Early morning joggers in Bangalore I think face one major challenge apart from their stamina. Dogs! I personally think that in Bangalore, after IT professionals the next biggest population is that of street dogs.
Two things have to be attributed to dogs, first is that they are not pretentious and second that they are moody. They are not pretentious means you know whether they like you or don’t. However, being moody means you don’t know which day they would like you and which day they won’t! Which means even on a well-trodden path one can’t be oblivious of them. Every morning I see people carrying a stick or food to ward off dogs or distract them.
I do neither and have to have a battery of tactics to deal with situations that show up with every twist and turn or every nook and corner. Sample a few. If I have to run on a new route, I walk the day before that on the same route so that the dogs in that area get used to my scent. If it is an old route, I ensure a healthy gap between me and the dog to ensure I have time to react in an eventuality. In situations where I see a herd of dogs I take a detour. If no detours exist, depending upon how familiar the dogs look I decide whether to stop running and walk till I am in the clear or to continue running. Of course if I decide to continue running then I think of how I would kick the dog if it were to attack, I keep looking back and don’t relax till I am sure that none of the dogs are interested in me anymore. It is strange that the day when dogs are doing their own thing and don’t pay any attention to me running past them I feel ignored and humiliated. Whereas on days when they do pay attention I feel threatened.
There are also days when there is a faux pas. Like this one time when I was running past a heap of garbage and I could see a dog running in my direction from corner of my eye. I was alarmed, however I tried to settle my nerves thinking that it was certainly headed towards the garbage. I was proved right but not before a few anxious moments both for me and the dog. That day I realized two facts, that dogs prefer garbage over me and if the choice is between me and food, food takes the precedence always! Not that this realization made me to introduce any new strategy but it was just good to know!
I am a dog lover at the same time I love running too. I hope municipal corporation can work out an amicable solution for me and them to co-exist. Or I find a way to lose my paranoia!