Run and Rain…..

We always go full circle of the peripheral road of iitb, starting eastward. That day, we decided to take the opposite direction. It should not matter, as for distance, which is around 8 kms, but the fact that the usual way has a stiff slope of 100m just at the beginning and then a downhill of 2 km makes it easier than to go uphill 2 km and descend at pace for 100m.

A crazy professor wrote once to the iitb.newsgroup that he joined the academia in iitb just to enjoy the inviting roads of it. Actually, the roads are, for runners/joggers, so.

When we were warming up, we were talking about girls. “what !! bitch business” a passer-by exclaimed. We straightened up.

We start off westward from hostel 1-in front of the sprawling SAC(student activity centre), showering praises on the dark-clouds and soothing breeze as we are about to turn left at hostel 4 (hostels, 2,3 are too close to be mentioned). I keep looking at my strides, being conscious how to maximise( or conserve) my energy, not to make any flapping sound. One our left, all these time, laid sadly lonely the vast green-patch of Gym Ground whose 400m track bore the brunt of our everyday research frustration for almost 4 years. It’s being renovated now. Next turn is to hostel 12/13. Hostel 12/13 are at uphill, just after 7,9 and then 6 on a solitary road branching off the circle of our run. Both 12 & 13 are magnificent buildings, each standing on three separate seven storied structures connected though sky bridges and giving an illusion of two huge ships at right angle to each other, docked at the Lake Powai. Rumour has it, these cost about 300 million INR. Official figures were never released. We pace up at the uphill, take a religious round of the twin tombs that visitors of iitb often come to see and climb down to just where we left-at the turn. While descending the downhill, Shobhan- the solitary and fairly competitive co-runner, says, “i will tell you the secret of getting girls with no strings attached”. ” Go for dark-skinned ones, they are too needy”. I says, ” No man, then it might boil down to emotions, what if they stick like chipkali”. We fall silent and keep running. By this time my breath starts puffing and sweat start marking the shape of my chest on the t-shirt. This is too early I think. The road we are coming down drives you straight to the Main gate- the exit, past hostel 11 (the ladies hostel), through another uphill, past Convocation hall and Academic building mocking each other face-to-face, past another ladies hostel (hostel 10). But we take the diversion, just 100m before the Ladies hostel, Gosh !!

This leads straight into a small forest like ambiance, behind the hostels, so thickly covered by the canopy that sunlight plays tricks there. There is no sunlight of course- it was 1840h when we started- it must be 10 minutes more by now. Besides, the clouds are playing the tricks themselves, or may be they are being honest. We, both of us, are seized by competitive spirit by now, taking over each other as and when a turn favours. And there are two many of them. Luckily gates at both the ends of this diversion are open, making us drift by ceaselessly. Then we approach the lake side, few guys enjoying sips of wine mixed with cold drinks, couples catching up with the romantic monsoon, kids shouting and playing in oblivion to all these. Usually senior citizens swarm this lake side road, but today they are cautious. There are few children parks along the way. One kid, at one last park, is mimicking our heavy breathing when we passed by. I give him a thumb up for that. The road next leads to the Devi-temple, rounding the edge of the lake, touching on its left a residential area of the non-academic staff. There are many girls, some in groups, some with a suitable company, coming home or going upto the temple. We get boosted. Sometime when you know you are being watched, you tend to perform well. But we keep running at the the same pace. Just in front of the Devi-temple we take a roundabout after a small uphill, circling a tree this time, also religiously. We pace up then back to the children park.

It is just before the children park when the rain starts, driving away the imitating kids. We start enjoying it, also the girls-all drenched up. Are the clouds returning the pleasantries we offered !! From there to the main road, again an uphill we run as if we are running from the rain. It is a very sort distance on the main road to the main gate, but the bottle-palms lining both sides of the footpath make it awesome, much of which is in the other direction and you have take a right turn when you come to realize its beauty. After this turn, there is a 200/300m straight stretch of restricted traffic-residential area connecting the two heavily used gates of the Institute. We can not resist but put up yet another sprint unknowingly. After that we swim though lots of people and traffic, slowly and steadily at the mouth of the gate, cautiously crossing the cattle-blocker at the entrance of the academic area, turning left, right, left and getting out of academic area again.

Within the academic area, the afore mentioned 2 kms uphill begins. As I feel the slope in my feet and I drive myself into it, into the source of the rain may be. I look up, open my mouth to catch few drops of rain and push through. All I taste is my own sweat mixed up with the rain. Dripping still !! Showering droplets blocked the nasal breathings, I breath though my mouth gulping down few drops to quench my thirst. But the thirst of running faster, and reaching the “full circle” is more acute. Heavy downpour also blur our vision, we just see few meters ahead and race up as if it is the finish line. With long strides, slightly inclined and tight fists we cover the stretch almost rhythmically. The black shiny road, where numerous raindrops fall and lit up instantaneously was like a magnetic conveyor belt carrying us to glory.

It is the highest point. Our speed tends to be zero momentarily. We realise, on the right side of it, stands the highest building of iit( a newly L&T built 16 floored faculty quarters) still dwarfed by the magnificent Sameer hills, which by its knify ridge cuts the people into the much loathed slum dwellers and most wanted scientists, engineers. The married research scholars residence is also there. We descend, free-falling naturally, with strides unusually long, with our hands swinging in air to balance ourselves and with an overpowered force then our own strength. It is just 100m I guess. But we dart though the rest of the run, some 300m with same speed.

After we stopped, still gasping for breath, we decided to keep walking on the rain-shoaked roads, now lit with street lights and flashed now and then with vehicles. It is after few minutes, when our breathing normalised, and walking slowed down that we felt the ferocity of rain. Also the flooded road, broken down auto-rikshaws and our own effort to converse substantiated it. But by that time, the experience has been addictive. I exclaimed how precious these moments were. Sobhen, who had undergone Vipasana, told me an wonderful thing. Buddha said, ” Worry belongs to past and fear belongs to future. So if you live in present and only present, you would not have worry or fear. I thought, “seize the moment, CARPE DIEM”.

In that one hour walk of around 4 kms, we have had one of the most memorable experience. Each year of monsoon brings a different flavour of intoxicating rain for me, I guess this year it was early. Talking of intoxication, Sobhen said before we stepped into the hostel-

“Run and Rain,
Wine and Women
Wow”.

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