Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Victor and the Vanquished

The unbroken trend of run continued into its sixteenth day today. Running being the mother of all addictions stands proved in that the antics of the cricket crazed nation and its demi-gods (the God of cricket has retired!) could not keep me from my bed at 8 PM come B’desh or Ozzies. I was joking with my daughter that my weak heart cannot take the excitement of the game and I prefer the highlights the next day after securing the usual run in the morning. Real test is from the Semi-final stage, lest absenting myself from cheering for India be taken as Anti-Nationalism!
I was feeling bad about having escalated the encounter with the man near the shrine of Velankanni to near name calling. I kept a look out for him the next few days. I found him praying fervently on the Easter Sunday, I waited for him to finish and apologized to him for my bad behavior. I told him that I understood that he advised me for my safety and that it was not the message, but, his tone which got me angry. He said that he is the Asst. Commissioner of Customs and Excise as if that should explain his tone. I humbly submitted that I too was a Joint Secretary level officer of the Govt. of India. We parted as friends in that what threatened to escalate into name-calling ended tamely in throwing ranks!
The day seemed to be my day for durbar. A group of municipal workers waiting for their early morning chores to begin outside their lorry station opposite Hotel Sangeeta tried to get my attention my whistling. Fresh from Fridays over reaction, I simply looked to them. They walked up to me and asked me if I had acted in the movie with Shiv-Kartikeyan. Scenes of runners participating in The Wipro Chennai Marathon a few years back were used in the movie ‘Edhir Neechal’ and I had a reasonably bigger clip because of my unusual running gear. I told them that our footage was used without our permission by the movie and that I would like to have a rematch with the reel hero in a real run (the hero is shown as winning hands down in the movie!). I am sure that the reel life hero must be envious of the Vanquished getting all the attention when the Victor languishes! Now I get daily greetings from this group at the start of the run.
That the elections are upon us is dawning pleasantly with the politicians cut-outs letting the lesser stars have their moment of glory from the walls. Today foud a police patrol with a videographer in tow searching passing vehicles for cash in their booties. Was pleasantly reminded of my stint as Election Expenditure Observer in Kakinada last year and the many good runs i had on the highway there!
Three policemen (must be senior going by the number of stars on their shoulders!) stopped me in my run. What followed was nothing less than an enquiry with questions flying thick and fast, not, there was no strong arm tactics or third degree. The questions ranged from my area of operation (one of them was happy that his having seen me near DLF was proved right, this must have been the 10K run in DLF last year!). The usual questions on distance and time duration of run and the inevitable one on diet followed. I got three adherents to Vegan diet. I was let off after a photo on the senior’s mobile. I do not know if anybody could feel happy about being questioned and photographed by the police!
My friend of the Port trust has started to run a few paces in between his walks. Today was his last day of the week of night duties and he informed me that he would be in day shift for a week starting tomorrow!
The Runversation was continued by an oversized man returning after crossing me on his bike to check if running could help him shed weight. Looking at his weight, I suggested to him start with walk and cut down on Non-Veg and dairy in his diet. I told him to be patient and trust and enjoy the process and the weight would surely come down. Running can happen after the weight becomes manageable for his knees! Another Vegan recruit!
Last but not the least, I met the Amit-Jaya pair relaxing after their run walk near the Labour statue. I told the husband the names I have given them in my blog. He was much amused and wanted to know optimistically if it was due to their looks. I told them it was because of their professional rivalry of the athletic kind. I also congratulated him that he was leading his better half in the latest runs!
Back in the colony during my walks after the run with Biscuit, I have found on interacting with the health workers , who sweep the colony roads of the dried leaves of autumn that it takes them more than three hours of double handed sweep non-stop from 6 AM. I found that it was no less than my morning run effort, the only difference being that they get a core work-out and back strengthening while mine is a less strenuous one!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Khadi building bridges with Khaki and Saffron

