runner friends, but, this is not their way of addressing me. I ventured a guess Kumar Janardhanan as the person resembled him. I really felt ashamed after Sridhar Ak identified himself. He is my school friend and we were neighbours to boot, but, in my defense a gap of nearly three and a half decades and me not wearing my specs were the extenuating circumstances. We had a ‘Bharat Milaap’ scene much to the amusement of the fellow walkers. Must catch up with him soon!
My eyes were now skinned for the expected anytime Chennai express! We reached Lighthouse and turned back for the second loop at 5:41 AM. I knew Sundar could catch us quickly if he comes later. Just before we reached the Gandhi statue, the Doctor asked me to go at my comfortable pace and that he would complete his run at a relaxed pace. I needed no second invitation and pressed on the gas. I was surprised to meet Sridhar running towards me from the opposite side and we exchanged a high five.
The second loop was done at a fairly steady clip. A heavy footed runner joined me soon after and asked me if I run marathons. Having accepted my word for it, but, showing disappointment at the fact that I did not run the Chennai marathon and do not plan to run the Mumbai also. He turned into the inner road probably having me declared a ‘Ranchod’. I was faced with the questioning glances from the army friends who were searching for the Doctor next to me. The skaters crossing me multiple times in a beautiful formation was a good diversion during the run. I crossed many cyclists today, but, am not able to recognize them individually because of the headgear and speed at which they whizz past. I reached the Gandhi statue at 6:38 AM and went on till Lighthouse, after a short break, I started back at 6:40 AM. The quick pace of this loop was quite exhilarating. The Chennai express seems to have had a late night again and must have conserved for the weekend.
I have been crossing a girl who comes running from the opposite direction dressed in salwar kameez with a bottle in one hand. This happens just before the Kalyani hospital and I thought she must be carrying some medicine for some near and dear one. The next day I thought she was trying to catch a bus. Today I observed her closely as thrice could not be a coincidence. I found that she was running with a small water bottle in one hand and a phone in the other. I found this she was only running with her les and the entire upper body, particularly, the arms were stiff. I stopped and gave her unsolicited advice to get a dress with pockets if she has to carry something and run with free swing of arms and shoulders. She took it quite sportingly. I reached home at 7:20 AM and felt good about the pacy run today.
Look what the eldest member of the group has done to us. A bunch of slow and steady runners have starting pursuing speed, but, I think it’s all for the good. It goes with the current theme of loose federalism and not imposing from the center. Will I get the elusive Full tomorrow?

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