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.