Poetry in motion

One of the most cerebral runners I know is the infrequently-glimpsed Vinay Nagyal.

Actually, let me clarify that statement.

I’m sure loads of people glimpse Vinay a lot, but I only seem to see him in the dark of a pre-race holding area, or as we run past each in a race, him ahead, me trailing.

Which was the case last Sunday.

4am in the holding area before the New Delhi Marathon & I was feeling a bit tense.  Couldn’t find my pacer and there was no water.

A voice greets me in the dark & wishes me well.

Vinay it was.

I told him that I expected some poetry after the marathon, because that’s what this man does.  He writes with a rare degree of lyricism, in this day of instant Facebook updates.

Next time I saw – yes, indeed, the next time I “glimpsed” Vinay – was on Raj Path.

He was heading back, after our 2nd loop, and I was just starting down Raj Path.  That means Vinay was probably a good 7km ahead of me, which makes sense as he finished almost an hour faster than I did.  I called out, but he was in deep, meditative mode.  Eyes fixed a little distance ahead on the road, and not looking to left and right.

That is a skill I have still to learn.

As is the art of writing race poetry, like this.

I give you Mr. Nagyals’ post marathon thoughts… 🙂

“reliving the experience of NDM 2018…..

• what?!! 04:30 is helluva time for a marathon on a sunday!!
• ha ha…plenty of us fools at the line up this year again.
• an international run delayed by 5 minutes by sachin fans? when will indians get over cricket?! 
• wow, this early spring samal flowers fragrance along lodhi road again.
• armstrong’s la vie en rose and ISCON’s krishna das on a meditative run in the dark. nice…
• brr..the pre-dawn cold; these green barbets, pied cuckoos and black drongos got up early!
• the hamstrings have begun to complain about the high cadence. time to open stride and use quads.
• crossed the wall…ah yes…. the endorphins have begun to hit the spot.
• hard to maintain pace in these last 5 kms; shouldn’t have had that beer last night.
• shut up, its a mind game. smile and act cool for the race pic.
• ufff the pain. what a great run. when’s the next one? 
#NewDelhiMarathon”

 

Thank you, my friend.

So? What did we think of the New Delhi Marathon 2018?

Yesterday was the 3rd edition of the New Delhi Marathon – or, to give it its full moniker, the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon.

I’ve run all 3 editions of this race, and have seen its evolution, so can speak with a certain amount of authority.

For anyone interested, here’s the review I wrote of the 2016 race and the review I wrote of 2017.

So, here goes.  My balance sheet for 2018.

Although I’m not all that experienced as a runner, to my way of thinking, participants in a race for which they have paid, and especially for long distances like a half and a full marathon, do require certain non-negotiable things.  To wit:

1.A safe, well-lit route.

2. Water.

3.Loos.

4.Marshaling.

5.First aid.

The rest – the T shirt, the breakfast, the roadside entertainment – are of far less importance.  Well, to me they are.

1.A safe, well-lit route.

The start time of the full marathon was changed at the last minute from 5am to 4.30am.  No idea why, but it wasn’t a biggie as far as I was concerned, & actually gave us more time on empty roads before the half marathon started.

BUT, there were stretches of the route which were in darkness.

As in street lights not working.  True, they were still not working at 5am, so the start time change really made no difference.

I’m not sure one can take race organisers to task for poor civic infrastructure, but I felt very apprehensive about tripping and falling along stretches of Lodhi Road, and one runner in front of me did indeed take a tumble in the first 2km.

What else constitutes a safe route?

Absence of traffic, that’s what, and this is my single biggest complaint about yesterday’s race.  The traffic was a nightmare at India Gate, and I was stopped twice while cops let cars go past.

Once again, like the street lighting issue, I’m not sure where the balance of power/blame/responsibility exactly lies.

Is it the decision of the traffic police to stop the traffic for accredited races?  Do the race organisers have any say in the matter? I don’t remember any issues with ADHM (the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon) so what went wrong yesterday?

