Wednesday, December 29, 2010

148 hours(II)

Such a breather, some plane finally took off with me and Gill in it. Heavy rosed cheeks of singaporian girls gave a full blown smile showing our seats and served hot wet towels to scrub off the fag of the day. I cosily took refuge on the middle seat taking turns between watching movies and eloping with Andre in his Autobiography Open.

The book was a real fun read especially when Andre walked me through all his grand slam experiences and opponent mind reading strategies .He started off the game hitting tennis balls all day thrown at him at full speeds by the dragon machine designed by his father. He would get strong bashing whenever the ball hit the net. He hated it and would do anything to foreclose it returning each serve impeccably. That explains why he was one of the best returners of the millennium. Pete, in contrast, was the best server.Need to read him to explain that. He made his career through hard work in contrast with Andre being a prodigy.The most intriguing part of all was Andre doing so well in Tennis despite disliking it to his core.

His book has emphasized one biggie everywhere - The attitude is what governs winning or loosing.He was so inconsistent attributed to up downs of his life. When he was happy,inspired, motivated and had faith in himself, he achieved the infeasible. His love stories with Brooke Shields and Stefanie Graffe were very amusing and engaging. How he started with Brooke just through fax for weeks when she was in Africa for shoots,no crushes or interests whatsoever but ending up in commitment. This didn't prove to be happy and understanding relationship though.Being in different professions and unable to enter each other's comfort zones, their inter personal chemistry got pretty messed up ending in a divorce.

Andre's solid crush on Stefanie Graffe got a full blown revival after his break up with Brooke. It's just that Stefanie didnt give him a damn before and he didn't push it hard enough before. Experience with Brooke gave him lessons in handling girls and winning four grand slams & Olympics confidence. The words of his coach "Only you and Stefanie have been able to win all grand slams and Olympics, you both are meant to be together" got engraved in his heart and soul.

His coach persuaded Stefanie's in to making her play a few shots with Andre as a practice match. He then takes off his shirt to show off his body and seduce her. He starts cooling down exercises with her on the net although never done before to chit-chat and watch out for her fair slim legs. Initially hesitant in meeting Andre in public,being committed to a German racer guy, she slowly starts responding to bait once Andre gives her a personal surprise birthday card.

His one liner of "we are meant to be together" gave the final requisite blow for commitment. She and the chartiable school foundation gave him enough adrenaline to ward off his hatred for tennis. He started playing professionally as a kid and continued his career till 36 years of his life given the fact that most of the tennis players retire at the age of 30. His whole life was irony.

The book also talks about how his family and friends helped him survive all fatal blows of his life and most importantly his trainer Gill. Once you have love and support, you can come out of any emotional abyss. That explains his come back again and again.

When I finished my trip with Andre, the plane had already landed with no skidding to my surprise on the icy -10 C grounds of Moscow . I was supposed to hop on and off the plane passing through so called farzi security check. Moscow airport seemed like one of the most ancient of its kind portraying the look of a black and white movie of 1950's.I felt like taking a time travel machine with Andre and ending up in the wrong millennium.

The lousy baggage check machine at security check point looked like the first most advanced of its kin installed by Stalin and never changed since. Nobody even asked to take out our laptops or electronics from the bag. Everything looked just like the ritual to appease the old beast machine watching out for Moscow.The tattooed russian girl was just sitting by the side of it,not that she could do anything if a situation demands so except saying NO to camera clicks, fearing that the people would know their crummy lousy security.

Every native looked drunken with red puffed eyes and were walking like live zombies. No wonder that most of the shops were selling liquor and cigarettes. May be that's the only thing they do after Tennis and Math.

As everything else, even the check in seemed like a formality. Singaporian airlines announced for business class boarding, but checked in every class together, carpeting whatsoever for the business class people seemed too far fetched lest they reach safely without a knock out.There was no concept of a queue. The boarding gate looked like the tip of a triangle, everybody converging towards it. No body would even care to apologize if they stumped on you while rushing through. Welcome to Russia!!!

The next move was made from Russian federation to Singapore, the second part of my journey. Russians seemed like carnivores with an acute shortage of vegetarian food. The only food I got was boiled brocolli and some oiled boiled squash and Zucchini. I can definitely scrap Russia for my to be in places list.Going in the city and watch out for the living style of this species would be fun though.

We finally landed to Singapore airport finding such a stark difference. The airport was heavily carpeted anywhere and everywhere and gyms, swimming pools and massage chairs sitting everywhere. Go to the information center and get access for free internet,What more do you want from a airport. No long queues for the check in as every gate had its own security check. I was curious how much money did they shell out for springing up the giant. Even had a well planned guided cultural tour of the city for the people having stop overs.

The government has ensured housing and jobs to every citizen. I presume a lot comes from serving at the airport itself and serving at coast. They claim to have the busiest port in the whole world. Like US, this country also doesn't have natives and a old history to talk about. Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and the mixed breeds make majority of the population. Even the city is organized as China Town, India town and Malay town but thats more due to divide and rule policy of british again. Now that seems to have dissolved more or less.

