Football Pilgrimage 2017 Part 3: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Five days before our departure, FC Barcelona were odds on to win the La Liga as well as the Champions League. Win all their games and the ‘double’ was in their hands. Not any more though. In the subsequent three days, they lost 0-2 at Malaga and 0-3 at Turin. Our much detailed, awaited and planned trip suddenly turned into one where we would end up watching the world’s most admired Football club lose. A trip where the probability of disappointment would be high; and hope, our only straw to clutch on.

However, excitement, soon took over. At the brilliant Changi Airport Emirates checkin counter, Nirmal Kapadia and I forgot to collect our passports. Soon came back to tell the lady “Just put us on flight, keep the passports as ‘gift'”!!!, to her teary eyed laughter. I realised, hope had turned over to a ‘nothing to lose’ journey. Probably the message which Kumar Sambhaw Sultania had sent from Delhi the previous night helped. It read – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, meaning, the Indian version of YOLO – you only live once!

We more than lived the flight journey. Emirates attendant Rachael Rodrigues and her charming smile gave us company for a time much longer than you ever saw any air hostess talk to passengers. That conversation made our flight length seem shorter – underlining again the importance of human company. She took care of our vegetarian diet needs and was very keen listener to our trip plans. She hails from Goa. The idyllic beaches, lazy elegance and suave atmosphere – all present in her personality. Hopefully, social media will keep us connected, beyond this flight. But even if not, this memory will resurface, every time we board a flight. I regret not asking her for a picture together.
We landed at Barcelona chill 15 deg celcius making a typical corporate sales graph – having started the day with 30 deg at Singapore and then 40 degree at Dubai transit.

We reached the AirBnB apartment next to the stadium and Kumar and I chatted laying down, lights out, till morning 4am. When was the last time you did that with a close friend? 
The city of Barcelona, the nude beach, the casino, the big match – all await me tomorrow.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara!

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