Thursday, 25 February 2016

Happy Composting

Biscuit is not his usual self. My wife has gone for attending a marriage and he is sulking. No compromise on his calorie intake, though! He is not very enthusiastic about the early morning walk. The walk has been postponed to after 8 AM after my run and bath.
Have been thinking for a while now to start composting the kitchen waste at home. This seems to be the right time with autumn and early summer providing abundant dried leaves (important ingredient for the Carbon component of the compost recipe!). Expert advice taken from a runner friend in Bangalore, two days of waste and some diluted curd with dried leaves in an old plastic bucket. Feeling like a young kid when after burying a seed in the earth wants to dig it up every few hours to see if it has started growing. Please wish the microbe fellows Happy Composting!
The much awaited part of the charkha arrived yesterday. Back to spinning the usual quota, bread labour done, back at the dining table with justifiable hunger!
The usual weekday quota of 32K done and dusted in 3:35.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Filmi Jodis

First time since I started spinning charkha, I have been not able to do so since Monday last due to the belt giving up. The supplies have been rushed from Amdavad and should reach me today. Meanwhile, I have delayed the morning alarm by an hour and the green tea sipping ceremony is accompanied by caressing Biscuit’s ample middle who lays next to me on the sofa like a Royal Bengal Tiger minus the stripes!
Today I will report on the interesting couples I encounter during my run. The first are a couple who used to walk hand in hand with each of them wearing conventional clothes, the lady salwar-suit and the gentleman full pants and T-shirt. Over time the lady has shifted to slack pants and T-shirt and both of them have started running. The distance has increased gradually. The lady runs faster than the gentleman and both smile graciously every time I cross them. I call this the Ábhimaan’couple. ‘Khuda Jodi salaamat rakhe’!
The next is a blind man who carries a white stick with a cycle bell fixed who is settled in his fixed place by his wife. The lady after dropping him at the Beach road goes to take up her position on the Uttamar Gandhi saalai to do her begging. The lady comes back to pick him up after a two hour shift after which the morning walkers crowd thins. I call this couple the ‘Dosti’ couple (the readers would remember the blind-lame friends pair from the movie!).
The third couple is a lady who pushes around her husband on a cart heavily swathed in bandage, presumably he is a leper. I meet this couple near the AVM kalyana mantapam during my water break. I cannot think of a movie with such a lead pair, but, I like the commitment of the lady in taking care of the totally disabled husband.
I have been thinking about these couples ever since I have seen young couples zipping around in fast bikes celebrating Valentine’s Day.

My run today was quite labored and took all of 3 hours and 45 minutes even though the green tea leaves were back in my mouth. Looking forward to an extended spinning session today evening!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

There is no magic ingredient

Every runner has some superstition which he thinks makes him run long and hard. I used to credit my prowess on the road to the spent green tea-leaves which I used to tuck into my mouth before I started for my run. Today when I started my run it felt a bit different (it could not have been the absence of the spinning of charkha before the run, which happened because of a mechanical breakdown!). I was almost at the end of the Sterling road, when it struck me that my mouth was drying up, I had forgotten to tuck the wad of tea leaves. Anyway, it was too late to return for that and to wake up the house at that ungodly hour would have been unpardonable.
My mouth used to cud-chewing on the run was feeling orphaned, like the tongue encountering gaping holes in the gums after one loses a tooth. I consciously tried working up saliva for keeping the throat wet! I reached the Gandhi statue in my usual time. I was tempted to declare that there was no magic ingredient! While it is liberating on one hand, it is also saddening. It is like the loss of innocence which makes one realize that there is no tooth fairy/Santa Claus! These constructs keeps one interested and, I believe, makes one go the extra mile!
Today Harishankari accompanied me on the return leg from Gandhi statue to Alwarpet junction. It was nice to have the security of the strong arm of the law when running in the middle of the road. It is a different matter that he needed my assurance to face the honking water-lorry instead! We had an interesting discussion on the efficacy of setting stiff goals for improving performance. We concluded that real running free needs a certain retirement age which he is yet to reach and which I had reached already. He tried interesting me in a few events which were coming up, but, I guess I have become too lazy for travelling for run. If I have any bucket list of run I would like to participate still, it shall be the ‘Narmada Parikrama’ and the Comrades!
The weather was kinder today and I had Sundar’s company for the last part of the run from the Uttamar Gandhi Salai to my home. While the cheers from the schoolkids in the auto were unconditional, an auto driver decided to greet me only after getting my age. I trust runners mature like wine with age! I guess people get disappointed when they hear my age, as they expect me to be older going by my white beard and hair (or whatever is left of it!). There is a good business model for make-up for runners to make them look older! The time for the run from start to finish by the wall clock in our drawing room was a little less than 3:30, the absence of magic ingredient more than made up by the magic weather!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Requiem for Tutu!

