My Pied À Terre In Mexico City

Haresh Shah

 

 

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You would think, who in his right mind would get tired of living in Mexico City’s most luxurious and yet most making you feel at home hotel, Camino Real? Especially when the company is paying for it? During the first few months of my back-to-back trips and long sojourns in the city, Camino Real, or as my friends began to call it tu casa amarilla, because of its predominantly yellow façade, has become my permanent home. What’s more, I have fallen in love with the place. As big as it is, it has that warm homey feeling. By now, I know every nook and corner of this huge labyrinth of 720 rooms hotel, have been to each one of the restaurants and bars. The rooms are spacious and I am always welcomed by being placed in a poolside room with balcony. In a few short months, I have spent more romantic days and evenings at Camino Real than all other hotels of the world put together. I am regular at their French restaurant Le Fouquet and their private Le Club. Have splurged into frequent poolside buffets outside Los Azulejos, sat at La Cantina drinking beer and watching the traffic of the beautiful people of the city walking to and from the most-in Lobby Bar – the place where the locals and the hotel guests come together to see and be seen. And have danced the nights away at Cero Cero and then stumbled in for late breakfast at Las Huertas and nursed my hangovers with freshly squeezed tropical juices and very strong Mexican café con leche. Practically every service personnel knows and makes fuss over me. The place I feel at home in the true Mexican spirit of mi casa es su casa. What else can one ask for?

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Reflections On Japan’s Preoccupation With Death

Haresh Shah

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Ray Falk
and Kayo Hayashi are scratching their heads to come up with something to do with Shah-san that evening. But I put their dilemma to rest. It’s my second night being back in Tokyo and we all have had an exhausting day – especially me, being grilled by the Japanese editors about them not getting the rights to Norman Mailer’s Gary Gilmore piece. Kayo drops me off at the hotel around half past five. I spend some time browsing the Imperial Hotel’s little bookstore  and buy a copy of the 1968 Nobel Prize winner in literature, Yasunari Kawabata’s novel, Beauty and Sadness. My intention is to read a bit of it after I have had a light dinner in one of the hotel’s restaurants or just take it easy and order a sandwich and a beer from the room service. I don’t get around to doing either. Soon as I enter the room, I stretch out and close my eyes to relax for a while. The next thing I know, it’s past one in the morning.

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It’s Not Enough To Dream

Haresh Shah

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There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Oscar Wilde

It’s not unusual for small but ambitious publishers to be bitten by the idea of adding Playboy to their stable of publications. Bitten even harder are the ones who have had no familiarity with the publishing business. But they have dreams and the desire and some money to spare that drive them to near obsession, do everything in their power to buy the Playboy license. Because in their dreams and the desires what they are thinking is: If only I can get to publish Playboy! At this point they are not thinking what it really takes to undertake such a project. Their psychological business plans have no provision for what if it doesn’t quite work out?

The letter came forwarded from Andreas Odenwald – our editor-in-chief in Germany. Guess, this is for you amigo, said his scribble. It’s an inquiry letter from Poland from the company called Elgaz. Attached to it is a recommendation letter from their German partners, a PVC window manufacturers, vouching for the serious intent and the solid financial standing of this Polish company involved in various businesses, among them the international video distribution.

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I Went Home And Cried

Haresh Shah

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Sitting across from me in a small windowless meeting room of the Holiday Inn in Warsaw is stunningly beautiful Beata Milewska. She is dressed in a conservative grey dress with the sharp U shaped neckline, trimmed with black satin ribbon. Underneath the geometric U are black brass buttons that run down to and below her breasts. Blonde, she wears fashionably shorter hair, reaching down just a little above her neck. Her eyes are sparking blue and smiles are amused but slight and measured. I guess her to be in her late twenties or the very early thirties.

Sitting next to her is Tomasz Raczek – supposedly to translate from English, but Beata herself is quite proficient in the language, so other than some whispered consulting, Tomasz is there more as an observer who would eventually be the editor-in-chief of the Polish edition. On my left is our Hungarian Publisher Deszo Futasz and on my right is Rolf Dolina, the man who has gotten us together in hopes that I would be positively impressed by Beata and her ability to gather a qualified team of professionals to create the Polish edition of Playboy.

After landing in still the old and the dilapidated Warsaw-Okecie Airport, as we drive into the city, I witness the remnants still of the city heavily bombed first by the German Luftwaffe in 1939, and then by the Russians in 1944 to quell the Warsaw Uprising. Both sides of the road are lined with the communist era’s drab and dark harsh apartment blocks. Making them further sinister is the shroud of the cold and the cloudy month of January. I cringe at the thought of the lives lived and of deaths and destruction and the dismay that still must permeate the day-to-day lives of its citizens. After all, it’s just little over a year since the fall of the Berlin wall.

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Or How The Airlines Got To Make Us Do Their Work?

Haresh Shah

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During my early days at Time, my boss Bob Anderson would emerge out of his office, scratching his head, stop at my desk and go: I think you ought to hop a plane to New York and talk to our friend Arnold (Drapkin). Do some hand holding and get him off our collective backs? And then without waiting for an answer, he would wander back into his office and disappear behind the closed door.

Sitting diagonally opposite from my desk is Pat Murphy – the departmental everything.  She has already pulled out her drawer and is yanking out the round trip flight coupon booklet, she writes in the destinations and stamps them. Takes some money out of the petty cash, puts everything together in an envelope and hands it to me.

‘Have a good trip. I will get onto your hotel reservation.’

And soon I am pulling out of the Time parking lot in my phallic Oldsmobile Cutlass and am on my way to my South Shore Drive apartment. Having thrown together an overnight bag I am already cruising I 90/94 and am on my way to the O’Hare. I park right across the path from the airport and am standing in front of the flipping departure board, checking out the first flight out of there to New York’s LaGuardia. There is almost one every twenty minutes to half an hour. Irrespective of which airline it is, I walk straight to the gate of the first departing flight and within minutes I am on my way to the Big Apple.

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The Reverse Migration To El Sur

Haresh Shah
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Had she submitted today, a polaroid wearing only a tan and mascara, just to see if I could make the cut, she certainly would have been considered seriously and most probably made it as Playmate of the Month in the U.S. Playboy. In the year 2015, with the dramatically altered demographics and with the both political parties wooing the ever growing Latino population, what could be better than to have a born in Glendale, California of Mexican parents, a natural beauty, raven haired, five feet tall with voluptuous hourglass figure, the dark brown eyes, seductively and invitingly looking back at you? At 24, she is in her prime and has already been a part of a study program at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and has earned her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Whittier College. A perfect fusion of beauty and the brain – an ideal girl next door.

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A Lesson In The Linguistic Sexism

Haresh Shah

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My first encounter with ová came in early 1991, when we were putting together the first issue of the Czech edition of Playboy. I noticed on the proposed cover, Pamela Anderson having become Pamela Andersonová. First I thought it was a typo, so I brought it up to the attention of then editor-in-chief Jaroslav Matejka. No, apparently it wasn’t an error. That’s how the Czechs called their women and Anderson in its Czech version had to be Andersonová. Even after Jaroslav gave me an elaborate explanation on the Czech language and its grammar, it didn’t quite fit my logic. At that time I didn’t know any Czech at all, even so, I was not swayed. I did not want them to Czechify a person’s name. It would be like calling Paul Pavel and Michelle Michaela. I am particularly sensitive about this – perhaps all my life living in the West, I have had often to fend off people’s attempts at turning Haresh into Harry. The first issue came out with hers and dozens of other featured foreign females with their original names.

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