My ebook: Journeys with the caterpillar

My ebook
Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
and Sumba, Indonesia
" is available at
this link

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ramblings on encounters while running

The end of history was envisioned by French philosopher Jean Baudrillard as a loner jogging on a treadmill, having shut out his surroundings with the iPod headphones stuck to his ears and his eyes fixed at the gym television, a man running towards a pointless end. For more than a year, I was almost replicating this vision (without the iPod), till I had to change my residence and thereby lost access to an in-house gym. And now that I have started running by the riverside and occasionally by the sea, at least my vision is not blocked from the surroundings. And of course, now I do have a route.

On my track I come across fellow runners, all sweating it out. There are the Tai Chi practitioners doing the opposite, moving slowly and often backwards. I have always wondered who loves himself more: The fat person who enjoys his moments with food and is happy to grow himself physically (generating more of himself), or the health-conscious who sweats it out and adds a few more years to his life as a process and possibly die healthier?

Then there are the ones being moved around in perambulators and wheel-chairs. Both the very old and the very young are so similar even though seventy to eighty years separate them. Both are unable to comprehend the present state of world fully while being completely dependent on it. Also, there are the dogs, leashed or unleashed. The morning walk is probably the only thing they look forward to in their alienated asexual life. They sometimes chase other runners for a short distance or sometimes bark at other dogs. What to day complain about: why are you not someone from my own breed? While the toddlers and some cute dogs are frequently stopped on the way with strangers cuddling them; the elders just receive a sigh.

With the very old, the very young, and the dogs, are the maids moving them around. The maids are the happiest people around, away from the sight of their employers. This is probably their only time of the day when they are able to talk carefree in company of fellow maids, and when they are in some control of their lives as they maneuver the old and the young around.

Along the route, there are a few shabbily dressed people, waking up from their sleep. They are yet to earn enough to be able to afford a lodge. There are also one or two young couples waking up, having spent the night together in the park. There is a group of evangelicals showering motivational words to one another, in loud voices hoping to spark the interests of a few passers-by. There are children on their way to school in a school bus and laborers cramped in open vans being taken to some construction site.

And then, there are the trees all around, some of them over a hundred years old. Why do trees live so long? For almost all living beings, evolution ensured that not much energy is spent on sustaining the body after it has passed the reproductive period and therefore age and death. Why did the trees have to think differently? Are they just curious to curious to witness as much history as they can? But then, they haven’t heard of Baudrillard.

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