Normally when I land in the gulf I spend all my time browsing or eating. But today the net and the lebanese restaurant took a back seat to the Court Chatriere at Rolland Garros. See-saw. Bizzare. Spell-binding. By the last set even my dad and cousin, who know as much about Tennis as err... the Pope knows about bellydancing, were glued to the TV screen. An hour into the match it was looking like a cakewalk for Coria. Two sets and not even a hint of sweat. Gaudio looked like the proverbial "UAE in a cricket world cup". Two and a half hours later it was Gaudio lofting the winners trophy. I think the commentators said it best when he said it was the battle of an emotionally challenged Gaudio with a physically challenged Coria. Do read up on all the action and catch the highlights if you havent seen it already. Strength of character by the bucketful. And the crowd did its bit too.
I have grave fears about Air India's plans for a new no-frills aircraft. I planed down by Gulf Air's cheap service (called Gulf Traveller) and it was absolutely atrocious. An hour after takeoff I was relieved they had given us seats to sit on. It had nothing else. Shoddy indifferent service, lousy food and horribly appointed aircraft. (I had no idea I had booked the nofrills instead of the normal one with all the trimmings.) I can only imagine what Air India would come up with. The Human Cannonball technique? ("Namaskar, welcome aboard. Now please wear this helmet and wriggle in... BOOM!!! Ahlan wa Sahlan bikum fi al Abu Dhabi...)
Had to account for excess baggage at Mumbai. Thankfully using my new found aggro persona was able to stash away 7 kilos in the left luggage kiosk at the airport. For the unaware the aggro thing happened during summers. While it was developed solely to be unleashed on HR, it was further extended to include banks that do not cash checks. No more mister nice guy. I am pissed, I want it my way, right now, right here, if it is ok with you.
Customs is a breeze when your leaving India. When you re-enter those guys really earn their pay. Which reminds me of another of my sparks of brilliance from the past. (Its been a season for embarassing memories hasnt it?) A long time ago when Dad was building our home back in Kerala. We were on our annual leave from Abu Dhabi. The bag was full of stuff for the new home, fittings, electric stuff, some electronics for the relatives and all. Nothing of the Varadaraja Mudaliar ilk but substantial nonetheless.
Now I was a well brought up NRI kid. Which made me a dumb!@#$ by normal Indian standards. I once asked a family aquaintance called Krishnaswamy if he was Hindu. (See, for us in the gulf, if it wasn't taught in shool, we didn't know it.) I have made a fool of myself back home so many times as a child, I could start a blog and write about it. I once went to a Hindu wedding with my dad. I was sitting at the reception, where a man went around with some yellow paste in a bowl. It smelled sweetish to me. He came in front of me and handed out a tea spoon with some of the paste. I opened my mouth for him to drop the sweet in.
It did the neighbour's gossip rounds for months. The liquid was sandalwood paste to apply on your forehead. Everyone knew that accept for the stupid phoren kid out on his first local wedding.
Oh yes back to the airport. We had landed in Mumbai and my dad was trying to slither his way past Customs. Alas it was not to be. A smartly dressed chap in crisp whites stopped us and asked dad if we had anything dutiable, anything electronic? My dad gave us all a glance and had almost uttered the words "Nothing at all sir. Only clothes for the family..." He was way too slow.
I did it again. "Yes uncle. We have calculators, light switches, dimmers, cables,..." I was the smart kid. What could I do? Even today the memory haunts me and makes my dad count till 25 atleast. We managed to make it out with little damage. Our things for the new home were intact. The home today boasts of some spiffy fitting by the early nineties' standards.
Thats the least that can be said for my self esteem and "playful childhood memories". Now I have learnt to keep my mouth shut and not tell anyone how stupid I really was.