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Tennis Courts and Dreams

My love for tennis, goes back to more than 25 years ago. I remember playing the game with my eldest brother Allwyn at the Catholic Gymkhana. We enjoyed a good set and developed reasonable skills to play in the member’s tournaments and even represent the Gymkhana at a local tournament.

However as  the years went by, and our tennis too ended. Among many reasons was the  closure of the courts at the Gymkhana

I remember purchasing a book on learning the nuances of tennis and had passed on some of these tips in coaching my son Ralph when he was 8years old. Many things were discarded during my house repairs some time ago. This book however remained with me purely out of a dream of playing tennis again.

The year 2019 was very eventful when I was diagnosed with cancer. I recovered with treatment and in August departed on a 3 month holiday with Anjean. This holiday was a gift from our 4 children and covered Dubai, London, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

My dream of playing tennis again began in Dubai,  with  the Saldanha brothers . Ian my son in law was very considerate in arranging  tennis sessions with his brother  Colin and his father in law Alex.

Our first session was at  Alex’s courts and the next at Colin’s courts. Ian and I played some good tennis , but with Colin  on the other side and his fast serves ….we  lost closely.

The second session was even better  . I was quite adept at placements ; we still lost…with a tough fight. Ian and I shared a ‘never give up attitude’ .We ended with some cold beers and relaxed time with Colin’s piano accompaniment to our spontaneous songs

My next visit to a tennis court  was at Glasgow. This just  happened when I casually mentioned to a friend John Jackson  over coffee, about my interest in tennis. He later spoke  to  John Coyle a lover of tennis himself, who  arranged for us to  play some good  tennis ‘doubles’ with regular members. I played fairly well, losing the first set , and then winning the next two sets, rotating our  partners.

The second session was  the following week and happened to be a tournament. This proved a challenge for me. The tournament was played on a  round robin basis of doubles . About 20 members many regular and established tennis players  teamed randomly and  points were awarded according to the games  a person won. Thankfully I was given a handicap with whoever teamed with me. My game improved a  bit and I was surprised that I could get some good volleys, cross court shots, and deft placements. To top it all, I got some good serves down the T . There was a winner and  runnersup, but for me , the best souvenir was the group picture at the end of the mini tournament.

My final encounter with tennis courts was at tḥe Bombay Gymkhana. Courtesy Kirk D’Cruz a good friend , with whom I reconnected. He was gracious to host me for a couple of sessions at the Gym. We got into the rythm quite fast and were soon stroking the ball well. I was surprised that we could actually play singles and enjoy it, The second time we went for a session, I struck the ball so hard that the strings of my aging racket snapped . This was adequately compensated when Ian , my son-in-law gifted me an excellent Wilson racket on his visit to Mumbai.

Ralph joined us at the most recent session of tennis at the Bombay Gym on his visit from UK. He too had not played the game since the age of 8 years . When he got on court , I was stunned to see him hit the ball so well with tḥe correct style . He enjoyed the session a lot . From the sidelines I just admired his game, as he practised with Kirk and both had some power packed ground strokes.

We never got a repeat of these sessions , as Ralph soon returned to UK.

 My fascination with tennis began in school, when I had not yet learnt to hold a racket. But I read every tennis article in the sports page from start to finish. One of my brothers even enquired , how and why I did that.  Famous names of those days were Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Margaret Smith, and later,Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker.. and some more like Cliff Drysdale, Mats Wilander , Steffi Graff. We cannot forget Nadal and Djokovic !

 As I end this note on  tennis, I must also mention some books I’ve read on tennis players. Rod Laver’s ‘An Autobiography’…I always admired him the way he carried himself, with  a quiet dignity and confidence, but a rocket on court,  Andre Agassi’s , ’OPEN: An Autography ‘  he was very candid about his love and hate for tennis, Roger Federer’s ‘Biography’ by  Chris Bowers, ( wonder when he will write his autobiography) , and finally Arthur Ashe’s ‘Days of Grace’ . the last was the most inspiring for  the way he handled his  unfortunate Aids  infection through blood transfusion  at the time of his heart surgery .

I liked his famous quote …..If I were to say,” God, why me? About the bad things,” then I should have said ,”God, why me?” about the good things that happened in my life. …

This helps me to reflect on the numerous blessings God has blessed me with, since all these years, despite my recent challenges.

Thank you Lord , for all these , even, for the  dreams of tennis, being fulfilled.

An Experience of Wales

The trip  to Wales by train introduced us to the peace, quiet and natural beauty. It entailed a train to Euston and thence to Birmingham, and Barmouth . The transit at Birmingham was just 10 minutes, but we made it. Then onwards to Barmouth via Shrewsbury, Machynlleth (where one coach of the train was detached) to proceed to LLwyngwril and onwards to  Barmouth.  The other coach  went  to Aberystwyth. The names were tongue twisters , besides keeping us alert to our rail route to our destination.

