I have heard of and been a part of networking groups in the past, but the Hash or HHH is a one-of-its-kind meet that takes place across the world.
We came across the Abidjan chapter early in our Africa stay and went out to take a look. The Hash House Harriers started way back in 1938 with British Officers in Malay (now Malaysia) gathering for a run on Monday evenings to burn off the excesses of the weekend. However, the idea of the event is also to work up a good thirst and then get-together to enjoy a couple of chilled beers.
In Abidjan, this weekly event takes place on Saturdays. You arrive at the pre-decided meeting point late in the afternoon to find a number of people gathering. What is remarkable is the sheer diversity of ‘Hashers’, ranging from 8 year olds to 80 year olds, from Caucasians to Africans, from walkers to runners, from sturdy young men to hijab-clad women and from humans to dogs!
You may pay a token amount of money to cover the expenses of the run and then set off on a ten to fifteen km track laid out by the organizers. I have now attended a number of these runs and have walked through forests, farms, villages, ponds, roads, beaches and what not. In fact, the ‘where’ of the event is one of the most fun elements of the Hash, changing and challenging participants every week.
Little bits of shredded paper can be found on the ground every now and then, marking the trail of the ‘hare’ which we hounds are supposed to ‘chase’. However, the route does not always run straight. The runners who set off ahead sometimes have to turn right around at ‘check-backs’, some from the ‘pack’ may find themselves on false trails and if one is lucky, one may also chance upon short-cuts. The idea is to keep everyone together, the front-runners and the stragglers, and yet keep a sense of adventure alive.
Through it all, binding the varied group of participants is the common call, “On-on”. You may be tired, you may be stuck, you may be confused, but when someone in the group calls out “On-on” and even those hidden from your sight repeat the call, you know you are all in it together. The drinks break about halfway through, often in the middle of a dense forest, is another opportunity to unite and drink to one’s achievement so far. One is heartened to once again see the entire pack and we cheer each other on. By the time you arrive at the end of the trail, two to three hours later, you feel a sense of unity, of being like a family that achieved something together.
No matter which part of the world you are in, do find out if there is a Hash or HHH chapter in your city. And if there is, join it! If your chapter believes in doing natural trails through a series of unpredictable terrains, rather than through the concrete jungle of a city, even better!
I assure you, there is nothing like the thrill of joining a pack of hash harriers on a joint hare hunt!
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PIyushi Dhir is the author of the romantic novels, 'In Search of Love' (2014), 'I'm Yours, The Next Time' (2015) and 'Enmeshed Evermore' (2015). A voracious reader, a keen traveler and an ardent dog-lover, Piyushi currently resides in Ivory Coast, Africa. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.