Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BB is back in B(ombay)

Hi folks,

Sorry for the longish silence. I'm back in Bombay for some quality weeks with the aged M & P. My time here always follows the same pattern, and that is part of the pleasure -- harmonizing my schedule with parents' so I get to see as much of them as possible. That includes rising very early (how early you ask? do you really want to know? something like 5.30 am...) and getting to the club by about 6.30.  There I have two choices. Follow my mother to the gym (while she does a stately walk on the treadmill, I sweat it out on one of those elliptical torture machines). Or follow my father to the tennis courts. There another ritual unfolds. You leave your racket on a court to claim it. The you sit and wait while a number of other pretty old members wander in, and begin a ritual mating dance of tennis partners -- sometimes there are regular groups, but often it's like a high school dance for the 70 + set with me, the youngster, tagging along.

I'm not really good at tennis, but there is something sublime about the mornings there. It's hot, but the harder you play and the more out of breath you are, the more you begin to notice things. First off that damn ball flying right at you (right at you because people are polite enough to hit the ball in your direction if you're a weaker player), but also the trees, the fallen leaves and flowers, the bird calls...

It's fun and frustrating to be transformed into a child again -- a baby or a baba. The oldest baba I've seen is a 55 year old man who was with his 80+ father. Although now that I think about it, my mother is still "baby" when she is with older relatives and she a little beyond 70...  Everyone treats me like I'm between 18 and 22. Sometimes this is nice (to be that age again!) other times less so (when people speak about you in third person while you're present -- mental note, must never do this to children older than 10 -- it's quite annoying...) 

A few other particularities of how things are done:
* No one fetches their own balls. There are ball boys for the that. And they get annoyed if you do their work, because if they do it then you have to tip them afterwards.
* You get service in the terrace cafe by ringing a little brass bell on your tables. The waiters uniformly ignore the ringing bells, but one rings anyway. One gets service by employing a series of coded signals that range from snapping, clapping, something between shushing and shouting... I usually have to wait quite a while to get served...

Another few days of the being the baby in the house before I'm off to Paris and Basel!

Hope all your summers have started well!




Anonymous said...

...Really this sounds like a scene from a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel with a Bombay twist!

Keeping fingers crossed that we shall be eating some carrort cake at Rose bakery à Paris!!


drooga said...

where does your dad play tennis?!

the bell on the table is a time honored tradition at clubs, and i am now seriously jonesing for the club snacks. have chole bhathure, some fries, some tikkas for me will you.

Bombay Beauty said...

At the Willy, just like me, although I'm the youngest by about 40 years! Have seriously snacked on your account! Will now have to sweat it out as well! BB

howler said...

dunno how the drooga handle crept in - this is howler.

anyway, the 'willy' used to be my club too. piece of advice - get your membership! i let mine go in an intensely socialist phase and now have to go bug people to sign my kids in.

are they still serving the 'kejriwal'?

Bombay Beauty said...

Hey Howerlji, have never let myself succumb to my socialist phases -- the one thing to bind oneself to with hoops of steel (and which even a socialist needs) is a good club membership. The aged P nominated me when I turned the right age, and so now I can ring the bell and sign the chit on my own account...

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