heels on fire: 05/08/06

Monday, May 08, 2006

Day 6

6th May 2006

Day 6 (Run Day 5)
Cheruthuruthy to Vadakanchery – 13Kms

The Heat Wave Strikes!
With a heat wave sweeping though most of India, we began our run with trepidation and fear. It was the hottest day so far hitting 100 F (and in Delhi, the hottest day in 5 years!). Having travelled the six hours from Thallasserry to Cheruthuruthy, we were running in the evening when surprisingly it gets hotter and even more humid. To add to our concerns, we had just feasted on one too many curries and far too many barotas (the local equivalent of a roti - only fluffier and tastier!). We seriously misjudged our meal timings. In running terms, this could mean trouble.

Father-of-Bride scouts foreign groom?
One of the major sights that lured our interest was a beautiful gate/ archway being constructed made of coloured cloth and bright lights. A proud father and son were busy make preparations for a family wedding later in the day. Amazingly, they were not too busy to invite us in for a drink. How many people on their daughter’s wedding day would take the time to invite two sweaty foreign runners for a drink into their house a few hours before the big day?

New Styles, New Scars
There were a lot more hills on the run today. And the climb was hard work. The heat was draining but once again at the hour of need, Pete had some words of advice. “Own the hill” a voice chirped in my ear… “Dominate it”. I was thankful that Des, Sudeep and Stevie were not around to witness the struggle. Particularly since I had developed a new running style intended to protect my knee from further injury but only resulted in clipping my left ankle with my right heel. An interesting sight! As I saw my white sock turn red, I felt like I was now truly engaged in the epic struggle. Thoughts of Terry Butcher in the 1990 world cup, his bandaged head soaked with blood, came to mind. Perhaps somewhat fantastical but it were these mind games that kept the body going.

The “Bathroom Tile Shop Per Capita” Index
With the sun still burning down on us we took every opportunity to stop and chat with people along the way. Many of the villages we have passed have houses of a scale and prosperity that were not as I had expected. With at least one member who is working in the Middle East, or in other parts the world, the remittances sent home seem to provide the foundations for seemingly affluent lifestyles. I wonder whether the tobacco, coconuts, bananas and fishing industries here can also generate this kind of grandeur. And something else I didn’t expect; I have never seen so many tile and bathroom shops anywhere in the world!

The Sights and Sounds...
Later that day, the sun was slowly taking pity on us (as were the fish curry and barotas!). We hit the most beautiful terrain yet. Rolling hills, lush green fields and bright red soil. A train track ran by us with long, loud and colourful trains passing us by with a loud hoot before disappearing over the bridge. Trains are truly the veins of India.

At the end of another day, the heat has taken its toll and I am struggling I am a little worried that I am holding Pete up from surging ahead. But when a group of kids see us coming and shout for us to join them for a game of football, I must admit, he seemed as happy as I to stop.

Football in Vadakancherry

06th May 2006
Day 6

Rahul and I were merrily bobbing down the road making our way past a playground that seemed to accommodate both cricket and football. A group of curious boys stopped playing and called out to us to come and join them. Earlier in the run we had climbed down a ditch and up and over the railway line to chat with another group of boys who had wanted us to come to their village to play cricket. Tempted as we were, we declined that offer as the sun was at its zenith and we had a long way to go. India, they say is, consumed by cricket, but here fate presented us with an opportunity to play football (we realised later that Kerala is more football crazy than cricket mad). It took no more than an exchange of head wiggles (Kerala style) between Rahul and I to take up the challenge.

The small group of ten grew to fifteen and then perhaps to twenty five. Tired and hot as we were, Rahul re-found his silky football skills bedazzling all and sundry. The penalty shoot out was followed by a sprinting competition which was followed by an exchange of dialogue that would not be unsimiliar to a park discussion amongst boys anywhere else in the world. The kids wanted to be football or cricket stars. Everyone supported Brazil, but knew about the English captain, David Beckham. They knew the football results and players better than we did. They teased one of the boys about being a rickshaw driver. Clearly their true aspirations were all quite high.

A slightly older guy wandered up to Rahul and I, calmly introducing himself as Suresh. He looked cool in the heat with his striking green shirt, necklace, ear-ring and long haired good looks. Suresh is twenty-two years old. He explained that he was unemployed (an epidemic that seemed to plague the youth of Kerala) and confronting the dilemma of whether to leave Kerala to follow others in his family working overseas (Dubai was his option) or stay on and look for work here. He seemed to loathe the idea of leaving Kerala in search of work. Reading between the lines he was perhaps even a little frustrated by his situation but determined to find a way out.

Should he follow the well-beaten path of so many other Keralites, or would it be possible to stay and work in Kerala? Suresh's zest for life and willingness to want to make it in Kerala were an indication of the spell this beautiful countryside and its quality of life has on its people.

Alas, we had to leave the team behind. We truly appreciated the vignette of fun and insight at the end of a hot and hilly run.


Website Counter