A morning constitution means a lot more than just exercise at Race Course, where soups, juices and fresh greens provide healthy sustenance

For 25 years now Subramaniam has been coming to Race Course every morning. Unlike most of the others, he is not here for exercise. He is here to serve steaming hot soups to tired walkers. His kollu soup is a speciality. Offering stiff competition to Subramaniam is Tyagarajan at the other end of Race Course. He pours the vazhathandu (raw banana stem) soup into cups and hands them out with a smile. His tired customers smile gratefully back at him as they ask for a refill and munch the vazhathandu that floats up on the soup.

Stock up on greens

People do not just eat and drink stuff here, they also stock up on a variety of greens before they go back home. They buy fresh greens from vendors like Vishwanathan who have been around here for nearly 30 years. Vishwanathan has seen generations of walkers. He sells vallarakeerai , vendhaya keerai, arakeerai, etc. For K.Somasundaram who has lived in Coimabatore for more than 10 years, buying keerai from Vishwanathan is a daily morning ritual. He says “With packaged food and vegetables filling the shelves in shops, these fresh greens and herbal drinks are a treasure. But we don’t know to value them.” There are other keerai vendors too who do brisk business in Race Course. Having grown too old to work in their fields, they now come here to sell their produce. It is a common sight to see women crowding around them as they buy greens after their walks.

Many walkers swear that the herbal tea, available along the walking path, with added herbs give them that extra push to do a couple of extra rounds! The sugarless amla (gooseberry) juice tastes sweet. And Vairavel, who sells them, says most of his customers are 40 plus. He grins as one of his customers asks for his fourth refill and is also packing some to take home to his wife.

“My wife also likes drinking it. It clears the stomach, and is a good way to break your fast in the morning,” says Sameen as he drains his drink with relish.

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