Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mumbai Marathon

I'm shuffling wild, yeah, I'm shuffling free
I'm shuffling free, yeah, I'm shuffling free

Though that probably just earned me yet another black star from The Dark Forces that be, it wasn't that bad.
Scenes from a marathon
Fifty-foot line at Andheri station's journey extension counter, of people in tracks and sneakers, while the occasional regular looks around in bewilderment
Rising buzz of a city while to all appearances fast asleep in the dawn, is still full of thirty thousand runners and three hundred thousand spectators moving purposefully through the darkness towards Town.
From the suburbs they came, the colonies and the chawls, singly and in color-coordinated packs, stripped to the minimals or staggering under costumes, silently half-asleep or chattering like dawnbirds...
For a day, routine was suspended. People saw the dawn. Breathed sea air without SPMs and dust. Walking, instead of fighting for a toe-hold in a bus or struggling for a cab, strolling instead of searching frantically for parking space.
The loudest cheer of all that went up as the wheelchair run went past.
Loudspeakers on every corner, belting out everything from remix to Reshammiya (and once, awfully, remixed Reshammiya) and it was still okay
Human sounds. Voices, cheers, chatter, footsteps. Sneakers on asphalt. Birds.
No traffic. No horns. A sense of time. No deadlines. Nothing to do but enjoy yourself.
Brilliant sunshine, clear air, cool breeze.
Azad Maidan. Colour, colour, colour. Pageantry.
Jet Airways yellow. Shiamak VAF maroon. Stanchart blue-green. Kingfisher red. HLL white. Mumbai Police khakhi. GiveIndia green. And orange, and pink, and black, and sky blue, and...
The towers of CST on one end, the BSE on the other, faraway through the haze... sense of huge open spaces.
Me: wandering around like a lost soul. Every second person with a search on his face and a cell on his ear.
People dressed like leopards.
People dressed like dabbawalas.
People dressed like Shikari Shambu.
People dressed like demons.
People - actually, extremely attractive girls - dressed in not very much.
Face paintings.
Banners, hoisted reluctantly up by harassed flagbearers being extorted to "raise higher! higher! you haven't had breakfast today or what, atul?!" by a hyperactive self-appointed event-manager type creature.
Caps, caps and more caps.
A leopard taking off it's head to wipe off sweat.
A group of people dressed like the typical contents of a mumbai local - roadside romeo, salesman with tie and laptop, woman with fishbasket...
An ambulatory workstation - PC on a frame with speakers, monitor and CPU - carried by a someweight troubled-looking participant with an expression that hinted at a re-evaluation of the wisdom of running 7 km with the frame on his shoulders.
Spectators cheering, laughing, clicking, waving.

And thirty thousand people going for a - shuffle, walk, trot, slow run, (and the occasional wild sprint when around the Aramex and Kingfisher cheerleaders and anyone with a camera.)
It must have been fun to watch, but actually running those 7 km gave you a little taste of how this otherwise hellish city can - in a minute - also become, literally, a fun, vibrant, exciting, colorful, and enthusiastic heaven of camaraderie.
All of Bombay is here, in all it's ages, communities, shapes, colors and avatars, but they're not snarling or indifferent. They're smiling, happy, having fun together.
And there are the occasional nice surprises - ran into a gang from my ex-office whom I'd gotten completely out of touch with.
Ran from everything possible. Save the Tiger. Help the Old. AIDS awareness. Don't take the path we have taken. Etc. Etc.
And Last Of All, in the end... the caption on the back of Grey's Tshirts.
"I'm running because I want to get it over with."
I'm in next time, and with a better camera and more organization.
Let's have even more fun.


  1. Anonymous3:08 AM

    Ya..Grey's T-shirts for any social or their own conferences are pretty whacky - but thats all i've liked abt them!! even delhi becomes a whole new city during the marathon....


  2. Anonymous5:52 PM

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