MUMBAI PART TWO

(If you wish to read Days 1-3,please click on menu and select Mumbai Part One. Delhi 2018 on third page!)

DAY 4 - COMPETITION DAY

Today is Competition Day. We wake up around 8.30am and Michael needs his coffee after a late night of Gameboy. I dont know what he does on that game of Pokemon but hes forever telling me a load of rubbish about how hes travelling the gyms of the world and beating up Pikachu. It keeps the kid busy i suppose. We sit and watch the busy courts,hard to imagine courts being busy back home between 7am and 10am but i suppose its good to start the day with some tennis and a workout before you go to work and before it gets hotter. 

All the players turn up on time which is great for such a tiring day yesterday but also because i am learning that nobody is on time for anything in this country.

We use the first hour to work on consistent serving and moving sides between points.

B1 player Yousef serving

B1 player serving

B1 player Fatima serving

B1 player Pradat serving

Most of them have never heard of tennis so grasping the scoring is difficult. Especially the word love. I have to bring out the wedding quote to explain. ’Love means nothing in tennis but everything in life’. They somehow remember the whole quote for the rest of the day even those whos English is quite poor. 

 

We make them serve for themsleves and switch sides every point so they know where they should stand for each score. They already keep score and correct sides better than some members of Windsor. 

 

Then we add in the returner, practice the return by itself for a bit and then play fun points and matches in preparation for this afternoons competition matches. 

Video of me helping Yousef with his return swing

Video of B1 Yousef hitting an amazing return in

Video of B1 Yousef hitting diving return over the net and in the court

Video of B2 players progressing well

The players have progressed so well and during lunch i have to choose 2 B3 players, 2 B2 players and 4 B1 players to play exhibition matches under the watch of the British Deputy High Commissioner to India. 

 

Michaels favourite time..... 

Lunch.....

Photo of Buffet Lunch

The tennis club went all out on lunch today with a selection of dishes, my favourite being Aloo Gobi which is made from potatoes, cauliflower and Indian spices. The vegetarian food is amazing.

 

Photo of Aloo Gobi

A quick 10minute powernap back at the room (the heat is beating us) and we start final preparations for the exhibition matches. I have chosen my players to play but Ekinath doesnt want me to tell them incase they get nervous so i will tell them a few seconds before the Deputy High Commissioner arrives. They wont have time to get nervous. 

 

A few final repetitions of serving and returning and Deputy High Commissioner Paul Carter arrives. He is greeted by Ekinath who has dressed up very nicely and introduces him to everyone. He is a very pleasant man who seems very interested in the project. We all have a seat and its the turn of the exhibition between  a B3 male versus a B3 female with the shortened format producing a 3-1 win for the former. We only have the one court for all the exhibition matches so there are lines everywhere but the players are so in the zone they hardly ever notice. 

 

Next up two B2 males are introduced by Umpire Raj and they have some great rallies with their match ending a very credible 2-2 draw. 

 

 

B2 exhibition

Now for the showpieces. We have 2 B1 matches selected. The first match between Prakesh and Nubin and the second between Yousef and Prasat. Both matches finish 4-4 and we call them both a draw in the spirit of the day. Some great returns and only 2 double faults in total across the 2 matches, thats 16 service games with only 2 double faults, fantastic achievement. Here is a selction of points from the 2 matches. 

Video of B1 exhibition

Video of B1 exhibition

Video of B1 exhibition

Video of B1 exhibition

And who knows the rule about this one?

Video of B1 exhibition

For those who couldnt see what just happened, Nubin served to Prakesh who returned the ball over the net and hit Nubin on the head whilst standing behind the baseline. I will give you the official answer tomorrow. 

 

The matches are over and Paul, the Deputy High Commisioner seems like he enjoyed it. Knowing that Ekinath and the Indian people would be too embarassed to ask, I go for it and ask Paul would he like to have a go being blindfilded and try to hit the ball. He kindly agrees, we struggle to find a blindfold big enough to go over his head (reminds me of myself trying to find a hat on holiday) but eventually he gets it on and has a go. We throw him 3 balls and he connects with one, better than my first ever attempt. He has a go at serving as well and connects with all 3, one going over. He takes his blindfold off and you can tell he really appreciates what these players have to deal with. We take some quick photos in front of the banner and retire inside to the Prizegiving Ceremony.

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The prizegiving ceremony opens with B1 Tony speaking about how the project came about and welcoming the President of the MSLTA and the High Commissioner. Davinder, Michael and myself give out the certificates to the players.

Photo of coaches receiving certificates

Example of Player Certificate

On to my speech. I talk a lot about how important Ekinath is and will be to this group of coaches and how well this group of players and coaches performed. I give out an award for best coach and best player, Khaji winning best coach and Prasat best player. I also make a sly joke about the punctuality of the Indian people. I thought my wife was bad but i will never complain again. 

A short clip of my speech

I will give you a quick translation of Indian time:

 

Indian:I will be there in one hour

English:I will start my journey to you in one hour

 

Indian:I am nearly there

English:I will be there in one hour

 

Indian:I am here

English: See you in 15mins

Michael speaks very well in his speech and makes a joke about Paneer (a lovely Goats cheese dish), cant take him anywhere. Davinder makes a great, emotive speech about his love for India and its people and how much every person in the room means to him which has everyone fighting back the tears. 

