Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Biscuit gets his due

Biscuit has slowly adjusted to the big city’s life. He has been getting passing references in my daily dispatches, but, he senses that he is getting insufficient footage and has for competition his country cousins who meet me on my run. I decided to chronicle his progress in adjusting to living in a multi-storied flat.
My biggest fear was whether he would get into the narrow lift where he has to stand along the diagonal to accommodate his long frame. He doesn’t mind company only it should not be his Labrador neighbor (his junior by almost 3 years) from below, Simba, for whom he has taken an instant dislike. He has now started to recognize the lift automated announcement for the floor. He is able gets out only when he hears his floor being announced. Initially, I thought it was a fluke. I did a few experiments with pressing buttons for various floors, we were pleasantly surprised that he boringly looks around on other floors and only gets out when his floor is announced.
Since the rooms are small and cramped because of furniture, he finds it difficult to run fast. He is further hampered because the flooring is slippery. He wants to be the first to get to the main door when he hears the door bell. He has an uncanny sense of time and knows my daughter’s or my arrival. In order to save him from any injury due to his frequent rushing out, we decided that we would give a missed call when we are reaching home so that the door can be opened without him rushing out. We realized to our surprise that he is too smart for that. He has now timed himself to get to the door at the ring of the wife’s mobile or landline when it is time of either of us to get back.
He hasn’t been able to catch any squirrels, but, he scampers around every day in hope. His friendship with crows, which get chapattis in the morning, is blossoming. He is off gluten, but, he selflessly presides over the crow feeding. The single biggest achievement has been his taking to drinking water. We had given up on him and used to get him to take water only by diluting milk. Thanks to his skin allergy, we took him off milk and he has taken to water and it did not come too soon. We could not imagine him getting through Chennai summer without his eight pints a day, if he plans to have a glowing fur!
If he has any regrets of his Hubli days, it must be the unfettered run of the Golf course in the mornings, compared to that the mandatory walks twice a day in the colony here must be boring. His arguments with fellow canines of the colony in Hubli were legend, but, he has found the locals here quite listless and not worthy of a brawl. At best he has had to growl a few times. It is good for him that he can behave his age now! The visits to the Vet here is more fun as he gets a longer ride and the hospital is much bigger and he gets to meet many friends of different breeds and other animals too!
Biscuit having got his, time to detail my run. Woke up in a somber mood. One more year has passed by and seven years to this day, I shall be hanging my boots. Not that I am sad for it, in some sense I am looking forward to it. Come to think of it, it could be a marathon every day without the tyranny of the clock!
I was at the gates at 4:10 AM. Though the outdoors was much pleasant compared to the stuffy room, it was very sweaty and the sweat stayed put even on the run. Felt relieved to shed the upper cloth.
The well dressed employee outside Hotel Taj (somewhere in between the security guard and the Manager with the three piece), his name is Velu, beckoned me for a chat. After getting the itinerary and distance run daily, he wanted to know why I run barefoot. I have promised him a chat on the subject sometime over this weekend.
Met Balu on the TTK flyover after a long time. He addressed me by name confirming that both of us have got into each other’s permanent contact list! Jesudas crossed me near Saravana Bhawan hotel, he was on his bike today.
Crossed a cartman pulling a cartload of firewood, his rippling and sweat drenched rippling muscles seemed to mock my idle sweat. His bare feet much more silent on the black top than my labored thump-thump.
The dog (Biscuit’s envy and his owner’s pride!) had his tongue out a mile and looked enviously at my sweat drenched body. It’s really unfair on the dogs to just have tongue for cooling their whole body while our entire surface is a magnificent heat exchanger.
The clock struck 5 AM just as I crossed the Gandhi statue on the way back from the Light house. The Mount Road stretch was in total darkness today. During the return loop from Napier bridge (counter clockwise), met the bunch of Army recruits, they were only doing a walk today. As I got near Lighthouse, I could see activity among a group of runners. Now I understand Marina Minnals were bidding farewell to one of their team members.
When I was on my second loop, I passed by a young boy and girl who were walking. Suddenly without warning, the girl ran past me. An old man clad in just shorts and barefoot must have challenged her, or, was it my short strides which gave her the impression that she would beat me. I did not try to race her, but, I gently increased my pace and only prayed that she runs long enough for me to cross her. When I crossed her, her breathlessness and my calm controlled breath gave me a satisfying feeling. I felt good that I did not behave like the Aussie cricketers when I crossed them as they were walking back when I returned from the Napier Bridge. My daughter has been telling me about a middle aged man on treadmill next to her in the Gym and how he tries to run faster than her. I told her that I must have done the same in racing the girl on the beach today. There is something in us ageing men, we don’t want to lose to the fairer sex.
Met Ram​ at my water point as he was returning from his coffee break at Saravana Bhawan. He was limping and complaining of bad knees. That reminded me of my aches and pains. All of us have our physical issues, but, once we get running, these are forgotten as pure joy floods us!
Reached home at 7:39 AM, I am getting slower every day. As long as there is time for bath and breakfast before office, who cares!

Monday, 30 March 2015

The troubled weekend

            Never outrun the joy of running;
            The run on Saturday was sheer bullheadedness to continue the running streak of more than two weeks. The only saving grace was that there was no pressure of time. I started the run at 4:23 AM. I was ambling along and reached Lighthouse after the break for feeding a cow. I was asked by a middle aged person stretching near Lighthouse about my age. He seemed satisfied with just that statistic, not surprising in a country where everybody seems to swear by GDP growth rate. We sure are given to over simplification (My own organization has its gold standard called the Operating Ratio!). Wish life could be so simple! The clock was showing ten minutes past five AM when I crossed Gandhi statue.
            I was surprised by Kakinada express coming from the opposite direction on Sivananda road. The Doctor joined me from there on. He informed me that he was away on official work. In the next instant onwards without exchange of another word we fell into a rhythm and ran. I was reminded of the song ‘Tere Bina Zindagi se…’ of the movie Aandhi where one song bridges years of absence! We did three loops of the Island ground. Today the greetings were distributed with the bulk going to the Doctor. I also seemed to be getting a share of the Army brothers affections!
            We did one loop from Napier bridge to Lighthouse and back before he parted taking leave of absence for Sunday for his cycling expedition.
            As I returned back for the second loop, @Ram coming from opposite direction turned around and joined me. We had had a steady run and he informed me that he is planning to do an Ultra 75K. He broke off at Lighthouse, leaving me to the grind of facing the wrath of the Sun in the last loop.
            I was deadbeat when I reached the Gandhi statue. None of the water sprinklers were working on the way and at one place where it was working there were a Corporation employee and some elderly morning walkers in whose presence I did not feel confident of dunking my head in the spray. I lived to regret that during the run from Gandhi statue to my water point.
            I had an interesting discussion with the Auto driver who was filling his supplies of water from the tap next to mine. He asked me how much I ran and why. I could tell him the ‘how much’ part, but, as I was struggling for the why part, he said that he used to think of me as mad and now has immense respect. I asked him if it was my attire which put me in the mad category, he sheepishly said ‘Yes’. I have a new friend in the Auto wallah community!
            I had to take a stretching break after the TTK flyover as my left thigh was playing up. Thankfully it held for the rest of the run. I reached home deadbeat at 8:52 AM and the Sun would have me believe it was mid-day. Must prepone my start if I plan a full in Chennai!

