I could have been…

at the finishing line, still in pretty high spirits

at the finishing line, still in pretty high spirits

I could have come second, if only I had cleared all the obstacles! Today the organisers of the Devil’s Circuit published the ranking, and it turned out that only eight women managed the parcour, as compared to 133 men. A huge round of applause for these eight!

But the biggest group in this list are the ones who didn’t manage or dared to do all climbs, jums, swings, crawls, swims etc.  Me being somewhere among them…

Devil’s Circuit

true winners

Everybody got a medal… and aching muscles.

People who think marathons and triathlons are too boring, should come to the “Big Daddy of obstacle Runs”, the organisers of the “Devil’s Circuit” reasoned.

But then, the 5km long obstacle run in a dirty field at the gates of Gurgaon was quite doable. Well, at least for many. I failed on two obstacles – with the effect that now I’m even more motivated to keep up the Parkour Training… next time then!

What lay in our way: walls to scale in turns with barriers to crawl through, a series of deep earthen ditches, several narrow beams to balance over, barbed wire to crawl underneath, a rope hanging down into a waist-deep pond with a vertical, very slippery wall to climb (here I fell back into the water), a horizontal ladder to move hand over hand to get along (no chance for me there as well), a tunnel, a net with heavy ropes on top to crawl through, a six meter high, free swinging rope to climb (with knots, though), a ditch filled with water and covered by a wire mesh fence, a heavy sandsack to carry for 200 meters or so, poles to balance over, iced water to wade/swim through (here’s a video from last year).


For all lovers of flowers

flower's day

… because not only women are happy to get flowers on this women’s day.

Road manners

As it happens so often, a car was stopping on a main thoroughfare without any apparent reason, not bothering to drive into the parking lot to the left or looking for a quiet side road. The auto rickshaw driver in front of me had to stop behind the car and then tried to get into the traffic flow on the other lane. He kind of forced his way in – like everybody does.

His misfortune was: The car that had to slow down to not collide with the auto rickshaw was a police car, a fact the auto wallah apparently realised too late. As soon as the stopping car was overtaken, the auto wallah swung back in place. But now the policeman was angry. So he came next to the auto rickshaw and steered closer and closer, so that the tiny vehicle had to dodge more and more. I was directly behind the two and saw that on both sides of the auto rickshaw there were only centimeters left when the policemen finally ended his “I’m the boss of the road” showing of strength.

When I related the incident to my colleagues, they couldn’t understand me being upset. The situation on the roads now is quite okay, they reasoned, to what it was before. I apparently was completely different story before the TV channels started their 24/7 coverage and people, even scavenger, had cellphones to alert the journalists and were able to load up footage on social media sites. Back then policemen would routinely thrash offenders, or just beat them because they were not able to pay pribes, they told me. Technology and the possibility for normal people to spread what they have seen is a great form of supervision, a colleague said.

But still misbehaviour is happening. The Aam Aadmi Party recently published a clip from a cell phone of how two Delhi constables used their sticks, called lathis in India, to beat a guy in Lal Qila. Here’s the video.

Hazrat Nizamuddin

Hazrat Nizamuddin is a quarter in Delhi that is definitely different from the rest of the city. Completely moslem in it’s appearance, the main street is dominated by men grilling lamb and goat, baking bread in earthen ovens, and drinking tea.

In many of the labyrinthine alleys, street vendors sell fruits or handkerchiefs, caps, rosaries or religious posters, shops are full to the brim with Qurans or household items, beggars try to get the attention of the passerbys, and blind(ed) boys sing beautifully to get some coins.

In the middle of all the bustle lie the dargas (mausoleums) of Nizamuddin Auliya (1238 – 1325 CE) and Amir Khusrau (1253–1325 CE), as well as the graves of many other people who wanted to be buried close to the Sufi saints. Medieval archways lead to the open space which has a marble floor and beautiful old structures.

long-bearded men talking in front of the mausoleumIt’s close to impossible to pass all the flower-sellers who lovingly pester us to buy a tray of flowers, sweets, or a chadur (cloth) to offer at the dargahs. Once inside, many Sajjadah-nashins (keepers) of the mausoleum ask for money for their blessings and the maintenance of the dargahs. This also includes a daily langar (community meal) for the poor.

I had already been there a couple of times, but always missed the Qawwali, a form of devotional Sufi music, which is supposed to be played ever thursday night (but then, it often isn’t). But this time we were lucky. So we sat down and listened to the men and their instruments until late into the night.

Paan anyone?


Paan, a betel leave with areca nut and lime, here served as a mouth “freshener” after a dinner at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

It took me a year and a half and some quite an amount of persuasion by visitng friends to finally try paan, India’s stimulating and psychoactive pastime. The rolled betel leaves are available at every street corner in Old Delhi, and in many other places of the city as well. Of this the brown stains on buildings and in staircases, even in government offices, bear witness to.

The huge package I then placed into my mouth was filled with the usual areca nut and lime and tobacco, and also some mukhwas and something sweet and I don’t know what else. The flavours exploded in my mouth, and made my head spin. But to be honest, after chewing for a minute or so, I spit everything out. And so I didn’t realise any longer lasting effects. Mercifully.

Sharing is caring

on a donated bedMany stray dogs in Delhi are not really stray. They live on the streets, okay, but they have poeple looking after them – who then boast about how caring they are. Most of the dogs seem to be well-fed and in the winter time they get blankets to sleep on, or they are even made to wear pullovers.

Indians also spent a lot of money to buy grains for birds. On some flyovers or in front of the town hall at Chandni Chowk, there are always dozens, if not hundreds of pidgeons – and even they can’t eat all the handouts, so that the ground is always full of grains. Other people feed birds of pray with buckets full of meat, for example around Jama Masjid in Old Delhi or at Lodhi Gardens.

I often wish these people would spent the money to buy food for the very poor who often live underneath tarpaulins just a few meters away from their doorstep. Or even as domestic servants inside their houses.

In the lanes of Old Delhi

Parkour Training – first moves

Okay, here we go. There are two videos of some of the stuff I learnt during my Parkour lessons in Lodhi Garden.

As my instructors would say:

Fun with Diving Kong! (you need to click on it, I can’t embed the videos here without paying 60 US-Dollars)

Fun with … ehm, I forgot the name for the vault


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