Victoria and the Seven Year Old

“If you go to Victoria, check out the clock-tower. It’s big, beautiful and the pride of Seychelles,” everyone in Seychelles had told us. Victoria was the capital city of Seychelles. Whenever we went to Victoria, we’d usually go early to get money exchanged. The bank would have limited exchange currency and it’d get over if you were slightly late.

So we took all the precautions necessary.
From my side; that included a magnetic chess board, a pack of cards, a book, earphones, and loading lots of songs into my mom’s phone. It could be a four-hour wait at times; a boy had to go prepared.

When we first went to Victoria, we stopped at the bank. It was probably a little before five in the morning and people were already waiting in line. I took out my magnetic chess board and started playing chess with my dad. A few minutes later, we heard a chime and looked around for the source of the sound.

And there it was; right next to the bank, in the middle of the crossroads. We’d mistaken it for a normal clock when we came in, but that was apparently the famous Clock Tower, just five meters up from the ground.

Expectations

That is the famous Clock Tower? We have larger clock-towers in villages in India,’ my dad said, shaking his head in disbelief. I sniggered, partly because what he said was funny and partly because I’d stolen his queen while he wasn’t looking.

After our work at the bank was done, we roamed around and saw the city life of Seychelles. I remember falling in love with pizza in Victoria at this restaurant called “The Pirates Arms”.

On the drive back home, my mom pointed to a beautiful beach as it rolled past us. I wondered what would happen if Seychellois came to India and we showed them our beaches in Goa.
That is the famous Calangute beach?’ they’d say, ‘we have better beaches outside our homes in Seychelles.’

It was only natural that we glorified the things we had, even if they weren’t the best or the most beautiful. Soon, I realized that this principle applied to the way people worked too. People who weren’t good at what they did would often also lack the skills necessary to identify that they were bad at it.

Victoria taught me to look beyond clock-towers and beaches. It showed me how I could delve into the perspectives and opinions of people instead.

It also taught me not to steal the queen from a chessboard. My father ended up winning anyway.

Camp and the Seven Year Old (Part 2)

If you’re coming from Part 1, continue reading.
If you haven’t read part one, here it is!

So, the Nokia phone lasted me the entire week, obviously, but it died when I got off the bus that was taking me back home. More on that later.

On the fourth day of camp, a huge windstorm started and clothes on the clothes-line were flying everywhere. Except for mine of course – because I’d decided to not wash them and I was storing the sweaty and used ones in a big blue plastic bag.

I distinctly remember this guy running out of a washroom with a soap in his hand, holding the railing of the corridor and struggling to walk towards our room, because the wind was insane. I’m not exaggerating, it was actually a storm. He got into the room safely.
We later found out that everyone’s clothes had ended up on one side of the camp and were all muddy and wet. I was proud of myself for being smart enough to not wash my clothes then.

On the second last day of camp, we had a “Sports Day” and we paired up with people and had fun. I remember running in my first three-legged race and winning at lemon-spoon and sucking at football, as usual. I finally made some friends that evening and that felt weird because the camp was going to be over the next day.

The next morning, we packed all our stuff up, got ready and climbed aboard the bus that was to take us back home. When we reached my school, I got off along with a few other people.

I was supposed to call my dad so he could send a taxi to get me, but I wanted to pee real bad and my phone was dead. Home was a 15-minute walk, so I trudged back home with my luggage – a black bag that originally had all my stuff in it and a blue plastic bag that contained all my used, sweaty clothes now. The black bag was practically empty.

Once I was at the door, I banged on it a few times. Apparently, my mom had gone for a bath. I held my pee, shifting from foot to foot, shouting for her to open the door.

She came out after what felt like an eternity and gave me a quick hug. Too “pee-occupied” for all this emotional stuff, I ran inside. “My bathroom!” I shouted as I closed the door behind me and had the best pee in seven days. Judge me all you want, but you know what that feels like too.

the_bathroom

When I walked back outside, I could smell the stench of sweat and saw my mother’s disgusted face.

‘What is this?’ she asked, pointing at the now open blue plastic bag.
‘Clothes I didn’t wash because they wouldn’t dry properly enough,’ I replied cheerfully.
‘And you just – kept them like that?’
‘Yep’, I said, walking into my room and flopping onto the bed.

I woke up to the sound of the washing machine whirring in the distance and the smell of home cooked food.

I never went to a camp again.


[Check out all my previous adventures in Seychelles here]