            The Black Sunday
            The combined tiredness of the last two weeks and my rigidity of nothing less than a full marathon if it’s a holiday made me take a break on Sunday. After the usual hour of spinning, Biscuit was told to go back and continue sleep and the morning walk was rescheduled to 5:30 AM. The onslaught of mosquitoes in the stolen extra time in bed made me wish I was out running.
            I gave Biscuit a leisurely walk. I dutifully settled before the TV in time for the match to cheer for the black caps! The only good news was their winning the toss. McCullum, the hopes of all Anti Aussie forces fell before we could say Jack Robbins! Three wickets in a tumble and my misery was complete. I did not feel so much even when the Aussies took us to the cleaners in our Semi final match (in some corner of my heart, I was hoping we would chase it down!). Hats off to the indomitable Elliot.
            It took the combined heroics of Saina and Srikant in the evening to lift my spirits. The clinical performance from Saina against a visibly tired opponent and the fearless and aggressive display by Srikant warmed our hearts. The behavior of the crowd was very immature and they displayed total lack of knowledge of the game or any etiquette while raising ken even when play was on. We must seriously think of keeping audience in a sound proof cage lest players refuse to play in India.

            Runs resume
            Suitably chastised after the bunk and the guilt, Biscuit and I were before time for the walk today, like two drunkards outside the TASMAC (the State liquor vend!) before opening of the same after a dry day. I was therefore at the start point at 4:07 AM.
            I was surprised by a rough voice calling out to me from the shadows within a few hundred meters into my run. I went bubbling with anger to confront the person. His tone was of a policeman quizzing a culprit. After patiently listening to him, I realized that even though he was rough in his tone, his intent was to tell me to be careful of the traffic. It sure broke my rhythm.
            Today seemed to be a day of counseling. The policemen usually napping at the entrance of Poes garden road, were up and I overheard one of them loudly complaining about my running in the middle. I took a break and put him wise about the reason. He was not fully convinced, but, preferred to give up and get back to getting his full quota of beauty sleep rather than extending the argument.
            There were few more mumbles from people waiting at bus-shelters about my regular running and I decided to stop convincing them of my ways. The only soul who seemed to accept me as normal was the weather vane Dog, who went past with his tongue fully out. He seemed to be sympathising with my effort!

            The break which came on the return trip at the water point was taken out of habit rather than any physical distress. I was also accosted by a motorcyclist who slowed next to me and the usual routine of my age, run distance was enacted. He announced this to his team of riders in Telugu. This does buoy up one’s spirit. This was a fitting finale to doubters who seemed to dot my onward run today. I finished at 7:29AM. Considering the number of ‘run pe charcha’ on why I run, the timing should be taken as decent! I must remember to give some more footage to Biscuit in my tomorrow’s post, he must be feeling low!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Gandhiji Tussi Great Ho

            I was amazed at my mature response to India’s loss in the World Cup semi-final. At least running has given me the equanimity to face such situations with calm. Earlier, I would have chewed up all my nails a few days State mourning would have been declared. It was business as usual. I remember the comment somebody had posted that 11 Indians were working and the rest were watching them. When I met my friend, the traffic policeman manning the busy pedestrian crossing near the station today, (he is a die-hard cricket fan and I had asked if he would take off for the all important match and he had said with sadness that he would have to follow it on his Mobile!) I told him it was good that he did not get leave and I did not take leave. At least 13 Indians were working yesterday!  
            Why this sudden reaffirmation of admiration for Bapu? I was recently going through a video by Dr. Michael Greger on why survival rates or longevity of Vegans is not much different from Meat eaters and Vegetarians even though they score much lower on risks on all major diseases. It was proved in an erudite one hour presentation which sounded like a whodunit that the villains of the piece are B12 and Omega 3 Acids. The scary part was that Vegans have a substantially higher risk of neurological and brain diseases. Now Gandhiji before Google and Youtube had cracked the mystery using his experiments with diet and traditional knowledge. His recipe for Omega3 acids was the humble Flax seeds (or Linseed) and as for B12, his wife Ba helped him in seeking the humble Goats help. These issues have been plaguing me since I decided to go Vegan about two years back.
            I have been conscious of failing memory for names and faces (which could just be natural decline with age!), but, I decided to go for B12 supplement and taking Flax seeds (ground). I hope I build enough of B12 to be self sustaining after I finish the one month course of the supplement. Why I narrate this story is how that great man had his fingers in so many pies (there doesn’t appear to be a field to which he has not contributed!) even while leading the fight against the mighty British.
            These were the thoughts which were uppermost in my mind in the morning as I sat at my spinning wheel with Biscuit dozing next to me. As usual, the small inner voice tried bargaining for a break from run so as to conserve for the weekend long runs. For me now, I believe like cricketers, I want to make the form count. I want to put in as many miles as I can. To cut the long story short, I changed into my running dress before Biscuit’s walk and that settles it for me.
            I was at the gates at 4:19 AM. The strip tease point, the intersection of Uttamar Gandhi Salai was steeped in darkness, thanks to COC giving the old man privacy to contemplate the state of his country. Today I had a long discussion with a scooterist with a pillion at the signal before Saravana Bhawan who tried to convince me to run on the left side of the road instead of near the divider. I thought this was a settled issue with the Hubli Pass’r and Traffic police, Chennai would have notified it, but, he said many drunk come during that time. Much to the amusement of another old man who was patiently overhearing us, I explained that with sober people like him, I had no danger and as for drunk, they surely would not know right from wrong!
            The dog with his owner (the one who is my weather vane!) came with his tongue out by a mile scaring me to prepare for fireworks of the kind Men in Blue got from the Aussie pacers.  Profuse sweating I was experiencing even at my relaxed pace corroborated the dog’s prognosis! Clock near Gandhi statue struck the hour of 5 even as I was near the MRTS flyover.
            I have this old distinguished person who seems to be recovering from some stroke and walks with a walker with his attendant. We regularly exchange greetings and I am impressed by his regularity and punctuality. Since I generally meet him at the start of the run on Beach road, I don’t want to take a break. I am actually tempted to get his story as it would be inspirational for many, maybe someday!
            I consciously tried to run at a relaxed pace today so that I am able to keep my mind calm and also wish every runner/cyclist who wishes me, An early start had given me that luxury. There was not much of unusual to report in today’s run as the usual people crossed me and attendance was marked by both the parties.
            Even though I was not thirsty when I crossed the AVM water point, and I had the tea leaves still going in my mouth to keep me salivating, I took the drinks break. I have now been getting good response to my greetings from the COC sanitary workers (particularly, the one I had chided earlier when she had wanted to get some money from me instead of greeting!). I reached home at 7:46 AM, a full 3:27 after start for the 32K. Will try the slow stuff tomorrow also!  Finally two days of running without the tyranny of clock!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

