Thursday, 27 October 2016

Of puppy love and other mundane matters

As a rule i am very faithful to Biscuit and do not flirt, but, there is this cute puppy I cross every day near the Marina swimming pool (where the kids train under coach Sharad!). This puppy first started wooing me by running along for a little distance. Few days back it progressed to cutely asking for a pat on his head. Yesterday he demanded back rub and introduced his entire family to me. Since I started finding it difficult to get away from them I ran on the road near the median from Anna square police station itself to circumvent them. To my surprise and horror I found this guy lying in wait for me near the median when I came for my second loop. I had to escort him through the thick vehicular traffic to his family. Biscuit even with his acute sense of smell has not been able to catch on to my temporary infidelity. I must find a way of getting out of this affair before the puppy gets hurt in traffic or Biscuit senses something!
Yesterday was my three weeks of continuous running without a break and just when my mind had nearly succeeded in convincing me that it was time to take a break, I saw this article about a guy in USA who had run continuously for a period of 42 days and a distance of 70 miles every day. Though comparisons are odious, it is sobering to stay grounded by seeing such posts!
Knee pain continues its low intensity war, but, the good news is that it gets beaten into submission within the first few kilometers into the run. I was propounding this theory to my young runner friend Shreyas that the pains which start during the run and gets worse progressively into the run are dangerous while the ones of my knee pain kind must be strengthening the part each day. Interestingly, one of the regular walkers stooped me a few days back and asked what he should do about his knee pain which he gets when he tries running. I told him to run softly, mindfully and without competing. I myself am still to conquer the last mentioned sin completely and usually pay for getting tempted to compete particularly when the challenger is of the fairer sex!
People I meet in my morning runs have different ways of showing that they are watching me regularly. Take this trio on a scooter today who addressed me endearingly as Thata (Tamil for Grandpa!, I am getting used to this appellation) and asked me for a selfie on the TTK flyover. They were on the way to Beach after their night shift. Then there is this group of old ladies who sit chatting under the MRTS flyover (I call them the three witches of Macbeth!), one of them said you can hear the 4.30AM chime when this old man crosses this bridge (gladdening to hear Hubli passenger’s punctuality!). A guy with a pony and a pillion pulled over as I had just descended from the TTK flyover on my way back a few days back and asked me why I was running late (I was on time give or take a quarter of an hour, but, this is their way of claiming familiarity!). The icing on the cake was a loud voice from one of a group of youngsters from under the portico of the building ‘Thata, see you at 7 near RBI’, it was heartening even if at 7 AM Hubli passenger would most likely be near Gandhi statue than RBI, still the claimed familiarity gladdens the heart!
IMD has predicted that the monsoons would arrive in Chennai tomorrow and going by the humidity today, a run in the rain is a distinct possibility tomorrow. Fingers and toes crossed!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Random thoughts

I have some sensitive matters to be discussed about Biscuit’s friends which could distress him so I am suspending the customary invocation to him. You guessed it, I am referring to the savage treatment meted out to them in the ‘God’s own country’. Every time I see a family sleeping under the bus shelters or on road side sharing their tattered rugs/sheets with their canine friend, I am aghast at the ungodly act of our neighbours. I was reminded of this when I saw a pup on the R K Salai doing a good imitation of the famous towel dance of Ranbir Kapoor in the movie ‘Saawariya’ on the jute bag left out to dry in the middle of the road. Good they do not have newspapers and 24x7 TV channels in their world reporting the atrocities.
The foot soldiers of ‘Swatch Bharat’, I mean the sanitary workers, who are usually a chirpy lot before commencing their Sisyphean labours of the day were a quieter lot today. I was reminded of the study quoted in The HINDU where taking a cue from the practice in the Japanese schools, schools in India tried inculcating habits requiring sweeping and mopping in schools amongst students. Interestingly, this was opposed both in posh private schools (which was not a surprise!) and the Government schools (because the parents were trying to get the kids out of the very thing!). It is my humble opinion that the way forward is encouraging kids (especially boys) to wash their cups/plates and clothes from a young age not by preaching but by actually practicing the same by us elders. Similarly, in offices I am contemplating asking colleagues to wash the cups after taking tea/coffee (Still in a dilemma, if it would be seen as too radical!).
Cows grazing on the lawns of Beach road took me back to the stray cattle menace, particularly cattle which are beyond their productive age. I was reminded of an interesting video clipping on Youtube from the program on Vijay TV ‘Satyamev Jayate’episode on this subject posted by Vinoth Kumar where the cattle being used as bio-digesters to convert vegetable waste to manure (it said Black Gold!). We could have people returning vegetable waste to vendors who can send it back through the suppliers. This chain could work in the empty flow direction of Vegetable supply vehicles. Any Startup enthusiast game? I remember having said this when I had gone on a visit to Amdavad Municipal Corporation and seen vegetable waste from the market yard being transported huge distances by MSW contractors to the landfills. Seen in this light, the Gau Raksha could turn out to be sound economics!
A runner (I would not name him!) whom I regularly cross on the Beach road, accosted me a few days back and asked me if I could foot his registration for the Delhi Half marathon. My regular beggar friends would tell you that for much less the Hubli passenger has snorted and sped off. Not knowing how to get rid of him politely, I took his mobile number and messaged few known runners thinking that would be the end of it. Yesterday again he cornered me and followed up. I was firmer in my refusal as his assertion earlier of that being the last date for registration was obviously false. I have been always saying that Running is the mother of all addictions, but, such craving for events even I could not support!
Interestingly, the permanent resident outside church near Gemini circle was today decked in crisp white shirt and combing his lush hair. This was probably his way of getting back at the bare-chested bald runner in me. I could only smile and carry on!
Sorry, if this episode comes out as disconnected and disjointed, I had to get it out of my system to have a clean slate for recording my weekend runs!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Nation wants to know!