We all receive flowers which we give to Keity (Ekinaths wife). She has all the same qualities that Ekinath shows and you can see why they were destined to meet each other and how supportive she is of all Ekinaths work and plans. She responds with ’He is my hero’. Awwwwww

 

We end with some selfies with the players (everyone loves selfies here) and get changed quickly as a bunch of us are going to a local restaurant named Jimmy Boi.

 

 

Photo of Nubin and Yousef with me

The two Hyderabad B2 players

These two players from Hyderabad are some story. They travelled an 18hr (yes 18hr) train journey to come to this camp. What dedication!!! 

 

Parin decides that Jimmy Boi is a doable walk which only turns out to be a bad decision when i find myself being led across the busiest road in Mumbai whilst also guiding Ekinath. There are literally no rules for pedestrians here, there are zebra crossings,dont mean a thing. All the footpaths are uneven with random massive holes everywhere so its safer to walk on the road itself whilst getting constantly beeped at. 

 

We just about make it to Jimmy Boi and the ten of us have a super dinner chatting like best friends, Ekinath telling Tony his girlfriend doesnt love him, talking about India’s biggest celebrity (i can tell you privately but not on here),how many strikes it will take for Ekinaths wife to kick him out of the restaurant and whether Parin really is a vegetarian or not. These guys are all such close buddies to us already and we will always hold them close to our hearts!

 

Unsurprisingly we choose to take a taxi home which we agree with the driver will cost us 26rupees (28p) and he takes a wrong turn and charges us 46rupees (50p). What a criminal!!!

 

Anyway we are off to bed as we are at the blind school tomorrow. Keep on sharing the good news of Blind and Visually Impaired tennis everyone. 

DAY 5 - BLIND SCHOOL

I have really been looking forward to going to the Blind school, teaching young children tennis for the first time is incredibly rewarding and I cant wait to show them how much fun they can have when they might never have thought they can do.

 

We wake up later than usual around 9.30am and talk about whether we heard a random man outside throwing up during the morning or whether it was a dream,we agree it must be real. Off to breakfast and after some toast decide to hit a few balls ourselves, 10am shouldnt be too hot to hit. 

 

30minutes later and what seems like a stone of body weight sweated out of us, we decide its definitely too hot and retire back to the room. Davinder and Neelam return from their morning walk via a bookshop (Dr Dav loves his books) and Davinder has a super idea of making a short video of all the progressions we taught the coaches so they can remind themselves and also show other coaches and volunteers how to help. 

 

We have an early lunch in the restaurant which we all decide to have a dish where they basically stuff lots of different food inside a soft bread, very like a crepe back home i suppose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of Lunch

After lunch its off on the journey to the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind. Its across town and the journey there is beautiful travelling down Marine Drive beside the sea and seeing where all the super rich live.

Marine Drive, Mumbai

Parin tells us that at the top of Marine Drive is where the super rich live and that it costs the equivalent of £10,000 per square foot. This week Mumbai was crowned the 12th richest city in the world housing 28 billionaires. It is hard to imagine when you see such poverty all around you that this is the case or as we walk to the school and pass this.

Picture of massive cow or bull chained to side of street with people living behind

We arrive at the school and what a beautiful building. The building dates back to 1902 and the stucture is very Victorian. We set up a makeshift court in the playground using tape, 2 chairs and a badminton net and voila, we have 20players playing blind tennis.

Video of all the blind children playing together

We receive a fantastic tour of the facilities and the principal shows us some of the classrooms as well as the dining hall and the playgrounds. This seems a very good Blind school compared to a lot of the ones I have seen and researched online. We leave a short while later and Ekinath says there is a snack cafe nearby where we can experience Indian food. I keep forgetting a short walk in India is like a massive walk in Ireland and some while later we arrive at Sardar and we have all been ordered Pao Bhaji, a local fast food snack which we gather is made up of lots of vegetables and potato all minced together with a helping of butter the size of the Isle of Man on top accompanied by the softest bread roll with another load of butter on top. They ask us do we want extra butter, is there an option for less butter? Its swimming in butter already!! 

Photo of what it looks like before the mincing starts

The finished article Pao Bhaji

We grab an Uber Taxi home from the school and help Davinder and his wife Neelam check out as they will be going to see family tonight and then they fly back to Delhi. Five taxis later as we learn what cars are big enough to take big suitcases, we say goodbye to them and retire for the night for much needed rest. Tomorrow is our final day here before we jet back home.

DAY 6 - HOMEWARD BOUND

We have a long lie in as we have nothing scheduled for the morning, have a great brunch in the Tennis Club and are waiting for Parin’s instructions to pick us up to go shopping. Ekinath’s wife Keity phones us and says Parin is running late (isnt the whole of India) and tells us to get a taxi to the location she sends us. We jump in the local taxi, we think the driver just about understands what we are saying and hey presto we meet Keity exactly where she wanted us too. Let the shopping begin.

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