We all know about legends ….the ones who have struck the pinnacles of life . They are the ones in every field who do well and are avidly followed . There comes a time when the person has to step down from the stage and give way to the younger stars . Then is it easily accepted by the legend ? Some of them have left the field at the top of their careers . They know when to retire . An outstanding example is Roger Federer . Others still persist and gradually fade away when the younger ones make their appearance . The world acknowledges these persons and they go into the record books or the archives . How does it feel or what happens to them. It’s not easy . Some have made their careers their very lives and then don’t know what to do thereafter . There have been cases of depression and the need for counselling . Those who have discovered other pursuits somehow go through this stage of life in a better way . When you speak about legends , have you and I thought about ourselves . We all have to leave the stage as time goes by. Younger people then take over . The term used is retirement. I think one has to prepare for this season of one’s life . There are many avenues to get involved in . Writing offers a way of bringing back memories . Some write their memoirs. Others go into story writing . Some who are fond of music either play a musical instrument , or compose or just listen to their type of music . There are some who become advisors or coaches and pass on their experiences to younger people . Some are voracious readers . Some pass their time with friends for a walk or visiting quiet places at gardens and beaches . Life changes need to be accepted. What we do with ourselves is to prepare for this. The old adage of ‘mellowing with age ‘ is so applicable . We can continue to use the talents we are blessed with . The best way is to have a life of daily prayer and seek the Lord’s guidance . Life does not end, but changes . Eternity beckons . Am I ready for it ?
He was an all rounder….good at sports , an ability to speak with flair , good at sales , a family man to the core and was able to get along with people .
As a sportsman, he was good at cricket hockey and athletics. In his younger days his bowling was comparable to the Indian medium pacer Ramakant Desai. He was told by one of the Indian cricketers, that he could try for selection into the Indian team. However Joe was more interested in hockey and there were slim chances of getting into the Indian team which was the best team internationally. I remember playing table tennis with him and just could not take his spin service .
His ability to speak helped in sales and being a success in insurance work . He was the leading sales person for the Encyclopaedia Britannica , which earned him trips to Mexico, Austria and Egypt.
An interesting aspect of his speech was his ability to speak in the way we speak in India with a typical clarity in delivery , but then break into the accent of the British when in England.
He studied in Pune at the St Vincent’s High School and won many awards in Athletics.
He then did his education at the University in Bombay .
Just like his father , he moved to East Africa where he served for some years.
When the trouble started, and non Africans were forced to leave , he moved to UK. He settled well facing all the challenges of starting life in a new place. His family consisted of his wife Margaret and three children , Clifford , Daphne and Valerie.
My early memories of him was his stature. He looked a bit like Ted Kennedy and I was happy when any of my family told me , that I looked like him .
There was an interesting incident when he visited us in Bombay (now Mumbai) without informing us .
It was late at night and he rang our door bell . My Dad , a doctor , enquired ‘Kaon hai?‘ in Hindi (Who is it ?) He replied “ Mai , patient hoo “ ( I’m a patient ).
My Dad never liked night calls and went only for his patients he knew . So he replied . “Doctor nai hai “ ( Doctor is not at home )
Joe broke into laughter and said “ Micky it’s me Joe “ and we all had a good laugh .
His home in London was always open to guests from all over the world . London happens to be a convenient stop for the guest travellers who visited him .
He enjoyed sea food and fresh fruit in Goa . He and Margaret also stayed with us in Mumbai but preferred Goa.
In his latter years he visited Goa from October to March, and just loved it , thus escaping the winter.
My wife and I were privileged to visit him and the family in London a few years ago. All my extended family had already been his guest .
He was a brave person and faced the challenges of failing health well . My last words with him from India was praying on the phone with him Psalm 23 ,
‘the Lord is my Shepherd.’
He then passed away peacefully . I was surprised that he had prepared the readings from scripture and hymns for his mass. I will never forget him …the dashing and brave person .
