Well it has been a long time coming but I finally got round to doing the Juba Hash. For those who are unaware of the Hash, it is a social running and socializing group with chapters in cities all over the world. Hashers often describe themselves as drinkers with a running problem.
Given the combination of much needed exercise, drinking and food, I felt this event is tailor-made for me!
Notices for Hash events are posted on Jubalicious – the online classifieds for Juba residents that advertise pretty much anything (within reason). I was in luck – the event I was going to attend was being hosted in a resort and business centre called Rock City – next to the Jebel hills and rocks. I mentioned the Jebel rocks in a previous post and that area is one of my favourite areas in Juba due to the pretty rock formations and gentle breeze. But is such a location ideal for running? I was about to find out.
I must’ve been very eager because I was one of the first to arrive. I found that the Has has its own initiation traditions that are all for laughs and nothing too harrowing. All first timers, such as myself, had to step up to the centre of a circle and introduce ourselves, tell everyone where we are from and why we are in Juba and what we hope to find. There was one caveat – work is a 4 letter word! I bumbled my way through the introduction with some witless story that I can’t even remember.
It was good to see that I was not alone – I had about ten other newcomers to brave the initiation. Like me it seemed other newcomers were there for the general camaraderie and a spot of exercise. I also found some familiar faces in the hash from other aspects of my Juba life so it started to feel increasingly comfortable and familiar.
Each week the event is hosted by different people in different locations so the course differs. The routes are created by “hares” who lead the running (and walking) groups to predetermined points. These points are both rest stops and also provide an opportunity to make sure the group doesn’t split and people get lost. On this day I found that on a previous run at this location a group did actually get lost (disturbingly it was the hare who got lost, even though he was the one who set the course!) and some people got beaten up! Not news I welcomed with open arms.
So after announcements and general chit chat it was off to the races!
Well running through rocky hills was always going to be a challenge so it should come as no surprise to learn that I was completely knackered! The last kilometer or two was agonising and taught me that I was not quite as fit as I hoped! The one good thing though about running in Jebel is that the young children from the local community showed more enthusiasm than we did and joined us as we ran along the road and up the hills. It felt like rock star treatment as they screamed after us – and also laughed at us. We probably looked like bunch on nutcases running around in their eyes but I guess we gve them something to talk about.
After completing the run we assembled again. This time the veterans introduced themselves to us. However, veterans introduced themselves by their “christened” names. So, is this a surreptitious religious event? Hell no! A Hash christening is basically a nick name chosen for the individual by other Hashers. Different Hashes have different approaches to the types of nicknames – some tend to be on the bawdy side. That evening I witnessed a christening – given to a group member after attending 5 Hash events. A young lady was up for her Christening so in accordance with tradition, other veterans were asked by the leader to reveal salient aspects of the person – her hobbies, habits, funny stories about the person, etc.
Well we learned this lady likes cats and after a number of possible names were bandied about and voted on, she was christened Pussy Lover. So for Hash purposes, that is her new name. And to commemorate this, she had to kneel on the floor and have beer poured all over her. Lovely!
In the introduction process I learned other Hashers and acquired some interesting nicknames. There is Stripper (an ironic name for a superannuated woman) and Permanent Ejaculator (apparently this is related to his premature downing of beer during another of the rituals, rather than conjugal traits) to name just two examples.
Well all in all it was harmless fun and I hope to catch up with them in future weekends. I had to miss the next one – an annual red dress Hash where runners run in red dresses (there is a tradition behind this that is lengthy but in short it has nothing to do with latent transvestite tendencies on the part of male runners) – due to travel commitments (phew!). But it will be interesting to see if I make it to five events and have to go through the christening process myself.
Your humble narrator.