The morning of 29th January 2017 proved, yet again, how women are superior to men. Ten thousand excited women at the Kanteerva stadium in the wee hours of the morning. And Milind Soman remained un-groped, safe.
The Annual Pinkathon event started at around 5:30 am while it was still dark and most people were asleep. Well, not asleep anymore as the organizers cranked up the audio to a gazillion decibels to play Zumba music. An energetic instructor with a Lizard-man hairstyle was leading us in a fun warm-up to the runs. The atmosphere was simply electrifying. Women were pouring in from every crack in the stadium. A drone-mounted camera was buzzing over us as we jiggled our love handles in this pre-dawn fitness fever.
10k women, 1 camera. Bahut naainsaafi.
It was selfie-time! We were taking selfies like there was soon going to be a ban on selfies since they caused cruelty to animals. Actually, this is not as bizarre as it sounds! Once we started running, things got worse. We’d just stop short in our tracks — without any warning — and take a selfie causing ten-woman pile-ups behind. We wanted selfies with each Pinkathon signboard, each water-server, each monument, each not-really-a-monument (like the mobile hygiene stations), each flower that had dared to bloom this morning. It was crazy! Two handsome Labradors on their morning walk were caught in this selfie-mêlée. They waited patiently, looking away nobly to allow us our space. Finally, they could take it no more. One of them barked, in a polite-cultured manner, a genteel, manicured ‘bow-wow’ to tell us to move. Not that we listened! We now wanted a selfie with them.
We had crossed the 1 km completion mark of the run and it was time to shriek with joy and take more selfies. That actual runners had, I guess by now, touched Yeshwantpur station and were on their way back. Volunteers the size of bouncers were escorting them trying to make way through this huge wave of women that was pouring on the road like coagulated porridge. Yes, the speed had reduced from a brisk run to a slow jog. Most of us were walking now. But, we were discussing with each other that we’d run in the near future.
‘After that tree, okay?’
‘No, that dustbin, please?’
‘Hey that’s too soon, yaar! Let’s start running after the zebra crossing there.’
I was continuing my gentle jog — so gentle that I must be have been moving at the speed at which I do mathematical calculations. I was out of breath. I drew in a few deep breaths – but at the wrong time – the toilets were back. And the morning air was laden with the aroma of morning expulsions.
I gagged on it – covered my mouth and hobble-jogged faster. Cubbon park had begun its business for the day. There was a laughter club in action, possibly finding inspiration from us. A freshly-cleaned bench told me that Veeresh loves Rupa in a bright-blue scrawl.
Suddenly, I saw women in pink sarees and matching ornaments also running with us. Like Sooraj Barjatiya had sent them straight from his sanskari sets.
‘Jao, bahurani, tum bhi bhag lo. Laut kar gaajar ka halwa zaroon banana. Jai Sri Ram.’
We were running (?) the last kilometre now. The chatter was animated.
‘Baaton baton mein pata hi nahin chala kaise samay kat gaya’, quipped one aunty who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself. She was already planning for next year’s run, mostly in terms of what they could add (no relation to running): food, snacks, clothes, goggles. I wanted to suggest knitting.
We were on the last leg now. Paid clappers had been planted by the organizers to encourage us. Their job was to ensure we did not give up right there, spread out a durrie, take out some banana chips and idlis and start a game of housie. They needed us to clear the roads and get back to the stadium.
My legs were feeling like they belonged to someone else. It felt weird running on them. I slowed down. Just then, the woman jogging next to me decided to raise both hands to declare victory. Those armpits put a row of hygiene stations to shame.
I ran for my life!!