Thursday, March 27, 2014

For Rachel!

As you know, this year I'm dedicating my training time and efforts into a fundraising campaign to create an enduring campship in honor of my late friend, Ty Taylor. He was a big influence in my life and a huge lover of the camp where I grew up, YMCA Camp Miller in Sturgeon Lake, MN.

Last year, I raised money for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. NILMDTS is an incredible group of professional photographers who volunteer their time to come to hospitals and do family photos with children that have passed away or that will soon.

Last year, I wrote about Rachel Elkind, the photographer who came to shoot our family the day before our son Ellis passed away. Little did I know then that we would eventually become friends or that Rachel would come and visit us in India, but that's exactly what happened. In December, after months of planning she came to experience India and we were happy to host her in our home. Wednesday's run was dedicated to her. Thanks for the donation, friend!

My plan for Rachel's run involved a few things that I thought she'd like. First, I chose a route that Rachel and I ran together when she was visiting. Rachel is the type of person who seizes opportunity and appreciates the beauty and variety of everything around her. The 2 Temples run offered a chance to see some interesting sites and daily life in the capital city, so I took Rachel for a tour on that run. The Shiv Mandir is a temple that I've previously described as the "Lego Temple." Now, I confess that I've been past this temple to Lord Shiva many times, and I've been tempted to check it out, but it took Rachel's free-spirited request to go inside to see what was going on.  On that particular day, we did go inside and we were welcomed warmly by the men worshipping, ringing bells and plugging in this electric drum.

So it was with fond memories of that day, that I ran past the Shiv Mandir once again. I also decided to incorporate a bit of creative exploration into this run. This route is usually a 3 miler, but I was on tap for 4, so I reconfigured the route to add a foray into the chi-chi private housing complex of the Railway Officer's Enclave. Empowered by a trip into the private Railway Workers Eco-Park Golf Course last week, I went searching for the private walk that connects the bungalows to the golf course to the housing complex. In India, a government job is a promise of much more than money. It's also often a ticket to free housing, transportation and more.

With my Google Maps homework completed, I was on the road out of the temple and in search of the trail that I knew was there. First, I snuck through an alley, behind a hospital in a trash and stray dog passage way, out the parking lot and down another alley that I thought would lead to the trail. It didn't. Instead, it led to this.

This is a typical Delhi slum, wedged between the family-friendly Railway Museum, the tracks and the wide-lawned private bungalows of India Railways bigwigs. After a peek at the people pouring across the tracks and up the hill on their way to work, I made my way back up and luckily found an open door in the previously closed gate along the path. Knowing this must be the "yellow brick road," I ran through and adopted my "I belong here" facade. I was, in fact, on a brick trail that was fenced on both sides, clearly not intended for the general public. The trail ended exactly where I thought it would, at the golf course from last week. Taking into full account the dangers of turning left into the Eco Park (see photo below), I opted for a right-hand turn.

On the right was a private pedestrian bridge to the Officer's Enclave.

I crossed the bridge into a development that would be right at home in the American suburbs and headed for home. In honor of Rachel, I took the route that showcased the duality of life here in India. On my left, private schools and embassies. On my right, another huge slum. Take some time to look at these areas on the satellite map below(change the map type in the upper right corner). The golf course should be easily recognizable, you can see a train in the image. The Officer's Enclave is above the train, neat rows of homes with red roofs. The two slums are almost right on top of each other. They are the areas with the trees. 

Rachel, I'm sure you would have enjoyed this run. There was a lot to see and even more to think about. Thanks again for your donation, it means a great deal to me.

I'm dedicating runs to raise money for a campship in memory of my friend Ty Taylor at YMCA Camp Miller. Click here or here to donate. Please make sure you choose the Ty Taylor Campship option. And please let me know if you've made a donation so I can thank you!

Distance - 3.94 miles
Time - 31:32
Soundtrack - More hip hop music on shuffle.

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