Archives for posts with tag: Relationships

Falling Like Dominos

Haresh Shah

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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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HUGH GRANT IN MY SHOES

Prowling The Streets Of Beverly Hills

Haresh Shah

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The media had field days following Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill star, Hugh Grant’s tryst with Divine Brown, on the night of June 27, 1995. And it wasn’t only the tabloid press but also mainstream media and the network talk shows like Late Night With Jay Leno and Larry King Live couldn’t well ignore their LAPD mug shots splattered all over the printed pages and on the television screens. On his Late Night Show, Jay Leno came right out and asked: what the hell were you thinking?Grant’s answer: I think, you know, in life what’s a good thing to do and what’s a bad thing, and I did a bad thing…and there you have it. His whole body twisting and turning this way and that, the boyish Grant squirmed in his hot seat as if run over by an eighteen wheeler. But he kept his sense of humor and got the roaring applause of approval from Leno’s enthusiastic audience.

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Haresh Shah

Of Pinot Noir And The Burlaping in Boonville

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The year is 1995 and talking of California wines to the Europeans is somewhat of a joke like the early transistor radios made in Japan were to everyone. Never mind that almost twenty years earlier on the day of America’s Bicentennial on July 4, 1976, the world’s wine experts were asked in a blind tasting to compare six California Cabernets and Chardonnays along with as many of Bordeaux and Burgundies and to everyone’s horror and American wine makers’  delight, California’s best stood shoulder to shoulder with the French on everyone’s scorecards, putting them instantly on the world map.

While the wine professionals of  Europe took a note of it, the wine consumers of the Continent remained oblivious to even their existence. Frustrated, California’s vintners decided, the time had come to make the world aware of the lush Napa Valley and its wines that were growing by leaps and bounds off the northern California Coast.

As a part of the broader push, California Wine Institute has invited the Dutch edition of Playboy to experience California’s wine country in all its glory, including its rapidly emerging cuisine and enjoy their steadily growing warm hospitality industry, in hopes that Playboy would take the message to its upscale demographics in Holland.

The editor-in-chief Jan Heemskerk himself takes upon the project and picks me to accompany him and assigns me to write a major piece for his edition. Not because by any dint of imagination I am a connoisseur or even an expert of wines, but because he thinks of me as someone who knows his wines, especially the ones from California.

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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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Haresh Shah

Leaving On A Jet Plane

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The captain has already announced for the crew to prepare for the departure. The aircraft door is already pulled in and slammed shut, when  I notice one of the flight attendants picking up the receiver from the wall phone and in turn calling the cockpit. The plane comes to a halt and then very slowly inches back to meet the jetway. The door opens and in comes trotting  a young woman, weighed down on her right by a fairly large and what seems like a heavy blue duffle bag. The flight attendant helps her with the bag. Looking frazzled and out of breath, she gives a feeling of being distraught and disoriented . She is tall and pretty, but looks a bit haggard with no visible makeup on her face and her unkempt, unwashed shoulder length blond locks. She has a chiseled angular face, a small but proportional nose and the dull grey eyes. She is dressed in a beat up pair of blue jeans and a long sleeved well fitting deep purple T-shirt, under black leather jacket. Her frame carries a shapely figure. She is being escorted to the empty seat next to mine. She throws her bulky purse under the seat in the front and plumps herself down next to me, hurriedly snapping together her seat belt.

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Haresh Shah

Eres Tu, Eres Tu, Asi, Asi, Eres Tu…

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Premonition? Up until this very moment, I had never thought of it that way. But there are times when you can’t help but wonder and end up giving things the benefit of the doubt!  During the trip I took from Chicago to Mexico City, I met with Francisco Sadurni, the local attorney hired by Playboy to help me get a long term multiple  entry visa.  Knowing that I didn’t have any plans for the evening, he tagged me along to a party at his uncle’s house – also an attorney.

From the outside, the house looked quite unpretentious. Ordinary even. But what I encountered behind the closed street-side gate was nothing like anything I had seen inside a private home. It opened into a vast courtyard running into a spacious living room. The centerpiece about which the people milled around was a real fountain, like in a small garden of a Shinto shrine. There were ornate columns buttressing the slanted skylight roof. The palm, cactus and other tropical plants gave you a feeling of being in a rain forest. Five piece strolling Mariachi band  serenaded while the guests made trips back and forth between the individually canopied food and drink stands, set up  like in a traditional Mexican mercado. Bottles of French champagne popped open and emptied every few minutes. Men were all dressed like  lawyers in their dark pinstripe suites, which many of them probably were.  There were scores of beautiful young women dressed so provocatively and yet elegantly in their clingingly skin tight outfits with revealing tops. I felt like Alex in the wonderland.  What I had thought to be a party  containing of about twenty people, turned out to be a hundred or more guests.

Francisco takes me by the hand and introduces me to many of the guests with his good humored effervescent Mexican manner with an abrazo here, a back slapping there.. As everywhere else, the name Playboy evokes an awe as people shake hands with me and make small talk.

Seeing that I am eyeing the approaching morena in her dark and shiny burgundy-on-burgundy striped satin jumpsuit, he stops her in her tracks.

‘Let me introduce you to my cousin Luis’ daughter Patricia.

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