Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The power of the media

I have been trying to give a healthy gap between two of my posts and thereby try and filter out the mundane. There are some recurring thoughts which hit me at specific points in my run and by delaying the posts I hope only the persistent ones make it to the post. Be warned that persistent ones are not necessarily the best!
The top of the chart is obviously my making it to the page 5 of the Times of India, last Saturday edition. Last week one old man pulled me up at almost the finish of my run and started lecturing me roughly about not to run on the middle of the road. This is the stretch where lot of tar laden loose pebbles have found their way and I just yield to my soles which try and find the path of least pain. But, beware of the tyranny of the old well-wisher breed. Finally, he asked me if I wanted my photo to appear in the newspaper. I just waved him away and said I was getting late for work and that we could talk over the weekend. He persisted and gave me a reporter’s number and I promised to call during the day. Next day a photographer and the reporter were at the same spot and started clicking my pictures. The reporter, Daniel George​ , was very polite despite my being a bit brusque. I spoke to him during the day and promised a chat during the weekend. Meanwhile, I asked him to read up my blog and earlier reports in a bid to dissuade him. On Friday, he spoke to me over phone and seemed to have researched all about me. He asked a few questions and informed me by evening that if I could send across a photo of mine on the spinning wheel, he was good to go! And on Saturday after I came back from the run, all hell broke loose. It was okay to appear in papers in Hubli, but, this was big!
There were a few minor bloopers in the article which I would clarify to set the record straight. Firstly, I run 32 Kms a day and not 35 Kms, though in his defense Daniel can claim that it is not material going by the now infamous 10% rule propagated by the Karnataka High court. Secondly, in stating that I take MTC bus to and from work, the author has tried to create a rift between me and my employer, the Indian Railways. I am entitled to a free first class pass for travelling to work by the suburban train and I avail it without guilt. I am not so much of a Gandhian in that sense in not going in the Second class compartment. Finally, the author has erred in declaring Ultras to be runs in excess of 50K whereas technically any run more than the marathon distance of 42.195K qualifies as an Ultra. Considering the short duration of the interview, the author has done a great job!
Congratulatory messages started pouring in from friends and relatives, the last time so much excitement was caused by a newspaper report was when I made it to the Civil Services! I was reminded of the first interview which appeared on Livemint and where the crew had spent the whole day with us in Hubli.
I was feeling a little awkward when I started for my morning run on Sunday, but, the Chennai crowd is subdued. Many people did stop and confirmed if I was the same guy who was in the papers the previous day, but, there was no over the top reactions and that suited me. More people have now started wishing me and the run have become better even if I have to provide a few extra minutes for the same.  It seems more than the running, the Khadi and the Gandhi has the audience gripped. Today an 88 year old activist rang up to me to ask me if I could do something about freeing the pavements in Beasant Nagar of hawkers and vendors. I only thought aloud that if Gandhi were alive, would he have chosen the access issues of the haves over the livelihood issues of the have-nots. Have gloated long enough, would reserve the running episodes for my next Mann ki Baat!

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