Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Punctuality Hubli Passenger style

Biscuit really hates the weather in Chennai now. His daily walks in the morning are an exercise in disinterest which would put a middle aged Government employee to shame! Evening walks, thanks to the sea-breeze, notwithstanding the Couum fragrance, is better. More so as he has made friends with a few kids, but, nothing to beat his fan club at Delhi!
My morning starts have now been timed to perfection. I have been a Passenger train only in name as I do not normally take passengers on my run. My stops are what are technically called the operational halts in railway parlance, as I stop for water and biological breaks at my convenience. Punctuality enroute is therefore not a prime concern as long as I finish the run in time for my office. Having started to provide what is called a ‘request stop’ near the U.S. consulate office near Gemini circle for Manoj Bhat, I have started to observe the time by the Isaphani centre clock. Last few days I cross the place bang on 4:10 AM. Maintaining a fixed route and time has won me lot of friends from the all night petrol bunk employees, to coffee vend staff, morning walkers and tea sellers. The place and time of crossing is almost like how a train crosses trains in the opposite direction on a single line section at nominated stations when running on time! It is like people living alongside railway tracks ordering their timing as per passage of trains. I found the Sangeeta hotel supervisor waking up his boys when I crossed (guess he must be telling them Hubli Passenger has passed!).
Today a policeman (one with three stripes on his sleeve!) came from behind on his bike and slowed down next to me. I thought I was going well below the speed limit to get a speeding ticket. It turns out that he wanted to talk to me. He is from the Teynampet Police station and he said that he used to be 110Kgs about 10 months back and ridiculed by his station colleagues by the name ‘Robot’. He said that he took to regular walking after seeing me run and he looks visibly trim now. One autorickshaw driver and another walker rushed to our side thinking I was in trouble with the police to give me support and we all had a good discussion on the importance of exercise. He took a selfie with me and promised to send me the photo. I repeated the joke of not having a smartphone, the missed call is still awaited. He ostensibly wanted the photo to inspire his teenage son into exercising!
Mr. Vijayakumar (the policeman referred above!) would have missed me as work having kept us till 10 PM in office the previous day, I was almost resigned to miss my run today. To my surprise, my wife did not argue when I curtailed my sleep, spinning and tea session to leave on time for my run. Cotton level has reached perilously low point and if the supplies do not come in time from Hubli, spinning sessions would stop in about a week’s time. Must find out some local source quickly!
My experiments in Gandhigiri with kids on bikes continues. We have reached a stage of live and let live. They not knowing how running early in the morning can give one a kick and I resigned to the fact that they would graduate to endorphins after exhausting the kick of the adrenalin. I only tell them to wear protective gear for their heads.
The road cuttings on the Beach road have now been freshly laid and the run has become a pleasure. Another water outlet has come up on the other side of the road which is convenient on the way back. This is a fancy chocolate outlet named ‘Zuka’, it is famed to have a life size chocolate version of Rajnikanth. It suits me as I do not have to cross the road for the water break! It is good that serving water has become popular and high time it was considering the sweltering heat, Sun has turned on this summer! Found Sundar Purush coming out of his third break near Pycroft’s road colony when I reached that point. My guilt in resorting to daily water breaks was assuaged and ego pampered.
Even if I regularly run 32K each day, the monthly kilometerage would fall tantalizingly close to the four figure mark. The challenge would be not overstretch on some holiday to hit the four figure mark!

Friday, 15 April 2016

It is no laughing matter this!

Even though Gandhiji had made it a fashion statement for half naked men to go out in Khadi, sixty five years into independence the new generation sometimes cannot hide its mirth at seeing the country aspiring for Digital India with men still latching on to old fashion. In my new found maturity and control, I have been trying to laugh off such laughing episodes even if at my expense! When a young girl in resplendent clothes standing under the Labour statue (ironically, with half naked men straining at physical labour!) burst out into laughter at my attire, I smiled back at her and told her to ask her parents to take her to see Gandhi statue further down Marina Beach and tell her the story of Gandhi’s vow at Madurai. I am still looking for her since that encounter to see if she has been sensitized to Gandhi’s gear.
I sometimes cross celebrities during my morning run and for fear of rejection do not initiate conversation with them. Today when I was into my second loop from Lighthouse, just after crossing Netaji statue, I thought I saw comedian actor Vivek! Now, I am a huge fan of his, but, having crossed him after a brief hesitation, I thought he also showed some interest (could it be my gear!). I steeled myself and retraced my steps to talk to him. I found him also coming towards me. He initiated the conversation that he would like to speak to me. I was gushing like a star struck teenager who is tongue tied in the presence of its heartthrob. I recovered quickly and said that he can, but, only after I have asked him my questions. Next few moments it was a flurry of talk from me on how big fan I am of his vivek-ful comedy and how he has single handedly raised the standard of comedy in Tamil movies. In the process his questions about my running (particularly barefoot!) went largely unanswered. He obliged me with a snap with him which I am inserting to buttress my claim.
He asked his colleague to take my mobile number so that he could Whatsapp the photos to me. I had the presence of mind to tell him that I am smart, but, do not have a smart phone (now how is that for a joke on Vivek, we laughingly call such instances as ‘Hanuman ke High jump_aaa’!). I think I will be able to have normal conversation with him if and when I get to meet him again!
I was flying in my run after this encounter and took timeout when I crossed Sundar Purush to tell him the story. It took me a greater part of the rest of the run to get back to ground. I was an instant hit with my daughter and wife when I told them of this encounter. To think that I was in half a mind to bunk my run today! I am excluding other regular features in this post (including Biscuit’s antics!) to my subsequent posts.

