Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Aaja meri gaadi mein baith ja!

It is tricky to decide on a headline when you have a few days experience to share when even a day’s run throws up multiple options. Having said that I would go with this heading for today.
Weather has turned for the better in the last few days. While the goodness has not translated into what can call for a proper run in the rain like in Hubli, but, it has been promising ‘Ache Din’. Biscuit, my seven year old Labrador for those who still do not know him, decides on a day to day basis if he should come for the morning walk or give it a pass. As a result, my times of starting the run have widely varied. I used to think that he is innocent and would not show the human trait of pretensions, but, I get the feeling that he pretends to be sleeping when he does not want to come for the walk. So much for their light sleeping and smelling skills!
I left for the run today at 4:10 AM, and yes, Biscuit took his walk today. The walk was not a lover’s stroll, but, a more business like one. He did his bit and wanted to be back in his bed, the barking commoners who came out from under the parked cars to engage him in a dialogue were simply ignored. The chai pe charcha has to wait for the evening show!
The road relaying work just outside the colony till I hit the Uttamar Gandhi salai has been going at a snail’s pace.  My soles have now got used to loose tarred pebbles, hot mix and scruffed up surfaces coming up at different places. What used to be sniggers from the workers initially has now turned into a mutual respect. Knowing the language has also had its advantages.
The trio of Ganapati, Jesus and the Holy Koran were awash in bright light. The statue of Mother Vailankanni, was however not taking chances. She had opted for a silk Sari and a  marigold garland to claim kinship with goddess Durga during navratri.
These few days the cows have been acting pricy probably because of their new found primacy in the animal kingdom. I have had the ignominy of returning with my humble offering of the banana peels unaccepted many times. I should not be too harsh, they may just be avoiding crowds or must have got scared of the proposed cattle traps on the Marina. A bunch of their humbler cousins, the buffaloes were grazing opposite the Venkateswara temple. They seemed to be petitioning Gopala for including them in the protected species category. I did my bit and fed their leader the banana peels.
We runners celebrate age and I personally do not mind when kids call me grandpa, but, a few days back a cyclist wished me ‘Good morning Uncle’ and set me thinking. The famous dialogue of the aunt of the serial ‘Hum Paanch’ (of Vidya Balan fame!) ‘Auntie mat kaho naa’ came to my lips!
While people at the bus stand or guards usually do not talk to me, but, turn to their neighbour and perpetuate some version of press report about my regularity or distance, yesterday a voice spoke out loudly from the dark foyer of the City center. Another friend to the kitty! The guard outside the War memorial has become a regular friend and I get a salute every day. Today waiting to cross the signal at the war memorial round about a MTC bus stopped while crossing me. The driver peeped out and asked me to hop on, which prompted today's headline!
Today I had the company of  Mohan​, the Kakinada express after a long time. He has literally gotten off his high horse (read cycle!) to run with the humble Hubli passenger. He was sharing his rise and falls (two literal ones!) with the cycling during the days of his absence from running. He peeled off after a loop to be with the Chennai Express (Sundar​!).
 The municipal workers, who are condemned to celebrate Swachch Bharat every day, and other people who are out on business at the time of our run usually either disregard us runners and cyclists as somebody engaged in the pastimes of the idle rich. Now they have started to acknowledge me as one of them. This graduation from amateur to professional is a real promotion which I treasure. There are still two mad persons one at the Mylapore crossing who threatens to challenge for a debate between his madness and my passion and another lady at the bus shelter opposite Kalyani hospital who generally is railing at passers by who are still to accept my regularity.
When I am before time to the Gandhi statue, I find this interesting person who is asleep on the raised pavement with his foot kept on his cycle next to him. This is his way of guarding his bicycle against theft. Today his foot had slipped down, but, the cycle was intact next to him. Then there is this beggar lady who given up on any earning potential from me and our relationship has moved up one notch higher in that we have started exchanging smiles. These and the regular greetings from other walkers make my morning run as a monarch’s visit of his constituency.
Last but not the least, my attendance today was marked by no less a person than my chronicler Daniel​ who caught me on my home stretch at the end of my run. Looking forward to two holidays and the long runs which they invariably promise.

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