To run or not to run was the question

            Sleep deficit and running without a break seemed to get the better of me today. The aching limbs must have chorused ‘Mauka-Mauka’! Discipline ensured I woke up at 2 AM and shut out the alarm on the mobile, but, I fell to the old trick of Morpheus and decided to take a five minute nap. Next I knew it was 3 AM! Axe first fell on spinning, however, half an hour of Facebook followed by some stretching over Green tea kept the possibility of the run alive. I was aware of the fact that (now don’t call me unpatriotic, my saying will not jinx it!) if India lost then getting through the day with no run could mean a few murders in office!
            Biscuit’s walk started at 4 AM, he showed no sense of urgency and decided to do a thorough examination of the grounds. Thankfully, stray dogs were not to be seen. They seemed to have decided to extend their sleep time declaring a holiday from office for the India match! It was 4:30 AM that we finally came back to the hut. When I sat back to complete my third course of tea after putting the milk packets in the fridge, Biscuit started sensing a ‘No run today’ declaration from me anytime. Felt bad to disappoint him and the muted but concerted effort by a little tired body. The fact that I had changed into running clothes before the walk decided it for me in the end.
            I placated my body by promising them that I would run slowly as I walked to the crease (read the starting point outside the colony gates!), time was 4:52 AM. I had messaged my wife about the late departure of Hubli Pass’r and the outer limit of return as 8:30AM so that she doesn’t call the cops!
            If I was expecting empty roads due to the match, it looked like just another day for the tea shops and sanitary workers. The water lorries and hurrying private vehicles (rushing home for match?) meant I had a crowded road to negotiate.
            On the TTK flyover a bunch of noisy youngsters on bikes passed by me. I was treated to gentle ribbing and raucous laughter from across the divider. I gave them a calm smile as I was drunk on Endorphin! The last vehicle slowed down alongside me and I got the ultimate insult from the guy on the pillion, Walkingaaa..? I should have been offended, but, it was delivered with so much sincerity that I could only manage that I could do this pace for 12 hours. I am not sure if they meant to be sarcastic, it could be a case of Tamlish for running being Walking (…as is in other regional languages too!). It would be so much fun if these kids could come for a jugalbandi some day on Beach road instead of burning father’s money and the precious fossil fuel!
            The place around Gandhi statue was fairly crowded with squatters after walk and gossipers, must be my later hour. It was already 5:35AM by the clock. Met my friend Jesudas and his wife as they were finishing their walk. I spent a few minutes unsuccessfully wooing the cows who had settled probably for the preview of the all important match. I had to wait till I reached opposite the Presidency college to find a late luncher cow who did not mind taking a break from the main course of her meal to sample the sweet dish of two plantain peels.
            The loop around island ground was done in pretty lighted condition today. I instinctively looked around for the baby tortoise at the beginning of the loop where an armyman walker and self had tried to rescue him from the middle of the road to deposit him on the mud filled divider. Arranging for his ‘Ghar Wapsi’ would have been a tall ask considering that the beach was about a kilometer off. In fact, when I mentioned this at home, both wife and daughter asked me as to why I did not bring it home. Fresh from a viewing of ‘Kung Fu Panda’, I agree we could have done with his wisdom!
            Today the army contingent in PT whites with whom I had run the last time was coming from the opposite side. They threw all their discipline and reserve to the winds for once and gave me a loud cheer. I met the two lads who had wanted me to race the Indian Army team member running from the opposite direction. They gave me a bright 100W smile! The bridge, the scene of Adam teasing was a beehive of activity and the mixed crowd of both sexes and kids meant safe passage. I got helloes from my young friends. Last, but, not the least was a pair of drunks whom crossed on the Sivananda Salai. One of them passed me muttering ‘Why does he run every day’? In another place another time, it could have sounded ‘What do you do with a problem like Maria’? I get the feeling of Big Brother watching me always!
            Met Mathematician and barefoot runner I befriended yesterday, but, he had finished his run and was walking. Another regular who normally runs in the opposite direction (man with big moustache and who had raced with me one day!) joined me at the Labour statue as I was coming back towards Light house for my first loop. We got talking and it came out that he is from Railways (RPF!). He checked my appetite and informed in return that he does 10Km every day. When I finished my second loop near Gandhi statue, it was a little shy of 7:30 AM (the clock chimed when I was exchanging waves with the policemen guarding the Commissioner’s office).

            Even though the coverage may have started, the crowds on the road was not any less. I took a longer break at the water point (the cooler was not ON today!) and socialized a bit with the guard of the parking lot and the Saravana Bhawan next door. I reached home at 8:11 AM (a 3:19, 32K!) well before the announced arrival time.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Good run continues

It was a late night on Sunday due to a bizarre incident of our car getting stuck in haphazardly parked cars in the parking lot. It was almost 11 PM when I hit the bed. Due to co-operation from Biscuit and some cheating on time reserved for spinning, I could do the planned run on Monday. The sleep deficit showed up as an even earlier crash on Monday night and also a delayed start today too! The incidents of the two runs are all jumbled in my head.
I must have missed the milkman Shanmugham, when I came out of the door to go for the run, there lay two packets of milk, one sweating in humidity and the other bled white from some pre-existent injury. I immediately took a photo of the scene of crime and informed the suspect. I hope his promise of exchange tomorrow is delivered!
The gnarled and aged tree in the Officer’s club compound seemed to be boycotting the celebration of green by its young neighbours, much like a reluctant Indian Minister in a Pakistan Day celebration!
Biscuit was challenged by the street dog when it saw that Biscuit was trying to woo his mate in the cover of darkness. Biscuit withdrew sheepishly like a kid caught with his hand in the Jam jar. His apologetic cooing was accepted by the benevolent couple!  
I think it was yesterday that I saw a mendicant dressed in saffron coloured clothing looking up to the image of the St. Albert holding a kid in hand on the Cathedral road. I don’t know if it was his way of assuring safe haven or his attempt at seeking some alternate remedy!
You meet a different world in the morning. You have tricycle with their load of firewood and bullock carts frothing with their load when Chukku Kaapi reigns. When I get back, the scene is transformed to big cars and aromatic coffee. It’s like a time travel every day!
I have this pair of a dog (I don’t know his breed, or, I would not address him so!) with his tongue hanging out and its owner who cross me on the R. K. Salai every day. I can corroborate the humidity and heat by the length of the tongue the dog has hung out on any given day! It is my version of the weather vane. I talked to his owner and praised his pet (he told me that they walked for 45 minutes every day) for its discipline. My attempt at getting introduced to the pet was seen as keeping him away from his walk and he growled at me. Must get Biscuit to meet him and get some inspiration from him.
Today during my run on the stretch between Labour Statue and Lighthouse I had the company of another barefoot runner (I did not get his name!). He is a mathematician by profession and we had interesting discussion on running and why mathematicians are rarely prolific beyond their 30’s. He has been running for the last 30 years. Even if the distance or pace is not to his satisfaction (who has ever reached his satisfaction level on these two!), I saluted him for his sheer longevity! Another interesting bit was a lady from among a group of a rustic set coming from the opposite direction broke into a canter with a wide grin as she passed me, much to the merriment of her friends. I was reminded of the three ladies of NH-218 in Hubli. Running with passion does find a resonance and expression or otherwise of the same is dependent on how much of the etiquette has been drilled in!
I have been meeting Sundar Purush​ on most days on the Mount road stretch and again when in my second loop on beach road. Doctor seems to have taken a break or maybe switched to a bicycle.
Though I have not been able to recognize the cyclists under their similar looking helmets, I have started greeting every cyclist I cross in my morning run.
Usually a group of men greet me from their perch of the bridge near the slum at the start of Mount road, but, today a group of women seemed to have dislodged them. In my prim fashion I did not greet them and crossed them without engaging in eye contact. As soon as I crossed them, I heard peals of laughter and a cat call. I got a taste of medicine of what the members of the fairer sex must be regularly going through. So, Adam was teased today, and let me tell you it is quite discomforting.
On the way back, I had a drink from the AVM water spout which I have now made a daily routine. I meet interesting characters filling their daily supply of drinking water from that point. Today I met and had a discussion with the tricycle fellow (who must be trading in waste recycling from his wares!) about if any such water outlets were there anywhere else. He did not know one, however, he was filling up a big Bisleri can which could last him whole day long! I was accosted by a walker from Beach road who having had his refreshments at the Saravana Bhawan came over to check my age, distance run and the usual questions. Finally, I rose in his esteem further when he came to know that I am a native of Namma Tamilnadu (if I can make a casteist statement, he was overjoyed that I was a Brahmin, I am sure Periyar must be turning in his grave!).
I am getting a little tired of my usual circuit and the ache in my left leg is surely just a ploy by my bored mind to instigate the body to sneak a break. Still, I am pleased with the regularity of my runs. I hope the news of the 24 hour run stadium of Bangalore on August 2nd and the 12 hour run on Independence Day at Mumbai keeps me going.