The journey by the seaside is breathtaking. On one side you see hills with sheep, quaint houses, and the sea view as the train chugged along.

Our little train was suddenly engulfed with school children . They brought liveliness into the compartment until they disembarked at their little quaint town, LLwyngwril.

We were received by Fr Alex at Barmouth. The station was very quiet. He arranged a taxi to transport us to St Tudwal’s , our home for the next 3 days.

When Fr Alex mentioned that he welcomed us to a sparse 1 star lodge , I was surprised to be given a comfortable room, with a view …St Matthew’s …normally the room for a visiting bishop. The remaining rooms were Mark, Luke and John. We had a  view of the seaside, play grounds, township and the sunset.

 We sat to tea and Scottish shortbread .

But ,dinner proved special as Fr Alex actually took the trouble to keep a menu card ready … for a special meal he prepared himself.

Salmon curry, Fresh Steamed Garden Peas, Veg fingers, and Toasted Pitta Bread.

It was meticulously planned with the table laid out . We enjoyed the dinner , specially with apple cider …which I grew to like a lot . the meal ended with tiramisu…

We thence decided to reciprocate with a meal prepared by Anjean and I . Fish Baffat , veg fingers, onion rings.

Breakfast was DIY , with a trolley kept ready very thoughtfully; all ingredients for a good breakfast were at hand to prepare.

Time at St Tudwal’s was memorable for the conversations with Fr Alex . He is a prolific writer and a contemplative at heart.

His favourite quotes…Spirituality …spending time with Jesus. … hospitality ….welcoming Jesus in our midst.

‘Pray your petition, listen to what God is saying  and act on it’

. ‘In joy God  whispers into our lives ’ ; ‘In times of difficulty , God shouts into our lives.’

On Saturday morning we were welcomed by Fr Alex to the main church. He was preparing for the Sunday service . He combines many roles in one. Pastor, Sacristan, and Mentor….along with help from the few parishioners who make up a congregation of about 12 people.

He has looked after all aspects of the church and explained the relevance of the paintings and carvings on the altar which begins with the Nativity of Jesus and ends with the Ascension spanning his entry into and exit from this world. The Last Supper takes pride of place at the Altar front.

On Sunday we attended the Eucharist. His homily left me reflecting on the few loaves and fish , and how God takes what little we have and multiplies it .

A parishioner from the neighbouring parish , also visited Fr Alex with the gift of a salmon that was caught and smoked specially for him.

I noticed several remarkable things at Wales. They have a language of their own , quite distinct from English.   Most young people had moved to cities , so were noticeably absent .

People are very honest. Anjean had absentmindedly  left her shopping bag one evening on a public bench . It remained there , until we returned, without anything missing.

Anjean relaxing by the wayside; note the Welsh language on the menu display behind

On the third day we walked to the beach and enjoyed the windy walk. We saw a few people walking their pet dogs . Later we spent time at the pier . I met another visitor who recounted his time in India as a child when his  father served as an officer in the British Army.

The sea gulls and the distant rail bridge made good pictures for my collection.

I left with one souvenir of Fr Alex…. his portrait picture , he requested me to photograph himself,  for the new book to be published in January 2020. ‘Face to Face’ . I know and am confident that this book will be among the best of his, since its all about encountering the Lord Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr Alex Rebello

Our time came to an end when we left by train for the trip onwards to Glasgow, via Wolverhampton.

Thank you Fr Alex for gīving us a taste of Wales! We hope to see you in India soon.

Crows are crows

Have you observed crows ?

This morning I was quietly observing them .They were busy either searching for food or just cawing to each other.

Does anything disturb them .

Crows at peace

Whether governments change or men act aggressively towards each other,crows will be crows

They still find food and still continue with life ..

A great lesson for me.

Who cares for them ?

How is that world events do not disturb them.

The answer I think

They are in sync with the Master

Our Creator

That is a secret worth thinking about

He provides them daily food .

Do they store in barns ?

Do they worry about the future ?

Do they envy others ?

Yet the crow flies wherever he needs to go

No need of any nationality or proof of citizenship .

He is welcome wherever he flies

His story gives me hope

Can I learn to live at peace with another and trust my Creator for my daily needs?

Gracious Mimi

Mimi and Anjean

Our trip to London was special , as we stayed with Mimi Turner for 10 days. For Anjean and I , this turned out to be a surprise. Mimi had not yet arrived from her holiday, but was gracious enough to extend her hospitality in her absence. However we were happy when she arrived the following day. This became our home away from home then onwards.

Mimi has been hosting guests of Charismatic Renewal since 1969 with her husband late Tim Turner.

