It’s always about the right ‘trophy’


A balmy tropical breeze ripples through my stiffly gelled hair, I am frowning. I bring my frozen Daiquiri to my hot and bothered forehead and try to calm myself. I continue frowning. The Daiquiri’s no good, I switch to a Pimms.

Midday. Two boats anchored by a picturesque cove in the Bimini Islands in the breathtaking Bahamas. Is this going to be an Ernest Hemingway moment? No, I don’t think so. I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot while struggling for the big one like he did on his first fishing trip here. But a challenge is a challenge. And I’m no old man when it comes to the sea.

I look across at my friend’s boat. He’s got a freshly caught 10 foot Bluefin Tuna weighing a gazillion kilos hooked up like a prized trophy. He’s posing next to it while his butler captures many angles of the moment for posterity. He looks across at me, his chest quite a few sizes larger than it actually is. Damn him, the proud fool.

“That will make a lot of sushi” I shout across the water. The humour is lost to the waves as his reply comes floating back. Obviously he’s in no mood to give any quarter. And a certain repeated gesture confirms this. Back to the bait my friend, I’d better start hooking up the tackle again.

Big fish, small fish … Can’t accept defeat. But wait, is it a bait issue I think? What if I use bigger bait? So I stuff the tackle. Damn, I get 3 Bonefish trying to bite the life out of the bait, but they’re way smaller than his fish. He smirks, takes a look at his prize catch and gives me a sneer. I unhook the Bonefish and toss them back into the water, my girlfriend smiles at my generosity.

Bigger bait is not the answer, luck is. Why aren’t the big ones biting? Then a brainwave strikes me. What if the fish are picky today? Maybe they’d like something tastier I think as I start hooking up choice slices of smoked salmon to the tackle, much to my chef’s dismay.

I toss the line out, wait impatiently, glugging back on my afternoon tradition, a  Pimms No.1. At last a tug, I get up from my perch and reel it in. It struggles a bit. It’s a big one I think, gauging by the fight it gives me. My friend across gets up and observes interestedly. It turns out to be smaller than the strength it displayed. A Barracuda, I’m doing better. But it’s still not good enough. He laughs at my efforts, goes back to drinking and admiring his catch. My, these fish are strong!

Dismayed but not defeated, I bring out my new trophy girlfriend, at least I’ve got a better catch I can hold on to … unlike his dead smelly fishy ‘trophy’. Ha, so there! Friend can’t stop laughing at my childishness. He gets up and hugs his fish, kisses it, like he would a woman, pretends to make out with it, and turns back and points at my trophy. He can’t stop laughing.

The audacity of the man to provoke my primeval instinct to win, to be better! If my woman was not going to impress him, I had to get the bigger fish. Well if that was the trophy he was fighting for, let me turn it on.

My mind thinks about bait again. Maybe I need to hook something more delectable. I get out my stock of prime Wagyu beef filets, my chef can’t stop to watch and threatens to resign on his way out.

I throw out the tackle yet again. And wait. I fill up the moments with more Pimms No. 1. Three drinks worth of time wafts by. Finally a tug. I get excited, as does my girlfriend. She’s eager for me to catch the big one just to shut my friend up after having observed him comparing her to his dead Bluefin Tuna.  She leans over the railings far too dangerously to sight the beast I am fighting with and shouts encouragement, obviously her ego has been hurt.

All my muscles come into play as the tug of war begins. My veins pop out, I’m short of breath, and my stiffly gelled hair begins to wilt.  The boat rocks, and I do have a big boat, so it must be a monster I have at the end of the line I think. I tug with all my strength and finally a spear shoots up over the waters surface, followed by what’s attached to it. Wow, look at this mother, it’s a Swordfish! And that’s when I have to make the biggest decision of my life.

Startled by the monster, my dangerously-leaning-over-the-railings girlfriend topples over and makes a petite splash in the warm water. Should I abandon my prize catch or jump into the water to save my ‘trophy’? Oh how I hate dealing with such dilemmas. I look across at my friend for clues on solving my predicament and the look on his face helps me decide on the right thing.

I go after the Swordfish.

I struggle with the monster, try and force it aboard. My girlfriend splashes about in the water, waiting to be helped aboard. I finally string up the beast and bring out the tape for good measure. My girlfriend makes it back on board and she wants to cut me to size. “15 feet long, 536.2 kg” I shout across the water with a ring of victory in my voice.  My girlfriend removes the 12 carat diamond ring I’d given her and throws it into the sea in anger.  I beam at my friend in pride, it’s his turn to wilt. Ha, so there!

Lost the girl, but got the trophy.

India Boating, January 09

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