Monday, 23 March 2015

When the clock struck work and other episodes

When Hubli Passenger chugged in to turn right from R K Salai at the Gandhi statue to go to Lighthouse, the clock was showing 12 O’ clock. It looked like the clock after a late night weekend party was having a bad hangover. The first time I was able to see the clock was at the Madras University building and it showed 5:20 AM.
I have been running without a break the last whole week with my usual appetite of 32K on weekday and 42K during the weekend just passed by. However, I have been consumed by the book ‘Running with the Pack’ by Mark Rowlands which I got last Saturday, the 14th of March on the occasion of my birthday. It is a brilliantly written book and gives an entirely new meaning to running and why it is such a joy. I found myself echoing the author’s experience at most places in his book though I may not have gone so rigorously as a Philosopher’s trained mind which the author has to arrive at those insights. I did mention the book to Milind Soman​ who surprised me near Lighthouse yesterday and ran with me for a few kilometers before work called him back.
I have not been regular in posting my experiences in the last few outings. I shall post a few events from my runs in the last week after finishing the today’s run saga.
Today’s highlight was running with a group of Army jawans who asked me to lead them for a part of the loop on Mount road and Sivananda Salai. They humoured me by keeping to my pace till we parted at the foot of the Napier bridge. The run took 3:21 for the 32K today.
Where is your shirt Gandhi
I sometimes do get taunted for going bare top during my morning runs. Yesterday a bunch of youngsters passed me on their bike on the TTK flyover when among the usual cat calls I was asked why I don’t wear a shirt. The youngster on a fast bike did not have the time to wait to hear my answer, but, it set me thinking! Gandhi was once asked by a young boy if he would wear a top cloth if he spins a cloth for him on his spinning wheel. Gandhi is said to have told him that he would have to provide for his brothers and sisters also, and at the boy asking how many shirts would he require, he seemed to have famously said 65 Crore, the population of India then. Well, my reason for going topless is more selfish, a more efficient heat transfer while running. We are a very tolerant country in respecting the wide variety of our sartorial tastes. While one end of the spectrum is brought up by a sect of the Jain religion who never change out of their original birthday suits to the Madisaar Maami a traditional south Indian feminine wear all of nine yards. Hope our kids have the maturity to celebrate the differences for makes us such a wonderful country! I bored Milind with all this while he updated me on his continued successes in Pinkathon Hyderabad and how he is in town for the next edition at Chennai on 12th of April. I told him to read the book by Mark Rowlands and am sure he would relate to most of what is said there! Sundar Purush​ crossed me on the beach road and finally I got to meet him, this was our first meeting after his daughter’s birthday. My wife has been pestering me to find out if his daughter liked and plays with the dog toy which we gave her on her first birthday. It warmed my heart that they have named the toy Biscuit!
In my yesterday’s marathon run, I got to know that the person in white and white who gets greeted by all who pass him was the scion of the famous AVM family. When I got to know this from my friend Jesudas, I made bold to stop and talk to him in my next loop. He evinced interest in the distance I run and I told him that I regularly use the RO treated water spout outside AVM kalyana mantapam and that it was a unique and pleasant effort for this part of the country though not uncommon in the North of Vindhyas.
I had the company of lot of cyclists on Sunday and also met Marina runnerz who were stretching on the flag staff road. The run took me 4:30 hrs for the 42K run.
Soliloquy and Gender equality on Chennai roads
I started the Saturday run early at 3:55 AM as I had a meeting at 11 AM in office and was expecting some important guests at home. That long distance and Ultra running leads one to dialogue with one’s inner self is widely documented, but, I was rudely awakened when I passed a man sitting under the bus shelter on the other side of the divider on R K Salai loudly muttering to himself. The devil may care attitude of his and the Endorphin induced gay abandon of myself only emphasized once again for me that there is but a fine line between madness and passion!
I must have just gone a few hundred meters, that I saw an old man drawing complex Rangoli on the edge of the road which was well swept and water washed. The smiling large poster of Amma seemed to approve the breaking of the barriers.
I ran on the restricted stretch measuring 5K between Lighthouse and Labour statue. To make up for the full marathon, I had to do six loops of the shortened stretch.
On the way back just as I crossed the Saravana Bhawan coffee stall, a scooter came very close to me and as I was preparing to take evasive action, the rider said that he has seen me for last many months and wanted to talk to me. The long walk with me glued to the phone directing to resolve the botched up reception of the guest which cost me half an hour meant that it took me 4:35 hrs for the run of what could have been a super pacy marathon!
Coming back to today’s run, I got to socialize at the water break with a middle aged man with whom I regularly exchange waves in my daily run as he walks on the beach road. He collected information on the length of my runs.
The rest of the last week have been the usual 32K runs ranging from the fastest 3:08 to 3:21 of today.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Why should girls have all the fun?

            We had a carpet of dried leaves for us during our morning walk today. Reminder that summer is fast approaching. The trees looked fresh in their summer crew cut. The moon just a sliver of its glorious rotund past. A mild breeze and slightly cooler air meant the inmates were sleeping peacefully. The Chukku Kaapi guy had the unpleasant task of having to wake up the guards from their slumber. The strays were curled up in the cool sands. Even the mild whiff of stink from the Cooum was tolerable. Tiggy was asleep. The alert guard outside the DRM’s bungalow invited Biscuit’s wrath (Biscuit has a problem with the RPF guards even from his Hubli days, maybe, he associates them with the trainer from their service who had unsuccessfully tried to train him when he was young at Delhi!) and not so friendly growls. Shanmugham our milk delivery man was returning as we were getting into the lift after the walk.
            Started off at 4:14 AM. All the guards on Haddows road and the guy and his canine friend at the petrol bunk were fast asleep today, maybe, making best use of the last few days of fair weather. When I had crossed the Gemini flyover and before the TTK flyover, I saw a bullock cart parked with the driver having his morning cuppa of the cup that cheers. The bullock was frothing at its mouth and I felt that I should feed him the banana peels (Yes, why should girls have all the fun!). It must be tough being born a male in the bovine world. What with infanticide and no right to life and in between the few survivors condemned to hard labour on city roads. The picture perfect images of bullocks in lush green fields looks now like an advertisers hoax!
            Today also I encountered many runners coming from the opposite direction on R K Salai, they must be starting very early! I was at the Gandhi statue while on my first loop when the clock struck 5 AM. A walker (he is found more gossiping under the Gandhi statue than walking actually!) commented in desperation as to what I must be getting by running so much every day to the tune of ‘Why this Kolaveri! I was in half a mind to stop and have a debate on benefits of running, but, I did not want to lose my rhythm in the early part of the run.
            I had another encounter on Sivanada salai with a scooter rider with a pillion who wanted to advise me against running along the divider in the middle of the road. I cut him short and earned his wrath (he must be thinking how ungrateful I am!). I told him to be careful while driving and I shall take care of myself (I also tried to tell him why I avoid the edge of the road!). He gave a suggestion that I should wear shoes if gravel bothers my bare feet, now that’s sacrilege to a barefoot runner. It’s like saying ‘If they can’t have bread Let them eat cake’!

