Well, like the Linda Ronstadt song, silver threads and golden needle, at some point that kind of  indulgence too saturates you. What I suddenly want is a place of my own, a pied-à-terre, in the city that is becoming as much my home as is Santa Barbara. I want my own kitchen and make my own ham and cheese sandwich and my famous soon to be baptized Shamolette by Mick Boskamp of Holland. Pop a bottle of beer, instead of having it delivered to my room. I want to cook elaborate Indian food and invite friends, play my own music. Be able to go from one room to another. I want to have a place where my friends from north of the border can come and visit and be able to stay with me.

We find a place, not too far from Camino Real at the corner of Calle Guadalquivir and Paseo de la Reforma. It’s unpresumptuous two bedroom apartment, owned by a woman called Señora Maldonado. It is furnished and comes equipped with kitchen appliances including pots and pans, a set of dishes, silverware and all. Adequate for my trips to Mexico. Just that there is something very ordinary, very boring about the place. The starkness of the place and the lack of imagination makes it look and feel like a drab, but I still take it. It’s at the intersection of two busy streets with incessant  auto traffic. This is Mexico and this is 1977. There are no rules about the air pollution and the noise. I spend night after sleepless night, tossing and turning, tortured by the shrill screeching of the metal over metal of the worn out breaks and grinding of the grease deprived gearshifts. Just within a couple of days, I know that I’ve got to get out of there. But I have signed a  year long lease and Señora Maldonado is not in the least inclined to allow me to wiggle out of it. Finally with the intervention of my friends at the office, she very reluctantly lets me off the hook with me agreeing to pay her two month’s rent for having lived there barely for a week.

Hearing my woeful tale, our publisher Ricardo (Ampudia) picks up the phone.

‘Let me see what I can do!’

‘Hola Antonio….’ And I hear lots of laughs and bantering of the two old school buddies.

‘I think I have just the place for you.’

The very next day, I am climbing the elevator of Berna 14, in the heart of Mexico City’s famed Zona Rosa. The small L shaped street you can enter or exit from Paseo de la Reforma at the Angel and Florencia. Number 14 is snugly nestled in the sharp corner of the inverted L. The building so narrow that you may mistake the sliver of the visible façade to be a dividing line between the two edifices tightly hugging it. It has three floors and three apartments. Mine is on the top floor. Each apartment is accessible only through the elevator, and there are no buttons to push. You need a key for your floor. Like starting a car.

On the third floor, the elevator doors open into the total darkness. When the lights are switched on, you find yourself standing in the middle of a long tube of a submarine like abode. You are in the kitchen/dining room. On the right is the bedroom – the only room to face the street and is exposed to the natural light. It is tastefully furnished with a custom-made bigger than the California King size mattress, which is probably 20” high, placed directly on the floor. It’s covered with shiny white satin sheets and strewn around are several large pillows, also draped in  satin. There are no windows, but floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall clear glass wall with the view of the street. When you draw the heavy drapes over the wall, you get a feeling of being in a submarine moored all the way down below the surface of  the water.

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