Archives for category: Relationships

Falling Like Dominos

Haresh Shah

threehearts

The plan is for just the two of us to go out for dinner. Leave the business behind and talk men talk without women tugging at our arms. For me, whenever I am in Munich, it would be Susi as my forever companion. Normally Günter would have brought along his wife Hilda. Our usual double date every visit. For tonight, I am thinking of maybe us two having dinner at my early favorite neighborhood kneipe, Georgen Stuben on Prinz Regentenstrasse and afterwards maybe hit a couple of Schwabing locals like Tangente, Giesela’s and Domicil. Go down the memory lane, re-live the nostalgic days of my not so distant life in Munich.

But first, we’ve got to talk some business. Günter is one of the senior editors at the German Playboy. He has spent time in America as well, so we have got that too in common. We have spent lot of time together and have shared hundreds of silly laughs.

The first McDonald’s in Germany opened in Munich scant ten months before my arrival there in October of 1972. Just in time for Munich’s 1972 Summer Olympics. It must have taken a while for the national Life like illustrated Stern magazine to notice this American invasion, prompting them to run a cover story with the blurb screamingly calling Big Mac der Schmackloss Hackfleish – the tasteless minced meat. Günter and I couldn’t agree more, especially considering the humble German fricadel, a tasty meat ball the shape of a hamburger patty, made of the minced meat, eaten lukewarm with a hard shell brötchen – a bread roll and blob of yellow mustard on side. Lekker.

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Sweet, Silky And Slippery

Haresh Shah

silkscarf

I flash my room registration card at the receptionist who is busy talking to a young man and a sort of pretty, short dark haired young woman in white, both of whom stood on the other side of the counter. ‘Room 416’, I tell him. He hands me my key. I throw a quick glance at the girl, making perfunctory eye contact and walk to the elevator. As I press the floor button, I notice the girl waving at me as if to wish me bon voyage. But the sliding doors have already closed and I am on my way up. I see her smiling face through the transparent glass door and wave back at her.

I am staying at the hip Hotel Americain in Amsterdam. I am not too impressed with the place, but built in 1900, it’s listed as one of Amsterdam’s landmarks with its turn of the century art deco and the roaring twenties atmosphere and because of its proximity to the theatre DeLaMar, it has an illustrious history – something I am often attracted to. And it’s frequented by the actors, directors and other art types of the city.

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Haresh Shah

Just One Last Time

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I don’t remember anything at all of the wedding ceremony of Tina Chan – one of our freelance contributors at Playboy’s Chinese language edition in Hong Kong.  Or even if I or anyone else sitting at the table was invited to attuned. Whether it was a church wedding or a traditional Chinese affair. What I do remember is; about a dozen of us editors and executives are seated at the table of the noisy and crowded banquet hall of the Hotel Royal Garden in the heart of Kowloon, waiting for the bride and the groom and the wedding party to arrive for the celebrations to begin. When they make their grand entrance, Christina is dressed in the western bridal dress with the veil lifted and the train trailing. She is not particularly what I would call  pretty, but in her bridal finery, she looks as stunning, radiant and beautiful as a bride should. The happy smile on her face communicates the bliss she must feel. Her husband too is dressed as would a western groom – in a tuxedo, ruffled shirt with starched collar, shiny shoes and the bow tie.  The just married couple and the wedding party enter the hall with a roar of applause and the cheers from the family and friends, following which they together go from table to table, their faces bursting with smiles and laughters, welcoming each and every guest and then finally sitting down at the bridal table for the banquet to commence.

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Haresh Shah

Painting Devils On The Wall

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‘Do you think Playboy exploits women?’ Asks Jennifer. I have just entered the northbound Lake Shore Drive off Michigan Avenue ramp and we are driving home, instead of having stopped some place for a drink following the concert. The question hangs in the air exacerbating the silence that has dawned upon us.

‘I have an 8:30 meeting. Can’t stay out tonight.’ If not exactly distraught, it has put me in dark mood. It seemed too good to be true. I am thinking to myself. It had made me so happy when Jennifer sat in my living room a week earlier, flipping the pages of that week’s Evanston Review, while her two kids and Anjuli occupied elsewhere in the house. She casually mentioned that Carole King was going to be in town.

‘You wanna go?’ I ask.

‘Do you?’

Suddenly I had felt euphoric at the remote chance that after all, it wasn’t yet over between us two. Whereas I have given up all hopes, it was her who had initiated barbecuing and spending that beautiful spring day at my place with her kids and visiting Anjuli. My spirits lifted, I couldn’t have been happier.

And now this! As if she has found out for the first time that I happen to work for the magazine called Playboy and go all hostile feminist on me. I am chewing on her question like one would a piece of sugarcane wrung dry into a stringy pulp. The standard corporate answer and the one Hefner (Hugh) himself had given in one of his interviews : “Playboy exploits women the way Sports Illustrated exploits athletes” Ironically, when I worked for SI, no one ever accused us of exploiting athletes.  Instead this is what I say:

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As The Time Goes By

Haresh Shah

myvalentinev2

Exactly thirty six years ago today on April 5th. 1977, in Santa Barbara, California, it was another fucking beautiful day, as my neighbor Greg Ketchum and I had began to refer to our forever such gorgeous weather, whenever we both found ourselves out on our respective balconies, overlooking the awesome Santa Ynez Mountain Range.  I was done with my writing for the day and was sitting around in my living room with Mike and Guusje, drinking beer, when the phone rings.

Without any pleasantries, the female voice on the other line dives right into it.

‘I understand you are auditioning young ladies for Playboy.’

‘Not quite.’ I respond with trepidation, trying hard to think who it might be. Sensing confused silence on my end of the line, the voice breaks out in a hearty laugh.

‘This is Carolyn,’ it says.’ It still doesn’t ring the bell.

‘I was just passing through. I am on my way down south to see Gwen in LA.’ And then I knew.

‘Where are you?’

‘I am here. In Santa Barbara.’

‘You are? Why don’t you come on over?’

‘Okay.’

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