Sunday, September 13, 2009

Noel da Lima Leitao

This Sunday morning I received an email from my friend Victor informing me that our school friend Noel had died. Just like that. I read it a couple of times before it sank in. Slowly, I was hit with a sadness that weighed me down that I sat for a long time reflecting on a life that had just ended.

It was a cold wintry March day in 1967 at St Joseph's College, Nainital that I first met Noel. We were in grade 4. Life's success in those days was counted on the number of marbles one had or who had the best fountain pen ( we had just graduated from pencils to pens).I remember he had the biggest "bunta" Anyone remember what that is ?( the striker marble)

Noel was a natural athlete and this was evident not only on the "futta" and hockey fields but even in track and field. He always played full back for St Francis ( Nehru house), the house he eventually Captained in his final year. His kicks always crossed the half line. Little did we know that one day he would dominate the Indian football( soccer) scene as a commentator par excellence.In the evenings in the lockers after a gruelling games period one would find him working with the bull worker and he always had a witty comment on any situation.

He excelled in academics as well passing out with an enviable 7 points in the ISC exams. I recollect English essays were tough in school... I once got 35/50 from Bro O'Shea and I pranced about the class assuming mine was the best till I happened to glance at Noel's paper. It was lying on his desk and he was not even bothered and was busy talking with some one elsewhere in class-- he had been marked 39/50.

Noel was easily a class apart. Athletic supremacy, futta and hockey skills, academic brilliance, confidence and style. I would give him a 10 all through. Rarely does one come across such an individual. I last met him in 1985 in Goa and my wife described him as a character right out of a mills & boon when she saw him striding towards us dressed in full white from a six cylinder vintage car.

Today even as I write this, I know preparations are underway for Noel's funeral. Though we know that this is a fact but my mind refuses to accept the reality. It is hard to forget you my friend but we will meet again on the other side, only this time I aim to have a bigger "bunta" than yours.

Rest in peace, Noel.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Aayush leaves for the University of Waterloo

It was a momentous day for Aayush. The day he officially starts life on his own (to an extent).There would be no more parental nagging to tidy up/ get up/ go to sleep /shower/ do his home work... this could go on & on. From this day on he makes his own choices (to an extent..:))

You can see him in the pic on top standing next to the van all loaded up just before we drove him to Waterloo

He started his day by staying with his best friend "Young" and judging by the fact that they were inseperable over the last 5 years -- it must be tough on both of them to arrive at this fork in their lives and experience the feelings of going their seperate ways.

Early in the day we played tennis @ Frank Mckenie. Aayush smashed me 6-0 ( I had the racquet with broken strings). Not sure when we will play next -- the good thing is that with a 6-0 loss I can only get better -- I have hit rock bottom.

The days leading to his departure for the univ were spent on chosing or discarding all the little pieces of trivia / books and clothes that have been part of his schoooling and teenage life so far. His small room was strewn with cartons which needed to be packed.. I could make out that it was not an easy job as he sifted through years of "stuff" each one bringing back some memories and then having to make a decision to retain or discard...

Later in the day when we dropped him at Beck hall, he was whisked away by the students and staff who got him involved with the initiation activities. Anita, Ant & me tinkered around in his room trying to set it up -- which we did but I later wondered if Aayush had any inkling of what had been so carefully stowed where in his new room. Like he said as he rushed off-- " I will figure it out with common sense..." and was gone

Hopefully we have guided him well so that he can stand confidently on his own in a world that is bound to present him with his fair share of challenges and opportunities.
Good luck Aayush!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Alfredo the cabbie

Every once in a while you meet a person who really appeals to you from the way he / she talks and conducts himself/herself. We met such a person at Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. As soon as we came ashore, we ran into a horde of cabby's all offering us a ride to the beaches and the world famous Atlantis hotel whose rooms were priced at an outrageous $25k a night. We walked through the horde and a little distance away stood a cabbie dressed as all cabby's were -- white bush shirt and a dark trouser. He came forward and said "Welcome to my country" The way he said that, mesmerised me and we did not even question the fare or the destination. We went with the flow. We got in and he started to give us a guided tour on the way to our destination. All through his monologue his genuineness came across loud and clear and we swallowed every word he told us. There was respect in his demeanour and when he dropped us off at our destination he advised us where we could get a ride back. To this day I kick myself for not taking a pic of him. He was by far the greatest cabbie I have had. If you happen to go to the Bahamas-- ask for Alfredo!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ever Take a Real Vacation...??

Last week we took a cruise vacation to the Bahamas on board the Majesty of The Seas

These ships are monsters - actually floating cities stacked 14 decks high with pools, shopping arcades, resturants, tons of sporting activities and more importantly -- bars in every nook and cranny

Here is Antrix trying to do a Daniel Craig,,,,

& then Aayush gave it a shot too

Anita found a picture perfect shot for herself at Coco-Cay-- I swear I have seen this in a calender somewhere before.

Back on board the Majesty of the Seas, I did some rock climbing ..( please note that I reached the top and rang the bell-- a round of applause please!!

Aayush and I did some para-sailing on Key-West

We also cycled past the Hemingway House-- Remember Ernest Hemingway of the "Old man & the Sea" fame. The house is cozily tucked away in Key West on Whitehead street

& finally we stood at the Southern most tip of the US before we took the ship back to Miami

Some stupid questions that first time cruisers asked of the staff on board
1. Stupid Q: Where does the electricity on the ship come from
Stupid A: There is a cable running from all the way from Miami to the ship...

2 Stupid Q: Do these stairs go up or down
Stupid A: ?!

3.Stupid Q: Where do the staff sleep while at sea
Stupid A: We fly them in on shifts from Miami

For anyone not initiated into the world of cruising-- take one -- I gaurantee you , you will be hooked. We cannot wait to take our next cruise.