Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

The Autograph

Round 1 of the Chennai Open. Nadal is missing this year, but that’s okay. The stadium’s not empty. Some people exit centre court. They’re wearing tennis shoes and caps. A young girl in fifth standard approaches one of them for an autograph.

“Sorry, but I’m not a player,” he responds. After her insistence, he signs a sheet of paper, anyway.

Meanwhile, two of her cousins, both graduate students, chuckle to themselves. “Probably the ball boy,” one of them jokes, and they both laugh as they walk towards their seats. Their aunt calls them back less than a minute later. She’s waving a sheet of paper triumphantly.

“Look at who just gave M an autograph,” she says. “Carlos Moya!”

Her cousins look at the sheet. There are two autographs. One is clearly Moya, but the other one is indecipherable. Must have been from the ball boy, they conclude.

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