As usual, plans with Manoj always start innocuously and end up being happily nocuous .
I call him on a Friday evening to know if he would be up for a trek. He replies that he’s slotted for a week-end run with Bangalore Hashers, something which I have read about on his blog. I think, why not? and before I find an answer to that question, I say yes. After all, I have been aching to run and get some strenous physical exercise done.
Scene Shifts to Sunday. Let me mention here that “my fitness” has become an oxymoronic phrase. But, I had this dream to run, a dream to break free and run in the wild like a cheetah. So, I readily agreed. A little bit about Bangalore Hash now. Ok? Read this then. It’s largely a gang of well-behaved gents and ladies, who turn rowdy every fortnight when they run like crazy and drink crazier. Fun eh? Yeah I thought so too. Manoj played the diplomat to a fault who refused to divulge more details since he didn’t want to “get my hopes up”. It wouldn’t have made a difference – I had already worn my brand-new sparkling blue tracks.
The trail for HASH Run 443 (yeah, these buggers have run so many of them) was at some place off Mysore Road. I knew I had done right by agreeing to exhaust myself when I landed at the place. We went through some rough roads and puzzled villagers (who must have been wondering why a pillion was wearing helmet; I wish I could tell them I had to preserve a pampered, well-conditioned and carefully groomed mane…. err I actually don’t wish that)  to reach what seemed like an end-of-the-world place. I like places that appear like they are the end-of-the-world. As a bonus, there was a decently-big brown lake, as a foreground against a grey-and-white skies. Sparsely inhabited, beyond the lake was a forested area. So, you get the picture – cloudy skies, lush greenery all around with a few brown interruptions and a big water body. The ideal weather to run… or to leisurely walk…..or to draw a painting … or to coochie coo… well it was pretty good to do any damn thing I say.
A hash run goes something like this – few people who volunteer to be called hares get together, search for a secret place like this and mark out a trail, for the rest of the hares (ha ha ha! sorry i can’t imagine myself as a white, furry, buck-toothed animal) to run on. To spice it up, they create false trails and as in this case, draw it with invisible chalk. The faster ones (aka not-me) go ahead and keep shouting out the right trails in strange languages for the rest of us to follow up on.
So, off we went at just after 4 pm, around 30 of us, after some instructions by a funny Kiwi man, half of which I am sure were spoken in Maori. My rule was only this – follow the herd. Running when it drizzles is wet and fun. I jogged along leisurely through the proper stretches but had to pretty much walk through the rugged parts of the trail. We had to jump across slushy canals and got into a fairly thorny forest. The old-timers in the group were really good – they knew how to time it and stuff. Manoj himself faded away after some time as my wet glasses ( and not exhaustion, I swear) provided blurred vision all around. In the gamble, I also got my arms scratched and my brand new blue tracks shifted to the brown-is-good party midway. I think we ran for some 5 kms (which I was told is a junior trail that even some kiddie-hashers would not be proud of) when we reached the pit-stop. Bottle of water and a piece of mysore-pak later, we ran another km through farmlands to finally complete the race. At some point, I saw a dog shoot across me and I thought I had begun to hallucinate. It gave me great comfort, I must tell you, when I was reminded that it was in fact a sporty dalmatian owned by one of the many expat runners. The fitter (and show-offy) ones ran another loop around the lake. These people I tell you!
Like the Free Mason’s society, the Hash club too has its share of fun rituals. Virgins (newbies), defaulters (for e.g. a hare who trips another hare, following which proceeds to stand and laugh) and anyone who annoyed the Grand Master anytime between runs #1 to #442 (he’s the leader of the Club) gets pulled on to sit on a block of ice. Rest of us stand around a circle.  He’s/She’s handed a drink which he/she has to gulp down before an anthem finishes, else has to condition his/her hair with it. Since I am a teetotaller (yes, that’s my tagline on willyoumarrymeplease.com too), I got to only wash my hair. The Kiwi guy was extremely funny and cracked me up whenever I could understand him. He called the dalmatian a black-and-white tv and I was suitably mollified. The dog had little business to scar… surprise me so.
As the sun set, beers and pulpy oranges were washed down with samosas (no, the order is right) as the old-timers had their share of fun and jokes. I, on the other hand, began to feel the first traces of an imminent disabling pain in my right flat-foot. Yes, people, I intrepidly ran despite being afflicted with this serious and rare (only 40% of population) disorder that can cause so much pain, Gestapo might have wanted to patent it. But, there were no doubts about it. Joy came in immense quantities, caused by a mix of lovely weather, lovelier place and physical excruciation. Once again, thanks to Manoj, who despite my obvious resistance, continues to inspire (and sometimes scare) with his physical exploits.
There are photos out there too. But, high hopes if you expect me to show you my handsome paunch. Ah!
 – If you ask me, I think they are actually cries of exhaustion, frustration or pure yelps of glee at seeing a fellow hare lose way.
 – Ladies, I actually have a long mane of hair that absolutely loves to be played with by delicate fingers.
 – No I am not a member but man are they scary or what with those brown long robes
 – Nocuous is spelled noxious by Oxford Dictionary. Plus, my nickname is Haywirely-Numbered
 – I am bold enough to admit that slouching was closer to what I was doing than standing.
 – Only lately, ladies, only lately
 – Listening to R Kelly sing I wish I could fly while writing this