Archives for category: Memoire

Too Good For His Own Good

Haresh Shah

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I am sitting in the Lufthansa city office in the center of Barcelona across from the petite German blonde staring at her computer screen while leafing through my four-booklets-thick-stapled- together ticket. She is tap taping her keyboard accessing my original itinerary and then checking it against my neatly handwritten used and the remaining ticket coupons. She looks confused and she looks amazed. One thing she doesn’t look is sure of herself. I have been on the road now for almost three weeks and have practically been around the world with my original itinerary that reads: March 25, 1979, Chicago-Los Angeles-Santa Barbara-Los Angeles-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney-Bombay-Rome-Zürich-Barcelona-Munich-Düsseldorf-Frankfurt-London-Chicago. April 12, 1979.

I am on the final lag of my journey and am there to re-route my flight back to Chicago via Munich and Frankfurt instead of via Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, London. Normally a simple switchover. But that’s not the problem. It’s no restrictions ticket valid for twelve months.

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As Long As There Is Hope

Haresh Shah

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Up until then it was the coldest winter I had ever experienced. In January 1984, the temperatures in Chicago area dipped as low as -40 to -50 degrees and chilling wind went through your bones like a sharp spear of an arrow. Nasim (Yar Khan) had come to visit from Germany. I had brought for him some extra warm clothes to the airport, because even from the arrival hall to the garage would have him frozen if not wrapped up in some additional layers over his heavy winter clothes from Europe. Even though the furnace was running twenty four hours a day, the heat generated just wasn’t enough to keep our rickety old house comfortably warm.  The windows were all frozen and from the inside looking out, what you saw was your mirror image.  Carolyn and I took turns waking up every few hours through the night and brave the elements – heavily bundled up and ran across the 50 feet (15.2 meters) backyard to the garage and start both of our cars and run them for fifteen to twenty minutes to make sure none of the mechanism cracked and that they would run the next morning.  Even so, there was always a danger of one of them breaking down in the middle of nowhere, in which case, it would have been absolutely devastating trying to escape anywhere.

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From Irish Eyes To The Razzle Dazzle

Haresh Shah
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The year before, Helga and Fred Baumgärtel (Mr. Playboy of the German edition – retired by then), Gudrun (Thiel) and myself  had gone to the Oyster Festival on a private trip. On the second day or so, Gudrun suggested PLAYBOY-Germany organize an Anzeigen-Meeting for next year’s festival. The participants, so she predicted, would sure be thrilled. I can still see her sitting by the portside, a glass of Guinness in her hand,  warming to the subject, as it were, while developing this wonderful idea. And so it happened.

Reminisces Andreas Odenwald – the editor-in-chief of Playboy Germany at the time. And I happened to be one of the dozen or so to join Germany’s top advertising executives who were invited with their partners to spend a long weekend in Ireland and experience the annual Oyster Festival. I don’t remember having eaten many oysters there, but drinking lot of Guinness to be sure.

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A Fleeting Glimpse At The Land Of The Rising Sun

Haresh Shah

gingerpagoda
I have landed in Tokyo during the day on the Christmas Eve of 1977. I am enroute to Bombay with a non-business related stopover in Japan. Even so, Playboy has arranged for me  to be met at the airport by one of our Tokyo rep’s people. This is my very first trip to the land of the Rising Sun, and I am excited to be here, even for a short stay of 48 hours.

Arriving and negotiating through Haneda International Airport feels like a free fall into a total disaster area. Even considering that the Japanese like and thrive on things small, neat and functional, their international airport is ridiculously small, overcrowded and chaotic. And yet they somehow manage to maintain order within what would seem daunting to anyone else. As I claim my baggage from the carousel and look around, I see a huge easel, wrapped across it is a wide band of paper sign saying: Mr. Shah – next to which it is repeated in katakana using the Japanese characters for my name. When I present myself by the sign, a uniformed hostess walks up to me with Welcome to Japan and pins to my lapel a name tag and informs me that someone is waiting for me outside at the MEETING PLACE.  Keiko Shirokawa is there to pick me up and take me to the hotel Dai Ichi in the famous Ginza district – that bustles with restaurants, bars, night clubs, department stores and boutiques.

