Archives for category: Romance

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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Haresh Shah 

How Can You Not Fall In Love With Them?

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‘And now ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching the home of one of the most colorful characters of our country: Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, the adventurer and the author of the Republic of Venice and the autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (Story of  My Life), which is regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century. But as many of you certainly know, he is mostly known as the great lover of women. Yes, the great lover and the great liar.’ We are on a gondola site seeing tour navigating through the narrow canals of Venice. On our right is a long curving three story flaming rust colored brick building with elaborate balconies protruding out of the walls and huge windows overlooking the the canals down below.

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Haresh Shah

The People, The Pride, The Passion And The Philosophy Of Making California Wines

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His desk is huge and cluttered and we’re face-to-face with an unkempt and eccentric looking vintner wearing the wine stained sweatshirt bearing the logo of one of his creations, Le Sophiste.  With shoulder length long black hair, he looks like a cross between Tom Jones and Abbe HoffmanBonny Doon‘s President for Life and the founder, Randall Graham is known in the industry as the Rhône Ranger as in the Lone Ranger, a.k.a Crazy Randall, because of his refusing to succumb to what he calls the terror of Cabernets and Chardonnays. Instead, he devotes his energy and resources to growing  exclusively the Rhône varietals such as Grenache, Mourvedre, Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier, Cinsault and Syrah. His response to the industry’s perception of himself: when your foes believe that you are insane, you have a great technical advantage.

Life is too short to keep drinking the same wines, Graham philosophizes, I have a soft spot for ugly duckling grape verities, he adds with a wry smile. Randall studied philosophy at the University of California in Davis, prior to getting into the making of wines in 1983.  Realizing hat he wasn’t a good philosopher, he decided to blend his love of philosophy with that of wines he would make.

He believes wines need certain raison d’etre, and he has made Bonny Doon’s mission to make wines that complement California’s emerging fusion cuisine, which is closer to the Mediterranean and south of the border than it is to the American meat and potatoes.

His is a loft office in what once must have been a barn. I see a cat scurrying in the background and also a couple of young women busily hurrying back and forth across the hall carrying stack of papers. The cackle of the wood burning fire place makes you fell warm and cozy on this cold, gray and rainy day

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Haresh Shah

And The Tearing Of My Heart

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Soon after her arrival in Munich, in order to make my beautiful Buick legit in her new habitat, I promptly present myself at the Kraftfahrzeugzulassungsstelle, (ugh! they are four words: krafts-fahrzeug-zulassungs-stelle – no  wonder Sanskrit is a dead language in India. But as the most expats and converts tend to do, German being one of the Indo-Germanic languages, still adheres to long and drawn out compound words, as do the Czechs, while the modern Indian languages have simplified the Sanskrit grammar and would have neatly broken them down into four distinct words) at TÜV, (equivalent to the Secretary of the State’s automobile registration center in the US,) on Eichstätter Strasse 5, in Munich. I have all ten required documents as listed on Hanlzettel, translated and properly notarized and attached to the application form and the fee of DM 30.- held firmly in the grip of my hand. I place them all on the counter and stand across from the clerk processing the registration. I am pleased at myself for being so ready and am imagining my Buick emblazoning the bold black and white letters on a square-ish license plates bearing the numbers along with the three designated letters, MüC to indicate that the vehicle is registered in Munich. I am also looking forward to slapping on the back of her, the standard oval shaped decal with the letters DE for Deutschland. But not so fast Haresh! I am being naïve to think that like back home in Chicago, the clerk would stamp a few things, write up a receipt for the payment and hand it to me along with a set of Munich license plates.

Wrong!

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Haresh Shah

In The Journey Of Life One Meets Only To Part

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When I first  notice her, she is standing next to me in the check-in line, fidgeting and shifting her weight from one foot to another. Her face looks pretty in profile. With Milan’s Linate International Airport fogged-in, we are bussed to their standby Malpensa, which is in a big mess as ever. Despite the throngs of crowds and the chaos that normally prevails, and amidst the multiple delays, things somehow work out at this remote airport.

I check in, go through the immigration and the security check and on to the other side of the security wing. Pick up some duty free booze, look around for a while and with the first call make it to the gate # 7. And there she is again. All wrapped up in her leopard skin coat and her knee-high black boots. Her pretty face floats in the air propelled by her swan like long and delicate neck. On the second call, we move closer towards the gate to get on the bus.

I notice her staring at me. I stare back. They have called the flight for the third time and the bus still isn’t anywhere in sight. Us just standing there, waiting, our eyes discreetly catching a fleeting gaze of the other.  I want to strike up a conversation, probably so does she. But we maintain our demeanor. The fourth call and the bus still hasn’t arrived. She looks at me and lets a slight smile cross her lips. I smile back.  Neither of us says anything. We continue to steal glances at each other every few moments.

A few more minutes have elapsed and the bus still hasn’t arrived. Everyone is getting antsy,  with the possible exception of us two. We are enjoying our little charade. I watch her fiddle with her pink boarding card. The lady is traveling in first class. She sort of looks rich all over, from her head to her toe. It is sweetly awkward just waiting and stealing glances at a stranger. She has moved sideways, bringing her a couple of steps closer to me. I want to move even closer and talk to her. But don’t know how to break the ice. The way we are taking each other in is discomforting.  And yet, there seems to be an unspoken insinuation between us that its alright.

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As The Time Goes By

Haresh Shah

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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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