#153 The Hash Run
Submitted by Greenelm
After a week of saving the world, even the most committed EAW needs a break, a chance to meet new people without having to compete for field cred, an opportunity to get a bit of exercise and to escape the barbed-wire enclosed compound to see how the locals live, and to grab a beer and relive the carefree college days. The answer? The Hash House Harriers weekly hash run.
Not surprisingly, it was a small group of British expats in Kuala Lumpur who started this back in 1938, meeting at a restaurant which they jokingly called “The Hash House” for its lack of culinary variety, and going out for a run every Monday to lose some of the extra weight accumulated during the week-end.
After WWII, the idea spread and today’s EAW can usually find a local Hasher group with greater ease than finding a McDonald’s, Starbucks, or Hard Rock Café. The organizing committee (the “Hash Mismanagement”) will announce each week’s meeting point, and a couple of dedicated members (the “hares”) will have identified a route with markings of flour or, in some countries where the waste of food is a cultural no-no, using non-edible substances.
At the announced time, the EAWs (and occasionally even some locals) will meet and pay their fees to the treasurer (the “Hash Cash”). The GM (Grand Master or General Manager) will call them all to order and ask them to form a circle. Those participating for the first time (“Newbies”) will be called into the circle and asked to tell their name, country of origin, and something clever like “colour of underwear” or “most embarrassing experience”. Note that they will not be asked about which NGO they work for. The “W-word” is taboo. Thus is the field cred competition eliminated.
And then the run starts. Through the streets of town or between the huts in the local villages where naked children greet the runners with a “good morning” (at five in the afternoon), and the adults generally shake their heads or laugh out load at the crazy “khavadjas” or “mzungus” running around in soaring temperatures while sane people stay in the shade sipping their tea. The amusement reaches exorbitant levels during the annual “red dress run” when all participants, regardless of gender, appear in red dresses.*
After some 40-50 minutes running, the sweaty and exhausted runners return to the starting point for the well-deserved beer. Again in the circle, the Hares will be celebrated with a song with the refrain “drink it down-down-down”, and the newbies will have to repeat their names and countries of origin and answer another clever question such as “what is your favourite alcoholic beverage?” after which they will also be celebrated with a song (“drink it down-down-down”). Penalties will be administered to anyone who wears a hat or a cap (“headgear in the circle”) or who talked on their mobile during the run (“phone sex”), and the penalty is to empty another glass of beer to the tune of “drink it down-down-down”. Those who have completed a certain number (depending on the locality) of runs will now receive a Hash name. The hashers will suggest intelligent names relating to the personality of the person in question. A cat owner may be called “pussy-lover,” a talkative person “mass-debater,” a sexy girl from Virginia – “semi-virgin.” Once the name has been agreed upon, the baptism takes place with the pouring of a generous amount of cold beer and the singing of a suitable song (“drink it down-down-down”). Modifications make take place in Muslim countries.
And so, having escaped for a couple of hours from the demands of saving the world, the EAW “beer drinkers with a running problem” disperse and go back to their respective compounds or continue at one of the local watering holes.
*Some members of the diaspora find this behaviour offensive. See comments on this video: