Sunday, 28 June 2009

Love All... especially the lady guards.......

Since I have reached a age where I have accumulated so much of experience, that I tend to start sentences with 'When I was young, it was......'. So today too am starting with a unnecessary flash back to relate few things which happened couple of days ago. So here it goes....
When I was young, I used to play tennis a lot....erm...if you could call that as tennis. Racquets made of wooden pieces and a piece of thread serving as net and a ground so uneven that there was no need to spin the ball honed my tennis skills. Of course watching the matches on door darshan and arguing with friends on who is better was another past time.Couple of my friends(who are brother actually) were fans of Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg respectively. Whenever Becker and Edberg met in finals of a championship (which they did...), my friends provided great source of entertainment by fighting so intensely that the intensity of the players on the court paled in comparison.
And of course there were the terminologies Love All, Love -30, Love-40 -- were a great source for giggling. As I grew up, I understood the game and started following the careers of the players Sampras, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Andre Agassi and others. And as I became wiser, I understood the nuances of the game ...err....especially the ladies matches...he he he....
Wimbledon has always been a fascinating tournament... the traditions, white dress code, royalty has made it a tournament which has still stuck to its roots. I have always liked the telecast of Wimbledon on TV. Apart from the matches, the documentaries or the old archive footage of the championships which were shown when it rained (rain being the integral part of a successful Wimbledon) were good.
As luck would have it, I landed here in the UK, just in time for the tournament and last weekend I made my exodus to Wimbledon to the hallowed turfs of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club to watch this year's championships. To enjoy the complete experience of Wimbledon, one must camp out the previous night in the queue to get tickets for next day's play. It has been the tradition and me coming from a very traditional family didn't want to break any traditions during my pilgrimage to the temple of tennis. So I left office on friday evening along with few like minded friends and reached the Wimbledon Park, where people form the queue.
The park is about a kilometre and half from the stadium. As we entered the park, we noticed that people had already formed the queue and pegged their tents. We too joined the queue and were handed queue cards, which is basically a number showing your position in the queue. Based on the number you get, one can get entrance to the centre or the court numbers one or two. We were as usual late and were saddled with numbers which would not have given us entry ti the main courts. And as we did not have any tents, we weaseled or way in to a tent of one of our other friends and settled for the wait till next morning.
The weather was very good for a British summer day with no hint of rains at all. And people around us were in the mood. They had set the tents and were very much enjoying the atmosphere with ample assistance from the various beverages of the alcoholic kind. As the day came to an end, the enthusiasm of the crowd became directly proportional with the amount of the spirits consumed. Our friends too, not to be left behind launched themselves in to the middle of the happenings with abandon.
We met a couple of interesting characters . A couple from New Zealand who in their highly 'spirited' state took sympathy on us - a bunch of guys- and went upon a mission to find us some girls. They scoured the length and the breadth of the park and came back with the locations of girls. They were kind enough and offered to accompany us to them and help us get acquainted with the girls. Though the offer seemed exciting, we had to politely decline it as it was time for us kids to go to bed and we snuggled in to the tents and attempted to sleep with the uneven floor below us and the cacophony of the revelers outside and the snoring of a friend (who complained that he would not be able to sleep even for second with all the noise outside and promptly fell asleep within a minute) inside the tent. I spent the night equally distributing my time between finding a comfortable position in which all parts of my body felt the same kind of pain due to the floor and listening to the babble of folks outside.
The next morning we packed our tents and stood in the line to start our walk towards the stadium. And for once luck seemed to favour me and we got the tags to court number 1.the walk to the stadium took couple of hours and after a elaborate security check we reached the ticket counter. After seeing the amount I had to pay, I doubted whether getting entry to court number 1 was good luck or not. I had to pay as much as my day's allowance I get here !.
The stadium is pretty awesome. With the centre court and 19 other courts spread all over, its a place to visit for any tennis fan. Though I had visited it when I had been to UK last time, its completely different when the tournament is underway. Spectators thronging the courts, waiting for the players to show up with autograph books in their hands. Food stalls with the traditional Strawberries and cream and the official drinks Pimms No 1. The shops selling ridiculously priced merchandises.
We strolled around the stadium taking in the sights. One other major attraction at the stadium is the Henmen Hill which a small hill in front of which a giant screen telecasts the matches being played on all the courts. People sit on the hill drinking, eating watch the matches. And its a sight to behold with thousands of people staring at the screen and erupting whenever their favorite player wins a point.
Summer in Britain this year has been an unusual one. With no rains and temperatures reaching 31 degrees, people are complaining of the oppressive heat. This is also affecting the way they dress. To paraphrase a popular saying 'hemlines do rise with the rise in temperatures', and Wimbledon offer ample proof to it. We had tough time in deciding what to look at, the matches or the haute couture of the ladies.

