I thought only actors got typecast! After last week’s piece “The Namoral Dilemma”, I received emails, SMSes, blog comments and calls asking why I had written a political piece and deviated from my usual focus on to day-to-day life in Matunga and Mumbai. Seriously!
There is a top 5 list of “reasons to hate marathon runners” making the rounds. It basically hits out at those who constantly brag and talk about running as if nothing else mattered in this world. It reminded me of a conversation I had last month with a colleague who runs. She had come to the office and we immediately got into the usual patter related to running times, training schedules and injuries. Then she mentioned that her husband (who doesn’t run) refuses to go with her to any party or function where there are other runners from her running group. He thinks they are big bores and talk only about running, to the exclusion of all those who don’t and are not interested. It’s like when doctors meet and gossip about other doctors and medical issues as if others around didn’t exist!
Each time I write about running, I now get comments saying “one more piece on running? Isn’t there anything else you can write about?” The same happens when I write about Matunga. There are actually people living in Mumbai who don’t give a damn about this suburb.
So let me tell you a modern story of the times we live in!
On Thursday, I took a taxi from the airport to the new Park Hyatt in Chennai. The driver was a wizened, old Chennaiite. As is my practice these days, I set up Google Maps to show the route map. About a km from the hotel, the driver took a left turn instead of a right. When I questioned him, he said that the Hyatt was two kms down that road. I told him that we had left it behind. He didn’t agree because he had only heard of the Hyatt Regency, which was further ahead. When I insisted, he very reluctantly turned the car around. He kept asking for nearby landmarks, but I told him to trust me. We followed the voice instructions given by Maps and reached the hotel easily. He then smugly turned around and accused, “Why didn’t you tell me it is opposite Lemon Tree?”
Google Maps has made travel really easy in India and works almost everywhere. The problem is that most people living in those cities and drivers in particular, refuse to accept that Maps can be more accurate than their own knowledge, even though they may have never visited that building, hotel or area, ever in their life. You have to really bulldoze them into following the Maps’ instructions and even then they will stop and ask for landmarks and directions.
And Maps helps plan running routes. There…back to running! This month, I have already done runs in Delhi, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Chennai and have managed to find great running routes just by studying Maps in advance. From the wide roads around Lodi Estate, to the 2.8 km loop around Salt Lake Stadium and the Kolkata Hyatt, to the Pudur lake area in Coimbatore and the deer roaming freely in IIT Madras, I would never have been able to find all of these by just asking the hotel staff or locals.
Being typecast, non-runners’ woes, disinterested Matunga readers, Google Maps and running routes! Echoing Seinfeld’s, “something about nothing”, here’s a little of something for everyone. Ha!