21 January 2014
After a full week of not running (due to the long flights from San Francisco to India, an 8-hour layover at the Dubai airport, and the impossibility of running in our Kolkata neighborhood due to the intense air pollution and dangerous traffic), I had the opportunity – finally! – to take a run this morning at sunrise in our Mangalore neighborhood. (We are staying at Karnataka Theological College which lies in the beautiful, tropical neighborhood of Balmatta.)
As soon as I left the seminary’s front gate I noticed something that I never saw in Kolkata: women — on their own — walking alone and in pairs, getting exercise. Even more men were jogging or walking, and a cricket game played by teenage boys was just beginning on the local athletic field as I ran by.
As I continued my run I came to a narrow and windy lane that was shaded with large, leafy trees (which had been few and far between in Kolkata). In addition, there were hundreds of flowering bushes that gently scented the air with their tropical fragrances.
Not surprisingly, I soon came across an Indian pariah dog (they are a popular breed here in India) and he looked up at me curiously as I ran by. Soon, though, he was running by my side and then, quite suddenly, he was gone.
About a half mile later he was back to join me on the run – only this time he had two canine friends with him: both pariah dogs as well with their tan-colored coats and gentle faces.
Whereas the dogs I saw in Kolkata were emaciated and many covered with sores, these Mangalore pariah dogs were healthy-looking and fit: they helped me to maintain a decent running pace.
The dogs ran with me for only a short distance but they were an early sign to me that Mangalore was quite a different place than Kolkata.
Good companions for my first run in India, my canine friends also extended to me a nice, early morning welcome on this next stop on our Indian pilgrimage.