Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tryst WIth Auckland - Part Deux

Monday morning. 3 days before Thanksgiving. "New Zealand weather is nice this time of the year. Customer needs help. Can you go?" is the e-mail I receive from my manager. Of course I will. I was at the customer site in May 2006 and know their setup.

7 p.m. flight from SFO to Auckland on Sunday, Nov 25. A 13-hr flight during which my life lost a day!

5:00 a.m., Tuesday, Nov 27: Shuttle ride from the airport to the Auckland Heritage hotel. The shuttle drops off 3 other passengers before depositing me outside my hotel.

An hour and some unpacking later, I'm out the door for my first run in Auckland after 18 months. The last time it was 3 weeks before winter solstice. This time it is 3 weeks before the summer one.

Like the 18 months and the 3 marathons, four 50Ks, three 50Ms, one 100K, four 100M and the trips to Maui, Belize, Bern, Amsterdam, Portland and Maui never happened. I remembered the roads and their names. I love visiting new places. I love visiting familiar places.

The run was beautiful. My right hamstring had been tight for the past few days. It loosened up a mile into the run. I flew after that.


(A quaint little church in Ponsonby)



(Sights like this to warm the heart)

That run kept me awake long enough to get me to the customer site. Sleep, hard to come by on the flight in, came upon me in waves. 3 cups of coffee held off Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams.

Satya's for dinner. Sad pani puri. Sadder rava idlis that were the wrong side of soft. Way wrong. Rava dosa that had adorned itself with a coat of yellow and flecks of mysterious green. If satya be told, the food was worse than passable. Let's leave it at that.

Wednesday. New day. New life. 8+ hours of sleep make for 5 miles of utter bliss. The weather is perfect. High 50s to low 60s in the wee hours of the morning.

12 floors above Nelson Street. A stunning view of the Bay and the bridge leading to the North Shore.



Paul Singh. Ex-millionaire (so he said) turned cab driver.



Owned 2 Sher-e-Punjab restaurants. Grocery and liquor stores. He took to me. I took to him.

He is taking me to his place on Monday to eat dinner with his wife and kids.

People are beautiful.

15 laps in an 18m lap pool. That adds up to just under a third of a mile. Not bad.

The run yesterday (Thursday evening) was sublime. It stands out in as one of the most wonderful runs ever.

I chose to start after work and headed out the hotel door just after 6 p.m.The first part was the usual 0.6 mile climb up College Hill Road 0.8 miles into the run. At the top I had a choice to make - turn left onto Ponsonby Road for the usual 5 mile run back to the hotel or head straight onto Jervois Road for parts unknown. I chose the latter and what a run it turned out to be. I passed Thursday evening bar goers and little shops that were closing for the day. I passed people on their way home from work.

The run did not get spectacular until I made the left turn heading down West End Road (I had taken a look at a possible route earlier in the day but had not had the time to memorize road names. West End, for example, had stuck in my mind as something End so I was on the lookout for a road named ...End!).

The road sloped down at a comfortable grade. Quaint little houses with small frontyards and lots of flowers. The road was lined with tropical plants and trees. Suddenly my lungs were suffused with the heady aroma of jasmine. Gosh! How amazing it felt!!

A large green cricket field suddenly appeared through the trees down below to my left. I could see people playing on the pitch. Before I could take all this is, an even more wonderful sight appeared on the right. Cox's Bay.


(Cox's Bay)

I stopped to take in the sight. The legs started moving after my eyes and my heart had had their fill. The road soon meandered along a long ridge onto The Great North Road which eventually became Karangahape Road a.k.a K Road. The last 1.5 miles of my usual route.

Later...