Last time an Emperor attempted to develop a new religion by amalgamating the then existing religion, the experiment failed to take off as it was considered much ahead of its time. In the current situation of religions again jockeying for primacy, I propose considering floating of a new religion. The friendship forged over many hours of running side by side has improved the adage ‘Blood is thicker than water’ to ‘Sweat is thicker than blood’. These were the thoughts crowding my mind when I was negotiating the Uttamar Gandhi Salai the last two days. The triumvirate of Jesus, Vinayaka, and the holy book looking out of an illuminated shelf on the walls of the Institute of Chartered Accountants seemed to be assuring me that ‘All will be Well’ on the communal harmony front.
The way men, women and children have taken to running in droves, if fan following is the basis of calling Cricket as religion in India, the day is not far when running would upstage cricket in a sweaty coup! Running is universal in appeal looking to men and women from toddlers to centenarians practicing the art.
Running has replaced alternative medicine and faith healing and is giving a tough fight to conventional western medicine in successfully combating the new age diseases of Obesity, Diabetes, Heart diseases and Blood pressure. The cases of running helping addicts in quitting years of smoking and drinking have been abundant.
The sheer bliss on the face of a runner would put the customary smile on the face of the many new age gurus, who populate the popular TV channels and advise men and governments the way to nirvana, to shame. The stretching exercises and breathing techniques of both the occidental and oriental lineage have been adopted by runners of all caste, creed and religious persuasion without a murmur.
I have said this before, when one is running, the runner is in the most benevolent mood and this feeling includes men and animals alike. The impact a vehicle loaded with chicken being taken to slaughter is very traumatic , whereas, the same goes unnoticed during any other time of the day.
If the senior Bachchan’s idea of social integration was the humble tavern, a.k.a ‘Madhushala’, I propose the public drinking water fount outside the AVM kalyana mantapam for the honour instead when running becomes the new religion. Today a tricycle driver who was sharing the tap with me was lamenting that such facilities are not there in many other places in the city and these would better serve the people than the temple/mosques (I could have quoted lines to similar effect in the Sr. Bachchan’s rendition!). While at it, I would digress to request the organizers of running events which see a lot of charitable activities being supported to consider putting up a few Urinals/Lavatories for the benefit of the runners and walkers. My choice of spots would be Lighthouse, Napier bridge and RBI.
Only incident worthy of mention during today’s run which was otherwise largely routine was that when I flagged down a two wheeler driving towards me on the Rajaji salai, I was scared to find a lady at the helm. I braced myself to be lectured about running in the face of traffic in the early morning darkness. Even though she was in plainclothes, her bearing and explanation that she was clearing the trucks parked outside the secretariat made it amply clear that she was a guardian of law. What came next was a pleasant surprise! She asked me how much I ran after saying that she has been seeing me for a month now. She also knew that I was in the Railways. She absorbed my daily mileage, my name, exact designation at work and its full form before going off to join her post.The continuing road work nearer home put my soles to test at the end of my run and it was a bruised and battered sole, but, an elevated soul which entered the colony gates at 7:55 AM after a 3 hour 40 minutes of sheer joy!