I never thought I would ever recite this nursery rhyme, not after knowing the joys of running in the rain. The morning assembly sounds from the neighbourhood school in the morning was welcome sound after the city’s schools were shut down due to the incessant pounding the hapless city took in the hands of the weather gods in these past weeks. Nature has in its own polite way reminded us that the way of bribing officials to break regulations does not work and that nature cannot be bribed. The pity is that like any other ill effect of the greed of the rich the poor pay a disproportionately heavy price.
Biscuit, my seven year old Labrador pet, was the face of what collateral damage the rain caused. We were like two padded up batsmen waiting to go out and play watching the rain pounding relentlessly. Even the stolen moments of walk were hurried and reduced to the bare essentials. His canine friends were nowhere to be seen. We worried for their safety and hoped they were able to feed themselves. Most of them have returned and look not too worse for their spat with the rains.
For all the light and sound, I could only get a few days of the joy of running in the rain. The media and my wife ganged up in overplaying the dangers of going out on the inundated roads. I have, however, been running whenever I could get away. People at the Marina beach road have been surprisingly regular and we greeted each other much like the government employees did on rainy days. We wanted to be rewarded just for being able to reach office. The resilience and the patience of the common people was touching.
I have been watching the serial Newsroom the last few days and it has been riveting. The viewing time sometimes late into night (by my standards!) or early in the morning have come at the expense of the Charkha spinning time (I hope Gandhiji understands!) or by wholly boycotting the run!
There has been a gradual shift in the questions asked when people find me running. They now seem to ask ‘How long I run daily’ and not how far or how far! That coming from common people is refreshing as even I have realized after chasing speed and distance that the moot issue is the time spent and not the distance run!
There is this lady I find staying at the bus shelter who looks like she is mentally unsound. I mostly find her cursing the passersby. I running on the other side of the divider like to imagine, that she is the CM’s canary posted at that place to check the safety and security of women. I have been missing her since the heavy rains started, hope she is well!
M S Amma has been even more irregular in her morning prayers than my coming out to run. Her voice shaking (or was I imagining!) when reeling off the thousand names of the Lord Vishnu! The aged clock atop the 175 year old Presidency college remained stuck for many days showing a time of ‘Ten past Ten’, reminding me of the old HMT advertisement, ‘If you have the inclination, we have the time’. Whale of a time it was when i got to run in the rain!
The canine faithful were regular in their vigil and more importantly their friend did come with food for them through rain and shine. On days I found some others taking to feeding them biscuits again. I did not have the heart to comment on their dietary choice lest I get dragged into the intolerance debate!
The people manning the Beach road, earning their living begging or offering to weigh the walkers for a price, continued to brave the rains. Our shared smiles exhorting ourselves the happy thought that the human spirit overcame the nature’s onslaught.
The Chennai runners and cyclists have been dogged in their morning outings sending a message to the weather gods that they wouldn’t be the first to blink. For the sake of the people marooned by rains I want to officially announce that Rains do go away and come back after things get normal and we runners could play without disrupting lives!