Zen and The Act of Kindness

IMG_0772“Seriously?  You have a bath and a kettle in your room?” I said to new Club Med friend Els. “It must be a deluxe one: I was told they’d done away with most of them in the refurb – part of an economy drive around water. I agree with that – but I do love a soak in the bath after a hard day’s table tennis and lounging by the pool.”

It was the first of many changes I spotted during my week at Da Balaia. It seemed that like some of its guests and the world at large, Club Med is also partial to an identity crisis: Rooms are refreshed; a newly decorated bar upstairs is all blonde wood; the nightclub area bright and airy, however in the communal areas the same old comforting carpet greeted me – a little tired around the edges now.

I followed crowds of beards from a tech company visiting for a conference to the dining room for lunch.

Ines, a Gentil Organisateur (G.O.) tore me away from frowning at chipped plates and cups, and the large round table next to me of eight French bloggers superglued to their ‘phones.
“So, how was your morning?” she asked, smiling. I told her what I’d done and hadn’t done and we found shared experiences to bond over.

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The One and Only

IMG_1705“Whaddya mean you’re having another double espresso?! What’s the matter with you Al?!”
“I dunno, something’s gotten into me, and the coffee is pretty good here.”

It was all my fault as usual.  Having left a rather brilliant but harrowing movie – Victoria – we needed something to take the edge off.  The cinema bar told us it was closing: “Well, we are in London after all and it’s almost midnight, so that makes sense” said my droll companion.

We walked out onto the festival type crowded streets of Soho wondering where to go, when it occurred to me.  There really is only one place for such a moment. “Bar Italia” I said, “Let’s go there.”

Like a homing pigeon I found my way easily.  Perhaps 20 years have elapsed since I last visited but on walking past the jovial heat-lamp-lit tables outside, I was relieved to see absolutely nothing had changed. The large screen at the back relayed football; even the waiters looked the same.

Miraculously two stools appeared free at the counter top. I quickly commandeered them whilst Al did the honours in the queue. Reaching for one seat nestled up close to another on which sat an elderly gent in animated conversation with a distinguished looking waiter, my hand was seized. “You’re trying to touch his ass?” Roxano, the latter, asked.
“No! No!  I just need to grab the stool next to him!”  I said laughing.
“You will see, it is as hard as a rock.”

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