Yesterday’s run was lovely. Perfect weather in my book: 28 degrees and humid – the type of weather that enervates me but also leaves me soaked in sweat and feeling like I really accomplished something. On yesterday’s route I crossed a bridge about 150 feet above the nearby ravine and river below.
Just before reaching the span itself, signs posted tell the number of the local suicide crisis hotline – for good reason as unfortunately it is a common spot for people to end their lives. A young woman stood in the middle of the bridge, staring out over the the river below, holding her headscarf on her head as the blustery wind tried to blow it in to traffic. As I approached she didn’t seem to register my presence.
Though the view is lovely, it is rare to see anyone lingering on the bridge and though I’m not generally someone to talk to strangers, I worried she might be distressed. I couldn’t just run by without checking in. I popped my earbuds out and stopped next to her, asking “Are you OK?”
She looked at me blankly as if she didn’t understand.
I tried again – as the majority of people in our neighbourhood speak Urdu I asked “Sab theek hai?” Is everything OK? She smiled and nodded.
Onward I ran through a bunch of highrises, loud hip hop reinforcing my cadence. People were out walking and even a few people were playing basketball in the local courts. An ice cream truck idled outside an apartment building, a socially-distanced lineup forming outside it. It felt almost, but not quite, normal.
My route evolves as I run based on my whim. At the half-way point I turn generally toward home but often by a different route. This time, instead of following the street, I take a path through a wide, flat park. People are out walking in ones and twos and we all give each other distance when our paths approach each other.
Half way through the park a girl of about 3 years old is running all over the path and grass nearby making me think of a windup toy mouse. Completely unpredictable, turning one moment, running forward the next. Behind her, a man in a salwar kameez, skullcap and a long white beard – likely her grandfather – chased her seeming to be worried that she would run in front of me or bother me (or worse, that I might knock her down). I pop my earbuds out smile at them both and enthusiastically call out to the girl: “Dauro! Dauro!” (दौर्ड़ो!) telling her to “Run! Run!” The grandfather broke out in to a big surprised smile and laughed.
Arriving at the bridge I see that the young woman is gone – but there is also no sign of anything bad having happened.
Back home, I think about often in the past I have found reasons to not ride, not run, to not pursue whatever activity – exercise or otherwise – that gets me out of the house and to see the beauty of the world outside our apartment. Clearly we can dream bigger than our Facebook timeline or YouTube subscriptions.