Hello, Madam, how old are you?

Hello, Madam, how old are you?

Before I tell you how I answered that question, let me get something off my chest.

2 weeks ago, I lay the blame at the door of the army for my poor running times, thanks to all the fabulosity going on at India Gate, all of which inevitably slows me down to a gawping standstill.

This time round, I blame the cops, fairly and squarely, for the fact that my running times are so consistently slow.

This morning it was the turn of the police –  well, the CRPF to be precise –  the Central Reserve Police Force –  who were out en masse rehearsing for their forthcoming diamond jubilee celebrations.

Having set out with the intention of doing a long run this morning (only 23 days till the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon…yikes…) off I ran towards India Gate, which always draws me like a magnet.

Today it was hectic beyond belief.  There were people finishing up their Chhath puja in the Lutyens designed fountains around India Gate.

Yes, well.

And then there were marching bands, and a glockenspiel on a stand (I kid you not) and women in kilts carrying bagpipes (I kid you not Mark II) and women with riot shields marching to Bollywood music (I kid you not Mark III).

So of course I lingered for ages.

And of course I forgot to pause my GPS, so my run stats are shockingly slow – but what a fab morning.

It was while I was checking out the glockenspiel (as one does) that a group of about 10 middle-aged men (all musicians I gathered) started chatting. The usual “Oh madam you speak such good Hindi…oh, very good, your husband is Indian…” routine and then one of the men suddenly asked me, in Hindi:

“How old are you Madam?”

I could have lied, but after muttering “You are never supposed to ask a lady her age” in English, I replied with the shocking truth.

A moment of stunned silence from assembled middle-aged blokes.  Then the one who had asked me the question and who did look rather shocked at my reply said, with great aplomb :
“Nahi Madam.  Nahi.  Aap young girl ki jaise lagti hai. ” (No madam.  You look like a young girl.)

Quite made my morning, bless him.

But what really and truly made my morning was the music and marching.  Loads of it.

What shall I share with you first ?

OK, what I call “conventional” stuff, but pretty good for your average Thursday morning…

Then there were the ladies in kilts who sadly didn’t march (or play their bagpipes) but a charming young lady from Manipur, in a kilt, patted me on the arm and told me I spoke beautiful Hindi.


And here are the true rockstars of the morning.

Young women from the RAF  – Rapid Action Force –  who performed to some very jolly music, riot shields and coshes to the fore :

It all became a bit delightfully Indian at one point, while the riot shield girls demonstrated their skills, a platoon of men hove into view, marching to a different beat

Apologies for shooting into the rising sun, by the way, but that’s where 2 friendly cops installed me for the “best view”, and it seemed churlish to ignore their kindness.

As the whole marvellous rehearsal wound down, and I realised that there was no way I was going to run another 10 km after all, and so off I trotted off down Raj Path.

Said it before.

Saying it again.

What’s not to love about running in Delhi?

And, yet again, how deceptively orderly Delhi looks here…



  1. Interestingly, it was the second question were often asked in Iran, after “What is your country?” and whilst I don’t approach your levels of fitness, they were also often surprised at the answer – maybe cos there own relatives of similar age would not be similarly gadding around?
    Bow the flat-bed truck clip is not there, the riot shield ladies are in twice – not a hardship but don’t know what I am missing with the truck! X


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