It’s summer in Pune. And Parker has been hanging with a dog we’ve named Ice Cube. She is thin and dirty-white with kind eyes and a quick-to-wag tail. According to the meteorologists, Pune is officially in a heat wave: “no let up,” “temperatures soaring to 42.3,” “the highest in April since 1897,” the Times has been shouting all week.
Running up the narrow trail to the ridge this morning I pass a pack of six dogs, trotting self-importantly along the trail. When I get up the ridge there is another group of dogs, foraging under cactus plants and brush excitedly, tales erect. Today my run takes me out on a ridge I’ve yet to explore. I catch the trail below the Vetal Tekdi and run a somewhat wider path behind the wall of the Automotive Research Association of India, a sprawling campus that, like many older building complexes in India, has seen better days.
The trail breaks left and I run across the reforested hillside. I’m more aware now, after months of running the ridges above Pune, that firewood collection is making it more difficult for these trees to establish themselves. Out here, away from the main trail, there are fewer walkers, and more broken limbs and chopped stumps, on a ridgeline accessible by trails that snake down into the city slums.
Cresting another hump in the ridge, soaked now with sweat, I come across another pack of dogs out hunting. They register my presence, but mostly ignore me, as they trot in formation down the narrow dirt path. Farther out on the ridge I can see two Hindu temples–with large orange flags above them blowing in the wind. Further out, perhaps a destination for another day, another radio tower. Prayer bells ring in the distance, male and female peacocks call to each other, and agitated crows caw and caw and caw. It is hot and dry and windy. When I reach a place where the roads diverge in the wood, I feel no sorrow, don’t hesitate, and am willing to bet that the road I take will make little difference, whether on tomorrow’s run or somewhere ages and ages hence.