Monday, 24 October 2011

Delhi Avenue

This is the main artery of the campus. Which means, I travel it several times a day. Cruising in the car, sometimes I talk on the phone, sometimes I read my notes or papers (Yes, although the child is totally banned from reading in moving vehicles, I am not). I don't like this road over-much then. Its just a route to get to point O (office) from G (gate). Big deal.

But when I run on this road - which I do, often enough - its such a spectacular thing! I used to bike to the stadium, catch up with the peeps there and then we would run around the campus together. These days, as I am trying to up the mileage, I just run from home. Which means that I have to cross that awful road at the ridiculously irritating signal under the flyover. Up to that point my run from home is not bad, barring the occasional idiot who honks at me loudly or yells in my ear. But that signal just sucks. Honking. Trucks, Buses, two wheelers. Hateful. 

So when I enter the campus it feels great because I am now cut off from that big bad world outside. I always think a bit when I cross the security cabin - should I show them my ID? Most times I just breeze past them and hope that they don't care. Or that they recognise me (of course they don't. I don't even think people see me sometimes, like when I am in lines or waiting for the vegetable person. Forget recognising me). 

Soon, I am on Delhi Avenue proper. In all my times here, I have not used Bonn Avenue (you could, equivalently) to go into the campus. Occasionally, I go on it to come back out of the campus, or when I am running loops as we were this past weekend. But, somehow, I am a big fan of the DA. Spot 1 is the temple (the first one). There is one person who does the puja there - he is the thinnest man I have ever seen in my life. He is usually slowly walking to the temple, I run past him, in his orange/brown dhoti, and worry about his rib-cage. On my right then is my friend's house. Ah 15th Cross, I exclaim in my head. Soon enough I am staring at Bannu's car on my right again, and at the beautiful new faculty apartments on my left. I love the white fencing they have going on. In between sometimes, one can see some wonderful birds. Like yesterday I saw not one, but two flamebacks, between 15th Cross and Bannu's car. 

Near the shopping center one finds monkeys, usually. I clutch my bottle tighter then. You never know. They did take away ludwig's precious gatorade bottle one time (the bottle itself is precious. It has a wide mouth that we all seem to like, and is exactly 0.5 liters in volume, an important consideration for runners for a variety of reasons). The next thing you may spot are then deer. If you are lucky, they may jump across the road. One look at the dynamics of that motion makes your own feet go faster, no doubt.  The big map of something - not sure what - is soon passed and there is a nice curvaceous part of the road to encounter after. Now the moving is suddenly very fast. The yellow board that I don't really read but know belongs to the Durga Peeli Amman temple, the white board with the red word 'Stadium' painted thick on it, that beautiful old tree, the building that was the library back in the day, and bang, I have hit the circle with the two elephants standing majestically in the middle of the campus.... 

In a couple of weeks from now, Delhi Avenue will be pounded by many feet. Young & old alike are to flock here. Walkers & runners will tread this path that I have run uncountable number of times on. What started as a small-ish idea has exploded into what we hope will be the first of many mega-running events on campus! Come check it out! 

MARG Chennai Runners Half Marathon & 10 k Race
Date: Nov 6th, Sunday
Time: 6 am
Registrations:  (filling up real fast!) 
More Info:

The excitement is palpable, we are canvassing it hard, getting permissions, training first-time runners, talking all the time about this, and it takes me immense effort to focus on other parts of life, like work, and  deepavali, and that long-overdue visit to Goonj (which I had hoped would be an annual thing), not to mention keeping my sights on that longer goal and getting my weekly running mileage in...  

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Khushboo Hands

It was a long time ago. I think 2000 maybe? Or earlier even. We were back in India for some reason, someone's wedding or some such (not our own, for sure). I had to get my passport stamped so we lugged in that nasty US Consulate line. Like a romantic date. Thank heavens for being young. I don't think we complained much. So my stamping thingie got done and I emerged out, and searched for him. And then started walking towards where he was standing. Now since this was so long ago, some of the details are not very clear in my head, so I am just sort of trying to keep it coherent. Anyway I remember starting to walk to him. There was a down-slope in the road, and suddenly everyone was screaming because some kind of push-cart thing started rolling towards us (me). I couldn't see it at all because, the cart was headed in my direction alright, but there was a big fat lard ass of a guy between me and said run-away cart.

I didn't know which way to turn or run. Sure, I should have turned and run away but I just couldn't see past the lard butt of the guy. Of course the next thing I know I am flat on the ground outside the Chennai US Consulate place and there is a fat guy fallen on my hand. I yanked my hand out from under him (using cranes, husband, and a couple of other engineering marvels). And we laughed and laughed. Seriously, so different being nearly-forty. Now I don't think we would have laughed. We returned back home like nothing had happened.

