The past couple of weeks have been all about reading, writing and research; with worlds seeming to have enveloped me in a cocoon. As I stepped out for my morning run this Sunday morning too I was shown visually intriguing montages of our daily, seemingly mundane lives transforming themselves into candid frames for my study and observation. So after the end of the run, a collective of words seemed to have strung themselves in a memory game, as I progressed with each kilometer finding itself intertwined with the previous, compelling me to memorise the sequence for a complete string of 10.
I read somewhere that focusing on a mantra helps dispel distractions while you focus on your run. It’s all nice to say but seldom easy to have a one point focus on a thought for all the while throughout your run. This is a string of scenes I came across during my Sunday run; one world sprung to mind for each one with seemed to have synced itself with every kilometer I covered.
- Breakfast. What’s a rickshaw to you today? A mode of transport, bringing to mind a foul interaction with the dozen or so drivers who refuse to take you to your destination each day? No none of that, thank you. Jogging along the Bandstand promenade, my eyes fell on a scene of cupcakes, bread and chai adorning the back seat of a rickshaw. It was a simple breakfast laid out neatly for two, the driver soulfully sipping his morning cuppa and a friend partaking in the sweetmeats. Both commuter and driver sipping a bite and pleasurably watching the morning surfs chime in. Doubt the most expensive bungalows on that route could experience this luxury. It’s the kind of image that gives Bombay a happy candid allure as opposed to this rushed manic Mumbai we are a part of each day.
- Play. Come let’s play I could almost hear him saying. A bunch of stray dogs loitering around a path in my run, one of them having found an interesting piece of scrap long enough for two of the dogs to wrestle with. So he playfully prances to his friend on the extreme right and nudges him with his muzzle, come let’s play! A noticeable change in their stride I saw, a graceful hybrid between a hop and a gallop. It just made me so happy. Later on my run tracking app Endomodo I noticed that particular km was my fastest, wonder whether that those few minutes their enthusiasm mingled with mine.
Breakfast. Play. Each thought compiled into a single composite word, nice I think..
- Night out. A threesome step out of a vehicle, their Saturday night out bling still on, perhaps just about done with their all night revelries, the girls holding their stilettos in hand and the guy groggily leading them to a coffee shop. I am not much of a party animal, yet a minuscule pang of jealousy sprouts, hmm. Moving on.
Breakfast. Play. Night out. Each kilometer personifying into a character of its own..
- Food. A taxi driver almost done with his routine of washing up and sprucing up his wagon for the day, steps on to the side walk opens up a bag and spreads a bundle full of dry rice grains on to the floor. The light pit pat of the grains meeting the floor and the soft flutter of sparrows flying in for that generous meal, aha! It’s a mundane act, so full of compassion that its magic is so fleeting; it made me smile and thank the goodness in us all for making me a witness to it.
Breakfast. Play. Night out. Food. Over and over I kept repeating the words, by now it was clear they demanded retention, assuring me of a well strung set..
- Love. A lady stands with two dogs on leash, both standing in sync tall and proud of their doting human parent. No she was not cuddling and caressing either of them but a fellow third dog, albeit a stray one but a distant cousin or friend from another life. The joy with with he responded to her touch and the indulgent affection she showered on him even while her two own stood by..
This was getting tough for me, what with the short term memory retention issues I face.. yet I persisted – Breakfast. Play. Night out. Food. Love.
- Privilege. A black SUV, with very dark tinted glasses, and a big Maharashtra govt number plate is parked on the side of the road. A girl sits in, clearly waiting for her partner to come back. As I cross the car I see a group of young men sharing chai and smokes and whiling away an early morning in general, on my return from the same route I see one of those boys but his smoke and head back to the car. Citizens of the country are made to strip off the tinted shields from their cars after a case of molestation with a fine to all those who disobey. Yet this young chap, clearly a son of one of the great leaders of our country drives a vehicle with dark tinted glasses. As he turns on the ignition I think, what’s the point of privilege if its almost always exploited.
The rhythm set, my limbs flowing in sync with each other, not a move out of place, albeit slow but maintaining the rhythm. This mantra seemed to be helping. Breakfast. Play. Night out. Food. Love. Privilege.
- Solitary. It was like someone cut-pasted her out of a countryside scene into this urban landscape. There she was, this frail, old lady with a stack of firewood cradled with one arim on her head and a bundle of her belongings held protectively in the other. She walked barefoot on this narrow cobbled road as I jogged by and it almost felt like I was an out of place coloured blotch in this classic candid black and white photograph/ I almost saw her in black and white.
Now it was getting tough, both the run and the retention. ‘I am not playing this stupid game anymore,’ the mind says. Hmm. Breakfast. Play. Night out. Food. Love. Privilege. Solitary.
- Muscle moving on from that almost skeletal frame I see this mammoth creature, weighed down by his bulk. Rippling muscles from every sinewy his body, this man walks on in that classic body builder gait. We seemed to exchange a look that said, “Ah we all do what we think we want, sometimes not doing what we really need.”
‘Ok, now that’s it, you don’t think this is silly this Breakfast, Play, Night out, Food, Love, Privilege, Solitary, Muscle! They don’t even mean anything. How about we slow down and enjoy this gorgeous breeze’
Aha, nice, the mind was actually retaining it, so I said, ‘No, just a couple more, don’t disturb me now.’
- Study. I have completed a circuit around Bandra’s promenades by now and head towards Joggers park; just as I enter I see a boy slip but catch himself just before he tripped, another scene for my mind to get curious about. The boy bends down to pick up a packet of biscuits that fell to the muddy track. As he bends picking up his snack for the day, my eyes trail to his left hand holding the bible of most last minute studying students – the Navneet Digest. I smile as I remember all those years ago, those last minute attempts to remember one line answers. I wonder though, how he planned to study in the midst of the many distractions in the park, but then I think who am I to judge.
I am not moving another step, I hear my mind say just as an alarm of my limbs slowing down strikes. Err no you don’t! Panic! What was it? Privilege? Something to do with dogs? What was it! I can’t remember!
BREATHE. Calm Down.
Ahh, something to do with an important part of the day? Ah yes! Breakfast.
Breakfast. Play. Night out. Food. Love. Privilege. Solitary. Muscle. Study.
- Celebration. The street is a buzz with the inaugural ceremony of an edifice made in honour of Sachin Tendulkar, on an otherwise quiet Sunday. Honestly I’d rather they have invested all that money in cleaning up the beach beyond the promenade. Rather I see it all neatly covered so as not to mar the celebrations of the day, a token to our favourite son of Bandra they say!
A new scene, I am glad the mind found something intriguing enough to overlook the apparent exhaustion during this last kilometer. Let’s check again what was it..
Breakfast. Play. Night Out. Food. Love. Privilege. Solitary. Muscle. Celebration
What’s happened amazed me as every scene I came across triggered a thought. Each one of them could have lead to a barrage of thoughts and pretty much foiled my 10 km run plan. But the thoughts seemed to work in unison, they singled out a world representing each of them making it a string of montages and memories. What is a mantra but a set of world designed to help you maintain a single minded focus, this was it. The mantra that formed itself during the course of my run and made me repeat it till the end. It was a sum total of all my thoughts during the run and at the same time a focused rendition of one entirety with each thought somehow in sync with the next.
Why have I shared this post on a travel blog you ask? because my mind travels even when I run.
A Montage of Words