June 23, 2016
Our lives are invariably defined by various moments. Amongst all of them, for many of us perhaps 'humour' makes it to the top. It's certainly on the top of my list, as being a jovial type of person I have had hearty laughs all along my life's journey including having jokes cracked on myself. 'Life's amusing moments' is my collection of a few instances where life has been a tad hilarious. Humour rocks!
"Life's amusing moments are to recollect and smile …
Funny instances which makes one's life worthwhile!"
The Titanic Exhibition:
In October 2010, we visited the Melbourne Exhibition Centre where a Titanic Exhibition was in progress. It was a stunning replica of the Titanic Ship that was on its maiden voyage in April 1912 from Southampton, England to New York, United States when it was lost in the Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg with over 1500 people dead. From the entrance of the Ocean Linerwhich was a scaled-down version of the Ship's bow, we spent a good couple of hours touring the length and breadth of the Ship. We journeyed through the full-size recreation of the Ship's grand staircase and made our way through scale model hallways entering the passenger gallery, first class stateroom and third class cabin gallery. Along the way, we viewed restorations of Titanic furniture, besides actual clothing and personal belongings of the passengers and skimmed through nearly 280 artefacts recovered from the wreckage at the bottom of the sea bed in 1985 that included perfume bottles, clothes, cups and plates imprinted with the White Star Line logo. There was precious jewellery and lost personal items such as glasses that gave us an idea of what the passengers carried. The display also had a piece of the Ship's hull and we even had an opportunity to press our palms against an 'iceberg' in the 'Iceberg Gallery.'
The entry tickets were a 'Replica Boarding Pass' bearing the name of an actual passenger who was on-board the Ship. I was 21 year old Frederick Edward Giles from Cornwall, England travelling with my twin brother Edgar to Camden in New Jersey to join our older brother John who had found work as a professional horse trainer there.
We were told at the Boarding that we will discover our fate at the end of the exhibition. Nearing the culmination of the exhibition, we enter the Memorial Gallery, where a wall of names reveals whether the actual person on our boarding pass survived the voyage or not. To my disappointment, I discover I did not make it whereas my wife Rhoda Mary Abbott and all our children survived. However, we all agreed it was well worth the journey.
A FEEDBACK session follows any event in this part of the world. The purpose of this is to get the reaction straight from the concerned as to their experiences. The feedback will then be reviewed and the necessary action taken to plug the gaps if warranted. This Exhibition was no exception.
While exiting the Titanic on land, I was greeted by a gentleman for the feedback. I let my family proceed to the gift-shop in the meantime. There were five questions in all whereby I had to rate the exhibition on a scale of 1 to 10 - higher the number, higher the rating and lower down the scale, the rating was for 'least satisfaction.' I gave a rating of 8 to all those questions, giving due credit to where it deserved. Then, the gentleman sheepishly asked, 'If you have anything else to add, you may say it in 3 or 4 sentences' and as I nodded, he held his small tape-recorder close to my mouth.
My three/four sentences were more or less on the following lines:
1] The British always think they are smart but in reality they are not and this disaster is a perfect example.
2] If it were today, the Ship would have been built in Japan and the stuff inside would all be Chinese.
3] If an Indian Captain was at the helm, he would not be partying, rather concentrating on his job being aware the area was iceberg prone and would have detected the iceberg in advance diverting the Ship, thus avoiding the mishap.
As a result, almost after 100 years, you and I would not be meeting here in the first place and moreover the 1500 plus lives would have been saved. Thank you!
I walked away without looking back to see whether the gentleman taking my feedback was still standing.
It was the academic year 1986-87. History was being made in the city's prestigious St Aloysius College with the arrival of female students. With the presence of colourful birds on the Campus, everyone was in high spirits. The extra-curricular activities became vibrant, brimming with attendance. The staff had already gone co-ed with Madam Louella D'Souza joining the Commerce Department before the first set of girls tapped-in, setting the stage for the Campus to go colourful but it took another four years overcoming all odds to see the day finally dawn. Come September 5: Occasion - Teachers Day; Location - Centenary Ground; Event - Football Match between Lecturers and Students' Council. The ground was full, with students on the top of the hill, on the side of the bushes and everywhere watching a game. And there was lot of noise …!
The Referee, our English Lecturer Roulston Macedo blew the whistle and the ball got kicked from the middle of the ground and the match commenced. If the Students' Council team thought the game was a piece of cake, they were sadly mistaken. The reality was the Lecturers had the upper hand throughout the first half putting the Students' under immense pressure. Ligoury Menezes on the left flank, Ralph Mascarenhas on the right, Benjamin D'Souza in the centre kept on attacking and we youngsters looked so silly. On the far end, the opposition Goal Keeper Louella with navy blue tracks appeared calm and relaxed whereas our Goal Keeper was sweating in his pants!
Score at interval: 0-0. The second-half whistle blew. There was a change of ends. The Lecturers still on the top again and then there was a GOAL!! Lecturers had taken a 1-0 lead. Goodness! What they might have eaten that day to keep the stamina going?
...And then after a while this happened. Suddenly, I noticed the ball coming towards me from nowhere inside our own half. I was the Centre Forward of the Students' Council team and in a flash started running as fast as I could with the ball in tow. Looking around and finding no one in the vicinity from our team to pass the ball, decided to go solo clearing their defences. Dribbled one, dribbled two and got past the third with sheer speed … only Madam Louella with her outstretched hands to beat at a distance to level the score. Simultaneously, there was an attempted tackle from behind which made me momentarily lose control of the ball - soon recovered to execute the all-important kick, just outside the 'D.' The kick was muted at the point of impact as a foot came in-between! I for one tripped and skidded towards the goalpost and halted just before entering it, as the ball rebounded to the side line simultaneously.