The next morning I looked down in alarm at my hand. It was swollen like an idli. That flat part between the fingers and the wrist, looked ridiculous. Also a bit like blueberry idli due to the colouration. We took it to a doctor who hardly believed the ridiculous story and gave me some medicines. It was okay in a day or two after that. But I think there was pain, I vaguely remember. This event in our life is referred to as 'Khushboo Hand' event. Because my husband looked at my hand and said, 'Well, Khushboo has hands that look like that every day' and I laughed.

On tuesday, I was innocently standing under a tree outside my office and talking to Pratap. I was convincing him to run in the MARG Chennai Runners Marathon on Nov 6th. Its such a beautiful route, I was telling him. So many beautiful trees, I was saying. Plop. A fat red ant from one of the beautiful trees you will run past on Nov 6th, fell on my hand. Zing. It bit me. FUCK OFF ANT I said (in my mind) and picked it up and threw it away (because Pratap would be shocked to hear me swear).

"See, I am not complaining much though an ant bit me" I told the monster when I went home and she was saying her hips hurt (!), pointing to the slight swelling and the place where it pierced my skin. The blasted red ant.

I twisted and turned and scratched all night, woke up and ran my wednesday morning planned workout in a half-assed manner, and when the sun came up, looked at my hands. And found myself starting at Khushboo Hand Part Deux. You knew this was where this story was going, right? Apparently, I am such a colossal pansy that this stuff happens to me. I had to take Allegra, feel sleepy through a bunch of things, apply copious amounts of Caladryl, and cut my nails pretty much to the base. Now it feels a bit better though its still big. Like if Khushboo successfully went on a diet... 

Friday, 7 October 2011

A little bit about running routes...

So, there we were, Andaman Islands. I have a rule for packing for trips. Each of us owns a pull-man. And I strongly recommend fitting all out shit into that pull-man each. And wheeling it around individually. This can be a bit stressful at times, because, after all is done, my shoes and my big bag of toiletries (puh-lease. Its not Make-Up. Just enough toothpaste to last us a month, my special soap & condi, & plenty of stuff for when I have my period. Which I do. Invariably. Whats a beach holiday without a glorious period outbreak?) well, they rarely fit into my little brown suitcase. Thankfully, the husband was bringing his big backpack (for unspecified reasons), and his big suitcase (I really don't know why). I don't object when he carries bigger pieces of luggage because they are not my problem or responsibility. He will never whine about them. Unlike other people I travel with. Or myself.

So I merrily wore my flipflops on the flight and packed my asics & the vibrams. I wanted to really chill out and run nicely there. Specially given my new toy (no, its not a boy), the Garmin. For once in my life I would be able to tell what distances/pace/elevation I would be indulging in. And perhaps, just perhaps, I could see our location on googleearth/maps upon returning. I was pretty excited, for sure!

We reached the hotel (about 2 hours by ferry from Port Blair) in the afternoon. It looked really calm and peaceful though the guy spooked us a bit about insects and scorpions and snakes - after the fall of darkness, that is. We unpacked gently and hung out and laughed about the mosquito net thing and went to dinner. Which was good. As was the beer (choice of Tuborg/KF; lots of good alcy otherwise; one day I had a pretty swell Bloody Mary).

The next morning, bright and early, I stepped out in my vibrams. I thought it was obvious that I have to run along the water, on the beach. And perhaps if luck was on my side, I would traverse the perimeter of the island! Some such ridiculous plan in my head. I was happy to find satellite (GPS) reception on my watch, and also remember the way to the beach. But when I got there I was not so happy. The tide was in, which means the water was close and I had to run in the slopy part of the sand. There was tons of sea-weed and crabs scuttling everywhere and not a single soul far as the eye could see. Our part of the beach was also separated from the rest of the island beach parts of the world by some green rock formation that looked spooky. Yes, spooky, thats the word. I was thinking 'dang where are my truckload of gujju aunties , white couples with overhanging tummies in bikinis, and such like? where IS everyone?' The water was also super loud - in an angry sort of way. I left many footprints in the sand as I ran back and forth and forth and back on the small itty bitty stretch of the beach that I had at my disposal. Then I gave up and went back to the hotel reception.

Who asked you not to run in the forest? John said, hiding his cigarette behind his back.

Well, don't waste your cigarette on my account, I countered and took off again.

