Women who run with Milind

Things have been unusually quiet on the blogging front because I have gotten very busy with other exciting work assignments. I have been meaning to write about my experience at the Pune Pinkathon (which has really served as a kind of life-changer for me; I have been running regularly since that day) for two weeks now, but I finally found some time today to sit and open my laptop.

On Sunday morning, it felt wonderful to wake up in the darkness, with everybody else asleep; it kind of reminded me of the excitement of travel and picnics from childhood. I could, and should, have gone on my own as the Pinkathon is only for women but the husband being the man that he is, insisted on coming along and dropping off and standing and cheering and all that (I agree with my mother when she says “Abhi tu khup bigdun thevlay Alisha la”: Abhi, you’ve really spoilt Alisha!). He was even more excited than I was, although I told him that 3 km is not a big deal.

Though it was all quiet when we set out, there was a lot of buzz in the air as we drove closer to the venue. Some runners had already started! The event organization seemed to be one of the best I have ever been to. I generally dread going for events which draw such a large crowd; I expect chaos and noise and a feeling of claustrophobia. But all the volunteers were cheerful and upbeat and really helpful when they directed us to where we could park and all of that.

When I walked to the huge field, where the marathon would be flagged off, there was some Zumba happening in full swing. I have seen Zumba many times at many different events but this was hands-down, the best Zumba ever. I would never, ever have thought that I would be taken in by a guy wearing a fitted neon shirt sporting a bronzed braid down his back, moving his butt to the beats but I was enthralled! Not many guys can pull off Bollywood Thumkas like that so I was really impressed. I also totally dug the guy dancing behind this main guy (so, so cute!), so I got a few pictures of him!

zumba
The best Zumba instructor ever! And do not miss the cute guy to the left!

As I watched ladies completely losing themselves in the music and taking selfies and screaming, what Milind Soman had said the other day really hit home; women need such spaces to feel safe and unselfconscious and really let go. Not so much women of our generation who are comfortable in their own skins but women like my mother, who need to be coaxed into wearing jeans. With no men around, women could and were just letting themselves go and actually dancing like no one’s watching. It was wonderful to watch. There was an amazing Ajji who was having the time of her life! These are real heroes; women like this petite white-haired darling Ajji who had not only showed up on this chilly morning but was dancing with full gusto!

ajji
Amazing Ajji!

There was a ripple of excitement when Milind came on stage and soon the 10 k run was flagged off. The excitement was really contagious and the organizers have left no stone unturned in making women feel like stars: there were drum rolls and male cheerleaders and volunteers at every junction who were clapping for us and egging us to go on. The route itself was very scenic and it was wonderful to run it that pleasant winter sun, though I broke into a walk after 500 meters, after which I only ran whenever the next volunteer bucked us up!

The 3k run was over before we knew it. I would have liked to meet Milind again and thank him for the whole experience but he was buried under a pile of women taking selfies and I could not wait to see my patient champion of a husband and regale him with details so I rushed out. We indulged in a big breakfast at Le Plaisir. Lots of other Pinkathon runners came there as well and the mood was celebratory and upbeat.

unnamed
Can you spot the Milind? He’s in there somewhere!

Now to the part that really saddened me about this amazing event. On the way back from the 3k run, the route was completely littered with plastic mineral water bottles and Tetra packs of soy milk. They were strewn all over the road, which had been clean just an hour earlier. I just don’t understand this. All you runners, you beautiful, inspirational, empowered women who are taking a step towards health and fitness, do you not care about the health and well-being of our planet? The very same planet on which you are birthing and raising your children? You, who run with children on your back, does the weight of a tiny bottle in your hand bother you so much that you cannot wait till you see a dustbin? Just as you have decided to take charge of your fitness, can you also not take responsibility for your trash?

I really cannot fathom it. I don’t understand the place it comes from, the casualness with which a car window is rolled down and a piece of paper is chucked out. This part really soured what was an inspirational event for women from all walks of life.

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