Sometime in April 23rd 2008…

As night approached in Beijing it looked like a great evening to run. Fairly warm, not too polluted, somewhat clear, promising on all accounts. The Hares, Trixxxie and Dazed and Confused arrived early at the Rickshaw, ready to go, flour in hands. By 8:15, 11 Hashers gathered for the circle, and Trixxxie set off with 5kg of flour to lay the course. 10 minutes later, the hashers were on on. Following the first few marks, it was pointed out that there seemed to be an unnecessarily large amount of flour being used and sure enough, shortly after the first open check, the marks were fewer and Willy Wanker caught Trixxxie as he was out of flour. As the Hashers waited on a foot bridge for more flour to be bought, it was noticed they had lost one Hasher along the way, and with a phone call discovered that the Hasher was already back in the Rickshaw having some drinks.

So on on again, with Trixxxie and Willy Wanker taking over Hare duties. The Hashers followed their flour marks through figure 8’s, circles and open checks. Back up Sanlitun and an entire section of the trail missed, the hashers eventually arrived back at the Rickshaw. During the circle, topics addressed were such things as a certain hasher’s ability to quote the movie Center Stage, two female hashers decision to perform a dance move in unison when spotting every mark and Trixxie’s ability to successfully go through 11 kg of flour over an 8km run. Oyster gummy candies complete with pearls were handed out and beer was brought on a rickshaw that Dazed and Confused found on the street and subsequently “borrowed”. Eager Beaver arrived half way through the circle to join in on the beer drinking.

At one point during the circle, one of the female hashers went inside the Rickshaw to purchase food. While she was there, she was informed that the police had been there earlier looking for a group of runners. Back outside she went, only to find no less than10 policemen, complete with 4 cars all standing around. When asked if she was part of the running group who had been going around the area, she realized that the shorts, t-shirts and runners she was wearing would make ‘no’, not really an option.

Over to the circle the police came and wanted to know about the suspicious “substance” that they had been throwing around the streets of Beijing. The Hashers were told that the police were tipped off about a group of foreigners running around the area, throwing and mysterious white substance onto the ground. The police had apparently discovered the trail and had been following the hashers and their trail all the way back to the Rickshaw. Turns out that the hashers were all live hares and were being pursued by the police.

The Hashers were also informed that they were running in an “Olympic Zone” and the police were worried about the mysterious powder and terrorist activities. The Hashers tried to explain that it was only flour and had just purchased the bag at Jinkelong for 13 kuai. They even provided the empty bag as proof (aka exhibit A). The police were not convinced.

Getting cold, and having to await the arrival of the police “El Capitaine”, the Hashers decided to go into the Rickshaw and have some food and Beer. Long Legs nicely purchased a round and Trixxxie was seen eating 2 chilidogs. After a short time however, the manager of the Rickshaw was not too pleased with Police in his bar and informed the Hashers that they must immediately leave. Off to the Police station it was decided they go. They piled into the police cars and as they drove away they heard the words “I don’t think there will be any Hash events at the Rickshaw again anytime soon”, uttered by its manager.

At the police station, the 7 remaining Hashers who failed to earlier escape, were asked for ids and passport numbers. Willy Wanker, dressed back again in his spiffy work attire, broke out the diplomatic id, and was from then on only referred to by the Beijing police, and “the one who works for the Embassy”. With a few clicks of a button, the Hashers’ Chinese paper work was printed out to be analyzed. The clock on the wall read “106 days till the Olympics” and the hashers were feeling the One World, One Dream sentiment.

It was decided by the Police that interviews must now take place, at which point, Long Legs called his wife in Holland to wish her a Happy Birthday and to let her know of his criminal antics in China. With only 2 Hashers speaking fluent Chinese they quickly became Hash spokesman and spokeswoman. Trixxxie was taken off to one room, with his translator, “the one who works for the Embassy” and the two female hashers (safety in numbers) were taken to another room. They were interviewed by the Chinese Criminal Investigation Departmentmembers, who had been woken up to come and deal with the laowai. This left, The Reverend, Dazed and Confused and Long Legs in the lobby to fend for themselves.

After almost an hour of attempting and re-attempting to describe the intricacies of the Beijing Hash, Boxer Hash and Full Moon Hash, in Chinese to the Police, the question most often repeated was “why flour”. The female interviewees were informed that they could consider using another substance next time, such as laundry detergent. The male hashers were told that by spreading 11kg of flour on the streets they had wasted food, to which “the one who works for the Embassy” replied that they had rightfully purchased the flour and had therefore the right to waste it if they liked. The officer and him agreed to disagree on this matter. The male hashers were also informed that by spreading flour on the streets they were contributing to the pollution in the city. They were told that should the wind pick up, the flour would blow everywhere and Beijing would be dirty. There you have it, the Hash is actually responsible for most of the pollution in the city!

An hour later, interviews over, the hashers were back in the lobby. When asked if they could now go home they were told they would have to wait for the “results”. Results of what you might ask? Turns out that team Crime Scene China had collected samples of the mysterious white powder and had taken it to be tested. Time for the Hashers to make themselves comfortable, they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The hashers spread out on the chairs and benches, Trixxxie resting comfortably snoring on Dazed and Confused’s lap, and attempted to get some sleep as they all had to work in the morning. They texted their friends, embassies and fellow Hashers and told them of the situation that they were currently in. Most got many worried replies. However, “the one who works for the embassy” commented that not one of his jerk embassy friends had replied to any of his texts. Other hashers were glad at this point that his embassy wasn’t theirs as well.

