Cricket, football. Football, cricket. Football, cricket, maybe swimming. Cricket, football, "A! A! horse-racing!" You get the picture! The dominance of cricket and football in the sports news leaves little room for variety. I "googled" the phrase, "typical West Indian sports fan" and inevitably a long list of websites pertaining to cricket filled my screen. I also "googled" the phrase "typical Caribbean sports fan" and football-related websites then popped up. It is therefore not surprising that the Guardian online website has only three categories in the sports section... "Cricket, Football and "Other Sports".
Hashing undoubtedly falls into that obscure group of somewhat less popular, not typically "West-Indian" or "Caribbean" sports. Hashing has nothing to do with "weed," nor is it computer jargon in this case. It is a "mixture of athleticism and sociability, hedonism and hard work." A refreshing escape from the trials of a long week of city life, it is an exhilarating run through, over, under and around landscapes of any kind, chasing hares (not rabbits, but the people in charge of setting the hash trail) who mark a maze of trails, or in search of the correct trail that will ultimately lead back to the start... and to the most important, most desirable amenity, beloved by all hashers... the beer truck.
"On! On!" they shout! Through town and country, braving desert and raging river, over plains and mountains, plantation and fowl pen, squeezing through alleys and storm drains, over fences and walls, the hasher's motivation to complete the run is that beastly cold draft awaiting his sweaty, muddy arrival. The beer truck is a permanent fixture on the hash, an unfailing presence, and symbol of the stability and organisation of the group. From the pumping jack stations in Siparia to the beaches of Toco, the beer truck is always there. In fact, the hash never fails to run... or for that matter, to lime. It is an amazing example of consistency, accountability and responsibility, although one may tend to think otherwise at first glance. But delve deeper. Embedded somewhere deep within the bowels of the raucousness, political incorrectness, the clever name-calling and teasing is surprising order.
To the hash "virgins" the hash "Mis-management Committee" seems loosely organised, to say the least. Its only visible member is the "Hash Mattress"–I mean, Mistress–who stands on the largest rock or truck and shouts the latest notices and events to the group of babbling, cackling and rowdy hashers. However, working feverishly behind the scenes are the "Hash Cash," (the treasurer) and the "Hash Softie" (in charge of soft drinks) among many other committee members. Somehow, there is always a run, every second Saturday, without fail. In fact, I have known hashes to occur even on Christmas Day and New Year's Day! By some means, at every hash, as it is with the beer, there is always food.
It could be burgers and sandwiches made by our very own hash grill master and his portable grill. Otherwise the hares seek out a local villager and offer the job of food caterer for the night. Either way, it takes organization and planning... but the outsider would never realise this. These things just "seem to happen" on the hash. In fact, the hash is much like Trinbagonian society. Apart from the raucousness, and disorderly conduct in the streets of Port-of-Spain and in Parliment, and the hedonistic attitudes of the average Trini, certain things just "seem to happen." Funny that police officers "just happen" to be looking in another direction when a red light is broken. Coincidental that Mrs Nunez-Tesheira "just happened" to withdraw her money from Clico just before the company collapsed. Interesting that everyone "just happens" to be sick when there is cricket in the Oval.
Extraordinary that CNMG "happened" to be "cutting back" at the time of Mr. Fazeer Mohammed's interview with Minister Rambachan. Like the hash, an outsider would never realise the amount of behind the scenes planning that has gone into such activities. On the other hand, the hash is quite the opposite to Trinbagonian society and government, and should serve as a valuable example. There are consequences to one's actions. If there is no beer truck, there is no hash. If the hash trail run is poorly set, or if it is too short or too long, may divine intervention help those hares from the wrath of the rest of the hashers.
Not only will they be subject to public "hash disgrace" though the "poofter" award (the mandatory wearing of a beer-soaked, soiled, holey T-shirt), the poor "poofter" will bear the brunt of all the "fatigue," progressively offensive and deteriorating jokes as the night wears on. Do foolishness on the hash, and you will most certainly be nominated for the "poofter" award. And don't even think of wearing new shoes to the hash, for they will soon become your new beer mug. But in all seriousness, if those responsible for activities fail to perform, then the hash loses its appeal and enjoyment. The bottom line is accountability. It is all well and good to have your fun, just make sure you get the job done. Maybe this is why hashing is not typically "West Indian."