I was on holiday recently and I finally took the time to read Tony Hawks’ book “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis”. I actually knew Tony Hawks more as the founder of a Chisinau-based centre for kids with chronic conditions coming from socially vulnerable families, where a few of my friends from the British/international community in Chisinau either work or volunteer. I now discovered what he is actually most known for, his writing talent and very funny vein (I actually went on to read also his earlier book about travelling around Ireland with a fridge, just to keep laughing a bit longer).
Reading the book – set in Moldova in 1998 – makes you smile but awakes some conflicting emotions too, if you have lived in Moldova. So much has changed since then – the city centre streets do now enjoy public lights, there are plenty of restaurants and pubs and probably less potholes, and the soviet past is now a distant memory, basically unknown for an entire generation of young adults. On the other hand, so much still rings true and many of the author’s frustrations cannot but resonate with any foreigner who is trying to bring forward a project – even one that is not as crazy as trying to play tennis with 11 football players from the Moldovan national team, and beat all of them to win a 100 dollars bet struck with a drunk friend back in England.
If you got curious, read the book and enjoy some laughs – or you can check out the 2012 movie based on the book, or the 18-minutes TEDxChisinau talk from 2013 where Tony Hawks illustrates his vision for a fair repartition of the world’s economic resources.