            Today also I did the second loop in the reverse direction. The loops between Napier bridge and Lighthouse were done on a very crowded platform today. I had to stop at many places to give way to bikes and cars coming from the inner road. It was 6:52 AM when I finally reached Gandhi statue for the return trip. I have now made it a routine to stop for a drink of water at the AVM kalyana mantapam so as to not risk dehydration. Reached at the colony gates at 7:31 AM, today would count a relaxed 3:17, 32K!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Week off to a good start

            Having feasted on sleep the whole day, I could finally appreciate wife’s concerns about heat and mosquitoes during the night. I was up before the alarm went off and Biscuit was waiting for the call. Spinning session was tolerable with alternating breeze and slaps keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Leaving behind a cup of tea brewing, Biscuit and I started off at 3 AM to lord over all we survey.
            There seemed to be some emergency with the murder of crows screaming bloody murder. Biscuit either did not get their language and it was not something important enough. So, like the Bangalore crowd which walked past the girl being manhandled by her policeman father and silent accomplice of a mother, we decided to treat it as their family matter. Something sure was afoot today as Biscuit refused to walk along Cooum (no it was not the stench, both of us have got acclimatized to it by now!). I took him to other part of the colony risking Tiggy’s (a fierce Rottweiler who guards his block even if chained and on the balcony of the first floor!) barks amidst clanking of chains. I have a fear that one day his parents would forget to chain him and he would jump out to settle scores with Biscuit. Biscuit also tried to test the alertness of the guard from outside the DRM’s residence, even though the guard had old Tamil songs blaring from his mobile to display his wakefulness. I had to intervene to avoid a diplomatic coup in the wee hours.
            Shanmugam (our milk distributor!) was hard at work apportioning the milk of his kindness and distributing the wrath of the holy cows. The policemen and the guard outside the Diva showroom were dozing secure in the thought that the mannequins were fully dressed and would not attract any untoward attention from the darker (is this the opposite of the fairer?) sex. Our share of milk had not reached when I left. I was at the gates at 4:05 AM. It’s always a nice feeling to have a few extra minutes at the start as it means I could linger over my run and not tyrannized by my watch!
            In addition to the usual quota of banana peels, the cows were in for a treat as my wife had instructed me to carry some sweet and savoury made for the festival the previous day (mind you it is not the disposal of the leftover, but, few pieces kept for them as prescribed in the books!). Shortly into the run, I guessed the reason for the crows’ commotion in the morning, a dead crow lying in the middle of the road. They surely believe in sticking together in thick and in thin!
            Going by the level of stickiness I had accumulated by the time I reached the strip tease point, today was better than my Saturday outing. Thank God for small mercies. The person sleeping on the footpath outside the Petrol bunk was swathed in a mosquito net, his canine friend was nowhere to be seen. Must be out to catch the early worm! It was pleasant for sometime while the wind evaporated the sweat off my body. I acknowledged the guards outside the swank hotels on the road. The median was looking happy with the plants (planted by Corporation employees a few weeks back) having struck root. Overflowing water on the road from the careless watering operation by the water lorry ahead was nice on the soles.
            I was at crossing Gandhi statue with the clock chiming 4:45AM. It was after a longish run that I spotted the first cow, but, she rebuffed all my overtures and not wanting to throw her the goodies, I had to look further. Luckily found another one nearby who took the offering gladly and waited to be petted on her forehead. Crossed a lot of runners on the way to Napier bridge and some of them were taking the diversion on Sivananda Salai instead of going straight to RBI. Must be Marina Runnerz day of long run today! The dogs were settling their personal scores before their gravy train arrived, much like the ribbing in a boys hostel mess line.
            The jawans were lining up as I crossed the War Memorial. Decided to come back in the reverse direction to cross the Marina Runnerz and accompany the jawans on their run. I did meet a couple of runners on the Mount road, but, the jawans were taking their time in starting.
            The mendicant friend was at a farther post from the temple and his greeting today was ‘jai Sia Ram’ with a wide grin every time I crossed him. The amputee opposite the QMC was busy discussing with another friend and did not greet me today.
            I did take a water break at AVM kalyana mantapam water spout. Today the cooler was on and water really cold. I use the water taken for cleaning before and after my drink to pour over my CPU and upper body. The guard asked if the cold water would not give me a cold. I told him the head and body are heated up like a radiator of the car and cold water would do it a world of good. I finished the run at 7:13 AM, a 3:08 hr, 32K. Now, I am ready for whatever the office wants to throw at me!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Buddha Hoga Tera Baap!