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Haresh Shah

My Not So Intimate Encounters With Italy And France

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The first time I landed in the land of Ciao Bella and O sole mio, they dumped our baggage on the tarmac next to the aircraft, barely said sorry and told us we would have to carry it to the terminal ourselves – that the ground personnel had just decided to go on a strike. A bit different story when I first arrived at Charles de Gaulle in Paris. I am met at the airport by Gerrit Huig and the editorial assistant Ann Scharffenberger. They talk me into and I unwittingly agree to drive us through the city in our rented little Citroën. Though I had taken lessons in driving a car with manual transmission, this is my first time trying it out without an instructor sitting next to me. I haven’t yet gotten the knack of synchronizing the gears with the accelerator and the breaks. The car would shudder, stall and come to an abrupt stop in the middle of swirling rush hour traffic. Happens several times on the Arc de Triumph round-about. I get furious faces, obscene yelling  that I don’t understand, French version of the finger and then silly mocking giggles from my two passengers. But I somehow manage to survive both welcomes. Not exactly j’taime.  

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Haresh Shah

All I Want To Do Is To Take A Beak

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As I roll off the QE II in my Buick from the port of  New York city, my plan is to drive cross-country with the destination of Santa Barbara, California. Or more precisely, Mark and Ann’s (Stevens) farm house in Goleta, some twelve miles north of downtown Santa Barbara and a stone’s throw away from the carefree Isla Vista off UCSB campus. Awaiting me is the culture and the people so unlike the America I have known so far. Three years earlier, just before Playboy offered me the job, I had planned a long vacation to explore the California Coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Instead, on the very day I was to fly west, I end up making a sharp hairpin turn to fly east over the Atlantic. I owe it to California to make up for my sudden turn.  But I am not in a hurry. And I am open to any other possibilities that may exist or arise.

Chicago awaits for me with its arms wide open. Lee (Hall) throws a staff lunch for me and am treated like a homecoming war hero. He has even arranged for me to meet with the Photography Director Gary Cole. Lee thinks very highly of me and feels I would make a good photo editor for Gary. Gary is congenial, but not so sure. He has probably agreed to speak with me more out of courtesy than to consider me for a position he didn’t have in the first place. As devastated as Lee is at having to let me go, this is his way of demonstrating that it wasn’t his decision or within his power to keep me.

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My First Taste Of The Feral Passion Of Soccer

Haresh Shah

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We are in Rio de Janeiro for Playboy International Publishing’s conference, being hosted by our Brazilian publishers, Editora Abril. Other then sweating all day long in the windowless conference room of Rio Sheraton, which is also where we are staying, this is also an opportunity for the local hosts to showcase their country and the culture. Introduce us to the best of everything Brazil and Rio have to offer. Combined with organized and free social outings, we get to eat in various restaurants about town. Among them, Chalet, Churrascaria Carreta, Hippopotamus. But time and time again we end up at the Sheraton’s in-house churrascaria for their cornucopia of grilled meat and fish.

You can’t be in a city like Rio and not hit some night spots. The one we are most impressed by is their world famous Samba House, Oba Oba.  Doused in the blinding flash and sparkle, the show mainly features the most beautiful, built-solid-like-a-brick-shit-house bronze skinned mulatas. An exotic mixture of the African and the Portuguese stocks. Young and pretty with their quivering tight bundas, doing Samba costumed in narrow strips of bling to the Afro drum rhythms is the sight to be in awe of and behold. The speed and the motion glaze their shiny skins with oily slipperiness. To watch the sweat dripping like the rain drops running down the smooth surface of ebony illuminated by swirling spots is spellbinding. And they certainly can dance and move their booties in a way that leave you breathless.

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