If the above doesn’t accurately capture things, it is also telling that I wasn’t able to pull myself into a vertical position until about 8:15am this morning. Chris and I had one hell of a weekend.
I don’t even know where to start but I think, since I’ve been depriving everyone of photos for awhile now, I’ll start with the parts for which I have photographic evidence: namely the Chengdu Panda Hasher’s Red Dress Run.
I’ve wrote pre-departure about the Hashers of Chengdu and now, I am happy to say I have met them and they are grand people.
We were in the country not 3 days before R and W started in on us to join the run. By the end of last Wednesday night’s dinner, as we sat picking at the last morsels of the ma po doufu on the table, they had us handing over our donation, signing up, and listing our t-shirt sizes. After dinner, R graciously loaned me a dress she had made herself. Chris made off with some old sheer red curtains and a fluffy pink boa from his boss’s 4 year-old daughter.
We hitched a ride to the start of the “run” from our German neighbors. Chris mentioned he saw a couple walking out of our complex in matching red dresses as we were walking out the door ourselves. It’s always interesting when you run into your neighbors cross-dressing for a cause and so when they offered us a ride in their (awesome) beast of a Red Landrover, we couldn’t say no. Actually, what really happened was they asked if we were headed to the run. As Chris tends to don a turban only about once every 3 years, I thought our destination was just too obvious and so I tried for a sort of pithy “no, we’re just out strolling” remark. Under those two veteran hasher’s blank Germanic stares though, my attempt at sarcasm fell quite flat and, abandoning all hopes for dignity-preserving irony, we hastily gathered up our hems and made for the back seat of the Land Rover, shuffling and offering thanks all the way like some sort of wacky-looking monks.
We arrived at the start just in time for some pre-run adult beverages and picture-taking with hashers and locals alike. There were cops and plain-clothes officers all around, just in case us crazy foreigners attempted anything crazier than careening around downtown Chengdu in shiny red dresses. I did see a few cops take some photos but, judging by how much they were laughing behind their view-finders, I’m going to assume those photos were for personal, not criminal evidence.
Of course, it wasn’t just the crazy laowai done up so smashingly. There were plenty of Chinese getting into the spirit as well.
And soon, we were off. Not so much running as strolling through the city, enjoying the reactions we received along the way. There were giggling 8 year olds and mesmerized babies. Some people laughed, some people just stared in amazement, some people did one, then the other. What I think I liked the most was meeting the Chinese amongst the Hashers. Everyone sort of expects the laowai to be so silly, to partake as a permanent resident of Chengdu probably takes a lot more guts.
Of course at the end it was time for Circle and of course it was a spectacle.
One man was forced to drink from the Glove of Love.
Another received his Hash Name and the accompanying initiation. (we’ll talk about that statue he’s kneeling in front of another time)
All in all, it was a fabulous time. I never thought I’d stroll a Chinese city holding hands with my husband as he marched along swathed from head to toe in fabulous shades of red, pink and blush, but I’m glad to say now that I have. It was an afternoon to remember and a lovely way to get some exercise, meet some new people and wander some more around this city that we are both really beginning to fall for.