 You will have to be patient if you have to get the significance of the title of today’s rant. I did not run today! Many of you who do not understand the code among runners would say Blah, but, to even a novice runner not running on Sunday is as sacrilegious as a devout Christian not attending a Mass! It helped that my wife was up at 3 AM and played the devil’s advocate to my inner voice and vetoed my plans of a run today. Biscuit the innocent bystander paid for it by his morning walk getting rescheduled to 7 AM. Now after both of us (Biscuit and me!) having slept around and having had our fill of sleep (not him, he is still at it next to me on the floor!), I decided to make amends by writing about the last two days run. In our religion, where running is God, if you cannot run, you write or talk about it!
 I know I have all of you thoroughly confused and eagerly waiting for explanations. Why was the good wife who believes nothing like a good eight hours is bed for the glowing complexion up at 3 AM on a Sunday? She is doing some ritual which by our eating some delicacies would increase my life span (Savitri Nombu, the South Indian brand of the famous North Indian Kava Chouth!). My lecture for the day was about the patriarchal mindset behind such festival and rituals. I challenged her to tell me one festival which is for long life of a woman and involves the good husbands fasting! I wanted it to bite as we are fresh from a debate on wearing of Mangalsutra (I wouldn’t tell you which side of the debate I was as I don’t want some fringe element celebrating Diwali outside my house for hurting Hindu sentiments!). That she did this solely unassisted by a MIL (she is safely across the seas) or the husband is the greatest irony. This absolutely the last stage when the oppressed become an instrument of their own oppression!
 I think I should stick to writing about my running and not get into serious stuff! That I ran on Friday was to be expected, who would be foolhardy to brave the fears of what Friday the 13th could throw at you without a swig of my favourite drink, the Endorphins.
 That I was late for my run was evident from the bustling Saravana Bhawan and the Coffee house next door. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lady runner coming from the opposite side quickly followed by many more runners. I quickly checked the time, but, it was not so much the lateness of my run, but, the long run of some running group of Chennai maybe! The run was otherwise a normal 32K effort of a weekday and the result of my taking it easy meant a 3 hour 13 minute outing.
 Now, the run on the 14th was to be special, I make it a point to do a full marathon on my birthday to be followed by blood donation. I was lucky with this one turning out to be a weekend. Gerald​ had sounded me the previous day if he could join me at Lighthouse. I left at 4:17 AM and Biscuit, if he thought there was anything special about the day, did not show it in his behavior during the morning walk or his bidding me farewell at the door.
 Once you are on the other side of the half century mark, birthday’s have a way of making you conscious of your age. I dread and brace myself at the number of people who would remind me of the year gone by. The fully dressed employee in his three piece wished me and I felt like telling him of the birthday. It was interesting the Suit wishing me in my near birthday suite attire!
 It was not as if there were more couples out on their bikes, the young girl clinging to her partner seemed to exacerbate my age. This year my inward response was, I told myself, ‘Buddha…’! I find the male variety of the night riders giving out cat calls more as their refusal to sweat it out with me and the females giggling a sign of their discomfort at my bare top (I must work harder to exude Gandhi than Salman!).
 Gerald was limbering up at the Lighthouse and the clock chimed five times as I reached, making him to comment that the Hubli Passenger was on time! He had planned to run with me up to the Napier bridge as he had to run with his group who were doing a 10x10 challenge. I immediately spotted a black cow and I was just in time as she was about to make a meal of a plastic bad which had some food inside it. She was angry at me for taking it away from her and the two banana peels must have been a small compensation for her.
 Gerald and I ran at a steady pace and kept up the conversation going. Lady Kindella was at her post supervising the dogs making merry in her land of plenty. I He got to see Jesudas and his wife near the Labour statue. Soon we reached Napier bridge (not before he was given the thrill of running in the middle of the road!) and he decided, he wanted to join me in my first of the three loops I planned for the day. I could not get him to meet any of the regulars as they come alive by my second loop. We parted near the War memorial after the mandatory selfie!
 I had a bad incident opposite the Flag staff house, one of a pair of youngsters hailed me. I don’t know if I am getting touchy about how I am addressed due to the age card I now feel I am entitled to, I walked up to them,  and after getting his age and lecturing him that he was younger to my daughter walked off without answering any of his queries about my gear or running. I told him that I did not like the way he hailed me and refuse to talk to him any further. I think the loss was mutual, would make it up with them if and when I meet them next! My ego was assuaged when a group of children running from the opposite direction on Sivanda Salai while I was on my third loop cheered me and got cheered. A few of them later met me on the Beach road and we exchanged a high five!
 People who have been following my running write ups know that I exploit my office staff for my running adventure. My Hubli Jeeves has crewed for me on his bike on my 100th marathon. It was a pleasant moment for me when i found my present Personal Assistant running from the opposite direction, his face wreathed in smile!
 The seekers of alms on the beach road are a varied lot. I have slowly introduced them one by one to the readers. I have talked earlier about the distinguished looking old man who is normally reading a religious text outside the Perumal temple. Only sign that he is in the business of receiving alms is the towel spread in front of him having a few coins neatly arranged. Today, his upper garment was off and I could see his religious thread on his sweat drenched back. Our relation is quite platonic, he does not expect any commercial gains from me. He blessed me with a ‘Radhe Krishna’ and a ‘Deergh Ayushman Bhava’ in the two times our eyes met during my three loops between Lighthouse and Napier bridge. I felt like stopping and telling him that its my birthday and seek his blessings did cross my mind, I did not have the courage!
 It was very hot when I was in my third loop. I was thankful to the traffic policeman who stands near the Kannagi statue when he regulated the pedestrians on the footpath to make way for me. I was tempted to take a shower in the sprinklers playing Holi with the Amma’s portraits on the tree guards. I finally found courage when I say a group of kids enjoying themselves in the shower from the sprinklers. I indulged partially in wetting my CPU and the upper body. That cooled my body enough from the blazing Sun to last me till I took a drinks break outside the AVM marriage hall. The cooler was not on, so I had to do with water dispensed at room temperature. Can Beggars be Choosers?
 I reached home at 8:36 AM. That gave me just enough time for a shower, a hurried breakfast before I hitched a ride with my colleague to the Railway hospital.
 Donating blood at the Railway hospital is always pleasant with the attendant (a young lady for the curious!) now recognizing me as the old man who comes every quarter letting me jump the queue of waiting donors. She also remembered and reminded me that we shall meet again on June 14th! By my bunking the run today, I have proved that I am not macho enough as the boxer, Vijendra Singh who claimed that you go Boxing after donating blood!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Getting out of a writing block

Closest I came to writing in this week was after the full marathon on the International Women’s Day. The Medical exam for the Insurance, the fleeting fling with the treadmill, friendship with the technician who turned out to be a running enthusiast and the Gestapo like questioning by the Doctor at the end of which I was left pondering that even my father-in-law (god bless his soul!) would not have done such a thorough background check before deciding to trust his first born with me for life, all this was juicy enough for a full blog! The return visit of Biscuit (my six and a half year old Labrador for those of you who are still not on his friends list!) to the Veterinary college and his antics there with his friends (I find more jollity there even though they all come in some or other sickness, maybe, because the ailments are physical and they are happy in their minds!). To cut the long refrain short I kept accumulating material, but, could not get down to keying them in!
The Sunday run was hampered by a stiffening neck which I ignored, the negotiating of turns where I had to watch for traffic was very slow in the process. It was creditable that I did the FM in 4:14 hrs. This blew up into a full stiff neck and a painful one at that by the next day morning. This put paid to my run on Monday. Not being able to run on a Monday is a pain in the neck and that caused by a real pain in the neck was the irony!
The Tuesday run was possible due to repeated application of pain balm. I declared myself fit, despite the team physio (read wife!) insisting on keeping me out of the playing eleven for longer. Even though the run was decent (3:18 hrs, 32K), I seem to have loosened some sinews on my right leg in the thigh portion. The highlight of the run was meeting with an Auto driver who stopped and introduced himself saying that I had waved to him during my run in Beasant Nagar (I have only run there twice, once with Sundar Purush and once as part of Mera Terrah Run!).
The leg trouble had me limping for the whole of Wednesday with the Physio giving me the ‘I told you so’ looks! My repeated absences and lack of post was noted by my partner, Sundar​, who texted me to check if ‘All was Well’! As for the good Doctor, I haven’t seen him after we ran together last Thursday!
I needed the run today to declare myself fully fit before the weekend long runs. Accordingly, I was at the gates at 4:17 AM. The city seems to be slowly turning on the heat and I am finding it difficult to keep my shirt on even till I reach the nominated Uttamar Gandhi Salai intersection. I may have to prepone the strip tease point or if possible shift to summer timings and start an hour earlier, food for thought! MTC bus, 27D, driver riding with shirt off in his sleeveless banian and the wide grin on his face at my topless attire confirmed that Summer is in.
The Coffee aromas from Saravana Bhavan outlet and the coffee outlet next door were unable to wake up the guy sleeping blissfully on the pavement, drunk on his previous day’s labour. Met my friend Jesudas who was starting on his bike, after his morning cuppa, for his walk on the beach.
The thoughts uppermost in my mind was my daughter’s enquiry about joining some Israeli self defense course. Time I also should join some Martial arts course. When I think of my lack of brawn power, I am always reminded of Rajesh Khanna’s dialogue in the movie Anand when he tells the pahalwan character played by Dara Singh that he is God personified as only he is capable of protecting our women! We men used to get away by priding ourselves by doing small brawny jobs like opening the screws of a tight lids etc., I think now is the time for all good men to come to the party as my favorite author PGW would have remarked! I know Gandhi would approve the use of force for resisting evil.
Today I met Sundar while I was on to my second loop from Light house and he got wishes for his birthday in person, otherwise I was despairing that even for a local runner friend, the wishes would have to be through facebook!
I finished my run at 7:28 AM in pretty good shape, so all is well with the Hubli Passenger and it should be regular from today.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Stilling the disturbed mind

