A few weeks back a friend of mine called me and said I gotta show you something. I am coming over.
Soon he was in my house and wasgasping for breath.
He showed me this:
And said “I was so surprised to get this. You involved?”
I said “Not wholly, basically a whole load of followers of perfect Tennis have been invited for this event. I guess you have made some comments on the blog in the past, right.”
He nodded and asked me “Are you going?”
I said “Of course, I have been invited too”.
Then he asked “Will Federer be there?”
I said “I have no idea. He is not exactly my bum-chum, you know.”
He then asked me “Free alcohol ?” I said “Of course Moet and Chandon are one of the sponsors.”
Then he said “In that case can we go together” I said “Why not ?” and soon enough we were headed to Switzerland
First stop Zurich.
From the airport, we took a train to Schaffhausen.
I informed my friend. “This is Mirka’s hometown. Her folks still live here.” I added quite confidently. My friend was clearly in awe of me.
From there to see the Rhine Falls. An awesome sight. We took a boat which would take us to a small hill from where we could see and admire the beauty of the falls. While we were booking the tickets for the boat-ride, we bumped into a group of 10 Indian tourists. They were telling the ticket clerk “ look we are 10 of us. We need a bulk discount” We Indians are always looking for discounts wherever we travel !!!
From Schaffhausen to Montreaux. I have always wanted to see Freddie Mercury’s statue overlooking Lake Geneva. It was a rainy day and we stood dripping singing ‘We are the Champions my friend’. I used my umbrella like a guitar, looking quite foolish. But who cares, we were in Switzerland. Federerland.
And finally Biel.
Biel is a nice picturesque city, 30 minutes away from Berne. The Biel Tennis Centre for Juniors is where Federer trained.
We walked by the Tennis Centre, feeling lucky to see the place where Federer honed his skills.
We walked by the Allee- Roger-Federer, which is where the new TGIF discotheque is now. It was an imposing structure, no doubt, classy and majestic, very much like Fed.
Soon enough we are the venue of the mega-event.
We flash our invitation cards and the bouncers dressed like ball-boys ushered us in.
We have privileged seats being Perfect-Tennis invitees.
The stage is a rectangular one, marked like a tennis court albeit without a net. And the backdrop is a huge screen which is playing a TGIF corporate video. At the dot of 6 the video stops the screen goes blank and the lights dim and a spotlight comes on and we see the familiar visage of Jonathan, the famous founder of Perfect Tennis.Com.
Ladies & Gentlemen, Welcome to the opening of the TGIF Discotheque. And wishing Roger Federer a very happy 35th birthday wherever he is.
The crowd roars and sings Happy Birthday Roger.
Jonathan continues” As part of this new launch, the first item of the agenda is a poetic rendition. I welcome the ATP President Ms. Alex. The crowd gasps. ATP??? And who is this lady???
Then Jonathan clarifies ATP – Association of Tennis Poets, folks. Please welcome Ms. Alex.
Alex walks on to the stage to thunderous applause and kicks off straightaway
Every time I tell myself I won’t do it again
I will no more make the same mistake
I will no more feel the same pain
I just can’t take anymore heartache
As she pauses the crowd claps in unison and shouts Allez. Alex continues pausing after every verse and the crowd is now totally with her.
And even if he doesn’t win anything anymore
I will be happy just to see him play… Rise or fall
And I will be cheering for him even more
For the magician of the courts, the greatest of them all
That was the last verse and as she completes the recitation, she gets a standing ovation. I can see quite a few dabbing their eyes with handkerchiefs, tissues etc. There’s not a dry eye in the crowd.
Alex departs, clearly moved by the audience reaction.
Jonathan is back. Next part of our agenda is the Rampwalk Rendition.
The music starts. We will We will Rock you, by the Queen and the stage which has been made to resemble a Parisian rampwalk soon sees the likes of Ana Ivanovic, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza, Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic, Eugenie Bouchard et al dressed in fashionable discowear and walking the ramp.
The crowd is loving it. My friend is loving it as we try and recognize the players as they walk in. Its over soon and Jonathan is back” Please welcome on stage Ms. Anna Wintour, who put this whole rendition together.
Anna walks in flamboyant as usual. She bows to the crowd who applaud her handsomely.
Jonathan is a fine compere as he keeps the crowd in good humour. Please welcome Gwen Stefani he says and the crowd waits with bated breath. Gwen invites the crowd to the dance floor which is again made to look like a tennis court, again without the net.
Gwen comes in and enthralls the crowd with a rendition of the Oscar winning song “ Last dance” way back from 1978 sung by Donna Summer. A good part of the crowd is on the floor, a throw-back of the disco era of the 80s.
My friend and I make no move to the dance floor as he has two left feet and I, two right feet. I tell him, “you know this song is from the movie Thank God Its Friday, set in a discotheque. One of the earliest movies of Jeff Goldblum & Debra Winger. That’s why they chose this song.” My friend looked at me in admiration. Of course I was showing off.
Gwen Stefani finished to the sounds of Encore, Once More etc, but she deigned and left as there was more to follow.
Back to Jonathan.
Folks, we are going to take a short break of an hour. Please help yourself to the wine, champagne and eats. I must add that we have kept the cookies under lock and key. Just to be safe.
I nodded knowingly, but didn’t elaborate to my questioning friend. Some things are within the fraternity.
We helped ourselves to some fine wine and delectable eats and mingled with the crowd. Stan the Man was holding court with some twenty-something girls who were getting autographs on striped shorts.
There soon was an announcement. For everybody to gather around the now fully setup tennis court with net and also a chair umpire in the form of Severin Luthi. Before I could open my mouth, my friend said “ I know, I know, that is Severin Luthi, Fed’s coach and also captain of the Swiss Davis Cup team” I looked away as if I was deprived of a lollipop.
Folks, please welcome Dominic Thiem & Nick Kyrgios, bellowed Jonathan.
The two youngsters came and played a single-set exhibition of a mix of elegant & power tennis. Dominic with his flowing single-handed backhands a la Fed and Nick employing the SABR ( Sneak Attack By Roger ). The score-line 6-6, when the lights were dimmed and Luthi announced. Play suspended due to bad light !!!.
The crowd was delighted with this different approach.
But in any case they were waiting for the Surprise part of the agenda. The fitting finale of a highly enjoyable evening.
The net was dismantled soon enough and the stage was dark. The whole place was dark. We could only hear Jonathan say Lights on please. And the lights on the stage slowly increased in luminosity and lo behold, there sat Federer, Mirka, Charlene & Myla flanking either parent and Leo and Lenny on the laps of both Fed & Mirka.
The crowd erupted when Jonathan announced Ladies & Gentlemen…. The Von Federer Family.
And the ‘Von Federer Family’ burst into a rendition of the famous song from Sound of Music… So Long, Farewell
The girls were very effusive. Fed & Mirka were singing full-throttle
I was wondering about the purport of the song. Is it really farewell???
Soon enough the song was over and the crowd was in raptures of ecstasy. What a surprise from the first family of tennis.
Fed took the mike.
Thank you all for coming. I am sure it has been a delightful evening. Many congratulations to TGIF for this launch. And let me add it is not a farewell from my side. Just like the Von Trapp family made a new beginning towards the end of the movie, I will be back in 2017. A new beginning.
The applause was deafening to say the least.
The lights went off and when they came back, the stage was empty.
Back in Muscat. My friend’s young daughter was happy with the Lindt chocolates we picked up from Switzerland while we sipped on some awesome wine from Moet and Chandon.
She asked “What was the name of the discotheque?”
And before I could answer, my friend told her ‘Thank God Its Federer’.