The daily sports world of Delhi’s middle class

Lodhi garden, Delhi
Lodhi garden, Delhi

 When you arrive the first time in an Indian city  like Delhi you might wonder if people here do outdoor sports. And if so, where? Of course, most of the Indian people (95% percent of the population are unorganized workers) certainly have other problems to solve first and to see how to make money to cover their basic needs. But still, the middle class and rich people, millions of people in India, live here in the big cities, adapting their lives to an office style and an “artificial” sports engagement: Mass sports for the middle and upper class – an invention of modern life only. 

So, what about these middle-class people, those who in the last decades suffer more and more from obesity issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases due to the Western lifestyle they have adapted? How to digest fast food, long stays in the offices, opulent meals with business colleagues and friends? Starbucks, McDonald and Co combined with the Indian fried dishes are not the healthiest way of life. For sure. I wonder how do they manage themselve, I mean in terms of running, walking, exercising outdoor? Where are the spaces to do so? It is very rare that you see someone running along the crowdy streets – and to be clear: with this traffic and the busy roads, often without sidewalks, many bugs, broken holes, stones, the hundred thousand of Rikshas, cycles, Tuk Tuks you have to be somehow crazy to do so. Just imagine to run through Old Delhi … Maybe possible at 3am morning time only. 

But there are other parts in the city, not really touristic ones, where the middle class lives. Here you find people bringing their dog for a morning walk, leash-conducted. A few jogging people, too. Not the mass, but visible. Do they all have their own inhouse facilities? Do they just train in studios? 

Then I discover them. In New Delhi. In the park, early morning time, 8.00 o’clock. A few hours before a lot of tourists will be here.  When I drop into the Lodhi garden in New Delhi, I’m surprised: This park has some fascinating old buildings and in some travel books you can read about it…that’s why I stopped here. But I did not expect to enter into the sports world of Delhi’s middle class. 

 I can’t believe it. It is really crowdy. Hundreds of people are busy with all kind of exercises: Body building, stretching, running, playing squash, meditation… Some of them train on their own, others have a personal trainer or meet in groups. Modern Nike and Adidas dresses. All the other brands are represented, too. 

On the small pathways in middle of all people, around the large green meadows, where everyone is looking for the right space you feel like in Europe, right before a marathon start. People of all ages, entire families, friends. Ambitious, really sporty ones and those who probably just come because of health issues. 

However, it is worth to come and see. To learn and know also the other site of India, the one that is not often described  in travel books and guides. Nor in media reports about India. Average middle class people in India are very modern – modern, as we people from the West perceive modern lifestyle. With all its advantages, but healthy disadvantages, too – due to too much wealth and modern office life. 

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