Mimi still remembers her earlier home , which was much larger before moving to the current smaller one. She has a picture frame of the old house .

Mimi loves her garden and the sitout . On a sunny day , the experience is exhilarating. The flowers were in full bloom. Birds visited the feeder every morning .

But Mimi misses her husband Tim the most . He was the ‘gardener’. He passed away about 9 months ago.

I loved to hear Mimi speak about the family history i.e his-story as well as her-story . The events around them were stunning , with the background of World War II. I encouraged Mimi to put it down in her memoirs .

The Turners have 5 children and 18 grandchildren, and one great granddaughter . They are truly international . Most in UK , and one family in USA and one in Australia .

Mimi thinks aloud “ I hope I can travel on many different holidays ; taking one different holiday per year , with one accompanying grandchild , just like my mother did.”

She had just returned from a Norway cruise with grandson Anthony . Of course she had some amazing pictures to show and a glowing account of the way Anthony conducted himself, while accompanying her.

Mimi has always had her family around for Christmas . “ The little ones would be in the hallway, the adults in dining room and older grandchildren in the kitchen . Turkey would certainly be the main dish.”

In 1970 Mimi and Tim were active in the early Prayer Groups . Later they were Leaders of the Charismatic Renewal. Tim brought ‘ Life in the Spirit’ Seminars to Britain .From 1973 onwards Tim conducted these seminars which helped more Prayer Groups to flourish..

Eventually they committed to the Covenant Community life in 1980. This Community is the ‘Antioch Community’ today and a full member community of the Sword of the Spirit Communities worldwide.

Her son Dan Turner is the current Senior Coordinator.

Mimi is very organised in her life style

She prioritises prayer and the life of Community.

Her week comprises , Gym, keeping touch with the extended family on the phone , and current news .

She is quite independent and drives to places for meetings or shopping.

She takes special care to host visitors even now .

“I never thought I would continue hosting guests after Tim passed away , as we were a team; but you are my first guests and I’m happy to host .”

One of her special gifts is Counselling . She is an asset to Community life over the years , and is one of the Senior members .

I asked Mimi what verses remain her favorite :

She responded

‘ Acts 17:28 ‘ For in him we live and move and have our being ‘

Romans 8:28 ‘ We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love him, with all those that he has called according to his purpose.’

Truly Mimi lives with a purpose , and God has blessed her with an abundant life.

Your Majesty

Dawn at Loc Lomond


You a King,
Always waiting ,
For a welcome
To hearts,
Whether poor or rich.

You walked on earth,
And still here,
Open my eyes
And heart
To your presence.

Time stands still,
To your Majesty,
Sun and moon,
Bow to your presence,
Past, present, and future ,
In unison.

Who am I
To be lavished
With love every morning ,
Thank you Lord,
Thank you Lord.

Anfield , Alone ?

A visit to the Home of the Liverpool Football club was high on my bucket list . I was so keen, that each time we planned for this visit and it was postponed, I began to think that it just would not happen .

However my son Ralph and son-in-law Tommy , ensured that we would drive down from Glasgow on 30th September, 31/2 hours each way .. so grateful for their kindness.

Lloyd an avid football fan joined us at the last moment , after some gentle persuasion , knowing his affiliation was elsewhere .

We left before sunrise . My grandson Samuel jumped out of bed when he heard the word ‘Liverpool ‘ . He is all of 5 yrs and proudly donned the red colours of the team. We had a quick cup of coffee and packed some home made ‘Paozinhas ‘ and Cookies

The drive began with an ‘all guys‘ group, having been given due consideration by the ladies at home . The clouds and mist seemed to hang over as we drove on. But soon the sun peeked through the clouds to show us the beautiful sceneries of Scotland.

We stopped for coffee ,hot chocolate and light breakfast.

The drive became interesting with Samuel’s favorite game in the car ‘I spy with my little eye’ .

It was a cool drive for 31/2 hours . The sign boards flashed by and soon we saw ‘Liverpool’ appearing . I was palpably excited when Tommy got the song ‘ You will Never Walk Alone’ on the car sound system .

We finally reached the gates of the stadium . Yes it was thrilling to see the words ‘You will Never Walk Alone’ at the top of the gate, where. Samuel and I posed for a picture .

We then entered for a tour of stadium …. with a group comprising mainly fans of the Liverpool football team .

The club has a lot of history . It started from humble beginnings and is a club quite devoted to its fans .

The guide asks “Don’t you think that this is the best time to become a Liverpool supporter ? They are the European champions and currently number one on the English Premier League Table”

They respect sentiments of different faiths specially having Sadio Mane and Salah in the team …

Besides the spectator stand is very near the football pitch . One can view the players in action, and either encourage or pass comments depending on which team you support.