Our journey commenced from Glasgow Central . My wife Anjean and I were accompanied by a Jesuit priest Fr. Vincy Vaz visiting from India.
Our cab dropped us at the main bus terminal . However we had booked our trip on a private tour bus . It was quite a challenge to find this bus stop. After making a few rounds of the area , we finally found the bus parked not far from the main bus terminal .
The time was 6.50 am and the bus was scheduled to leave at 7am . We just made it to the bus where our guide cum driver was waiting. He gave us a warm welcome .
Having him to drive and also be our guide was the best part of the journey.
He was funny and had a lot of stories to share as he drove along . He looked a personality from the movies with long hair tied behind and a beard .
We left Glasgow before sunrise , and gradually saw daylight creeping in .
Our first stop was Loch Lomond . The lake is beautiful. The sunshine was brilliant and made a good opportunity for pictures . A few people were boating on the lake.
We had a quick cup of coffee and tuna sandwiches that Anjean had prepared for this trip. The mince samosas , an Indian snack also prepared by Anjean would serve as lunch along with the sandwiches and cheese biscuits.
Our next stop was at Ardlui . We stretched and walked around . The slope of a hill made a beautiful backdrop with the rust coloured trees ,greens of the others and the frost below .
We then moved on the through the Scottish highlands into Rannoch Moor and Glencoe . Glencoe is considered the most beautiful glen . We passed beneath the Ben Nevis en route through Glencoe. Glencoe is a village in Lochaber which is famous for its natural beauty . It has the Ben Nevis the highest mountain in Scotland . There is a memorial installed for the soldiers who died during the 2nd World War and those thereafter . The nearby valley is very steep .
The mountains were breathtaking!
There is a small village at the foot of the Glencoe . We passed by Fort Augustus and Fort William until we reached Loch Ness. Fort William is the main town at Lochaber.
Loch Ness is famous for the monster that is supposed to live in the Loc. There are two sets of people , one group firmly believes in it’s existence and the other does not believe . In Scottish forklore she is known as Nessie and is believed to make an appearance periodically.
There was an option to join a cruise on the lake . However we were happy to enjoy tea and cakes at the quaint restaurant near the lake. A gushing spring with a bridge across was a sight which caught my eye .
We then drove on , passing through Inverness . With the sunsetting , it became dark and there was not much to see. So our driver cum guide quietened down and drove speedily back to Glasgow . On the way we had to detour because of road repair . With the help of a passenger and google he found his way back on the route . We did see a beautiful scene of a bridge over the lake just before sundown .
So our day’s trip ended giving us a lot to remember.
Fort William is well known for the highest mountain peak in UK. The ropeway to this peak was one of the attractions . However it has been discontinued due to an accident.
Among others there is a cruise wherein one gets to see seals and birds .
The one which appealed to me was the Jacobite Steam Train ride .
I had made a trip a few years ago to Fort William only for a day and could not experience all this .
Recently my wife and I decided to take a short break from Glasgow to Fort William . I checked at the possible places of interest to see before our departure. My wish was to get on the steam train ride, but no seats were available as they had been booked online for the entire year . This was very disappointing.
Out trip commenced with the ScotRail train from Glasgow Queen Street station to Fort William. We were one hour early at the station. I thought the timing of the train was 1207 hours. It turned out to be 1222 hours. At 1215 the platform number was announced and we immediately moved to it. We were told by the railway checker that we should occupy the middle carriage. However our tickets showed carriage A . Being a bit confused we were about to enter the last carriage with A on it. The guard frantically told us to occupy the middle carriage. This is important as 2 rear of the 4 carriages separate at Crianlarich one going to Oban and the other 4 to Fort Willaim .
We settled in our seats and enjoyed the journey . City landscape gradually changed to country scenery . There were open meadows with sheep and cattle grazing. As we approached Fort William we saw hills and rivers.