The security in the stadium was pretty good. There were male and female security guards all over keeping an eye on things. And I believe the criteria for selecting the female security guards was to find the most prettiest girls and deck them with guards uniform. All the female guards I saw were more suited to walk on a ramp rather than stop a trouble maker. I guess the rationale behind it was the ruffians intending to cause ruckus would be spell bound by seeing these guards, that they will forget what they came to do. At least I forgot to close my mouth after seeing a couple of female guards.

Another attraction was the promotional stall of HSBC where 3 nubile things in short skirts were clicking pics of people holding a racquet in front of a blue screen. Then their photos would be morphed with a tennis court back ground and copies were given out to the people. Initially we thought that they are charging money for it and decided 'who wants such fake photos?, only foolish tourists would go for it' . But when asked we were told its free and we too stood in the queue. I posed as if I am waiting to receive a serve. After sometime we went to collect the photos expecting pictures which showed us as real tennis players. But talk about anticlimax. One of my friend looked more like a police constable chasing the lovers out of park with his lathi. Another looked like he is swatting a fly rather than playing a tennis shot. One more was doing a dance move and I looked like a moron who was standing to receive the serve facing the audience with the court behind me.

There were also other freebies being distributed around ranging from free sunscreen lotion application by girls(which some of my friends went for many times) to free distribution of things useful to ladies (one of the guys went to get that too, but was politely told that it wasn't for men).

Then we partook the traditional dishes of Wimbledon, strawberries and cream and not to forget Pimms No 1, which is the official drink. Having heard a lot about it, I was keen to taste it, but its price made me think twice. For that price I could have bought a crate of drinks outside. Then I hit upon a idea which only a true Indian can think of... Ask the girl at the bar to serve a 'one by two' (or cutting in bambaiyya slang) Pimms. The way she looked at us when we said her to split a drink in to two was worth looking at. She asked us to confirm our age !(thinking that we are a couple of underage kids trying to get a alcoholic drink). Once she was satisfied that we were adults albeit a bit mental, she served us the drink. It tasted good with a hint of spices and citrus fruits and did not taste anything like alcohol (not that I am an experienced hand in that area). No after effects too..err.....seeing two balls being hit by the players on the court was more due to the heat.... I think.....

And as the sun set at the stadium, we set off towards home carrying with us some incredible experience and thinking why we too cant have beautiful girls as security guards in India for sports tournaments.....

Here are some pics which highlights our day at the Wimbledon.

Don't ask me what to do with 2 men and a van. They are available and its left to your imagination

Our tent... 5 of us spent the night inside it in various positions (sleeping I meant)

Inspired by another
blogger who is on a mission to introduce people to the various urinals and paintings in them across the world, here is one which asked you to aim at the painting of the ball. I startled all other men in the toilet with my flash photography and fortunately no body took me for a pervert and kicked me out.

As the pic itself says, that's it...enough of wasting time reading this.... do your work

PS: I seem to have forgotten to write something..... blame my age.... aah yes...we watched a few tennis matches too.... they were good.

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