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!