We also saw waterfalls. Forests passed in a flash. In 41/2 hours we arrived at Fort William.
At the station I enquired about the Jacobite steam train ride. Here is where our little miracle began . The ticket checker told us that the operator for this ride was independent of Scot Rail, and we could try for tickets at 8.30am next morning at the same platform . We then proceeded to the hotel Cruachan . After checking in we went for a walk and got a few photographs on my camera.
Since it was about 7 pm we decided to go for dinner, and were in for a shock as practically every restaurant was full with diners. The Tavern looked good and we entered . There was already a couple waiting to be seated. After about 20 minutes we got a table and had a good meal. The city center of Fort wIlliam looked quite desolate as we stepped out . So we returned to our hotel. The rooms were very comfortable. We showered and retired, to wake up next morning to a pleasant day. The buffet breakfast was sumptious. It was then 9.30am and we were told to come to Fort William Station at 8.30am to buy tickets on cash payment as just one carriage would be available.This was for the Jacobite steam train. With a prayer on our lips and hope in our hearts we proceeded to the station. Lo and behold the queue of passengers for tickets was being allowed to enter the platform to buy tickets at carriage A. Surprisingly we got tickets for the last two seats .
I got a nice picture beside the steam engine. The train steamed out of Fort William for a two hour ride to Malaig a tiny port famous for fishing . We had good weather ideal for photographs . We passed through forests and hills with mountains in the distance including the famous Ben Nevis. The train stopped for 20 minutes at Glenfinnan station. Passengers walked around. Since the engine was still emitting steam we took a few pictures with that at the backround.
On leaving Glenfinnan station the train proceeded to its destination not without a breathtaking view of the famous viaduct over which it was passing through. It has a long curve and one can get beautiful pictures. This part of the journey is famous for being featured in the Harry Potter film.
To add to that we had good catering on board. The staff had black úniforms with a hat that had a caption ‘éngine driver’ on it. One of them was quite amusing . He blew a long whistle which sounded like the hoot of the engine; and chatted away with passengers as he served. He was the most hardworking in serving and clearing.
In an hours time we reached Malaig. There we stopped for 11/2 hour . At this port , we walked around and again I pulled out my camera to get a picture.
We decided to have lunch when again we were late and every restaurant was filled to capacity. Eventually we discovered a family run cafe just opposite the station. I had a roast pork roll with apple sauce. The apple sauce was new to me and delicious.
The wind and rain began just when it was time for departure so we hurried to the train, which left on time.
The train passed the Neptune Staircase on the Caledonian Canal which consists of 8 locks The weather gradually changed and was not suitable for photographs
I recorded the sound of the steam engine chugging along, something I remember as a child when travelling from Mumbai to Bangalore.
In two hours we arrived at Fort William station where we spent about an hour to get our train to Glasgow Queen Street station. The time was 1720 hours and few passengers were on board , a far cry from the Jacobite train journey which was buzzing with excited passengers.
The sunset on our return train journey brought a peaceful end to our memorable trip to Fort William.
My cousin had always hoped that I would accept his dinner invitation , which somehow did not seem to happen .
Finally , I messaged him that this time I was ready to accept it , on my trip to Goa.
I asked “ Will 27th May work for you ‘
He replied “ Yes Vincent, you and your wife are welcome to dinner ; you can come here and I’ll drop you’ll home .”
I typed out a reply on the WhatsApp accepting this invitation.
We travelled to his home . However we were in for a shock . His home was dimly lit . It looked as if there was no expectation for a dinner invite. I tried calling him but got no response. I thought that he may have gone to church, which is nearby.
We then rang his door bell . Roy (name has been changed ) just out of his shower opened the door and said quite seriously“ I called you for dinner.”
I replied “ Yes , we have come for dinner.”
“But you did not reply to my message; and we were wondering whether you were coming or not.” said a surprised Roy.
“I did reply”
“No you did not “ and out came his mobile and he showed me the messages . It was true that my message had not reached him.