I am only an amateur runner, but even I got irritated by being held up while noisy, irritable, honking cars swept past, but imagine what it must’ve been like for the elites, competing for serious money and for rankings that affect their careers?

So, on the first score – a safe, well-lit route…sorry, not good.

Not good at all.

Water

I had no problems whatsoever on the route but oh my God, was I stressed before we started.  There was NO water in the holding area.  A few already-empty dispensers, and that was that.

So, for half an hour, I fretted and worried about water.

Memories of the lack of water in the inaugural edition came back to haunt me, and it was only at the first water station that I calmed down.  

After that, I had no problems though I heard from friends in my running group that there was no water in the stadium after the event, nor in the latter stages of the race.

Loos

The loo I used in the holding area at 4am, before the race, was disgusting.  Absolutely revolting.  And the flush didn’t work.

I used the first loo & the second loo on the route, on the basis that they should still be Ok.  Both were absolutely disgusting.  Stomach-churningly disgusting.  And no water.

I was a full marathoner, so the only people ahead of me were fellow runners, and we weren’t that numerous, so God knows how many people had managed to use them before I did.  Or were they delivered like this?

I won’t belabour the point.  You don’t need to be further disgusted.

I truly pity the thousands of people who followed us.

Marshaling

I have no complaints whatsoever.

Adequate signs, plus I’d studied the route, which I actually know very well by now, since it was 99% the same as ADHM.  There was one little loop added on, but it was clearly signed.

So I’m not quite sure what went wrong for this poor runner:

First Aid

I needed Volini spray twice, as I was cramping badly, and was administered it quickly and cheerfully by the youngsters at the aid stations.

So absolutely no complaints from me, BUT – remember I said a runner had fallen in the early stages of the race on Lodhi Road?  He was part of a group I caught up with – didn’t know any of them – all middle-aged blokes.  I was running alongside the group when a man ran up quickly, joined them & settled down to our pace.

“Talk about a bloody First Aid van.” (and I quote)  “All they have is Volini and some band aids. No Dettol.  No disinfectant.”

What else?

Last year I had remarked on the crowds of runners on the route, selfie-ing away and blocking the HM-ers and FM-ers.  I didn’t experience this yesterday, thank goodness, but oh my giddy aunt – the finish line. You rocket over the last timing mat, and go smack into runners hanging round waiting for their mates, I imagine.

The area needs to be kept clear.  You can’t screech to a halt –  well, I can’t.  So I know I cannoned into people.  In Mumbai, when you cross the finish line, there are barriers that funnel you straight away from the finish line, so you don’t get in the way of the runners behind you.

This was most definitely needed yesterday.

I couldn’t find where the breakfast was, so I left without eating.  I know you’re supposed to eat after a race, especially after running 42.2km, but I couldn’t see any signs for the food area, so gave up.

Let me end with one final anecdote, which I reported in an email to the race director this morning.

My husband was standing on the roadside, very close to the final turn into the stadium (for Delhi-walas, he was between the overbridge and the road that crosses the main road) when the metal barrier fell down on top of him, knocking him to the ground.  He has a lump on his head and is feeling very stiff and ache-y today.  Phone screen damaged.  Apparently another barrier across the road (so just before we turned left back toward the finish line) also fell down a few seconds later.

As with the street lighting and the traffic management, I feel churlish laying the blame for this at the feet of the race organisers.

Who erects those metal fences?  The police?  The traffic police?  My husband wasn’t seriously hurt.  But he could’ve been.

This all sounds a bit crabby, doesn’t it, and possibly gives the impression that I had a bad race.

I didn’t.

I had a brilliant race.

Loved it.

But that doesn’t blind me to the fact that there were lapses.

I welcome your feedback, I truly do.  Tell me if you think I’m being overly critical.

But I don’t think so.

Your running thought of the day

Love this quote, below, because that is exactly how it often feels.

