Airplane – shuttle – auto – scooty – bike
I landed in Hyderabad, boarded a shuttle and hopped off somewhere in Jubilee hills from where an auto took me to the KBR park. This was last Saturday. I was seeing the Hyd airport for the first time. Have you noticed something stupid about these new giant airports? Well, they all look the same – be it Mumbai, Delhi, Hyd or Bangalore – so very same, don’t they? All of them are vast,Â shining, glittering, full of coffee-shops and book-stores and other things cool and yet all of them lack the very soul that their smaller versions used to have – the soul that told you which airport belonged to which city when you saw the airport. They are so non-original, so non-Indian in look and ambiance – they look like smaller scale models of the Heathrow. Anyway, so yeah, I had traveled to Hyd to participate in a half marathon which was scheduled for the next day (starting morning 5:30). At the park, I collected my running kit – a shirt & a BIB (no. 979) that was to be pinned to the shirt on the race-day. Soon, an old school friend came to meet me there. We were seeing each other after about ten years. Next I met a good friend and classmate from IIT. She has recently cracked the IAS prelims and shall be writing the main-examination sometime in October. She had a scooty. A coffee at a Himayatnagar CCD later, she dropped me off at a bike store in Abit where I picked up my first gaadi – a Trek 3700. I knew I had 21k to run the next day and it was wise to give ample rest to the legs but I was too excited to load the bike inside an auto and carry it home (uncle’s place) like some dead piece of shit. So I cycled. I kept cycling, kept asking for directions and kept taking wrong roads. After about two hours of cycling over some 15-20k, and climbing up and down some flyovers, I was finally home. The race-day was only a night away. The race day might have been just a night away but the venue was miles away! I had to get up by 3:30 in the morning. By 3:50 I was already inside an auto. The morning was cool and I was not sure how the race was going to be.
Hyderabad Marathon 2009
It was a good race. The half marathon crowd was full with folks from a Police Academy. All of them wore red shirts and had fun like crazy. They ran mostly in groups – few friends together, cracking jokes along the way and cheering the fellow runners from the Academy.
I ran the half in two hours plus minus a minute or two. I wish they had told each one of us the exact timings even when I did not really run to set a time-record, neither did many others. For the first time I crossed 15k. For the first time I ran for two hours. For the first time I ran in Hyderabad. For the second time I ran topless.
The first time I had run topless was about a month ago in Bhubaneswar. It was drizzling when I hit the road but it started raining like shit by the time 5k was covered. I had run in rains before but that day, it was crazily heavy – the visibility had come down, road was almost empty. So I simply took off my shirt and saved myself the inconvenience of squeezing the fabric to drain out water every few minutes. In Hyderabad, it didn’t rain but I committed the mistake of putting on the shirt that they had given me. After about 10 – 12k, the shirt which wasn’t of a good enough quality, got too heavy. I saw aÂ guy running topless – he was doing the full marathon and we crossed each other only at one point. But that was a good enough inspiration and soon I was running topless too.
When the topless me finally reached the awesome Gachibowli Stadium inside IIIT and crossed the finish line, some chick in red shirt and red cap put a medal around my neck and that’s how the race got over.
The journey back
As if an MTB was not enough, I also picked up a book by Lance Armstrong – “It’s not about the bike – my journey back to life” in Hyd. I kept reading it in the shuttle ride to the airport, in the airplane ride to Bhubaneswar and even while waiting for my bike to show up on the belt. This book moistened my eyes more than any other book ever had. Here is a quote that truly touched me:
People die. And after you learn it, all other matters seem irrelevant. They just seem small. – Lance Armstrong
The driver helped me stow the bike inside the car. When he found out the price, he told me I was really enjoying my life. I asked him to recall that what I do most of the times is read books – and that’s not much of a life! But he reiterated that I had everything that one wanted in life except a bibi may be.
‘I didn’t think much – got married early in life. Now I never manage to save enough money to fulfill all my children’s wishes’. He said to me as we drove towards the guest-house. He owns two Indicas – one he drives himself and for the other car he has hired a driver. Thus he is definitely not one of those typical poor drivers like the ones they had in the White Tiger. At the same time, he is a driver – repaying the car loans – certainly not rich enough to present his son a professional cricket kit in a month’s time or may even in six month’s time.
‘If you hadn’t been married and didn’t have children, you wouldn’t have known why you were even working as a driver. At least now you have a purpose – you have a reason to work harder, earn more’. This is what I told him. He smiled and nodded in agreement.
When I finally reached the guest-house, carrying the bike to my room I wondered what reason did I have to work harder and earn more. And then I decided, I could think about that after I have sky-dived and cycled from Manali to Leh. Life might not have a purpose, but September is going to rock. Adios!