            Last few days have been quite disturbing with the news about the Nirbhaya film, beef ban in Maharashtra and the AAP turmoil. Nothing like a long run by oneself to order one’s thoughts.
            Initially, when online campaigns started about stopping the exhibition of the movie India’s daughter’s, my thoughts were that this would give publicity to the perpetrator and traumatize the victim’s family. My reaction was consistent with my thoughts earlier on publishing Godse’s defense of the Gandhi’s murder. But, looking at the review of the film and the ludicrousness of the Government’s reason for banning the movie, I now feel that truth must be told, if the victim’s family has no problem with it. The first step in solving any problem is the acceptance that there is a problem.
            I believe that such men may not be straight away starting on such heinous crimes and this state would not reach if they are nipped in the bed when they start on petty crimes of eve teasing. I remember seeing a video clip about strengthening policing by the one of the AAP candidates. Ms. Kiran Bedi had also talked about need for community policing and activating neighbourhood watch system. In the long run, sensitizing children both boys and girls has to start from the mother’s lap so that the stereotypes are broken and healthy respect between the two sexes is taught. Running to me shows the way where there is a healthy interaction and respect for both the sexes.
            Today when I was running, a vehicle transporting chickens cooped together  passed by. This is a daily sight and the birds are generally quiet. Today ,however, one of the birds screamed as the vehicle passed me and it felt like it was asking the Maha CM ‘Hamaara Number Kab Aayega’. Banning of cow slaughter has been a contentious issue even from pre-independence days. Anything done by force of law does not get the willing co-operation of the people as it then becomes a religious/cultural question and people start taking sides on predictable lines. Gandhi’s suggestion on the subject, if I remember correctly, was to on one hand take care of the cattle so that they are not made destitute and easy prey to slaughter and win over people by example. In any case people are slowly realizing the advantages of Vegetarianism and Veganism. The larger question of ill treatment of cattle and other domestic animals like goats needs to be addressed. When I was feeding the cow (brownie which had a muzzle on, but, it was loose and permitted such minor treats like banana peels!) it seemed to ask, now that we have abolished death penalty for them, what about introducing Family planning!
            While yesterday was a complete solo run, today I had the company of the Doctor from the Anna square police station. The standout incident today was the near fall I had while returning from Lighthouse for the second loop. I miscalculated the stride length on one of the cuts where one has to get down from pavement on to the road and climb back again. I stumbled badly for a step or two and caught hold of the gentleman in front of him, much to his surprise. The surprise could easily have turned to anger, but for my profound apologies which seemed to pass his muster. I wanted to talk to him on my way back, but, he was nowhere to be seen. Thank God for him, otherwise I had a serious chance of a layoff from running coming!

            Yesterday, I had done the 32K in 3:17 and today’s effort was in 3:12, the credit as usual must go to the Kakinada express for awakening my competitive spirits! The full moon run today was quite illuminating. Will be bunking the next two days as I have a medical check scheduled for tomorrow (nothing serious, mandatory one for insurance, again I have to explain the low pulse rate and BP to another Doctor!) and Biscuit’s scheduled visit to the Vet on Saturday. Living in the hope of the Sunday Long Run!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Blame it on Biscuit

            I was sure Biscuit must have had his reasons for not waking up with me in the morning. My wife informs me that due to power cut they all (Biscuit included!) went to sleep late. I know Biscuit can also lay some blame on the medicines he is on for his allergy. I got immersed in the spinning and it was only the persistent crowing (I hope that’s what roosters do!) of the roosters which reminded me of the late hour when I went and woke up Biscuit at 3:45 AM for his walk. It was a hurried affair, today’s walk!
            I started the run at 4:19 AM. The weather continued to be pleasant, even though the temptation to strip the top layer starts earlier than the now earmarked Uttamar Gandhi Salai intersection. I think I will move the designated spot closer home for the summer runs. The Regional Meteorological Station wore an inscrutable look giving no hint of how long the going would continue to be good.
            Found a Chukku Kaapi vendor drinking his own brew, I was reminded of the conversation I had with another vendor. These vendors do the graveyard shift from 1 AM to morning 6 AM and the clientele is mostly the guards and pavement dwellers. I am tempted to give this Vegan brew a try, maybe one day when I am carrying some cash, or better still if some vendor becomes pally enough to offer me a free cuppa!
            Today Kakinada Express was waiting at Lighthouse busy stretching himself when Hubli Passenger chugged in. Was able to persuade a cow already into her cud chewing phase to accept the banana peels. She did so with reluctance, but, was a relief. Sometimes these small acts of charity appear too miserly for the grave harm we as a human race have been inflicting on this gentle creature. I pray that if people cannot turn Vegan at least some substitute should be found for milk to relieve them of their misery.
            The army crowd was thrilled to find their hero back amidst them and there was a spring in their steps and their salutation was louder. The stretch on the Sivananda salai continued to be like the scene of Basanti’s dance scene in Sholay. Though there were people sitting on the bridge near the slum where I had my Holi skirmish yesterday, the ‘angry young man’ was not to be seen today. I am hoping to make friends with him ultimately!

            After finishing the first loop at Lighthouse, met a runner who came and asked if I have run the Nilgiris Ultra. He stated that he has been running for last one year and runs on Marina, will surely get to run with him sometime soon. The time of finishing the second loop at the Gandhi statue was 6:55 AM. Finished the run at 7:31 AM, a 3:12 32K!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Passion jostled with Rage today

