Meeting Bernie

I met Bernie Ecclestone.

I am no fashionista, couldn’t be one if I tried ever so hard, but I like walking down the corridors of the impossibly glamorous malls on Orchard Road, looking into display windows at absurdly clothed mannequins, giant handbags, shoes that would make the wearer tower over an entire NBA team. Turn left, it’s Louis Vuitton and Chanel, look right and you have Prada and Dolce & Gabbana. Labels rule. Orchard Road is the best place to be at to savour completely the flavour of the F1 season. Tourists throng the malls, and apparently, celebrities too.

Standing by one of the exits at Takashimaya, a small figure with an unruly mop of grey hair, wearing the familiar white shirt, he could almost have passed off for a nondescript shopper (if people who actually buy things there can be nondescript). But Bernie is the man with the deep pockets and the hands that hold the reins of F1, and it is hard not to recognise him if you have, for months on end, seen him strolling down the starting grid, patting shoulders in fireproof suits, having a word with team bosses.

I was, of course, dumbfounded, and after the word “Bernie”, I just managed to choke out an incoherent sentence which I don’t intend to repeat. I told him I was from India, to which knowledge his first sentence came out completely naturally- “India. We are coming there next year.” He seemed pretty impressed by the fact that I was from India, and if I have contributed the tiniest mite in convincing the powers that be that there is quite a sizeable population looking forward to F1 in India, I will feel my life has had purpose and meaning.

I was speechless when I met Bernie and shook hands with him. I would have positively swooned if I’d run into one of the drivers. This is surreal. There was a very pretty girl beside Bernie, presumably Tamara Ecclestone, his daughter.

(The real reason I went to Orchard was watch-shopping. Tag Heuer blew me away. Only, the price tags were a little steep. We walked into Chanel for a lark, and walked out laughing after we saw a watch worth $75, 300. Only. Finally, though, I managed to find myself a decent black Esprit watch, not flashy, but very attractive. Simple is nice.)

Tremendous uncertainties, possibilities of turning round the corner and running into an F1 star, the thrill, the actual experience of living out what I’ve always wanted to see- it’s all so overwhelming! Can I hope to get just a little bit luckier? Sunday will tell.

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