Time to introduce another of Biscuit’s friend(?). He is of the same breed as Snowy of Tintin fame and as white and cute as him, but, the trouble is he swears (read barks!) as badly as a drunk Captain Haddock. He gets aggravated by Biscuit’s total nonchalance at his hard hitting performance. It is as if the silence on the neighbour’s at our surgical effort! There is a new addition to the canine club with a Rottweiler pup (same colour as Biscuit’s bĂȘte-noire Tiggy!) who is tied to his master’s car while the master goes for his clubbing in the Railway club. He is very adorable and Biscuit is warming up to him and their symphony of tail wagging a treat to watch. As they say everybody is adorable when young, the difference between a donkey and horse is known when they grow up. No offence to Rottweilers (I am    partial to Labradors!).
Some improvement on the charkha spinning front. I have been able to source cotton locally from Srivilliputtur within the jurisdiction of Southern Railway reducing the carbon footprints of my spinning activity. All was not as smooth as it sounds, there was a real scare that I could have been out of cotton on the Gandhi jayanti day. Thanks to my friend who chipped in with her grandfather’s stock to avoid a major embarrassment! Time now to locate a local weaver!
The humid and muggy weather has been testing the runners’ patience and die-hardiness. While there is a temptation to bunk the run, but, the thought of guilt for the rest of the day for a few sweat soaked hours in the bed gets me to the door at the appointed hour. I have had two bunks during the period since I went to press last. While one was a party which could not be avoided the other was my mobile alarm malfunction!
I have been trying to analyse what gets people on the road to engage with me. If our favourite anchor was to get over the overkill on the surgical strikes and really ask what the ‘Nation wants to know’, it should be, Why does Hubli passenger run daily? The permanent resident of the bus shelter outside the church opposite Isaphani center has taken to showing his anger as I pass him. Since he is vocally challenged, it is difficult to guess his cause for anger. I am getting a feeling that he thinks I am mocking his attire by running past him bare-chested! There is definitely a fine line between empathy and mockery!
My left knee has been giving a little trouble, but, it gets better by the time I reach the Gemini flyover (about 2 Km into the run). I am reminded of the joke Rajesh Khanna made in the movie Anand about Asit Sen’s complaint of shifting pain. My Piriformis syndrome (pain in the bu$# to put it bluntly!) seems to be moving downward. The old man who crosses me on his cycle near Mylapore with knee caps on both his knees seems to be warning me too!
The crowd waiting for the bus near the shelter opposite City-center was having an audience poll on my itinerary with each person speaking from the point where they have seen me. I was tempted to stop and give a self declaration and clinch the issue. Their shyness in talking to me does not stop them from pulling each other’s leg asking them to catch me if they can!
I have had occasion to mention earlier about the boy (his name is Michael!) who skates with a smile on his face. I finally gave in to the temptation and stopped and shook his hand and told him to continue enjoying his game and congratulated his mother for letting him enjoy it. I also stopped another mother who pushes her daughter (could not have been more than 10 years old!) too much with the result that the poor girl skates with a sad face. Now the result is the girl skates with a smile on her face and the mother has a glum face when she crosses me.
I got a pleasant surprise when the shop owner of the apparel shop (one of the rare occasions when I accompanied my wife for her shopping) commented that he has seen me somewhere. I told him ‘I run’. He immediately flashed a smile of recognition and said he could not recognize me with my shirt on! Coming from him it was not so much an embarrassment as similar comments by the fairer sex have caused me when I am with my wife/daughter! No, I did not ask for a discount!

Today a gentleman standing near his parked car stopped me and after effusive praise for my regularity and dedication told that he comes to drop his kid to the school and sees me every day. He is a citizen warden and for one understood why I run opposite to the flow of traffic. He is an optician and wanted to present me a cooling glass at least! So do not be surprised if you find the Hubli passenger running with coolers on!