With a long meeting in prospect for the day, running would be essential to survive. I walked out of the lift dressed in my running gear and Biscuit leading me by the leash like an opening batsman going to take first strike. I took the first few steps on the road with the nimbleness of a ballerina. Biscuit’s enthusiasm and manageable sole condition meant a pleasant stroll. The show was spoiled by a Poclain truck’s jarring sound. Biscuit detected it much before I sighted it and did a Kejrawalisque dharna refusing to go in the general direction of the sound. In the end he got a curtailed walk despite it being a lovely weather for a walk. The ‘I’ in the Diva signboard was blinking in a self effacing manner probably giving me a lesson in humility.
I started the run at 4:14 AM, the guard who was woken up by a bunch of insistent mosquitoes who had got the better of his mosquito net draping and smoke filled surrounding witnessed my stretching disinterestedly. The music lover guard was deep in slumber giving the IMD office atmosphere a somber look, probably, mourning the nature’s devastation in Nepal.
A young boy of that indeterminate age which is bordering on manhood and could fool the labour inspector of underage employment was sitting at the edge of the pit where his elders were working underground to restore severed communication connections. He gave me an interested look and before he could decide whether to talk to me, I had crossed on to the Uttamar Gandhi salai.
Today the Hubli passenger was challenged by a policeman under the Gemini flyover. His loud call to me sounded as would have the London policeman’s ahoy before pinching one of the Bertie’s innumerable friends for d. & d. as PGW would have eloquently put it! His question asking ‘Runningaaa’ sounded to my guilty conscience as ‘Thaniaa’ (meaning drunk?). The Gandhi in me rose in revolt and I walked up to him and offered to be breathalysed. He got apologetic and explained that he knows me from having met me at two of his earlier postings on Beach road. He only cautioned me to run carefully. I started on my thesis of why I run in the middle of the road and in the face of approaching traffic. He seemed to appreciate my logic, just hope he passes the good word among his colleagues! I feel like telling every other person who asks me this question, ‘Dobaara Mat Poochna’!
Today my thoughts on the straight stretch on the Cathedral/RK salai was on why people treat barefoot runners as if they are handicapped, I think it comes from our oriental veneration for sages who slept on a bed of arrows or the muslim mendicant who used to lash himself during muharram profession. We seem to revere people who torment their bodies to realize their souls. To me barefoot running is a matter of choice for its being easy on the body (except the soles!) and one which makes for faster recovery after a long run!
Reached Gandhi statue just shy of 5 AM. By the time I had acknowledged Srinivasan of the loud and elaborate Namaskaram fame and the walker recovering from paralysis (who comes with his attendant in khaki!), the clock had struck 5 AM.
Today the dog with the skin with sores was not to be seen (hope he got deliverance from his pain!). When I crossed the Labour statue already bedecked with some flowers and an eager crowd of photo seekers celebrating in advance of the impending ‘May Day’. As I crossed the road near Anna square police station, I could spot the Jesudas couple nearing the Napier bridge. I tried running hard to catch up, but, they have put in an insurmountable lead.
On the Swami Sivananda road, I spotted the Kurma avatar of a tortoise majestically crawling through the main road oblivious of the traffic. I wanted o rescue him and deposit him on the footpath, but, the fear of touching the soft parts (I was ok with the thick skull!) kept me from doing the rescue act. Luckily two walkers came from the opposite direction and I requested me to help put the tortoise on the sidewalk. One of them readily did the needful, I got credit for my good deed for the day!
As I crossed the temple opposite the Munro statue, I was reminded of my friend of the foot path of the previous day, he seems to have chosen a different haunt to get his eight hours of beauty sleep today. On my second loop which I was executing in the reverse direction, I crossed Sundar going in the opposite direction. Our young friend of the Sunday run was following him closely and I crossed him on the Sivananda Road.
The beggar with an artificial leg squatting outside Anna square police station asked me if I was in my third loop as I crossed him. I corrected him that this was the first loop. He again asked me the same question during my second loop and I had to tell him my appetite for a working day!
In my second loop from light house I crossed Sundar who was alone and running on the pavement instead of the inside road. I stopped near an advertising banner near Labour statue giving contact details for updating one’s name in the Electoral roll. As I tried memorizing the telephone and the website address (which I was sure to forget within the next 10 mts.!) the young runner of the previous day came and stood next to me. We ran together for half a Km after which he decided to break loose. By the time I reached Gandhi statue by 6:50 AM, he had put in an unbeatable lead. I stopped following his red T shirt.
I started after a break waiting for the red signal at Gandhi statue and imagine my surprise when I found the boy drinking water at my regular water point. He was more surprised than me and gave me a respectful look. He then asked me to lead him on at my pace till my house as our route was common till that point. We kept an even pace for the rest of the distance and it was 7:34 AM when I reached outside my gate and bid him bye after showing him the location of my house. So, with a 3:20 32K, I can enjoy the day at office!