As a “grownup”, how often do you get the chance, or even feel inclined to, weave through people walking slowly on the pavement chatting to your running mates as you do so?  Or sit on the pavement to have a post run snack because Delhi doesn’t really do benches on the streets?

Running.  The lost link to childhood playing outside.

Absolutely 🙂

Running for charity

Last night I attended a running event of a very different kind, here in Delhi, and what a revelation it was.

In November 2017 I, along with thousands of other runners, took part in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.  Most of the focus at the time was on the runners, the elites, their times, and – inevitably – our own times.

But as well as racking up the miles as they run, there are thousands of people who also use the race to rack up millions of rupees for charities, and last night was the Charity Awards dinner.

Just look at the figure raised for charity through the 2107 edition of the event:

That translates to about US$1 1/4, by the way.

I had no place being there, being brutally honest, but was kindly invited by Kevin Pereira, one of the head honchos of Procam International Pvt Ltd, the company that manages most of India’s most prestigious races.

What an eye opener the event was, and what a truly humbling evening.

There was I, quite happy to run for myself, to improve my timings and yes, let’s be honest, to try and win a medal in my age category, and then last night I learned about runners who raise hundreds of thousands of rupees for charity.

Whew.

The evening was moving, and – yes, let me say it – inspirational.

Listen to this young girl from the slums, educated by one of the charities that receives funds raised by runners and their supporters.  Just listen to her, speaking in English & telling the audience that she wants to be a neurosurgeon.

If that doesn’t make you tear up, then I don’t know what will…

[jwplayer mediaid=”28984″]

There was also a nice category, recognising the best press photos.  Like these amazing photos of the dramatic finish of the Indian men’s elite race:

What an interesting look into the behind-the-scenes aspects of staging and running such a major running event.

Zumba it is!

So.

Yes.

About last night.

Last night I zumba-ed for the first time.  I think I might’ve tried to do a few moves once or twice before, usually as part of pre-race warm-ups, but last night was definitely the first proper class/event I’ve ever done, and it was the HUGEST fun.

Thank the good Lord above I couldn’t see myself as I galumphed around, but whatever the wrong moves and the out-of-sync dancing, I had an absolute whale of a time (probably looked a bit like one, too :P) and am hooked.

For someone who has always loved dancing and hated gym, this is the perfect solution and – inevitably – I just wonder why it took me so long to discover this fabulously fun form of exercise.

The event was organised by ASICS, and there was quite a gang of us from our ASICS Running Club.

Here we are, pre-run, all nice & un-sweaty:

The session was outdoors, on a perfect Delhi late-winter’s evening, and was held in one of the city’s biggest malls.  As ever in India, there was already a crowd hanging round long before the session started, lured by the lights, the music and, I guess, the knowledge that something fun was about to happen.

So those of us attending the session had a sizeable audience, most of whom stayed, and  seemed to film us as we danced, wriggled, and laughed our way through 90 high-octane minutes.

The music was a fab mix of South American and Bollywood – where, yet again, I marvelled at how every single person there (barring yours very truly) seemed to know the words and the steps to what were clearly iconic dances.

What I absolutely loved about the zumba session was that I felt happy all the time.  Even when I couldn’t follow the steps, and certainly couldn’t move with the agility of the youngsters in the crowd, it was all such fun.

No wincing with pain or grimacing.

Just lots of fun & laughs.

Take running, for example, which brings me great joy.  But I also know that I don’t smile and laugh all the way through a run.

But last night’s zumba – how could you NOT smile, with such great music, and the opportunity to dance your heart out for 90 minutes?!

There was a great team of dancers (is that the correct term for a zumba expert?) leading us, but the stand-out was the breathtakingly trim and slim and all-round gorgeous Shwetambari Shetty, who was mobbed for selfies & photos after the session – by young women, please note, by young women who clearly idolise her.