I do not know the connection between my being on facebook and my blogging. My literary juices seem to have dried up starved of the vitamin ‘Likes’. Two things happened over this weekend to force me to wield the keyboard again. The first was a father and daughter duo emerging out of the morning darkness on my Saturday run over the Napier Bridge on the river Couum, the father shouting out to me as he passed me that I was missed on the facebook. It felt nothing less than what famed creator of Sherlock Holmes would have felt after he had to bow to public pressure to resurrect the character after having dumped him in the Reichenbach Falls.
                The second event was much more shattering, Biscuit’s cousin and my brother’s pet ‘Tutu’ breathed his last around midnight this last Sunday. I woke to this heartbreaking message from my brother and the last line made me feel my heart would burst, he had written that he would wake up alone at 3 AM without Tutu’s company. I could fully relate to this. When people ask me about my regularity in running, I invariably credit it to the unsung hero, Biscuit, who is next to me as soon as the alarm goes irrespective of the time. I did not have the courage to speak to my brother, I left him a message knowing fully well that empty words cannot be any good for the loss he and his family have had.
                I messaged him to not to run alone for a few days till he recovers a little. I for myself was sure to pay homage to the good soul in the only way I know, running a full marathon! I had considered a day of fasting, spinning and prayer, but, rejected the fasting part knowing how much he loved hogging. I am sure he would not have liked his family to punish themselves by abstaining from food. I still cannot forget the way he used to gobble up chewstix while Biscuit when confronted with the same treat used to lick and soften it for hours. I hope he gets his fill of chewstix wherever Dogs go after spending their allotted time on earth (My brother later told me that he was buried with enough stock of his favorite chewstix, a.k.a. Tutenkhamem, his namesake!
                I have been thinking about why such loss affects us so deeply, my guess is that we try to imagine the same loss for ourselves and the enormity of it does the rest. Biscuit is still surprised why we all are being so nice to him, I am sure he is not complaining! Every dog I encountered during the run and Labradors in particular sent fresh bouts of pain through my heart. I saw an attendant shepherding three Labs on a leash, instantly, I imagined Tutu on an imaginary fourth leash making up the quartet! I just hope the family gets over this if it is at all possible. As for Tutu, I am sure he must be spreading happiness as is their wont at a place which could only be heaven (I cannot imagine a heaven without Dogs and no Dog does anything to go anywhere other than heaven), or, if they do not go to heaven, I hope I go to where Dogs go after dying as one anonymous writer has famously said!
                I had the company of a barefoot runner for the last loop and he loved the billiard top surface around the Island ground loop. To a regular passerby who made a face on crossing me commenting to his partner that I run barefoot everyday (to the tone of ‘What do you do to a problem like Maria’!). I told him I am a little mad which seemed to satisfy him. I told my runner friend that I was not wrong, I was trying to take my passion of running to the limits of madness, Isn’t there a very fine line between madness and passion! The run even at a leisurely pace got me home in 4h:35m.

                Today morning when I lined up for my run, a group of workers, who are engaged in putting up a steel median on the road outside the colony, were relaxing after their graveyard shift. One of them asked me why I do not wear shoes. Generally, the tone of such queries is one of pity and awe. I disabused him that the act was deliberate as it helped me recover from my runs quicker. One of them asked if Drivers of trains stayed in the colony I was coming out from, I quipped the colony has drivers of such drivers. He correctly guessed that we must be officers. My leg even if a little painful at the start has been getting better and today’s weekday quota of 32K was downed in 3h:31m!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Where is your shirt Mr. Gandhi

This was the day before the Republic Day, when Gandhi gets appropriated from the Public by the Great Indian Republic! I was greeted by two suited booted employees of Hotel Taj, I felt like Gandhi must have felt confronted by the King of England when he went to meet him over tea. There was no condescension here, the youngsters knew the Hubli passenger by sight, but, I could not resist the jibe that ‘they had enough for the both of us’.
Gandhi was hiding behind a big tent, it looked like he was uncomfortable and wanted to disassociate from all the fanfare. A policeman of ample proportions, his lathi carelessly laid under the chair, asked me about my missing shirt! Though, I could not claim any higher motive like Gandhi about going topless till all the Indians are clothed (his bare top was to befit the occasion was suitably covered with a thick garland!), told him that a bare top helped me in efficient heat exchange, the physics was obviously lost on the gentleman of the constabulary. A safari clad (must be a higher official from North of Vindhyas!) took offence to my tone (he couldn’t understand our conversation conducted in Singara Tamil). I explained to him in chaste Hindi that it is unbecoming of them to object to Gandhian attire right under his nose! All ended with a good laugh when a traffic policeman who knew me from my daily runs interjected on my behalf and lightened the atmosphere by asking me my day’s quota of run.
Republic day meant that the pavement dwellers had to make way for the elite, it was heartening to see my friend ‘Val-vil-ram’holding fort at the base of Kannagi statue and carrying on an animated discussion with the traffic policeman on duty. I felt a sense of belonging at being urged on by his ‘Tumhi Gold medal, first position!’.
Talking of policemen, my friend traffic policeman at the busy Nungambakkam station crossing informed me yesterday of his transfer to Triplicane along with his inspector. Alas, the morning crossings at the busy junction would not be the same anymore. Love the way he eggs on the people and carries on his daily chit-chat amongst the chaos. I told him that I would miss his VIP treatment of mine, but, the saving grace is he relocates to what was my in-laws place of residence and where I have a lot of happy memories attached with. Turns out that he also grew up thereabouts! I am used to the make and break of transferable service, having been in one last close to three decades and having been born into and grown up in an Air force family.
My friendly street dog of the Mariamman temple opposite Loyola crossing, whose skin tenor I used to envy, was bleeding from a wound around his ear. I have seen him being brought up on tea and biscuits and living on a busy crossing and wonder how it is that Biscuit with all his pampering never matches his ruggedness or skin tenor! I have similarly wondered at the healthy babies in the arms of nomads and beggars gorging merrily on plain boiled rice while our well bred kids have all the nuanced infections!
Chennai marathon came and went and I am happy to report that I could abstain even from my normal run on the D-day without tinge of jealousy. The runners must be having a hangover after the event and the usual crowd of runners is yet to pick up.

School children have slowly warmed to my running and I now have my own cheering squad of squealing kids near the finish point (Sangeeta hotel) on most days. The traffic policeman at Sterling road crossing engages in a chit-chat giving my tired soles and lungs an excuse to break my run. Two days of abstention due to a pain in the right foot has me grumpy and here’s praying I get my fix tomorrow.