Continuing this week’s theme of doing foolish, masochistic things, tonight I went jogging in the streets of Zamalek with Gombaz and her 19-year old jogging pal (yes such things exist.)
To put this in context: I have not undertaken physical exercise of any kind since I was doing my dissertation last summer and, during a particularly idle moment did my Cindy Crawford: the Next Challenge Workout DVD.
What persuaded me to undertake this foolhardy step was:
1. Bum envy. Gombaz is a runner and has a posterior you can rest objects on, such is its 90 degree-ness.
2. Being 30. I wanted to test if I can actually still run normally or whether I have irredeemably acquired the gait of unfit middle aged women running for buses (head down, side to side motion, arms and handbag lodged under bosoms to stop them bouncing.)
I was happy to discover that I can still run. In fact it started out splendidly, I kept up with the kids with only minor breathing difficulties, and successfully negotiated at least two 3- foot curbs.
Then we stopped suddenly because Gombaz needed to pee and a minor detour was made to the Four Corners restaurant, after which it all went downhill. As Gombaz and friend glided along in front of me, I began to tire. I like to think that it was because of Cairo’s infernal pollution, but in fact when I face the music and listen, the tune playing is “Amnesiac is hideously unfit.” At about the time I started to lag and eventually stop, three youths in a Lancer appeared in order to shout “encouragement” at certain parts of my two companions’ anatomies. The whole circus disappeared round the corner, and when I eventually arrived (walking and swearing) I saw the youths still in full voice, but noted that they stopped when I appeared. This prompted the sobering thought that perhaps these boys mistook me for a lady chaperoning my two daughters, and had stopped their testosterone charged antics out of respect for the presence of a senior citizen.
Anyway I soldiered on and about the time I began to master my breathing, the Rugby induced knee injury which had been cured by complete inactivity decided to put in an appearance because it missed me so much. This was outside the Marriot, so I was forced to limp, red faced, the entire length of the 26th July drag to our meeting point at Um Kulthoum tower. Gombaz and her pal gallantly remained by my side and propelled me along with light banter, making me feel like an enormous taxiing airplane being guided onto the runway by the men with the lollipops.
I can now say with authority that jogging in public in Cairo is a preposterously foolish act on several levels. I had strong suspicions that it was such before embarking, because of the memory of my father jogging in Dokki in the 80s and being pelted with stones. He however, insists on wearing shorts resembling Speedo swimming trunks, and the uncharitable part of me thinks that he got off lightly with this treatment.
I am now pleased to report that I am the proud owner of a limp similar to that of Dustin Hoffman’s Ratso in Midnight Cowboy and, when mounting stairs, must swing my completely straight left leg to the side in an arc motion.