Friday, June 1, 2012
Off to the races…
A traveler’s prayer which won’t help us in the Melbourne Cup
God grant me a vacation to make bearable what I can’t change, a friend to make it funny, and the wisdom to never get my knickers in a knot because it solves nothing and makes me walk funny.
There is a tradition on board of horse racing. Not, mind you, the real flesh-and-blood, oat-eating, manure-producing kind of horse, but the wooden, moves-when-you-move-it kind of horse. Every few days there are horse races in the Vista Lounge, the gathering place where you have a spot to put your drink—as opposed to the Princess Theater (or Theatre to the Aussies and Poms and Kiwis on board) which just has seats, comfortable seats for sure, but no place to put your beer! The cheering crowds bet $3 on a horse—there are 6 in each race—and Tim the Cruise Director rolls dice to determine how far each horse moves on the squares marked on the floor. There are great prizes as well as the betting money! The highly coveted yet much despised Princess Champers (Aussie-speak for champagne), also known as Princess Shampoo. And perhaps a luggage tag or a Princess totebag. Big stuff!
A slight digression is in order here and even if it’s not, I’m going to digress anyway: the Team Trivia onboard also awards prizes—not usually champers, however—such as luggage tags and other trivial knick-knacks. Nevertheless, the prizes are practically fought over! The Trivia Teams are limited to 6 and the other day apparently some team complained because another had 7 on their team. Well, there were 7 on the sofa but one was the wife (who suffers from Alzheimers) of a player. Nonetheless, complaints were loudly lodged. It has not come to blows as yet but from the descriptions I’ve heard about Trivia and Scattergories (I have no idea what that is, so don’t ask!) competitors, it may happen any day now.
Off to the races. So those are the run-of-the-mill races. But! Once each sector they have Cup races. Just before Dubai it will be the Melbourne Cup. Just before Los Angeles it will the the Kentucky Derby. And so on. For these races you may bet on your favorite horse but some lucky syndicate will be able to bid for and buy their very own horse. Ours is the Filly from Frankfurt or the Trotter from Tassie (Tasmania) or something like that, I forget, actually. For a mere $180 our syndicate has bought a racehorse. We three couples will get to name him (or her), dress her up in whatever cockamamie costume we want, and come up with a pedigree of our choosing (details to follow; for now, strict secrecy!). We will be sitting in our own Box that we may decorate in the manner of our choosing. Our jockey (me!) may dress in any outlandish costume I want and the more outlandish the better.
And then the race will be run. But we don’t know exactly when yet.
Oh, yes, one tiny detail: one of us has to have physical possession of our horse AT ALL TIMES! We may not even leave him in our staterooms unattended. The room stewards have been instructed to take custody of any horse found unattended in the stateroom and turn it over to the Royal Society for the Protection of Race Horses—Tim, that is. The horse must go to dinner with one of us, on tour with one of us. I think it’s ok to go to the bathroom in our cabin without the horse but you’d better not take you eye off it outside your cabin or it will be horse-napped.
At sea between Penang and Mumbai
5/31/12 Noon: 05° 58’ N, 86° 40’E
6/1/12 Noon: 6° 29’ N, 79° 10’ E