There is a lot of excitement in Biscuit’s life. A cat has littered and he has kittens popping out of nook and corner during his morning walk. On the flip side, the colony road is being black topped. He hates the sound of the machinery and the heat and dust. His movements during the walks if severely restricted to lanes from where he cannot see or hear those monsters!
My good run from the birthday continues and after a long time eleven days of continuous morning runs must be a record of sorts. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed and touching table-top as I key in this. The heat however has ensured that there is no run longer than the 32K! I have now lowered my sights to having longest stretch of continuous runs even if there are no full marathons even on holidays. I am compensating by extending the spinning sessions on the charkha. As the latest lot of spun yarn has gone for weaving, I shall remember to work out the length of yarn required for one meter of cloth (this is the most frequently asked question other than one on the length of yarn I am able to spin in an one hour session!).
There is this guy I cross near the church opposite M.O.P Vaishnavi college when I on my outward run in the morning. My attempts at engaging him by waving as I cross him have largely been ignored by him. I was happy when he looked up to talk to me a few days back. He very roughly (first in Tamil and then in English) ordered to run on the edge of the road. I reacted angrily by saying that I shall not reply to him till he talks to me politely. It would have escalated to an ugly spat but for the beat policeman (who is my friend !) intervening and telling me to carry on and that he would educate the ignoramus on why the Hubli passenger takes the middle path! I felt bad for quite some time after that to my angry reaction. Was it because the vanity in me expects my simplicity in running gear to be appreciated and that I am not willing to be treated like a commoner? It dawned on me that it is easier to shed clothes than the oversized ego which has been nurtured for so many years. I must be learning as when two youngsters on a bike crossed me and loudly commented on the lack of vegetation on my top storey. I retorted mildly that they should relish their crowning glories while the going was good as the same was not permanent. I do not know if they got the repartee, but, I sure was proud of my cool response!
My friend list among the tea vendors on the route keeps growing. When one of their customers tries to stop me for a question, the vendor after greeting me waves me on, taking the responsibility of bringing their clientele up to date on my running routine.
The police guard outside the State secretariat at Fort stopped me today to ask whether barefoot running does not aggravate the knees. I explained as to how barefoot running makes one mindful and how the feet land softly, which in turn means less jerk all the bones and joints from foot to neck. He went back to his post thinking on the information received, but, I must be prepared for further supplementary question the related topics!
While there are many armed forces personnel encountered during my run, but, this person in workmen overall whom I cross outside the Madras Port Trust building begs a few questions. Today my curiosity got the better of me. It came out that he is on night shift and he takes 45 minutes to an hour before his break of shift to get his daily quota of exercise. He told me that when he is on day shift he shifts to walk in the evening before breaking duty. This seems to be a good way for deskbound staff like us at work. Managements must encourage such walking breaks to beat the battle of the bulge! I claimed kinship with him by telling him that my father-in-law (god bless his soul!) was an ex-Port trust employee too!
Then there is this baba who wears flowing saffron robe and we invariably cross near Napier bridge and road outside Flag staff house during my second loop every day. Today we stopped for a chat. It turns out that he walks up to Sowcarpet every day (I could not get the place from where he comes clearly!). With that the wooing of the Khaki and Saffron and stitching of a broad based coalition of the Khadi-Khaki and Saffron has started.
It is common to see runners running in pairs, but, when I spotted and stopped the power-puff girls ( my name for the Mrs. Harishankar Krishnaswami and Sita Viswanathan duo!) walking together for two days in a row now, I asked them if they were taking a walking break? Turns out that one of them is recovering from an injury and the other is accompanying her on a walk. The icing on the cake was matter of fact statement of the injured runner that her friend was her soul mate and they would run only after both are fit to run. Now, any runner will accept that for a fit person to deign to walk instead of running is akin to fasting in the face of a fully loaded buffet table. Long live their friendship and here’s wishing the lady speedy and complete recovery!
The duration of the daily run has ranged from 3:30 to 3:40 irrespective of the physical and mental state at the start of the run. It only means that in longer runs as in life it all evens out, what is important is to show up each day!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Penance for the Vegan cake

Right from the time of the infamous ‘Let them eat cakes’ to the birthday cakes of the leading ladies of Indian politics, cakes have had a negative connotation with me. The situation has got worse with my turning Vegan, as anything Vegan or Organic means costing a bomb, cakes have been an absolute No-No for me. Imagine my chagrin when an overenthusiastic colleague presented a Vegan cake complete with a candle (a 50W bulb was more the requirement!). Having successfully played the Aurangzeb to people at home’s plans of a much muter celebration, I felt even guiltier at having been outfoxed in office.
The rest of the time between the fiasco and the time of going to press has been spent on trying to make amends. The first off the cuff Gandhian reaction was fast and spinning, but, fasting would have meant keeping off the run. So, I settled for an extra hour of spinning in the morning and a fine for the amount spent on cake to be donated for a charity (Akshaypatra which feeds children!), as nothing is more painful to me as parting with money! I guess a cheaper alternative from next year should be to take a day’s leave (like hiding from Holi revelers!).
Look at my agitation that the mandatory invocation about Biscuit also has been relegated to Page3. Biscuit finally got his inoculation yesterday. We really missed the convenience of the friendly neighbourhood Vet at Hubli when he had to be driven through oil fumes and bumper to bumper traffic for more than an hour to be rewarded with two of the juiciest on his back! To give him due credit, he was on best behavior with the new Vet.