We had pics taken near the cutouts of the players and the team colours . Then we stepped out for a pic near the statue of Bill Shankly one of the earliest managers of the Liverpool club ……

Hold on it’s not over yet ; the biggest surprise awaited us as a black ‘Range Rover’with tinted glasses, drove into the gates. “I’m sure that is a Liverpool player. Could that be Firmino ? “ conjectured Lloyd. “ No it’s Andy Robertson “ said Tommy , as Andy came out of his car to let the security check it.

This was the opportunity for us to pose with him for pictures .

Samuel was speechless as he posed with Andy for a photograph. . A few young ladies too were quick to seize their opportunity. Andy was very obliging , but was gone before the rest of us could decide .

We visited Merseyside …where the the Beatles first performed . But I was a bit disappointed after the high of Anfield.

Our visit to Liverpool ended with with burgers and beer

I’m sure Liverpool has captured some more fans . So ‘yes’ we were together and not alone to enjoy the song ‘You Will Never Walk Alone ‘ the theme song for the Liverpool team….and one to inspire all with its words .

THE BIG POSER

Who is Biggy?

My blog today is on a little dog, abandoned earlier, who made a BIG impression on many .

He is about 12 years in age; Black in colour and of poodle mix. But his eyes catch my eye .

Annie and Mike, his rescuers, say he is partially blind. I saw him with trimmed fur. He was half his size when they got him . His daily sustenance was from a dump, where he befriended a gang of cats. He was very sick with infection .

However Annie and Mike have doted over him. With care, visits to the vet, and good food , he has recovered .

How could someone abandon him?

He was the star of our evening visit . His survival is a miracle. He stayed at the dump for six months , Now he has three cots . And lives in style . He responded to us so well .

Biggy’s day begins at 6.30am . He will nudge Annie to wake up for his drink of water. He then goes back to sleep and wakes up later at 11.30 am for the rest of his day . Well then, that sounds like quite a retired life .

We did not hear his bark. But let any delivery man appear, and Biggy barks his loudest .

A neighbour always thought that Biggy was a cat from afar. You can imagine his shock to hear Biggy’s bark.

I was so happy when Biggy came to me and posed for a picture . Yes, he is a Poser, and so affectionate.

My memory of him, are his beautiful eyes, when he wished me good bye!

If only he could talk.

Thanks Biggie , you made my day!

BORN FREE

Look around and reflect ,

Who can stop you

From thinking,

speaking and

Doing the right thing ?

Can any law stop

You from loving

Even your enemy

Who may one day

Become a friend !

Yes and my soul ;

Can any man destroy

That which God holds

In his loving arms !

Our Creator who gives life and also sends to hell fire

So am I willing to see that

My soul is meant for an eternal goal,

Eternal joy or eternal slavery

Heaven or hell!

Perfect love casteth out fear

Love always overcomes hate!

Love gives life !

Then you and I are truly FREE!

Artist of myriad dimensions

Suzette Advani

Have you entered a home with 22 dogs barking their welcome to you .

It’s a home on the slope of a hill giving you a distant and picturesque view of Goa with rivers lakes and lush greenery .

We were received by Alcina,into the spacious home, for our meeting with Suzette. My daughter Annalize had been called for the trial of her wedding gown.

“When a client walks in, a human being walks in first, and before I lend them my hands I win their hearts . “

This is the motto of Suzette as Designer. For Annalize , the lace and material for her gown was just right ; the designing and fit most suited for the bride. Suzette works with passion to give her best .

However she is also an artiste, poet, author of short stories and has a non funded NGO for stray and abandoned dogs . But most of all a very compassionate person.

I saw some beautiful paintings, each of which has a meaning. I was surprised to learn that it had taken 2-3 years of deep life experiences , 2 month’s to put down a feature and 2-3 days to paint . In like manner, Suzette writes poetry and short stories .

Her pet project is really the pets she has rescued . When she refers to the universal opinion of the good breed of dogs over stray dogs ….she opines that dogs are just dogs , and love makes a difference in their response . She continues “ But who am I to preach the gospel of universality; idealised I am just an artiste who was designed to create art and not change the policies of the world .”

She has rescued 22 stray and abandoned dogs . The first was named Thomas ; he had fallen off a bridge and fractured his spine. She has nursed him to good health . All 22 pets have been rescued in some way and restored to normalcy… each of them having a name. The most recent pet was named ‘Blue’ as he has blue eyes. He is so affectionate, and kept licking my feet all over.

She also daily feeds 30 stray dogs outside who patiently wait at specific points as she drives on the food trail.

Suzette is a survivor of a serious motor crash , but was at peace even then. She has no regrets of any kind and believes that life is transient . She has a deep sense of spirituality. Her daily discipline includes yoga.

“I am ready for the call when it comes “ says Suzette.

So ended the encounter with a courageous lady of myriad dimensions.