Even though, broadly speaking, I knew what zumba was – working out in a dance format to music – nevertheless I Googled it on my return.  And very interesting it is, too.  Here’s a quick Wikipedia definition:

“Zumba involves dance and aerobic movements performed to energetic music. The choreography incorporates hiphop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo. Squats and lunges are also included…The music comes from the following dance styles: cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, reggaeton, soca, samba, hip hop music, axé music and tango.”

Now, if the truth be told, I have NO idea what half of those music genres sound like, but it all sounded pretty fab.

Starting with a slower, warm-up routine, we got more and more energetic, & then the final dance routine was a clever cool down.

To music.

What more could a dance-lovin’, gym-hatin’ old lady ask for?  To be able to dance my heart out in public, with no family members cringing in embarrasment…definitely my kinda workout 🙂

One of my ASICS tribe filmed this clip below.  The boys in matching blue Ts at the start are from my running group.  We then move to yours truly, hopelessly out of sync, dancing with some of the girls from my running group:

[jwplayer mediaid=”28973″]

However, help was at hand.  There was a young man in front of me – a brilliant dancer – and so I just copied him.  You can just see him at the end of Bhuvan’s video.

I told him what I was doing, in case he thought I was a pervy old lady 😛 and after the session we chatted, and here we are, young Shivam and me:

Watch out for this young man – fab dancer!

Such a fun event.

Here’s my tribe, after the event, with the addition of Ripu Daman, who zoomed in from a family wedding and danced in wedding togs & turban:

And here is the whole fun crew, after the event:

Train. Drill. Repeat. Recalibrate

It was a fab morning workout with my ASICS tribe this morning, as we got back into serious workout mode.

Actually, why did I say “got back”?

We always train hard, but I think I sort of lost my way, these last few weeks.

First, the Mumbai Marathon took over my life and my thoughts and my focus, and then in the 4 weeks since Mumbai, it’s been nothing but long distance training for next week’s New Delhi Marathon.

Agreed – 2 marathons in 5 weeks is a little bonkers, and I’m aware that I’ve been focussing on distance, rather than enjoying the training and drilling.

So this morning was a great reminder of how much I enjoy training with my ASICS Running Club.

Stretching.

Warm up lap, which was a slow run around the perimeter of Delhi’s Nehru Park.

Warm up drills.

Then we all did 15 x hill reps which were tiring, no doubt about it, but not crushingly, agonisingly exhausting the way they used to be last year, when we started.

Signs of progress…

After the hill reps, a cool down lap and then a series of exercises under the watchful eye of Mr. Lenin, whose statue graces the park.

As well as “surya namaskar”, led here by Sonali, these exercises included the dreaded plank.

Actually, you know what, planks are not quite as dreaded nor dreadful as a year ago.  I can’t honestly say I enjoy planks, nor am I any good at them, but I can at least hold one for a minute without collapsing, which is very definite progress.

So yes, signs of progress Mark II…

Dunno why, & it’s difficult to explain, but this morning felt like a back-to-where-I-belong kinda morning.  Recalibrated.

Chit chat, good work out, laughs but lots of work.

Meet my tribe.

You run & you learn

The regular expression is “you live and you learn”, right?

But this morning’s long slow run through central Delhi was most definitely a case of you run and you learn.

As we ran past Jantar Mantar, we saw a crowd of people seated on the ground, in neat rows, behind a police barricade.

So, naturally, we stopped to see what was happening (“we”, by the way, was my running mate Ripu Daman and yours very truly).

The protestors were from the small north eastern state of Tripura and they have come to Delhi for 3 days to protest against immigration from Bangladesh in their state.

They were delighted to answer our questions and explain their grievances, which are, in a nutshell, that they have become a minority community in their own state.

When you take a look at the map of Tripura, with its 856km border with Bangladesh, it’s hardly surprising that migration is an issue. 

I just read a report online from late 2017, about the additional threat of Rohingya migration from Bangladesh to Tripura.