 Morning run was the continuing Mann se charcha of penance for the cake and the spaces vacated by Amma were reminding me my indiscretion. A few runners who innocently wished me belated birthday greetings were sounding to me like ‘Get well soon’ of LRMB fame! It was some satisfaction that in my 55th year, the first two days have yielded good runs. Here’s hoping for uninterrupted runs during the rest of the year.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Listening to the young

The summer is officially on and Biscuit is restless at night. He is out in the Hall much before my alarm goes off in the morning. His friends have shifted to sand pits and ditches to beat the heat. The colony roads are getting a makeover, but, it means road rollers and Tar mixers which Biscuit is mortally scared off.  Tiggy( my colleague’s Rottweiler!) continues to challenge him the moment Biscuit enters his range of vision. Biscuit realizing that he is all bark and cannot bite (as he is chained on first floor!) gives him the royal ignore. Tiggy is not amused and more and more resembles a Hindi film villain haranguing in chains and irons!
                Heat has become sapping and the 32K on Saturday followed by the quarterly blood donation with not much of rest meant a tired self who fell back in bed after switching off the alarm yesterday. The whole day was spent in catching up on sleep and hydration. The Little red cells regrouped under the soothing ministration of the goddess of sleep. My Hb% was a healthy 14.3% this time and considering that the iron tablets have been reduced to one per day in the previous quarter this is creditable. Experimenting with no iron tablets this quarter and see if I pass the muster for donation in June!
I was up well before the alarm went off today to surprise Biscuit in the Hall. At an age when the reverse countdown is on, birthdays no longer excite me, but, remind one of the approaching finish line with so much to do! I wanted to have a good run nevertheless to mark the occasion.
                A young boy with plying tea has been meeting me at the Lighthouse in the last few days. He wished me from across the road when I was crossing Stella Maris College today. He finished selling a few cups to his customers and caught up with me. He asked me if I was not afraid running alone and so early. I asked him what do I have to lose but my shorts and the top tied at my waist. I returned the compliment and asked him if he does not fear for his tea container and the cycle. He said all the policemen on the road are his customers! He has finished 12th and is aiming for a degree. Will get more about him in my future runs!
                Another young lad gave a run for my age on Saturday when I was returning on my first lap from Labour statue to Lighthouse. We competed hard, but, neither wanted to show that we were in a race. I was able to keep up with him despite small diversions at the break in road where I have to take a detour to avoid pebbles. He joined me when I started my second lap, this time at a steady and non competing pace. He stopped/slowed down at the road breaks to let me join him. We parted at the Anna square police station with just an exchange of smile and mutual respect! No names were asked nor exchanged!
                The Jaya/Amitabh pair of Abhimaan fame walkers have started walking hand in hand instead of running, maybe, Jaya has vowed to only sing duets (what a waste of athletic talent!). Thankfully, today both were running together at a mutually agreed pace!
                Having saved some money in having got a gift of Kindle, I was reconciling myself to get my wife some gold trinket to assuage her long term grudge, but, guess what! The finance minister presented a dream budget and all the jewelers downed shutters against the proposed Excise duty on jewelry. Even they could not digest a Gandhian being forced to shell out money on jewels!
                The next challenge is to participate remotely in the 10 day marathon challenge from 22nd of this month. Hope I can start early enough to beat the heat and catch office in time!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Parle-G lady breaks her silence

