Long Walks On Leafy Streets

8/30/2021 Stoney Man trail / Appalachian trail, Shenandoah NP, VA    
Thoughts about India - Part 3.

Well it has been only two weeks and here I am with part 3. Yeay. I am patting myself on the back. Writing this while sitting in a little shelter in Takoma Park at the corner where Carroll Ave bends in front of the co-operative grocery store. It has colorful murals and mosaics, and this being Takoma Park, also a trash can where people can deposit gently used clothing for others who need them. I am waiting here while our car is charging and later will get some groceries. We live just a few blocks from the border of Takoma Park and love this progressive (what Nicole would call hippie) town full of people who want to make the world a better place.

Today was the first full day for Prashant at school after a year and a half of lockdowns and zoom classes.
His school has a new building with a very well-designed playground that he is excited about. In the morning we equipped him with his N-95 mask and backpack and I dropped him off with a little trepidation, on my way to class. Then this afternoon we both went to pick him up and were quite relieved to hear that he had a good day.

On the way home the car warned us that it had only enough charge to go 11 miles. So here I am. In a way it is good because I am really enjoying sitting in this outdoor place with a nice breeze on this late summer day. To put the icing on the cake I even have good wi-fi thanks to a nearby hotspot set up by comcast, our cable company.

The car battery was drained on a quick jaunt to the Catoctin mountains on Saturday. Nicole wanted to get out of town and since we hadn't been to Catoctin in a while I suggested we go there. The car had just enough charge to make the round trip of about 120 miles. The new Nissan Leaf plus can go around 240 miles on a full charge. Luckily there was a charging station at the park visitor center to put a little extra for the way back.

After parking at the visitor center we started hiking the 1.4-mile-long trail to the Cunningham waterfalls. It was around 4 pm and already the gray skies felt even darker under the forest canopy. The trail itself turned out to be much rockier and hillier than I remembered. To add to our worries there was the frequent rumbling of thunder, albeit a bit distant. So we walked as fast as we could. Prashant always enjoys hiking and he loves to look at the ground for insects and worms, but unfortunately we couldn't linger. The waterfalls were lovely to see as always but I was worried about getting back before it started raining.

So I left them by the waterfalls where it felt safer due to the presence of many tourists and started jogging on the trail towards our car. There was no one on the trail and it felt like the skies could open up any moment. It had been a while since I had run on a trail and slowly the fresh forest air and the joy of bouncing on rocks and roots injected energy into my mind and feet. I started running faster and faster. Part of it might have been the feeling of liberation that was described in the previous post. I did stub my toes on the rocks a couple of times, but it was not too bad. We managed to get out of there before the rains started.

It rained most of the way back, and we stopped at a Chipotle in a little mall in Urbana. A nice young couple who were sitting under an umbrella offered us their table, as they were finishing. Nicole was impressed that the woman also sanitized the table for us before leaving. As we were halfway through the dinner it started raining much harder. Nicole and Prashant went into the car while I continued eating under the umbrella. The few minutes of sitting there in the rain, enjoying the food, were truly heavenly. Perhaps it was the nice run, perhaps it was a moment of relief, but I felt really in the moment. It has been a long time since I had that feeling. Everything felt fresh and new and exciting, including the highway, the strip mall, the gas station and the Waffle House across the street.

On Sunday I looked forward to watching video of Saturday's play of the third cricket test match between India and England. It was the fourth day of the game and a crucial one. India managed to fight back a little on Friday after falling badly behind on the first two days. I was hoping for them to continue that and maybe even win the match, but they folded very quickly. Much as I wanted India to win, I had also disappointed by the boorish behavior of some of the players in the second test match which they won. There are some players on the team who are truly models of virtue, like Pujara and Rahane. Then there are others who are more assertive, to put it mildly. Of course for too long Indians have had the reputation of being meek and submissive. It is good to break that mould, but there is no need to go to the other extreme.

There have always been, in Indian society, a minority who are dominant and assertive and cruel towards others while the majority are kind, friendly and tolerant of pretty much everything. It is very hard to know which came first: Did the patriarchal society based on domination by a few stifle the growth of the rest, especially women and the lower castes? Or did the fact that most of the population was kind and gentle cause a few to take advantage and exploit them? I hope to write more about this in future posts.

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