In Kuala Lumpa a sweaty colonial sat sipping his Gin and Tonic, not remembering the last night he was dry. His success with the ladies was diminishing relative to the bulging of his belly, with his prospects bleak Mr Ignatius Gispert decided to set up a running club, never did he know that this running club would extend to nearly every country in the world and be responsible for my Saturday evening activities here in Dushanbe.
Drawing from his Etonian days, he nominated hares and harettes to set a trail in paper shred for the gin swigging ex pats of KL to follow, and then to celebrate a successful trail they would sing, swig beer and hark on about the motherland.
We pitch up at 4pm in 35degree heat, jump in the nearest UN four-wheel drive and head off to some unknown destination near the town. The hashers of all ages, shapes and nationalities (except for the stoic the French, Swiss and German) huddle up for the trial briefing; a pile of shred means go, a circle of shred means stop, a shredded cross means an obligatory curse, and some back tracking. There is an even spilt between runners and walkers, the runners hare off up false trails grunting ‘On, On’ on sight of shred, whilst the walkers amble behind chatting about last nights embassy party and snapping the odd photo.
Yesterday, the runners were sent into the evening sun through the straw fields, down dusty lanes, weaving through orchards and climbing up rocky crags, hoping that some stray goat had not munched on the shred. The villagers look on in bemusement as the red face foreigners pant their way around mud houses and cow sheds. Stories are amassed on en route, one stick-waving villager thought the shred was a government poison, once a dog bit a US marine and several runners were arrested for trespassing on government property.
Covered in a dusty fake tan, the group congregate back at the ‘On In’, a tolerant host permits the hashers to gather around the ‘religious advisor’, who introduces hash virgins to the circle to a Madonna 80s rendition, bids farewell those leaving, and berates those who have broken some unfathomable rules of etiquette by cajoling them to dance and sink a beer, or coke, or water. (All religions are accommodated). It is billed as a drinking club with a running problem, but really it is a social gathering for those far from home, there are instant friends, instant fun and if you a willing to garble your way through ‘swing low sweet chariot,’ actions compulsory, you are pretty much guaranteed a good time.
On the 19th September, I will lay the trail and will be baptised with a hash name. The font of beer will be bestowed upon me by such old timers as; Peanut Smuggler, Brown Star Fish, MILF Man, Hairy Tea Bag, But Ox, Chicken Lickin’, Put In and Put Out, and Sloppy Finish (She is a border guard from Finland). All such riches a state education can never provide and name never to be used in public.
The dollar rallies against the somoni!
2 years ago