I came back to the aiport after a 2 hour city/country trip and just lied down on the massage chair for a while and got off only at the boarding time to find myself upgraded for the business class to adjust some family. I seated myself on the cosy big chair with Zen and the art of motorscycle maintainence. When the damsel came to ask for the drink, I ordered my favourite spicy tomato juice which goes with bloody mary mix name in states not making myself clear about the mocktail. I received a concoction of vodka and tomato juice instead for obvious reasons.Sip by sip the lethargy swept over only to find myself woken up in Bangalore by the noise of people getting down. The long awaited moment finally arrived.

PS: This is my first photo blog. Thanks to Anush and Michelle for inspiration.

Monday, December 27, 2010

148 hours(I)

The heat of the Inde trip was on. One by one I bade adieu to all my room mates. Packing up the work left overs all week, the day finally came when gill called to ride over the GREY HOUND (inter-city bus) and catch over the BA flight from Houston.

Seemed like a fine day and a good start with fresh brownies baked by Nani. Weather also seemed promising with sufficient warmth in the air. The bus took a country side route and we could see large people and fields driving large trucks. Thats Texas....

The hound didn't like running on the highway, so we got off his back and took a classy 15 $ bus ride from downtown. Asit tuned out, it ran for us only with no other passengers. Feeling loyal, spirits high, we hopped off the airport. The strangest of its kind, the airport had as minimal signs as they could go with. Problems began their jouney with us from here itself. We moved around in the lousy elevator checking different floors for the counter of British airways until one fine lady told us the way.

Dragging the trolley to the counter, screens with red words were blinking at us mercilessly "FLIGHT IS CANCELLED. No INDE TRIP for next few days, snow storm in full wave".

"Brothers wedding was all the motivation of making the trip, take us poor souls away from this trouble post of london. Send us through the gulf we even don't mind going via moon or mars if we reach to our Inde. This will be a chain disaster of all the upcoming plans to bangy, kurg and mysore. This is not what we wanted, we longed for a beautiful lovely vacation with the family beneath the woods in the middle of coffee fields."we remarked.

The kind angelica did all exhaustive searches and weather predictions to get as through as fast as possible. She finally came up with a flight 2 days later with Lufthansa that will fly us untouched amidst all storms eating up British Airways,Air France and KLM flight schedules. Sad,melancholy souls waited and waited for 2 days at Sheraton and when the happy night before the departure day came, gill just checked Luthansa for next day, eyes got a sudden roll over.

Multiple refreshes, multiple checks every minute, checks on different sites -all gave the same result. "Frankfurt is closed due to heavy snow storm, We apologize for the inconvenience caused.. The direction of the storm has taken as sudden turn."

"Are we spending quater vaction in Sheraton Houston itself?" Gill remarked.

Lord of Rings echoed on the walls of my brain
"But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow in the waters that was soon lost in the West. There he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-Earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart."

Then another echo came in....

"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil."

And so the swords were reforged and we prepared for the (hopefully)last battle of middle hoston boarding the bus for another grand slam. British airways lined all the broken hearts in queue whose sluggishness even beat the tortoise. It took them 7 hours to process 14 people. God knows if they were learning to operate the software or what.I was the first to sit down and munch on the left over novel but then everyone followed the suit.

The german girls even did some yoga exertions to keep their calm. When we finally reached, we received an awesome itinerary supposed to start after 2 days.

It seemed like a never ending journey of Gondor to Mordor. The singapore airlines would first take us to their home land not through PACIFIC but rather through ATLANTIC doing global bhraman locomoting over the old Caucasus Mountains of cold Russia then going over the top of our home land. The exit of the plane I never dared to use would have been so instrumental if only I had taken some sky diving lessons. Then a 7 hour hiatus for the next flight to Inde from Singapore. With no option left and too scared to take any european airlines, this seemed like the way to go.

The gladiators were again taken back to the three star cell. Seemed to settle down in our pseudo home, we started exploring other possibilites for food with only pasta as the pure veggie option for 2 last days "Can u remove the beef from the burger and replace it with guacamule" or "Can you take off the chicken peices from Quesadillas". Lets watch out for the work out options now that we are eating a lot of cheesy greasy stuff. Harsha and Pranav came to bail us out for an hour drive for beer and show us the city glamor. To our dismay, the clubs around looked pretty shady, so planned to come back. Though had a pretty good time chit-chatting over beer.

We left very early next day to get the first in line in case flight gets cancelled but finally stars took our side and this flight luckily was on time. Checking in seemed the best thing in the world at the moment .

PS:Credits for the namesake blog title stole from 127 Hours movie to my friend Pranav Bhandarkar. Name rings bells of a movie director but he is the Namesake of our gang leader Pranav Karve .