My friend circle here is slowly but surely widening (about bloody time as well) and I have hit double figures. Something I often struggled with a cricket bat in hand. Now to add to my list of a Bhutanese bodybuilder, an American realtor, a German IT whiz, a Canadian information architect, a Spanish architect and a few Nokia finance gurus (Heidi's colleagues really but I'm claiming them here), are an English chef, an Australian programmer and a Finnish fireman. Quite a diverse bunch, don't you think? 144 - besides that being the infamous match winning score by Sourav Ganguly against Zimbabwe in 2000, it is also my very own match winning bowling score in the dads outing last week. Ironically, it was also the very same total I lost to in the second game. Damn!!!! What's more irritating is that I lost to an Australian. Even in bowling...even in a social daddy get together...even in Geneva...the Aussies just can't let someone else enjoy the satisfaction of coming number one. I was sporting in defeat (i think) and somehow coaxed myself to say - 'Well done mate!' coupled with a politician's fake laugh. On the inside though, I was gutted and sledged profusely. He's a top bloke though and since he lives in my neighbourhood, I plan to meet him on Fridays with our kids.
Are all chefs characters? My new English chef friend certainly is one. He looks like crocodile dundee and talks as much as Anthony Bourdain. Mind you, one has to have a sense of humour if one's taking care of one's 3 children....all girls!!! Hats off to him.
Last week, I overheard some Finnish being spoken at a playground. A quick parental scan revealed the source to be a fellow dad. I was ecstatic and casually pounced (is there such a thing?) on the opportunity to have some adult conversation and showoff my language skills. Once I had exhausted my vocabulary in Finnish, so that's 10 seconds later, we reintroduced ourselves in English and our respective offsprings. Turns out he's a fireman. Yes, a bloody FIREMAN!!! How does a man react when he meets a real life fireman? What I instantly felt was a mixture of awe and envy with a generous sprinkling of worthlessness. My self esteem took yet another blow. I sheepishly shared my expertise in making sports TV programs, average ones at that. Once I had regained my confidence, my next line of query was whether the poles in the fire stations are a myth and how many cats do they rescue from trees on a weekly basis. Thankfully I didn't 'burn any bridges' with my crap attempt at comedy. Because we've had a few playmeets (not play dates!) since. We even had a day trip with the kids to visit his fire station at CERN. Now, like Tino, I also want to become a fireman when I grow up. We took turns wearing the helmet and pressing all the buttons in the fire truck. But ONLY I got to wear the orange jacket! They even have a full fledged gym and are officially allowed to train there 2 hours a day. They play floorball, football, table tennis and even tennis in the big indoor space when the fire trucks are parked outside. I'm no Sherlock Holmes but I'm guessing there's a fair amount of downtime. But then, the rest of us don't run the risk of being exposed to radioactive material on daily basis so who am I to judge. They are not just firemen but are trained paramedics as well. Unlike in France where they encourage hero culture, the Finnish fire training is quite analytical. You are taught to pause, analyze and take precautions before doing anything impulsive like charging in bare chested. As I left the station, my parting words to the 8 firemen on duty were - "keep the city safe lads!". What an idiot! I think I said what I said because I was intimidated. Also, Sam was on holiday. The lazy git!