Meet this quirky club which sprints to burn calories only to be greeted with beer and cheers at the finishing line
If you thought that beer was a perfect antidote to stress yet felt guilty of the paunch that would show, here’s the ‘perfect’ solution. The Bombay Hash House Harriers is the city chapter of a global organisation that loves to binge on beer after a good, ol’ sprint. “I have been to China and Indionesia for work, but when I visited the same places on a hashing trip, the experiences I had were one-of-a-kind. The roads we travelled, the people we met made it memorable,” says 38-year-old Jaideep Tandon, a financial advisor and a Hasher for four years.
It is one of those clubs with its own set of rules and quirky dealings — from nicknames to forming the holy circle, around ice instead of fire, to feasting and drinking. The runs happen every second and fourth Sunday of a month, one within city and the other on the outskirts. It’s a place where exchanging a business card is strictly forbidden but not your number. There are people from every walk of life and from every generation. All you need — to survive the bunch of prank-playing hashers — is a bit of sporting spirit and a smattering of whackiness. If you are different and feel out of place almost everywhere, you will fit right in.
“It is very important to make fun and be able to laugh at ourselves,” says Ketki Shah, a.k.a Bonsai (because of her height), who has been a moderator and a dedicated hasher for the past 20 years. And this sums up the spirit of hashing – anti-competition, anti-anything serious. It is a getaway from a week of corporate etiquettes. When the city has only multiplexes and pubs to offer as re-creation, this comes as a break from the routine weekend dos.
So one Sunday morning, crates of beer and biryani were being unloaded at a fishing village near Madh Island. Once the beers were stocked in ice-filled buckets, Ketki called everyone to order. There were two groups, those who ran and those who walked. The trails are pre-marked with a red electrical tape by a ‘hare’. When the trail is done and everyone is back at the farmhouse, the fun begins.
A circle is formed around a huge slab of ice and those who have been bad are made to sit on it. Once their misbehaviour has been spelt aloud — can be anything from marking a bad run to wearing new shoes — the hasher is made to drink beer from a white container. Through the beer-induced haze, one realises that she is drinking beer from a piss-pot. The session ends with loud singing of the group anthem and other pirate-styled catchy lyrics.And then focus shifts entirely to those lovely green ladies lying cool on the ice.
“Normally, there are no age boundaries, especially in a family hash,” says Shah. From eight to 80-year-olds, it’s for anyone ready to take on the spirit. No cultural boundaries either, because not only are there expats, if a hasher is travelling he can find some good company in that city’s hash house too.
For Jaideep, who takes pride in his ‘wailing wackopedia’ hash name, it is all about meeting new people. “You get to meet people from different walks of life, whom you wouldn’t have known otherwise. And get to see places and walk trails that you never knew existed. So it opens up a new dimension of experiences, whether it is your fellow hasher or the places visited or just the pure fun of it all,” says Jaideep, also a member of the ‘mis’-management committee. So cheers to the group which celebrates a bit of madness!
This article was published here by DNA on Aug 24, 2014