Was up a full half an hour before the scheduled alarm was to go off on the mobile. I was reminded of the queue outside the Mess before breakfast bell on the day after a non popular dinner menu. I was seriously starved of running over the weekend, had to bunk for Biscuit’s day out at the Vet’s on Saturday and a curtailed run on Sunday to attend the Chennai Runner’s Anniversary event at DLF Garden City.
Despite being on medicines which make him sleepy, Biscuit was up as soon as I got up and stayed around (dozing next to where I sat spinning for sometime though!) till the time I left for the run. Started at 4:11 AM, did fool around on facebook for some time!
HSBC bank was well lighted and doors open signaling that it had nothing to hide and was not afraid of the penal provisions on Black money! The tea stalls were still shut though the municipal sweepers were out in full strength clearing the sins of the populace and bearing the brunt of the Swatch Bharat campaign ungrudgingly. It is sad to see the amount of waste we generate without a care for the people to clean up. Unless this attitude changes, any amount of drives for cleanliness may not have the desired effect!
Though my preferred energy food before the run is banana of Robusta variety, I treated myself to two bananas of the exotic Yellaki Balhe Hannu of Nanjangud variety which my colleague had given during my visit this time to Mysore. Truly, good things come in small packets, the taste of this variety is divine! Why I mention this is to record how rigid the cows are bout not over-eating. I tried my luck with an overweight and visibly pregnant cow who was peacefully chewing cud. She refused the sweet dish. The honour went to another cow which was still into its main course of breakfast. She consumed the offering with relish.
The dogs were a bit unruly at their feeding session, but, things seemed to be well in control with Lady Kindella supervising operations ably assisted by her man friday!
The Sivananda road was strewn with lots of pebbles today and despite the street lights glowing to their full glory, I had to run with utmost concentration of a trained ballet dancer to avoid sole fry! I remembered the discussions Dr. Faizal and his good wife were having with me on the subject when we were returning from the Chennai Runners Anniversary event on Sunday last. An army man in his fatigues (minus the cap and shirt not tucked in, looked like Gabbar!) inquired multiple times about the absent Doctor! Sounded like the oft repeated refrain from the movie ‘Holi kab hai?’ Word must have passed around quickly as the men following dutifully wished me with their trade mark stiffening of the arms and back and a firm ‘Jai Hind’.
The incident leading to the title today happened near the slum (where kids have become my friend!), when I crossed a boy of indeterminate age (more a overgrown boy than a young man!). He was mumbling to himself as he washed his face from the water pouch he was carrying. I wished him with a wave of hand as I normally do. I initially thought he was going to splash water on me from his water pouch, frankly I would have welcomed it! But, he suddenly without warning threw the water pouch at me which hit me on the back of my neck. It was more a shock rather than the pain of the act which hurt me. I stopped to remonstrate with him, but, I could not understand his anger and why at me? I think these must also be accepted as I do the cheers from the young friends from his neighbourhood! An old man who was watching all this summed it up saying the boy is a brat!
The orderly outside the flag staff house was polishing the brass diligently. He returned my wish without turning back to look at me while continuing to polish away. I guess the Price of Probity in eternal Polish!
I met the Doctor coming from the opposite direction while I was coming back towards the Gandhi statue after completing the second loop. I stopped to wipe myself of the sweat as I waited for the signal to change to red to permit me to cross the road. The time on the mobile was 6:47 AM. I completed the run at 7:23 AM after a satisfying 3:12, 32K.

Biscuit goes to the Vet
Turned in late on Friday after going for Sundar’s daughter’s first birthday party. We were late due to the traffic and missed the cake cutting. The chief guest was grumpy and we were reminded of our daughter’s first birthday. Woke up without sufficient rest even after I had allowed myself delayed alarm time of 3 AM. Decided to go back to bed and instead use the day to take Biscuit to the Vet duly bunking the run.
It was a huge learning experience negotiating the traffic and playing Columbus with the aid of GPS on the mobile (daughter’s, and without her guidance!). Biscuit wasn’t minding the detours, he was looking out of the window and taking in the sights and sounds of the Saturday morning Chennai!
Chennai is reported (reports from pet owner friends!) to have an excellent veterinary college where pets are given state of the art treatment.  We were told that if we reach before 7 AM, the wait for one’s turn is not long. We were the first. Wife queued up for registration while Biscuit and I inspected the campus. He used the first mover advantage to claim all the trees and shrubs on the campus for his own. The staff were to arrive at 8 AM, slowly other pets arrived. While autorickshaws were the preferred mode, some came on scooters and bikes. One scooter had three people riding with a black Lab squeezed in the front. Another Lab sat on the fuel tank in front on a bike. It was like party time for Biscuit, surprisingly, there were no fights. The scene was like one outside a pediatric ward in any hospital. The parents of the pets easily mingled with each other and there was no jostling at the queue. The reception area was very spacious, well swept and mopped and smelled of disinfectant. The registration fee was a princely Rs. 30/-. I remember my Boss saying that one should be born a Dog if only for the royal treatment at the Veterinary college. There was a sign proclaiming a medicated bath for dogs at Rs. 300/- (not a bad idea for Biscuit’s birthday treat!). The medicines and consultation in the hospital is free free free! The consultation room was very spacious and each dog was seen by an intern and the case was reviewed by the Senior Doctor. All in all it was a wonderful experience. Wish we could extend such care to human beings in need!

Sharing Gyan with Chennai runners
When Ram Rajagopalan​ broached the subject of speaking to the runners at their 9th anniversary event on Sunday, my first thought was that I would have to miss my Sunday run. I am very possessive of my Sunday run and more so this weekend as the Saturday run was sacrificed for Biscuit’s outing.
I was keen to participate as that would give me a chance to meet so many runners in one place. My plan of running with different running groups so as to get introduced to the runners did not last long due to my penchant for sticking to one known route.
Compromise was struck and I was told that I would get a lift from Lighthouse at 6:25 AM and I could run before that. Dr. Faizal was to give me a lift from Lighthouse (I checked that he was not running that day due to an injury!). I left at 4:01 AM from my house. After the Amma’s birthday celebration, today the turn seemed to be of the prince in waiting from the other political heavyweight of the state. The road was wearing a festive look.
Since most of the runners in Chennai belong to Chennai runners I was expecting Marina to be free. Imagine my surprise when I saw that traffic policemen were into their drill blocking one side of the road and QMC was blaring out music and announcing for runners to collect bibs. This can only happen in Chennai, with an estimated thousand runners taken away to DLF garden city, Marina had another 300+ to give me company. Now, who needs paid events to get the company of runners? Running has really reached epidemic (for want of a better word, I don’t mean it in the negative sense!) proportions in Chennai!
I was able to log 22KM with the watch still showing only 6:14 AM. There was not enough time for another 6K to Napier Bridge and back, I put on my shirt and was strolling the stretch between Lighthouse and Gandhi statue. I was amazed the number of people who stopped to inquire as to why Hubli passenger was not running anymore and if All was Well? I had an interesting discussion with two persons who were lamenting the increased commercialization of the running events. This was after they asked me why I did not participate in the event.
Shortly thereafter Dr. Faizan came and we left for the venue. I was not able to formulate my thoughts on what to speak to such a big gathering. We had a good discussion on injuries during the ride. I was without my spectacles and somehow between us we used his smartphone and with a little help from locals we reached the venue by 7:10 AM. We saw a large number of runners finishing their 10K run. I was tempted to get down and join them in their finishing stretch.
Chennai runners is an umbrella organization with eighteen local chapters across the city having more than a thousand runners. I was amazed at the pride each chapter had and the camaraderie that existed between the various groups. The humility of the volunteers who themselves are experienced runners is the specialty of Chennai running scene.
I had an enjoyable interlude with Simba, Anil Sharma​'s black Labrador. Soon, the much awaited cake cutting was done with the tiny tots crowding out the seniors. I got the microphone and spoke about how running helped me overcome my nicotine addiction. Knowing that the group does not require any motivation for running, committed as they are, I talked to them the need for balancing running and life. I have always wondered how youngsters are able to give so much time for running! I would have preferred a question answer session to a one way lecture, all in all it was an enjoyable experience for me. Hope I did not bore the runners after their event! It was an honour to receive a memento from Ram Viswanathan​. Here’s wishing Chennai runners ‘Many more happy returns of the day’!