It sounds to be an interesting, although paradoxical state, with high literacy rates coupled with high unemployment.  That is a combination which might explain why there has been a Communist government for the last 25 years.

Coincidentally, the Prime Minister was in Tripura yesterday, campaigning before elections there on the 18th, so who knows?

Perhaps with the limelight currently being shone on this little state, tucked away and largely ignored by mainstream India, perhaps something will be done for the local people, who are clearly feeling threatened – at least on today’s showing.

But what a delight to chat with such lovely people, happy to explain their position, happy to take loads of selfies, and – when Ripu & I finally made tracks – waved us off with huge smiles.

I wish these dear people nothing but the best, and hope their grievances are addressed, while they stoically camp on the Delhi streets.


A beginner’s guide to PLOGGING

Gosh.

Never have I been so bang on trend as these last few days.

What I call “picking up rubbish when I go out for a run” is actually A Thing.

It’s a cool, Swedish inspired Thing and it’s called PLOGGING.

I have always tried to pick up the trash when I go out for a walk and, in the last 4 years since I started running, whenever I go for a run.

Many moons ago, when we lived on the beach in Mauritius, every morning I would walk my 3 late (& much missed) street dogs Képi, Birdey & Yoda on the beach, and I’d pick up the inevitable plastic that washed in on the tide.

I remember one day a spectacularly drunk fishermen – totally blotto at 8 o’clock in the morning, bless him – telling me I was an angel sent from heaven, for picking up the rubbish.

On the other hand, I was also abused and threatened by some horrible fishermen who used to play cards and drink on the beach outside our house.

“Put that rubbish down!” one of them shouted at me. “This is Mauritius and we don’t need a foreigner’s help.  Put it down now.”

I replied that I was more than happy to help clean up my adopted country.

“No, we Mauritians can do it” he snarled back.  He was a particularly vile sod, I remember.

OK, I decided, taking the path of least resistance.  These guys had already thrown stones at my Mauritian dogs on earlier occasions, and the dogs were getting antsy at the tone of these men.  So I put the plastic bag full of Coke bottles and lone rubber flip-flops down on the sand and beat a retreat.

I’ve been abused here in Delhi too.

“Crazy foreigner.”

“F***ing b**ch foreigner.” This from a young man drinking beer in his expensive sports car as he drove, as he threw the bottle at my feet.

I never knew rubbish had a racial hue to it, but there you go.

You live and you learn.

All of which is to say that, despite the odd ugly reaction & the almost-universal apathy from bystanders when they see you picking up rubbish, I am thrilled to discover that I am not a crazy woman, after all, but am a PLOGGER.

Meet the new trend of 2018.

And I quote:

“Hailing from Sweden, ‘plogging’ is a fitness craze that sees participants pick up plastic litter while jogging – adding a virtuous, environmentally driven element to the sport.”

And:

“As plogging makes its way around the globe, runners are turning their jogs into plogs. All you have to do is hold onto a small bag (and maybe a pair of gloves), and you’re ready to torch calories and tidy up the planet. Many ploggers have been surprised to see just how much trash is on the ground in parks and along running trails.”

The wonderful folk in my Delhi running group immediately & unquestioningly embraced the idea of tidying up and now, after every session, whoever can spare a few minutes stays back to help clean up the park where we train.

It’s not rocket science – we run in the park, we run past trash, so it’s to our benefit that we clean it up. End of story.

One of the runners in my group, Ripu Daman, started a Facebook page for our movement as well as an Instagram feed, the idea being to motivate people and share the stories, both in terms of what needs to be done & what has been achieved.  There is nothing wrong with celebrating success. Here are the links:
Instagram
Facebook

I am delighted that so many of my running friends plog 🙂 but although the current concept of plogging implies a certain amount of jogging, please let’s not get tied down by definitions.

Anyone can pick up trash.

Anyone.

All it takes is a bag in which to put the rubbish.  And possibly a pair of gloves.

I mean, how simple is it to put a bag in your pocket automatically when you go out for a walk, or to walk the dog?