Monday, 11 April 2016

To be in others shoes

The moving video of a Labrador (with a striking resemblance to boot!) insisting on and carrying his mistress’s favourite flower to her grave, praying for her and lying down with its mournful eyes looking at you was heart wrenching. Much as I my heart would wish to have Biscuit around till my last day, having watched both movies ‘Marley and Me’ and ‘Haachiko’, my cool head prays that Biscuit leaves earlier to meet our maker and reserves a place for me alongside.
Keeping these somber thoughts aside for the moment and returning to my daily runs, today was the 25th day of unbroken running stint since entering my 55th year. Yesterday night there was a disturbing news where the father of a youth killed by a schoolboy driving a high end car was being interviewed. Just into my run in the morning a big car stopped next to me. The driver, a young kid, could be just out of school asked me why I was running. Before I could answer, the kid at the back intervened in a slurred voice asking me the way to Parrys. Surely, they were not seeking guidance from an elder about the way to go, but, trying to pull my leg. He invited me for a duel, to which I politely declined. I told them to drive carefully and carried on. I knew that they were in no position to listen to any homilies from me. I stopped at the first police patrol vehicle and asked the officer to inform the beat vehicles on the route to Parrys to look out for the colour and number of vehicle to see that they do not come to harm or cause harm.
Just another day a bunch of youngsters with one young lady, the high decibels pointing to their being high, broke into a loud guffaw as I passed them on Beach road. Normally, I would have challenged them for a run, but, this time I tried to imagine my response at their age on seeing a middle (?) aged man half naked and barefoot running so early in the morning and smiled to myself. This is probably trying to be in others shoes! Takes lot of self control I tell you, particularly when you are being giggled at by a young mixed company.
Now, the readers may not think that I have become a Saint! I did bark at an Auto driver who advised me to not run near the middle of the road. I think I am touchy about people wanting me to abandon the middle path a join either ‘Kanhaiya’ (of JNU fame!) or ‘Mohan’ (, how do I tell them that both are names of Lord Krishna!
Could not complete the report started on Thursday last and what comes next is gist of experiences of runs on day 26th to 28th , the first two days with Manoj Bhat.
Apart from the general discussions on the perils of running alone and being confronted by road rage exhibited by fellow road users, where we found lot of commonality of experiences, the consensus was to work on improving our response so as not to excite the animal in our fellow travelers!
We had an interesting discussion on how to make running more futuristic. The issue of carrying/sourcing drinking water during long runs came up. I could only come up with water dispensers put up by charity minded individuals. Thinking further, we came up with some kind of device which can extract humidity from surrounding air to provide water on the run. We could also think of recycling sweat using desalination technology at a micro scale.
As for using the calories spent by runners more usefully (I used to get these looks from ordinary folks who go about their daily tasks laughing at me running without a useful end by their standards!). I thought of an idea of putting up stationary bikes in public places (Marina Beach for starters!) where anybody could come and cycle for a duration and coin machine could dispense cash/coupons (exchangeable at various outlets) in proportion to the energy generated. The energy so generated could be used to charge mobile phones for a charge or even ploughed back to the grid. Youngsters racing without helmets on speed bikes could instead prove their virility on one of these exercise bikes to impress the other sex. Kids could make pocket money on the side and improve their health too! If anything stops me from acting on my own idea, blame it on lack of entrepreneurial skills in my genes (TAMBRAM!) and my old bones!.
Finally, I was able to run a full marathon on Sunday. The forced rest today and aggravation of Monday blues as a result was not entirely due to the wasting effect of the Sun, but, family duty of receiving wife at the station. Jo Bibi se karte hain pyaar, who station se pick up karne se kaise karein inkaar! Hubli passenger would get back on rail from tomorrow!