Thursday, May 30, 2013

roland garros kinshasa edition

i went back to my tennis place tonight at the grand hotel de kinshasa. it was like running out onto the soccer field from the locker room. aurelgrooves is back! high fiives! ok, so i did give them all wwf t-shirts, 4 cans of tennis balls and 500m of tennis racket string, but still, they like me for me.

tanya and i teamed up in our brand new matching red skirts i brought to play our usual opponents, the persian and italian UN guys, who, pretty much make a ghastly scene just about every time we play. i might have to find some other members to mooch free court time off of (oh, except that visitors now have to pay 20$?? for an hour?? i'm going to make a scene too!).
so, ok, it's the dry season and so they haven't watered the clay courts and it's like playing on sand. half the lights aren't working. at one point i go to pick up a ball in the "danger corner" (you'll soon know why it's called that) and everyone, even the lebanese guys two lumpy courts over are like no no no don't go there with your racket! danger! danger! the danger corner is a disgusting opaque puddle with live wires sparking all over the place. it emanates sounds like someone is welding. my ball had actually landed on the wires, and the lights on all the courts were flickering...ballboy comes over with a big wooden stick "je ne veux pas vous voir electrocuté, madame" and pokes the ball out. the ball is now covered in slime and picks up all the clay/sand and we might as well play with rolled up wet socks. so, outrage, outrage from the UN guys. my racket, strung less than 2 hours ago by tanya breaks a string (for which i brought a 12€ package or primo strings argh). she feels bad and makes us switch, and kicks ass with a halfly strung racket and we clean up 3 sets. my backhand is wicked - nice babolat, tanya.

the usually unbribeable completely impartial ballboy/umpire guy was actually rooting for me. normally there is nothing you can do, no arguing, screaming or paying, it's either in or out and he calls it and that's the end. but this time, i was at the net and he was murmuring in this really lowwww slllooowwww voice "il faut gagner, madammme...tu ne peux pas rentrer en allemagne une vous perdez je pllleeeeur...." but i would end up laughing and hitting the ball into the danger corner. maybe he was working for other team - well, probably not, since everyone hates these angry UN guys.  

i tried to sneak out without paying but i was caught, and so the UN guys come with me to the sports desk to fill out a formal written complaint about the courts, everything. i guess they pay like, 300$ a month, so i would be pissed too. the guy behind the counter is all you again! hellooo! i loooooove your complaints! here, write another one! and he pulls out a folder and it's 22 pages of letters, all written by the italian. the sportsdeskman promises us that he faxes eeeeevery one of the complaints to the head of customer services. as if there's such a think as congolese customer service. and where is this office? just over there, down the hall. why do you send a fax? hand to forehead. has anyone ever even received a fax in kinshasa? seriously? that thing isn't even plugged in. i offered to take back my 20$ to invest in 4 giant street light bulbs for my next trip back. they are considering it.

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