“…And The Party Begins in Mumbai!”

“We’re so late!”

“No, we are not.”

“I warned you about the traffic.”

“We’ll be fine, relax.”

“I told you we should’ve left earlier!”

“You’re just nervous, we’ll be in the box before the toss, promise.”

Thus continued my rant(of which I am not particularly proud, to say the least) all the way to the Wankhede Stadium. You see, on April 2nd, 2011 all roads led to one place, and place only……to the venue of the ICC Cricket World Cup Final in Mumbai. Millions of eager fans world-over were ready to watch this ultimate game on screen, at home, in bars, outside store windows, anywhere that they could catch a glimpse of this match.

Since we’re in the warm up to the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019, I had to reminisce about my trip to the hottest and most coveted seat of that glorious day in 2011.

Inside the stadium which was filled to its capacity with 42,000 pumped-up spectators, I couldn’t hear a thing, and apparently neither could the match referee. He made MS Dhoni (our legendary Indian Captain) toss the coin twice, which led to a lot of confusion.

“Is he serious?”

“Dhoni said he wanted to bat first, and then he makes him toss again?”

“This can’t be a good omen!”

The Sri Lankan captain eventually won the toss on the second attempt and decided to bat first. They scored a decent 274.

“You wanna grab a bite? The spread looks amazing,” offered my husband in the innings break.

“I couldn’t get a morsel in, even if I wanted to.”

“If the first wicket holds for 15 overs, we win!” predicted a cousin.

“They need to get a blazing start, then build it from there,” countered my other cousin.

Live commentary and fervent discussions were on amongst all our family who were watching this spectacle together there.

When our first wicket fell, I swear you could hear even a pin drop. And I immediately fled from the box (which now, felt like a box of nervousness) and paced the empty hallways outside, chanting. My heart summersaulted with every reaction from the crowd.

I can’t believe I missed going to the temple today. Today of all days. Wait. Am I speaking to myself? BREATHE….in….out…in….out

Oooooooh….followed by a long silence!

This can’t be good!

NOOOO, another wicket!

BREATHE….

I should return home….

Wait, the tickets were too hard to get, no way, I’m not going anywhere.

More pacing. More praying.

“Hey come on in. It’ll be okay, we still have a few players left.”

“No no I can’t watch it, Let me be, please,” I urged

And so continued the game inside and me pacing, playing guessing games, trying to gauge the crowd’s reaction while praying. After some time and the fall of yet another wicket, I heard the one name that had me halting mid step. I rushed in, not wanting to miss a single glimpse of my favourite sportsman in the whole world, MS Dhoni.

“He promoted himself up the order?!”

“Looks like it.”

We couldn’t hear a word over the cheering crowd. “DHONI! DHONI! DHONI!” continued the chanting. If I thought I was the only Dhoni fanatic, I was so wrong. Yet, the obvious edginess was palpable all over the stadium. Cricket is a team sport where every player has a role to play, but for me in this mayhem (or on any other day actually) MS Dhoni was the man. His calm and collected composure was good enough to soothe my fraying nerves. Today it was temporary though, as the game of cricket isn’t over till it’s over, and Sri Lanka had a strong bowling attack, so this match could go either way.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

Win! Win! Win!

God answered my prayers in the form of MS Dhoni. Who can forget the SIX that he smashed, which won us the match and the world cup. Dhoni salute! Team India Salute! And then the celebrations started. Emotional, crazy, loud, beautiful, glorious celebrations.

“I knew Dhoni would win it for us. DHONI! DHONI! DHONI!”

“We probably won because of all your praying and patrolling the hallways.” teased my husband, wiping my wet cheeks.

“You never know.” I gloated.

“You should’ve just paced in the temple you missed going to today. You made me work so hard for these impossible to get tickets and barely even watched the game.”

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (L)

picture credits: Getty images and zimbio

 

 

 

 

Welcome to St. Tropez

 

 

I think it’s time for some glamour, some flair, something out of a movie fantasy. What do you say?

Let’s kick off with St. Tropez! Does it fit the bill?

Our group of five couples landed in Nice on a beautiful summer morning. We had been told to pack for a week, to bring with us resort-wear and party-wear, heels, flip-flops and loafers, hats and sunglasses, play lists and fun stories.  The rest was a surprise for us.

“Where do you think we’re off to?” a near shriek from my excited friend, as we rolled out from the airport in over-sized luxury vans.

“I’m guessing the French Riviera.”

“Monaco!” gushed my other friend.