And now the idea is to spread the word, and join hands with people the world over who are fighting the rising tide of plastic that blights our cities and out countryside, and endangers our planet.

Seriously, who wants to go for a walk and see this – Lutyens Delhi, last week:

Or this?  My local Biodiversity Park, 3 days ago:

So, there you go.

Plogging.

Couldn’t be easier.

Go out.

Pick up.

And please, all of you, do share your photos with us.  Tag us, so we can get the word out.

Plogging.  It’s cool 🙂

“Rubbish has become invisible”

I shared with you, a couple of weeks ago, that some of us in my Delhi running group are tackling the terrible rubbish problem as best we can – by picking up the trash in the park where we train, rather than run past it & ignore it, which so many people are content to do.

After every session, anyone who can spare 15/20 minutes pitches in, and invariably we pick up alarming amounts of rubbish.

One of the youngsters today made a very valid point, when he said that rubbish has become invisible.

He is so right.

People walk past the plastic bags and paan packets and chip packets – and worse, I assure you – seemingly oblivious to it all.

One imagines that there are cleaners on some municipal payroll somewhere or other, but clearly they don’t bother to do their job.

So we are trying, in our own little way, to break the “it’s not my job” mentality, by volunteering to clean up.

Because the option is, really and truly, to pretend that the rubbish is invisible.

We work on the basis that we use the park, so we owe it to ourselves to clean it up.

I mean – just look at the photo the left here.  That is what has been dumped behind the low stone wall that borders the park.

We none of us had the energy, not the time, nor the courage to tackle this filthy dump today, I must be honest.

There is more than enough to pick up within the park, on the path, on the grass, on the running track and around the exercise machines.

Today we didn’t mange to rope anyone else into helping us, the way we did 2 weeks ago.

People working out on the exercise machines just stared blankly at us, as we all picked up in front of them.

It’s going to be a long haul, to motivate people, but given the fabulous level of support amongst our running group, and the outrage at the filth (because I think every one of us is truly horrified) I am optimistic that, little by little, we can, as Mahatma Gandhi said:

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post about our clean up drive, I really and truly am proud of my friends.

Despite work commitments, people take a few minutes out to clean up, and the sense of team work is amazing.

Super proud of every one of us.

And we are making a difference, despite the enormity of the problem

This is before:

And this is after:

Impressive, right, with just about 20 minutes quick team work?

Here are some of my wonderful friends at work:

[jwplayer mediaid=”29128″]

We carry the garbage we have picked up to the rubbish skip:

  

One of our team, Sunil Punshi, not only cleans up, but also documents our work & the progress we have made.  All these photos & videos are his.

This is what we did today, trying, in our own little way to be the change:

[jwplayer mediaid=”29127″]

For anyone who wants to get involved, it’s not complicated.  Simply pick up around you, in your street, in your neighbourhood.

Out group has started an Instagram feed, to document the problem and the solution.  Here’s the link & do please share your own before/after photos with us.  Do please tag us on @ploggers_of_india.

We also have a Facebook page. Once again, please share stories & photos with us.

Running. Exploring. Enjoying.

In the few years since I discovered the joy that is running, I wouldn’t say that running is the answer to every single problem in life, but actually, come to think of it, it near as damnit is.

No matter how tired, how headache-y, how fat, how body-ache-y I feel, no matter how pissed-off with life in general I am, a run sorts me out.

Every time.

I admit to going through moments of regret, wishing I’d discovered running in my 20s or 30s – the median age of all the lovely kids in my running group.  I imagine how life might have turned out differently, had I run off frustrations and worries the way I now do, but alas ‘twas not to be.

I look back on cities where I’ve lived, places I’ve visited and regret not running their streets, and getting to know places differently, via running, the way I do now.

As I pound the pavements in my senior-citizen phase of life, I realise just how many doors running has opened for me.

New friends, for sure.

Better health.  Undoubtedly.

