Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | January 11, 2018

Summer 17/18

It has been 9 years since we moved to New Zealand. Whilst we don’t always remain as awestruck as we used to be earlier for various reasons (largely due to missing our family back home), time and again we do manage to get opportunity to do things which we may not have done otherwise, back in India. This at times involve re-living childhood.

I am not sure if I have bragged about this before but since 2016, I have been cooking quite a bit at home. It is not fancy cooking at all but I made a start because I wanted to do some activity where people around me will have least expectation out of me. It is not easy you see to wake up every day for wanting to become a good professional, good son, good friend, good husband, good father, householder etc. I wanted to do something where I had the opportunity to fail and my family will say, “at least you tried”. In 2015, I took up advanced level swimming lessons for this particular reason. Since 2016 onwards, I started cooking at home.

I cook at least twice or thrice a week and that could be anything. So far it has not been bad experience for others and I have been tested by people in the family and people outside the family (even non-Indians who usually will not even eat Indian food!). Cooking so far has been therapeutic to me and manages to control my anxiety to a certain extent.

This summer break, I got a bicycle (or a bike as it is called here!) for myself. Now, last time I regularly rode a bike was in Durgapur (which was back during 1994-ish). 24 years back. In between, I rode a bike briefly around the sea in New Plymouth, but it was not really cycling. I am thankful to my wife that she insisted that I accompany my son on his bike rides. Therefore, I bought a mountain bike. Cycles in New Zealand are generally expensive in comparison to India and are really made to suit the conditions of roads here. Although, riding the big bike with gears gave me a bit of back-pain initially but I am thoroughly enjoying it. 24 years, you see since I last rode a bicycle like this. Re-living and getting nostalgic.

Coaxed by my son, I have also started playing tennis. It is not easy, especially when a 7-year old is hitting the ball wherever he feels like. It is good exercise for me but more than that it is entertaining. Just opposite where we live, there are two public tennis courts which hardly anyone use. Although, not many people use these courts but they are still well maintained. Accordingly, we use it and play tennis.

I love following sports, especially cricket, football and tennis. As far as tennis is concerned, I should say I followed it the most when Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Steffi Graf ruled the games. As a youngster, I used to hope that someday I will be able to watch a live tennis game. Surprisingly, this happened this year. We watched Caroline Wozniacki, who is current world number 2 and former number 1 play in this year’s Auckland Open. My son and I also caught up with Juan Martin Del Potro (former US open champion and current world number 11) at a brief signing ceremony. Continuing with tennis, we also went and supported India’s own Leander Paes. My perception was tennis watching is generally very expensive around the world and only keen followers of the game (and/or snobs) watch the games live. Auckland was a bit different though. Watching the ASB Classic (as it is called) was affordable and the event is pitched as a family event more than anything else. Therefore, there were loads of kids hanging around the event and also the players were really approachable. In New Zealand, one of the objectives of any sporting event is to encourage youngsters and the ASB Classic definitely lived up to the spirit.

The same spirit was seen in the domestic cricket game we went to watch recently. It was the New Zealand version of IPL, but much more toned down in comparison (thank god!). Yes, there was coloured clothing but no cheer leaders etc. Since, we go and watch an international cricket match every year and we have child, one fine day I got an email saying I have got complementary tickets to watch a domestic T20 cricket game of my choice in Auckland with my family (could be of 2 adults and 3 kids). It was free parking so we took our beach chairs in the boot and marched on.

Watching cricket in New Zealand is very different from that in India. Even the biggest of crowd is very small compared to India. Further, the kids normally play their own version of cricket in the embankments. The adults just relax, have donuts, beer, fries and watch cricket lazily. People don’t really dress up formally to watch cricket (not even tennis actually!). It is a very relaxed atmosphere – unbelievably relaxed. Best thing is, again it is a kid friendly event.

Through-out the event someone kept on announcing that after the game has concluded the players would like to thank the kids and families by hanging around with them. So, when the game concluded everyone entered the field and the kids freely interacted with the players of either sides, took photos etc. Kids loved taking photos/autographs with some of the international cricketers and they reciprocated the feeling of love. Kids’ were complaining to the losing captain about the loss (as the local team lost) and he was telling them about how in sports sometimes these things happen but we should keep trying. My son came back with a cap where he collected autographs of most of the cricketers who were on show. This to me, was quite unique.

What else then? I have again started playing chess and we are trying to writing a comic book too. We also went on a sail-boat.

Let’s see where does being away from friends and family takes us.


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