All this while our darling host sat smiling across from us. Rather quickly, our cars entered a small compound and halted in front of two gleaming choppers. Our doors slid open and a host with dark Ray-Bans greeted and ushured us onto the waiting choppers.

The combined energy of our excitement was probably enough to propel the helicopters as we took off and our Captain explained to us the scenic route that we would take to reach our destination -‘St. Tropez’. And so we started our magical trip in true 007 style. We flew over the gorgeous coast-line oohing and aahing en-route St. Tropez.

Our first stop was the magnificent view and refreshments at ‘Hotel Villa Belle Rose’ which is set atop a hill that overlooks all of St.Tropez. We then strolled around the port enjoying gelatos from the world-renowned ‘Barbarac’, clicking pictures of the luxury yachts that bobbed up and down putting up a spectacular show for us.

One moment we were debating on whose gelato flavor was the best and the next moment we were being whisked onto small speed-boats (called tender rides) as we glided into the turquoise waters.

My love for travel is familiar to you all by now, and I’m always awestruck by the beauty, the diversity, and the energy that the world has to offer. But believe me when I say this, that a collective jaw-drop would have made for a fine picture as we reached our ‘surprise’. I was and still am a little tongue-tied about it. We were welcomed like royalty by a staff of around twenty, queued up to greet us aboard ‘Numptia’, a luxury super yacht (70 meters and 5 floors). This was way bigger and shinier than any that we had clicked pictures with, just a few moments ago.

That feeling of WOW will never leave me. Standing aboard this disarming beauty with the cool sea-breeze in my hair, the bluest water all around, the picturesque port of St. Tropez on one side and a cloudless horizon on the other, I was astounded. It was a magic so pure that even a gifted writer couldn’t have imagined it. The spark of joy that conjured up within me was simply blissful.

“Let me give you a trip around your home for the coming week,” announced our Captain with obvious pride in his voice.

The spangly ‘Numptia’ consisted of the main deck, the sun-deck, a formal living area, an informal indoor sitting area with karaoke, games and more. A formal dining room, an outdoor dining area, many lounge seatings around the decks, a pool and jacuzzi on the top floor, a gym, a steam room, a beauty salon,  endless water-sports equipment (or ‘toys’ as our Captain liked to call them) like jet skies, banana boats and sea-bobs, and our beautifully decorated bedrooms of course. All of this, just for the 10 of us to enjoy.

“Did you see the control room or cockpit?” asked one of the guys.

“The controls and displays look super sophisticated and high-tech, just like a sci-fi movie.”

“Hey guys, look ahead… the ‘Titanic’ pose is underway.”

All eyes turned towards the front followed by peals of laughter, but I know it couldn’t be helped. This was all too stunning, just like a movie, except that it was for real, and we were living it. To our delight, our luggage was unpacked for us by the extremely caring and meticulous staff.  Our clothes were ironed and hung, our shoes and bags assembled, even before we finished our tour of the boat and reached our rooms. This was some serious pampering.

That day we had lunch at the world famous ‘Club 55’. The beach, music and crowd there were amazing. Dancing and merry conversations were the order of the day.

“Are these real vegetables?” Inquired my darling husband, looking at the assortment of baby vegetables served before us.

“The display does kind of trick you, but here…. you can eat these.” Offered one of our friends as she nibbled on a baby fennel leaf.

To this day my husband recounts the names of the baby veggies that he had tried there for the first time.

We then moved onto the swanky, chilled out ‘Nikki Beach’.  Dinner that night was at ‘Villa Romania’. Just as the name suggests this place had the aura of  a roman villa, replete with marble sculptures, green vines, lush floral displays and a fun vibe. The music here was sublime. Desserts were devoured with some dancing at ‘Babylon’ and then to top it all off was perhaps one of the best party scenes in St. Tropez at ‘Spoon’.  As luck would have it, Europe’s top DJ was in the house that night and he truly ‘welcomed us to St. Tropez’ at this wild party.

Hours later, “Should we head home?”

“Aren’t you ladies tired?”

“We should definitely get back on board. But fatigue has nothing to do with it.”

“Is everything okay?”  All eyes were on me now.

“Yes, Yes, all good. It’s just that the stars are expecting us. I hear they too have put up a great show for us. And the viewing tonight as we lift anchor is from the top deck.”

picture credit; self

A Melodious Night In Maui

What’s the most fun you’ve had with your friends? The story that pops right out at me is of a night, spent nearly ten years ago, on the pristine beaches of Maui – singing.

Yes, you read that right. The memory of singing the whole night with friends under a beautiful full moon is etched in my mind forever. Continue reading “A Melodious Night In Maui”