Friday, March 26, 2010

Running in a Straight Line

Well well, it's been a while and I have to say that I've missed this space. The last month has been chockablock with work, business travel, life plans, with a reasonable measure of general malaise sprinkled on for that finishing touch. But some good shone through as well and that more than makes up for this tedious phase. I have finally been able to reach the 45-minute running mark. On the dreadmill (0.5% incline...just for the record), mind you. But what the heck, I’ve gone from not being able to run 30 seconds to a full 45 minutes! That’s B.I.G. and I’m thrilled to bits. Of course, for every good day, there are a few bad ones (and damn it, I can’t sit 5 minutes straight without a pillow under my butt), but I’m anxious to see how the piriformis behaves the day I take it out on a “real” run. Soon!

On that note, let me digress and jump to something far more interesting. I’ve been asked many questions about what it's like to run in India and if I could put up some pictures. Well, the best account I’ve read on this subject is the one written by the BF during his early days in India. So without much delay, here he is, recounting what it’s like to run in India, with a few pictures (not mine but they are the streets I run) of the city we live and run in…

India : Running in a Straight Line
Finally, a spare half an hour. Time to lace up the new shoes attach the iPod and go for a run. With a little OAR playing in the background and a water bottle in my hand, I am off. It starts off easy enough straight out of my flat, good pace, good energy…maybe 3, maybe 4 miles today. "Johnny doubled up with a royal flush, I had 3 jacks and a pair of nines…" I am ready to go.

And then I hit the street, a quick turn to the right to avoid the rickshaw followed by a stumble and a near ankle turn on the uneven pavement. On to the main street, each step adjusted just before it is taken in anticipation of the chaotic crowd movement…right, right, straight, left, jump over the stray dog…sometimes finding the hole…sometimes choosing poorly. A turn off the main street, ahhhh some clear area. I open up into full strides…."who's up for game three, I can barely see…"

I start pushing a little harder until I catch a tennis ball in the side. I turn my head to see a group of local kids doubled over in laughter as I just ran right through their pick-up cricket match. I turn off the road down a path and through one of the local slums. I cut back and forth through the people while absorbing the observing eyes of the crowds. I make one more turn and there I am, at a dead end and exhausted. 3 to 4 miles, no, but in India's true nature, it challenged my mind and it challenged my body, and in the end I got what I needed. It just didn't look like what I had envisioned.

There are a million experiences to write about after just a short time here. India will assault your senses with the mass of people, the poverty, the traffic, the extortion, the pollution and don't get me started with sitting in a government office for days. It will overwhelm your senses with the charm of the people, the festive nature, their loyalty, their spirit, the colors, and incredible ties to family.

But the most enduring of many incredible things about India is that it can teach the ego a profound and humbling lesson. No matter the education level, no matter how well traveled an individual is, if they think they have humanity figured out, my suggestion is go take a run in India. Nothing happens in a straight line.