I checked my phone and realized that even though I had typed the message , it was not ‘sent’. This left me very embarrassed.
The outcome of this episode was that Roy hosted a delectable dinner , ordered from restaurants nearby.
Roy’s wife Jane regretted that they could not give us a home cooked meal , though we had a good chat to catch up with times gone by .
A tale of two ‘Alloysious’
Sometime ago , I received a video call from a person I knew . He had a broad face and quite bald .
I gladly spoke “Hello Fr Alloysious , so kind of you to remember me after such a long time “ (Fr Alloysious is bald)
He responded “so how are you Vincent ?”
I then realized moments later that it was not Fr Allosious but Alloysious .
I was embarrassed at this gaffe.
However Alloysious carried on the conversation as if he did not notice .
Did he really ?
PS: names have been changed
….with another mistake
This incident occurred while we were on a short holiday in Goa .
Anjean and I drove to church for the early service at 7.30 am. I normally don’t carry my mobile phone to church .
After mass, we decided to refuel at a petrol pump nearby .
The attendant asked me “How many litres do you require ? “
“Full tank” I replied
When he finished refuelling for us , I told him
“I’ll pay by card “ as I was not carrying any cash .
I searched my pockets , and found nothing.
I realized my card was in the folder of my mobile which was left at home .
Thankfully my wife spoke in the local language , Konkani
“ Ami rokdo yetha “ ( we will return fast)
The man was gracious enough to allow us to go home and return to complete our payment .
People were surprised that the attendant allowed us to go inspite of our car having an out station registration, which the locals find difficult to trust .
Two friends grew up together. Both had different approaches to life .
Errol was the serious one and devoted himself to studies in school . Merrill was fun loving and enjoyed games but also studied .
This approach was noticeable when they went to university.
“ Errol will you take part in the the football team selection ?”
“ No , Merrill , I am preparing my notes for history .Are you prepared ?”
“ I have made some points and will elaborate on them as I prepare for the exams, “ replied Merrill. “ However , I’m taking part in the team selection.”
Merrill went ahead and was selected for the college team .
During those days there was also a social . They went for it .
“ Merrill , guess what , I met Daisy , and she showed a lot of interest in me . She is also very studious“
“ Oh, that’s good news “
“ I met many of our friends, but will not get into any serious relationship so early.” said Merrill .
“ I have a tournament very soon , and will be involved with practices. “
Exams began in a few months .
Errol did very well , whereas Merrill had average marks .
Merrill did well in football . He devoted time to studying, and balanced his time , with sports .
Errol’s relationship, took a toll on his studies.
In the following year, his performance in the exams was just average. Merrill too did okay .
“Hey, Errol , why don’t you take time off from all this serious stuff and get into recreational activity .”
So Errol decided to play badminton .
That was the turning point for him. His grades improved .
They both finished their education . Merrill secured a good job , and so did Errol with his all round approach .
They married and settled in their new homes .
Errol worked hard and long hours . He had less family time . This affected his relationship with his wife . Very soon troubles started .
Merrill was happily married . He continued to have an all round approach to life and work . He enjoyed family time . He worked hard and never brought work home .
One day they met and shared their highs and lows .
“Errol , I am doing well in my job. However my relationship with Daisy is poor. What shall I do ? “
“ I believe you should balance work , recreation and family time . I make it a point to take Rose and the kids for outings, and help at home of course . “
“Do you pray , Errol ?”
“ I have no time for that .” replied Errol .
“ Try, doing what I just told you.”
In a few months, Errol experienced joy in his life . His relationship at home improved .
He also did well in his job . He made it a point to keep his off day to rest. recreate and help at home.. He kept time daily to pray .
“Thanks Errol for your help . I’m now much better . Happiness has returned to me .”
I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord ; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near . There is no need to worry ; but if there is anything you need, pray for it , asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. ( Philippians 4: 4-7)