Tennis at MCA

MCA or the Mumbai Cricket Association is a sports/ family club situated in an upcoming commercial area of Mumbai, the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). In Mumbai, I have noticed that the Mumbaikers love their acronyms, and I don’t mind them too. So MCA and BKC, you will notice a lot of in this posting. BKC boasts an array of 5 star hotels such as the Trident and Sofitel, all of which are amazingly designed and maintained. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but the hotels in India, such as your internationally popular ones like the Intercontinental or the Sheraton or the Marriott, put the very same chains in the USA to shame. I was often disappointed when I went to most of these hotels in any part of the USA because I knew how their counterparts were in Mumbai; how stunning and magnificent these hotels were.

BKC also hosts other commercial and important establishments such as the Diamond Market, the American School of Mumbai, the Dhiurbhai Ambani International School, the American Consulate, as well as Mumbai’s Income Tax Department!!! (that’s a story for another day). The MCA is also in the mix of these establishments and it’s one fine establishment, if I may say so myself.

My husband and I are not members of the club, though we would like to be someday. Our bank had an offer where we could visit the club and also avail of table tennis or the lawn tennis facilities. Since my husband and I are big tennis fans and have been playing for the last 6-7 years, we grabbed the opportunity to play again after a 10 month hiatus. The last time we played tennis was in San Francisco, August 28, 2011. But I have to say, it was just not the same experience in Mumbai (more on that later).

The MCA representative was hospitable and walked us through the club which exudes an air of aristocracy, especially because of the English feel that one can sense from the teak wood furniture, the wooden ceilings and rafters, the grand columns, and the old country style elegance that adorned the place. Here are some images of what I am referring to:

One the restaurants in the vicinity

One the restaurants in the vicinity

Even the bar has a very English and charming feel to it:

The bar faces the cricket grounds

The bar faces the cricket grounds

On inquiring about the membership fee for the club, we were informed that cost for a family of 4 (a couple and 2 children below the age of 21 years) is INR 15 lakhs or 1.5 million rupees or USD 27,000 for a lifetime membership. In addition to this one time payment, there is an annual fee of Rs. 12,000 or USD 215 per year. These payments include the use of the lawn tennis, the gym, the swimming pool and the shower facilities. Access to any other facilities such as squash or billiards or table tennis or any other sports, is an additional fee. You do the math!

In any case, playing tennis for the first time in Mumbai was quite an experience – one that I will never forget. It must have been about 30 degrees Celsius, the humidity sky-rocketing, and I felt like I was going to pass out in the first 20 minutes of playing. I was dripping sweat from every cell in my body; there were points in the match where I felt like someone walked over to me and poured a bucket of slime all over my head. Yes, it was incredibly sweaty and my hair was drenched! I could have been hallucinating, but there was steam coming from my arms, face, and head…that’s how hot I felt! I was unable to concentrate and all I was doing, while trying to hit the ball, was wipe sweat of my face and neck. And this was a game that we started playing at 8 pm! God only knows how people play tennis during the day!! Even scarier, god only knows if I would be alive to write this post!

I was sooooo unprepared for playing tennis in Mumbai weather, that I did not even bring a towel with me. This is something I never had to do when playing in San Francisco, why would I have had to do it now? Of course, I have learned my lesson the hard way and have promised myself to bring 2 towels the next time I play.

Overall, it was fun trying to get in the grove of playing tennis – the operational word being “trying” – as I was struggling on the court for the first 1 hour, making every attempt to ignore the mosquitoes and tiny flies, to not be distracted by the crows that would frequent the court every so often for the dead mosquitoes and flies, to wipe as much sweat off my face as possible, and to try to concentrate on the game. And if you ask me if I would do this all over again, I would answer with a triumphant Yes! – all of this madness for the love of tennis.


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