It was a rusting Hubli Passenger which started with uncertain steps at 4:16 AM today morning after a week of abstinence. Somehow I was not feeling the joy which I had been anticipating. I was imagining that this is how the loco pilot (that is what the good old Engine driver is called now!) of the first suburban train after the last few days of break due to flooding would have felt when the services were up on Monday morning bringing relief to many office goers on what is otherwise portrayed with a prefix blue! I was tentative and watching for potholes and puddles. The Airport had become operational yesterday bringing cheer to stranded passengers.
I knew the physical dullness would give way to joy inside once the endorphins kicked in. I was keen to renew contact with Gandhi and was eager to see how my friends on the pavement had done for themselves. But for a big puddle of water opposite the Hotel Park near Gemini circle which smelled of kerosene, the road to Gandhi statue was clear of water. The road was however badly scuffed and the loose gravel took its toll on my soles. The usual permanent occupants outside the church and bus stops enroute was heartening. There was no sign of the lady at the bus stop and I can only hope she has shifted base!
The clock struck five when I crossed the Gandhi statue after an about turn at the Lighthouse. The friendly and loud chatter of the walkers was heartening. The alms seekers on one side of the pavement and the well heeled near their parked vehicles at the other end meant that the surging waters which had brought all strata of the society together in the last week had retreated to their earlier positions. I thought I sensed more empathy in the giver when they bent to give alms to the seeker today!
Yesterday our office celebrated the 60th Mahaparinirvan diwas of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, what one of our colleagues said after the event was very apt. The one week of flooding in Chennai has achieved Dr. Ambedkar’s ideals of a classless and casteless society and if only we remain that way after the threat recedes. The last one week has surely taught us the price of energy and water conservation. I hope the teachers strike at the hearts and minds of the students as soon as the schools re-open so that the theory classes on Climate change can follow the practical demonstration they have had first hand.
M.S. Amma was soothing the walkers with her soulful rendition of Vishnu Sahasranamam. The guard who usually used to strike a balance between the temporal of the temple and the corporeal of the temple next door by sitting right in the middle of the two had succumbed to the air-conditioned charms of the corporeal inside the ATM today. The attendance of the walkers as well as the beggars was full today. The municipal workers were cheerfully going about their mundane task.
Couum river was flowing majestically and its span today was like the proverbial 56” and the waters diluted with the rainwater was much cleaner. I was reminded of the photograph in the Hindu newspaper yesterday where the swollen Adyar river had spat back a load of plastic and thermocol waste. Guess even holy rivers cannot digest this sin. Talking of the plastic, I must say, it is not all that bad. I remember how it protected the common people from the rain, I think there is no harm in using plastic, the problem is the culture of use and throw indiscriminately!
I met a few runners today, but, the cyclists were conspicuous by their absence. I had the company of Gerald Martin Joseph in my second loop from light house for a few kilometers and he was telling me about the relief work he was able to do. I have been feeling absolutely impotent the last few days. The lack of knowledge of the lay of the land, being a novice in swimming and absence of a suitable means of transport rendered me useless and I just satisfied myself by enquiring from the people who deliver milk/paper etc. to us about their well being. I was thrilled when I saw in the papers on Sunday that the NDRF teams largely consisting of North Indians were in need of people who can act as interpreters for them with the local people. I found their number from their website and offered my assistance. Even though they took my number, I was not called to the battle front!
My day was made during the run today when an MTC bus driver stopped and greeted me and I reciprocated by telling him how the MTC had done a wonderful job during the floods. To their credit they were the only public transport apart from Metro who braved on during the floods. My cup was full when a person stopped me when I was in the final lap towards Gandhi statue with the word ‘Hubli?’. I asked him how he knew me. It turns out he is Sakthivel, and he drives a molasses tanker and used to cross me daily on the Highway during my runs in Hubli. He has come here to help clean up the mess after the floods. He was very happy that yours truly is from TN!
Despite ample doses of endorphins and cheers from friends, it was a tired Hubli passenger which reached the colony gates after a 3 hour 33 minute run. I know it would get better from tomorrow!