                A false alarm of viral fever going by the stiff limbs and body pain made me bunk my run yesterday. It was a run hungry Hubli passenger which stood at the colony gates at 4:05 AM today. Biscuit may have joined me for a walk before my run, but, walk post-run has started to suit me better. Biscuit is still to adjust to his second walk after my breakfast getting subsumed in the post-run walk and keeps following me around till I leave for work. They are suckers for routine!
                A big crowd of young boys outside Hotel Park near Gemini flyover were discussing loudly among themselves and to my horror they fell completely silent after one of them spotted me and said something. I braced myself for some leg-pulling, but, thankfully was quickly out of the range of their hearing. I could sense some guffaws and was conscious that it could be at the expense of my running gear or the lack of it. I have often found that such groups have kids who want to talk to me, but, are afraid of being teased by the majority. Sure enough two of them met me on their scooter near the Petrol bunk. Their introduction was ‘which model?’(read what is your age uncle?), ‘kitna deti hai?’(how much do you run every day?). They were suitably impressed by my answer to the latter question, but, disappointed with the answer to the former (they expect me to be older!). I hope they start to run and be a positive influence on their gang or if that is too much to ask, hope they develop tolerance for respecting differences in appearance and dress!
                My Gandhigiri with youngsters is a usual routine, but, what was special today is that my cold war with the Parle-G lady (readers would remember the lady who wears lot of flowers in her hair and feeds dogs near Labour statue with biscuits and on my advice shifted them to cooked rice, but, never excused me for daring to advise her!) finally came to an end. I had been studiously avoiding her both when I cross her in my runs and in my dispatches. I was therefore surprised when she commented after I crossed her that Í look like a scare-crow’. I am glad of the ice-breaker even if it was not very complimentary! I only tried to laugh it off by replying that Í hope you are not scared!’. I also feel that my swollen head (literal not figurative, particularly after my Gandhi cut!) does give me a scare-crowish look!

                I had one runner leading me all the way on my return leg from Gandhi statue right up to TTK flyover, thereby, giving me a brisk pace. I did not break for water much to the disappointment of the parking lot guard outside Saravana bhawan joint who probably was expecting to gossip a bit! I reached home to the clock in the drawing room showing 7:30 AM. Given the time for stretching before run, it was a creditable 3:25 run setting the tone for a good day to expect in office!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A shirt on every Indian’s back

The days are getting warmer and the dogs have shifted to the open air from under the parked cars. Biscuit continues to opt for the later walking slot. He however has deigned to give me company, even if in a doze, during my spinning session.
A dog decided to give me company early in my run the day before. Except for taking a hydration break in a cesspool where sewage water seeps out of the newly laid road on Uttamar Gandhi saalai, it kept up with my gentle pace effortlessly. It came closer to me for protection when threatened from the local mafia of strays when it strayed beyond its constituency. We must have made an interesting sight to the guards outside Hotel Taj which made them greet me smilingly. The dog got bored by the time I reached near the Gemini flyover, or, it must have remembered its mother warning him about the dreaded traffic at the Mount road crossing! I hope he must have made it back safely.
A heard a scooter slow down near me and I braced for a juvenile hooting from a youngster. I was pleasantly surprised to see a young man extending a plastic pouch containing cold water. I thanked him profusely while refusing the drink. I asked him if I looked tired/thirsty! I told him I have another three hours of run to go and more water now would mean hunting for place to take a bio-break! I was reminded of the Autowallah in Kakinada in an AAP cap who used to meet me daily with a water sachet. For every abusive two wheeler rider or a lorry driver you have such simple souls who make your day!
The bulk of activity on the RK Salai and Cathedral road at my time of run is hordes of workers putting up posters of smiling Amma. Some of them have become my regular friends. Yesterday, a small boy asked me, much to the amusement and loud guffaws of his fellow workers, ‘Gandhi Thata, why are you not wearing a shirt?’ Normally this question has become routine for me and I give varied response from showing them the top tied around my waist or just a smile. Today I decided to remind him of Gandhi’s pledge of not wearing a top cloth till all his brothers and sisters are fully clothed! Unfortunately, having asked his profound question, he moved on with the truck to boost the sagging fortunes of the Amma! I kept thinking about his question and talked about it to a few workers who were working with cutouts on the route. Gandhi was smiling serenely from his vantage position enjoying my discomfiture in having to explain why we have not been able to put a shirt on his back nearly seven decades of our tryst with destiny!
The Abhimaan couple was walking hand in hand probably making sure that differences do not grow between them due to their differences in athletic prowess. They were running in sync, the lady sacrificing speed for harmony. I remembered Jaya Bachchan vowing to sing only duets!
I have been contemplating going in for an e-reader and remember having exchanged notes with my sister on the subject as she has recently rekindled her reading habit. I was pleasantly surprised to be visited by my brother-in-law the day before and being presented a reader! I am now thinking to donate my committed amount to some charity. I think Goonj, the NGO working in clothing people an apt choice considering that are helping the nation clothe Gandhi at the earliest.
My vow to not run in any organized run is seriously threatened with my good friend Ajit organizing a 50K Ultra in Mysore. A visit to see my retirement home, his farm and get some compost for getting my composting going seems too tempting! The icing on the cake is that the run is advertised as Free! Free! Free! So Mysore it shall be on the 12th of March!