After many, many xiao deng yi xia’s, the hashers growing, hungrier, colder and sleepier by the minute, were informed that there would need to be a second set of interviews done for all that had not gone through it the first time. Translators in tow, the Hashers informed the police, once again, of their fun running game, where you have to chase the one in front with the flour and attempt to catch him. Why flour? Well, because that what you’re supposed to use.

During the second round of interviews, two of the Teacher hashers were overheard giving English lessons on the difference between ‘flour’ and ‘flower’. No, we did not throw rose petals all down the streets of San lit tun. One hasher even drew a diagram on the statement sheet in order to ensure that the difference was clear.

Interviews over and the return of CSI China, complete with silver cases and the hashers empty flour bag (aka exhibit A). The hashers were informed that CSI Chian would like to go and take pictures of the crime scene and would like a Hasher to go with them and show them the trail that they followed. A resounding, echoing no was chanted in unison by the Hashers, saying it was too long, too late and too cold. “The one who works for the Embassy” offered, with a touch of sarcasm, to run with team CSI and show them the route. They quickly agreed that the route maybe was a little too long. They only wanted to see some parts and would do it by car. The police said they wanted the Austrian to come, and not “ the one who works for the Embassy” as they were becoming more and more intimidated by him by the minute. Trixxxie, the Austrian, refused to go if they did not provide him with a jacket. After deciding that this request seemed a little too much work to fulfill, they reluctantly agreed for “the one who works for the Embassy” to come along.

6 Hashers left back at the station, and Dazed and Confused decided he’d had enough and the Hashers needed to be fed. Out the front door he went, giving a xiao deng yi xia and leaving the one remaining police man looking slightly lost. Returning about 15 minutes later, and playing the role of Santa, Dazed and Confused provided the hungry Hashers with a bag full of jiaozi, some water and Coke. Off to the Chinese cafeteria style tables in the kitchen/interview room # 2, they all sat around the tables and began to feast, however, not before recapping the course of the nights events and the mismatch of ages and countries of all of them sitting around the table.

Meanwhile, “the one who works for the Embassy” was sending minute-to-minute text message updates to one of the hashers back at the station, detailing the going ons of team CSI

Text number 1:

“They brought a broom and our sweeping behind us. Not a joke. Sweeping”.

Text # 2:

We’ve just turned right off san lit tun nan lu. I snapped at the cop when he asked – is THIS flour also the flour that you spread? -No you ninny, it’s someone else’s flour!”

Apparently team CSI was not entirely convinced that there was not another group going around the city also spreading flour.

Text # 3

“I’m basically now on a quest to make this as unpleasant for them as possible. I just snapped ‘ HURRY UP’ so loudly and with such irritation that the cameraman dropped his cigarette. Did he pick it up and keep smoking? He did.”

The Hashers were thoroughly and possibly deliriously entertained by their updates and waiting for more.

Text #4:

“Possibly saved! Street szweepers watered the streets and I’m claiming that since the flour is gone I can’t remember where we ran.”

The sound of light bulbs simultaneously turning on was heard as team CSI China began to realize the value of the flour and the trail. Maybe it wasn’t so crazy after all.

Text # 5:

“They are in intense consultations. Someone just snapped, ‘god damn street sweepers. It’s fucking cold out here.”

The Hashers feeling bad for ‘the one who works for the Embassy” at this point, made sure to save him some jiaozi upon his return.

Text #6

“They are trying to reconstruct the route from their own memory and it’s not working.”

Text #7

“I cannot tell you how tempting it is to scream ‘open check!!’ and sprint away from these knuckle dragging idiots. “

The hasher reading this last text message had a hard time getting through it due to hysterical laughing and had to eventually pass the phone off to a calmer member so it could be shared with all.

Text #8

“I’m pretty sure they gave up. We are driving past the jingkelong of 2nd flour purchasing fame. Headed back to the police station. They’re debating who will have to ask me questions. No one wants to.”

So back comes “the one who works at the embassy” to rejoin his fellow hashers. He was delighted to discover that there were jiaozi’s to be eaten and filled his fellow hashers in on the remaining details of his little field trip. After making sure to clean up their mess, the Hashers once again asked if and when they could go. They were given the response of ‘xiao deng yi xia’. Apparently, they were now waiting for one last phone call from “El Capitaine” before the all clear could be given.

Gathering all their belongings and lingering around the exit, they wait anxiously for the phone to ring. When it did, they jumped up in unison and were eager to hear the verdict. The policeman hung up the phone and the hashers were told, once again, ‘xiao deng yi xia’. There still needed to be one more phone call. Disheartened the Hashers sat back down. A short while later the phone rang again, but this time the Hashers kept their seats. The phone was hung up, and the policeman walked over and told them that they were free to go! It truly was a miracle. The Hashers cheered… well as much as one could cheer at that hour in the morning.

Before the hashers could officially leave however, they were given a stern lecture on never using flour again. As they were walking out the door, one member of the hash invited the police to join their next hash. He didn’t look impressed.

So at 3:57 am, no less that 5 hours later, the Hashers were finally free to go. With one last look they noticed the countdown to the Olympics clock had changed to 105 days.

Moral of the story? … the Hashers leave that one for you to decide for yourselves.