When I looked up, the blue-tracks-goalie was between the sky and me. It was Madam Louella meeting my eyes, utterly confused in that split second whether I was the ball or where was the ball? She however quickly noticed the ball bouncing over the side line and made sure she did not pick my head for the ball instead.
Our PT Master Benjamin ran in to give me a high-five after pulling me up from the ground, patting my back to indicate that he was apologetic for that rude tackle that took my whole body and soul almost inside the goal-post and had the spectators laughing in splits. The remainder of the game was played and the final whistle blew. The Lecturers had won 1-0... in fact we handed over the win to them as it was Teachers' Day.
'Madam Louella - wherever you are, hope you are a star and these good wishes are coming by, with the best of your health on high,'… and thank you for those memories!
Bucket and Mug Story:
In 2003, we went to Thailand on holidays - my wife, our little daughter and I. Late evening, we checked into our hotel in downtown Bangkok. With my daughter's bath due, I called the Room Service for a bucket and a mug as there wasn't any in the bathroom. My daughter Fay being just over 2 years old then, was used to have her bath in lukewarm water with the help of the bucket and mug as she was not exposed to the shower as yet.
The doorbell rang. There stood the room service boy with a Children's Potty and a Bathtub Mat on either hand. I was perplexed. 'This was not I asked for,' I said. He wanted to know what was that we were asking for. Since he could not understand my English, I took the pain of drawing a wonderful bucket and a mug that we wanted. Hailing from a family of Engineers and Architects, my drawing was near perfect. He seemed to understand as he carried the artistic paper with him.
After sometime, the doorbell rang again. This time, a totally different room service boy was at the door with a Wash Tub and a Step Stool in his hands. Looking at it, I was baffled and this is how I reacted. I took my daughter into the bathroom, pretended to give her a bath and did some dumb-charades in which I excelled in College, demonstrating to him what I really wanted. The room service boy seemed convinced and went away and I for one was confidant this time he could not get that wrong.
After a while when he came back, I couldn't believe my own eyes – with a Sieve in hand. I was flabbergasted... advised him to take that away and not to worry. He seemed to indicate that they may not be havingthose 'things' that we were asking for. That evening, Fay had the first shower bath of her life, luckily seem to enjoy it and all went well.
If you would think the people at the Front Desk of the Hotel were any better in English, you would be wrong. Excuse the Thais, the country was never colonised in history and thus we cannot blame them for their ignorance of the English language.
Saying 'Hi' to neighbours:
In Abu Dhabi, UAE, our former abode, I took nearly 5 years to get my driving licence. From the day I got my licence however, it did not take long to purchase my new Car with the interest free loan at my workplace and coupled to that the various deductions I was eligible for, being a federal government employee that brought the car price drastically down. From then on, I sort of became a chauffeur for many of my friends for whom I was more than glad to drive around.
A friend of mine had recently got married and his wife was on her way to Abu Dhabi to join him. My friend and I were in the Airport to fetch her. I dropped them to their place and my friend insisted I have coffee and go. In all concentration when we were having a chat in the sitting room since it was quite a while since we had caught up, we all along assumed the lady was at home doing something somewhere.
Since there was no noise for a long time, we began to really wonder whether she was in the house in the first place. My friend panicked as his wife had just arrived; the place was new to her and as to what might have happened!
When we came out of the door of the Apartment, in search of her, we realised, a door on the same floor of flats open and a lady exit from there saying 'bye' and approaching the Apartment opposite reaching for the doorbell. It was indeed my friend's wife and my friend called out and she calmly advised us. 'You people continue with your chat. I will be back soon. I am visiting all our neighbours and saying Hi.'
It took a while for my friend to convince her that this was not Mangaluru and he himself does not know who resides in the said three flats on the floor. And returning, thinking about it, I was having a hearty laugh sipping more and more coffee ….
True to her nature, however, over time she had made friends not only with all the neighbours on the floor but also with people who were residing on the top and lower levels. The neighbours also appeared to be happy that they had a cheery person around, especially a nurse for any emergencies.
Staying with the nurses–
Once, I was visiting a hospital to see my friend's father, who was admitted there having met with an accident,injuring his leg.
My friend had come down and was at his father' side. He had just finished his Engineering in Mysore and I was having a tête-à-tête with him. The two patients on either side were having a conversation as well. The gentleman's daughter on the next bed of my friend's father was a nurse in the same hospital.
The gentleman asked my friend's dad as to what his son was pursuing. When my friend's dad replied he had just completed his BE and was looking for a job, the other man did not seem amused at all and proudly proclaimed that his daughter had pursued SSLCPUC and that too he prolonged it with brief pauses between each letter, repeating it twice (that according to him was a longer degree) that put the mere two lettered BE to shame!
Brown Indian Balls:
In one of the evening parties, we along with our friends were seated on a table having dinner. My second daughter Jill was the first to finish and also had a serve of desserts that followed. A little later, she went away for something only to return with a grumpy face. When asked as to what was the matter, she said she wanted to have more of those 'brown Indian balls' and requested me to get it for her. Being a bit puzzled and confused at the same time as to what was she demanding in the first place; I accompanied her to the far corner of the big hall where the desserts were placed.
As we reached the desserts table, I for one could not help bursting into laughter looking at those 'brown Indian balls' which she was asking for more. She was pointing to the Gulab Jamuns! When it came to sweets, my wife and she fell into the same category. She had actually finished her quota and wanted more. I had to help her out with my quota of her favourite brown Indian balls. It was a new term coined by the then four year old who was born in Abu Dhabi and being bred in Melbourne. Yep! 'Brown Indian Balls' is indeed the English phrase for the mouth-watery Gulab Jamuns. Check the Oxford English Dictionary.
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