Saturday, 13 September 2014

Wagle ki duniya - by Ashwini Wagle

Why would I start my first blog post ever by that name especially as I have never even seen the sitcom?  Well, over the years as people have got to know me through Facebook, many have referred to my doings and whimsical musings as “Wagle ki Duniya”.  Growing up in India as an army brat meant a fun filled childhood full of outdoor activities and large spaces in uncommon towns such as Shikargarh, Panagarh, and Mamun to name a few.  I was never restricted to explore and my parents gave me the wings to fly.  As a college student in Mumbai back in the 80’s, I explored sometimes alone and sometimes with friends.  Going running on Juhu Beach was a favorite activity then or nothing could beat just walking in the rain and then eating a hot vada-pav near Vile-Parle station.
Coming to Pennsylvania as a student gave me a new level of exhilaration.  Instead of the crowded streets or beaches of Mumbai, I had streets where I could walk for miles and not see a soul.  How could that be, and where were the people? How could they not be outside to see the fall colors or the snow or the icicles that formed as the ice was melting?  I began to find the solitude welcoming and loving every minute of it.  Even a single person who wanted to come and explore with me seemed like a crowd. I would run sometimes or walked as I felt like, but nothing made me happier than being outdoors.  Moving to California was even better as the weather was great all year round.  I started running seriously around 20 years ago and would be out 3-4 times a week doing my thing.  The feeling of wind blowing in my hair, sweat pouring down my back and feeling my heart beat made me feel alive.  I even ran during my pregnancies as the doctor said it was ok to do so and that did create a flutter amongst all the relatives but I felt good and for once there was no one around me to tell me not to do so.  I would sometimes run with the kids in the stroller and to hear a baby gurgle with laughter as the stroller hurtled down the street was pure joy! Life did get somewhat restrictive as the kids got older and day to day activities started interfering, however I would still go out to run when I could and most times that meant running around 9 or 10pm at night.  Night runs became my passion and I would look forward to those at the end of the day.  It was less than a year ago that I stopped running alone at night as I was spooked by a van that crawled along with me for a couple blocks and the fear set in.  I am still not sure if I should have stopped but I did for my own safety, although I still sneak a night run in with my 85lb dog sometimes.  I refuse to be scared to give up something I love, but somehow the reasoning of being safe and staying safe filters in.

Somewhere along the way a few years ago, I came up with a goal to run 50 races (all 10K’s and above) before the age of 45.  I can almost taste the success as I will be running my 41st race in 3 weeks and I still have a year to complete my goal.  Hiking also remains a passion of mine and I hike every chance I get, and I have found a great bunch of girls who are motivated to hike also.  We can be as silly as we want, giggle and gossip too.  The crisp mountain air and the cool breeze on the skin is rejuvenating and better than any meditation I can do.  Being in nature makes me feel closest to God and I am addicted to it.  My three friends and I have done the Half-Dome in Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon in the last two years and plan to do Mt. Whitney soon.  My bucket list also includes doing the 4-day Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu in Peru and Mt. Kilimanjaro soon.  I think the possibilities are endless..
I do realize that I am one of the lucky ones who has the luxury of going out on a hike alone and not be worried about anything except being attacked by a mountain lion.  I do realize that I am one of the lucky ones who can wear a running skirt and run down the street and not be leered at.  But I am also one of those who runs on the streets of Mumbai, Pune and Talegaon or any place I visit in India, and I have had men stare at me as I run.  I have heard the laughs, and the cat calls and I usually respond with a thumbs-up sign for I know that the man leering at me cannot out run me! Some pictures for you to enjoy!

Hiking in the mountains..just me and Sammy. 

Jumping for joy on the beach.. 

She is Beautiful 10K Pink Run..

By Ashwini Wagle

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