I went along the route we took to get to the resort - through the forest - not very thick - just some really crazy tall trees with mungo jutting out roots that I had to skip over. I love skipping over things in my vibrams, so yeah, that was pretty fun. The trees made some grunting sort of noises at me and I thought I heard some growls too, but convinced myself it was all good. Plus, there were people around. Not tourists. Which is good. I was on the main-ish road, soon enough. I took off, waving at kids all spruced up for school. I encountered many a beautiful bird and on either side of me were these lush farm lands with patches of forests. I went past the cow that first day and found this massive hill - like a 60 degree angle in the road, I swear. I got up on to it, saw my ridiculous pace as I puffed up the hill, and decided to call it quits.

Back down the hill and past the cow and the beautiful red-headed andaman woodpecker. Kids still waiting for the bus? Oh damn. Wave. Wave. Smile. Grin. Soon I was running through the grumpy woods and was in the resort. On that first day, including the beach part of it, I only ran 7 km. My pace totally sucked - which is fine if I keep in mind that I suck royally at running uphill, and there was a fair bit of elevation I had to contend with (especially after I saw the Garmin entries, this is like obvious). But it was so fun! Seriously fun!

I ran this route (skipping the beach), getting further and further along the road past the tethered cow, a couple more days during our stay there. The air smells better, I swear. And I just love the green of paddy fields. Of course I love having a road cut through a crazy wild forest. Who doesn't? 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Two ways to do this

We were away on vacation last week. It was pretty awesome family time for the three of us. I am sure glad that there was no TV (or internet or phone service, for that matter) because I really think we managed to chill out a lot thanks to that. (We did watch a movie on the ipad, I admit. Mounaraagam, was nice).

I woke up (inside the mosquito net) one night - the second night we spent there - and found that the monster was burning hot. I promptly did what any self-respecting adult would - woke up everyone else. The father of the burning hot monster said 'mmm looks feverish' and rolled over. The monster said 'appa, amma is just stark raving mad. i am just warm because of wearing this fat blanket thing not in the least bit sick'. Of course, I am mad & crazy no doubt, but I am not wrong about these things.

Of course I have my emergency pack of anti-pyretic. Except that it didn't seem to work too well. Calmly, composedly, we went to the reception desk and told them we need to see a doctor, the next morning. We bumped over to the Primary Health Care Center. Sarkari hospital? Oh my goodness. I took a book and sat there and read it. The monster curled up in the chair and slept. The aunties in their multi-coloured saris gave me glares at first, and kind smiles later. Calm. Very Calm. The doctor spent about an hour and half on the phone (after arriving about an hour late). All fifty of us in the line waited, patiently. I  read a bit more, and breathed deep. And tried to ignore the rampant paan-spitting occurring around me.

A generic anti-biotic was named on a scratchy piece of paper. There was no consultation fee. The pharmacy lady said 'Do you know hindi?' and gave me the meds, also free. I stared at the tablets. First time for the monster. My girl has grown up out of liquid syrup medicine land. She loves to drink them. She used to be able to list all the various kinds of cough, cold meds Dr. Guruji used to prescribe for her in Mumbai, even in the lispy, just started to talk stage. Eons ago. The white pills stared back at me. Calmly we bumped back to the resort, talking to her about how eating food is critical when on anti-biotics.

The tablet ritual was not pleasant, mainly because of a yelling father. But we managed to persevere, and hopefully she has now learnt to swallow the damn thing and will do it without fuss when in future she needs to. Yeah, the things a mother has to teach her daughter. Its dreadful.

In January when we went to the Maldives, they made us jump off a boat and told use we could snorkel. I thought I was going to die, covered in salty sea water. I made them take me back on the boat and breathed in huge lungfuls of air. The monster blithely took off with the boat boy helping her out. And claimed she saw a fish that looked like a man praying. Among other things. In the intervening months I have convinced my mind to not freak out or imagine a watery grave. We had a couple of great snorkeling sessions, all three of us, last week. The monster is still way more comfortable than I am in the water, but, we progress.

So yes, I have a tendency to completely freak out. When the monster gets sick. Or when I am in the middle of a large body of water (seemingly endless). The rational part of the brain, the one that can recognise the symptoms of a cough/throat infection, the part that can see that the floating ring is just there if required, these things tend to bury themselves and hide. Its a matter of finding them. And letting go of obsessive worrying. Even as one is swallowing salty sea water (whats the big deal, spit it out Kenny, here come on, come up and spit it out). Or waking up every 15 mins to touch a hot forehead (Oh Kenny. Turn here. Sleep now. She'll be fine). Yep. There are two roads. I have the choice.