heels on fire: 05/04/06

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Day 3

Wednesday 3rd May 2006
Sri Rajareshwara Temple, Taliparamba - Kattampally River, Kannur
20 Km Run

A call to prayer

The alarm bell at 6 a.m. was like an aneurysm rather than a wake up call. Lifting my heavy legs out of bed, I hoped today would be cooler. It didn't take long for Kerala to knock us from our slumber. The breathtaking Kattampally River with its shadowy mangroves, flora and nesting weaver birds stirred energy in us. If that wasn't enough spiritual awakening, by 7 a.m. we were standing outside the Sri Rajareshwara Temple. It was a humbling experience to be standing before this 10th Century building, which is still very much in every day divine use.
Riding along
With Rahul now on bicycle, we wove our way through narrow alleyways, up hills, through dirt tracks, warming with each head-tilt and wave. If you have never seen an Indian 'head-wobble' you are missing out. The 'wobble' means all things good; it is a 'hello', it’s encouragement, but most of all it's a gesture of warmth.

Moving faces
10 km’s passed in a flash. We saw a white haired man struggling to walk along the road, his face intensely concentrated on each flip-flopped step. As we approached him his look of consternation broke into the Mother of all smiles (another 32-teeth-special). He must have been 90 years old. He looked serene and wise beyond his age. His thick white hair combed tidily, his face stubbled, and the lines across his brow and around his eyes deep with years of laughter. In endurance running, a face like this sits in your mind for miles, carrying you forward.

Pit stops: Kerala style

15 kilometres in and a man at a roadside stall called us over for a banana. We munched our way through a tasty finger-sized banana, tried to pay (he refused) and moved on.
At a road-bridge over a vast stretch of water we stopped with a father and son who were long-line fishing off the bridge. Armed with little more that a piece of chapatti (flatbread) dough, and hooks, they dipped their line some 30-40 feet in the water, probably fishing for today’s food. The simplicity with which so much of the world’s people live their lives was striking.

The knowledge run
The backdrop to the day’s running was the State Elections, a gaudy hammer and sickle affair, heavily policed by helmeted officers in olive green uniforms. The roads were painted with various emblems and slogans. One man eloquently informed me that voting was his pleasure, and more importantly his right. It is rare that Keralites do not vote. This is a land in which everyone reads newspapers. Dez came across a group of rickshaw drivers at 7.30 a.m. in the morning who had read an article that morning on the HOF run! They all knew what was going on, and they were all interested to know more. The Keralite and Indian mind is intuitively an inquisitive one.

‘Running man’, ‘Running man’
With four kilometres to go a group of kids came pouring out of a doorway shouting 'Running man', 'Running man'. High fives, and 100 metres were exchanged.

My legs were heavy, my head hot but, all in all, a fantastic day where I slowly began to open my eyes to the world around me.


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