When you Google ‘best catches in cricket’, Jonathan ‘Jonty’ Rhodes’s appears at the top of the list. The South African player is famous for his spectacular diving catches — sometimes making us feel like he’s Mr Fantastic Reed Richards himself. Fittingly, then, one of his current jobs is as fielding coach of the IPL (Indian Premier League) team Mumbai Indians (MI).
Between that and the MI, he spends close to five months in India and makes sure he gets to travel when he can. “I started working with the Mumbai Indians four years ago. So, I spend quite some time in the country,” says Rhodes, looking relaxed in his Mumbai hotel room. “I love travelling, but tend to do the offbeat things, not touristy stuff.”
Rhodes has gone snowboarding in Gulmarg and done bike expeditions. “I’m an adrenaline junkie,” he says with a laugh. “It’s difficult to travel in India, given the massive size and diversity of the country, but I’ve tried getting in as many experiences as I could.” Rhodes has even been taking a Royal Enfield Bullet bike around the country. “My favourite bike is the Classic 500 and I’ve taken it around with biker groups, like the Airborne Riders in Jaipur, which I am a part of.” One of his most memorable rides has been around Vizag.
Since Mumbai is his base, Rhodes ends up spending a lot of time in the city. “I travel with the team, but return here for a couple of days between games,” he says. Though he isn’t allowed to take cricketers pillion, Rhodes, who is one of the directors of a health and wellness supplements company called Evolution Sports Nutrition (ESN), uses his bike for commuting in Mumbai as well. “I try to get out early in the morning, at 5 am or so and always with a helmet on, before the buses start their run. Those are scary!” he says. Rhodes loves eating at Indigo Deli and walking around High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel. “Some of my teammates like Lance (Klusener, former SA cricketer) love walking around Bandra, and others like going partying. But I avoid that since I’ve heard about the recent hospitality of the Mumbai police,” he says, laughing. Instead, Rhodes hops on to a cab and goes mountain biking a couple of hours outside the city.
Jonty’s picks for desi travel
Snowboarding in Gulmarg: The highest gondola (cabin ski-lift; altitude 13,400 ft) in the world is here. One time, they sent an avalanche rescue team with me just in case I got into trouble. I also enjoyed the nine-course meal I had in Kashmir, which was slow-cooked over 24 hours. Houseboats in Kerala: This was a great experience. I liked eating the vegetarian food here as well, since I otherwise eat a lot of red meat back home. Bike riding in the country: I love the countryside and grab every chance to take my Bullet out with rider groups. The only problem is that while riding, everybody wants to stop and take pictures every 10 minutes.