Running White Girl Speaks Swahili!
My midday run has become a time when I release some stress, get a nice workout and recharge to face whatever comes my way. It’s a time of reflection, relaxation and quiet (minus my heavy breathing, of course).
This day my run was a little later than the previous runs and the neighborhood had a different vibe. There were school buses coming and going, transporting children to and from half-day Kindergarten. Smaller children and their mothers lined the streets in anticipation of another’s arrival. Adults chatted, kids giggled and played around in the midday sun.
Every couple of blocks I would get in a web of 4-5 year olds and would need to slow down. I came upon a particular group just as they were exiting the bus.
When preparing to move to Calgary, I had read about the international diversity of the city. It’s no joke. As I noted in a previous post, I have met very few people who are actually born and raised here. On any given day, in fact, you may hear four different languages being spoken. The crowd of children I was approaching was no different. They were chatting wildly, obviously excited about their morning. As I got closer, I thought I picked up a bit of something I had not heard in a long time… Swahili.
I passed the group and one of the boys dropped his backpack and started jogging alongside me. He had many cheers from his little groupies, (at least I think they were cheers, I did not understand much of what they were saying). After a few steps, our eyes met. He smiled at me with adorable, laughing eyes. You know, the kind of bright eyes that can only come from an innocent, energetic child. I could not resist. I returned his smile and said, “Jambo, habari gani?”
He stopped. His clear, big, brown eyes popped out of his head, similar to a cartoon and his chin dropped to the ground.
It was priceless. He ran back to his group, laughing and screaming something the running girl. What did I say to him, you ask? “Hello, how are you?” (That is about all the Swahili I remember from my college trip to Kenya.) I continued on and completed the run, giggling to myself every now and then. I may need to pull out the Swahili and brush up in the event I encounter that boy again. Hopefully he’ll be courageous enough to run with me.