But most importantly of all, a new way of looking at cities and exploring them.  There’s an impromptu-ness in running and exploring that I absolutely love.

Take yesterday’s long run, for example, which turned out to be long time-wise, but not quite as long distance-wise, but involved visiting places I’d normally never go to.  And all because we were on foot.

A bit of context.

In 3 weeks, I’m running my second marathon of 2018 (yikes).

The New Delhi Marathon comes uncomfortably close on the heels of the Tata Mumbai Marathon – just 5 weeks between them – but such are the vagaries of the Indian climate, that these 2 big events have to be so close.  It’s too hot/too cold otherwise.

So, even though I suppose I’m still feeling a little tired from Mumbai, training for New Delhi has to happen.  Hence yesterday’s long run, to try and get the old legs working properly again.

I ran with one of my favourite running friends, young Ripu Daman who has, I am delighted to report, the same philosophy towards running as I do.

It needs to be fun and interesting, and one can’t just run, run, run.

There need to be pauses for discovering new places and things.

And for food.

Yesterday, I’d say we 100% discovered God in his many avatars as we trotted slowly round Lutyens Delhi.

Without having planned anything in advance, we ended up visiting a mosque, a Parsi cemetery, a Jewish cemetery and a Christian cemetery.

We were also offered honey for sale, watched a man making brooms, called in for a drink with friends en route, and chatted our way round the medieval tombs that dot the Lodhi Gardens, dodging all the pre-wedding shoots.

Small wonder that it took us quite a while to cover our 16km.  But such a fun run.

Trying to escape the noisy traffic on the main road (a definite downside to mid-week long runs) we trotted into B.K.Dutt colony and when we ran past a sign announcing Shah-e-Mardan dargah, we decided to stop and visit.  And what a discovery it was.  We were welcomed courteously by men who were sitting inside the different courtyards, inside this deceptively spacious complex.

We were told about the history of the shrine, I peeped into a shrine only for women: Ripu wasn’t allowed inside, although a helpful bloke who was showing us around went in – didn’t quite get the logic there.  We were made to feel very welcome and it was all interesting, though we left with more questions than answers.

Like we didn’t fully know the difference between Shias and Sunnis, and where does the Aga Khan fit into all this (that was in the context of discussing how to restore and preserve ancient Islamic places of worship).

And how do Borhas fit in?

And Ismaelis?

Admitting our mutual ignorance of one of the major faiths of this country and vowing to research all this, we next went looking for the Jewish cemetery, which I’d recently read about.

All I knew was that it was close to the Parsi cemetery, which I’d visited last summer on a run.  So into the Parsi cemetery we went, only to be told very politely by a young Sikh standing inside, that it was private property.

Oh.

But this being India, he said never mind, of course we could stay and look, and so we wandered amongst the beautifully tended graves, discussing the distinctive Parsi names and their history, and then the young Sikh joined us.  He turned out to be from a family of “Undertakers, Monumental and Art Sculptors  Estd 1872 Lahore”  as per his card.

Now how fascinating is that?

This family of Sikhs, from what is now Pakistan, is – and again I quote – “Authorised Contractors of Christian Cemeteries.”

After a jolly little chat, Ripu and I ran around the block to the smaller and more neglected-looking Jewish cemetery – a first for me.

I found the grave of the father of a friend of mine, which was pretty moving.

Onto the Christian cemetery, which I’ve visited before but Ripu hadn’t, where we wandered thought the well-tended plots and discussed the cultural fusion that is India.  Names that reference 2 cultures, marigold garlands around marble crosses.  That kind of lovely fusion.

On what may well have been the first day of spring 2018, with beautiful balmy weather and deep blue skies, this slow, long run, discovering new places and learning new things, was just what was needed.

Ah, you wonder, that’s all very well and good, but did we eat, since I mentioned the importance of food earlier on.

Of course we ate.

After all, we were very “rungry” after all that exploring 🙂

 

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