23 August 2019

Why would you want to know if I have a chair nearby?

“Yes. Is that Rajib?”
“Of course! I should have guessed it!”
“Happy birthday, Nancy. How are you?”

A week back, that is how one of my daily birthday calls started. After a few mutual updates, it took an interesting turn.

“I know you started working again. Where are you?”, she asked
“I work in Chicago. I still live in Atlanta though.”
“Oh! Cool. We have an office in Chicago and I come there once every couple of months.”
“Nice. Would love to catch up next time you are in Chicago.”

“Well, to be fair, I say Chicago. But we are not really near Chicago. We are in one of the suburbs way out of Chicago. It is further away from even the airport.”
“Where is it?”, I asked curiously.
“Oh! It is a small place called Itasca.”
“Where in Itasca?”, I persisted.
“Wait. You know Itasca?”
“I might have a working knowledge.”
“It is a building called 2 Pierce Place.”

“Do you have a chair nearby?”, I casually asked.
“Do you have a chair nearby?”
“Yeah! Why?”. She was justifiably befuddled.
“Sit down?”
“What? Why?”
“I work in 1 Pierce Place!!!”

“No way”, she said in disbelief.
“Yes way”

“Well, when are you going to be there next?”
“Next Wednesday, in fact”.
“You know the Westin behind your building?”
“Yes. That is where I will be staying.”
“Meet me at the bar there at 6:30. When you get there, tell Chante or Tara that you are Raj’s guest. They will take care of you”.

And that is how, a week later, I got to see Nancy who I had worked in the same industry with many moons back. We tried our two companies to establish a partnership which eventually did not come thru. But our friendship has, over these years!!

I am starting to believe that it may be true that these kind of incredible intersection points happen only to me!

23 August 2019

Chai Tea???

More than a year back I switched up from drinking coffee to drinking tea. None of the Indian style tea leaves soaked in boiling milk or boiling water in a sauce pan style. Just the “dip dip” style (which is what we called them when tea-bags made their entry into India in my early life). Ever since my switch up, it has been one confusion in mind after another.

I thought there was only one type of tea – you know the one that kind that comes from errrr… a tea plant. (If you have not guessed it that is why it is called “tea”). Then I learnt there is something called green tea. I always thought tea was black. Sure enough, there is something called black tea. Of course finding out that there is something called Earl Grey tea did not help matters.

But I really hit the roof when I found out there is something called “herbal tea”. That is where my biggest peeve lies. You CANNOT call whatever it is that you drink “herbal tea”. There is no tea in it. Call it by the name of the dried flower it is made of or whatever herbal leaves it has. It can have a lot of those esoteric stuff – but tea leaves it has none. By definition it is not tea. Calling dried flowers herbal “tea” is like calling chicken herbal “mutton”.

And this morning, early in the Skyclub, as I was looking for some tea, I was jolted out of my stupor when I saw something called “Chai Tea”. Chai Tea??? Chai is the original name of the plant where it comes from in China/India area. The English word for it is Tea. What do you mean Chai Tea? There is no Chai Tea. Chai IS Tea.

Can’t quite decide whether I like it or like like it, I guess!

Category: Humor | LEAVE A COMMENT
20 August 2019

Meeting up Lori in Charleston

Imagine driving 330 miles (over 500 km) in a day. Now imagine doing that 4 days in a row. Not sure how, but as a result of Sharmila not letting Natasha drive across state boundaries and Natasha wanting to spend the weekend with her friend from middle school (and somebody both Sharmila and I love) – Dani, I landed up doing daily trips between Atlanta and Charleston!

Of course, to me everything in life is about meeting a stranger or meeting somebody from my past. Using a feature in Facebook that Graham had taught me, I learnt that Lori was in Charleston these days! Missed each other on Friday (it was too late) but absolutely got to see her on Sunday!

Sharmila and I got to know Lori when she was the manager at a restaurant/bar that we used to frequent quite some time back. To the best of my knowledge that establishment does not exist any more. But after Lori left that place, I lost track of her. All I knew was that she had become the manager of a hotel somewhere in Atlanta.

The good news is that birthday calls always kept the relationship going – although only once a year! It is certainly not my fault that people’s birthdays tend to come only once a year!

“I remember you wanted to visit South Korea. Did you ever get that done?”, I asked her as we settled down in a bar by the water in beautiful, laid back Charleston.
“No. But I want to.”

Lori was born in a city south of Seoul. Well, she was found there and eventually brought to Seoul by an adoption agency who had matched her up with her adopted parents.

After 18, Lori left home and built her own career. She will tell you how she has rebelled many times and often had unresolved anger. But eventually, she found out how to use them as a source of energy to propel her rather than keep her back.

“So, after such a life – that can be called ‘interesting’ to say the least – what are the lessons you have learnt? In fact, if you were to say three things to my daughters, what would they be?”

“Slow down”, she said readily.
“Take risks”, she said after a few seconds of thinking
“And make mistakes”, she finished up after a minute.

“As you reflect on life, what are you most proud of?”
“That I am still living.”
“And what do you have as words of wisdom for somebody much older than you like me?”
“Whether you are ashes or six feet under, your impact will continue after you are gone. Focus on that impact.”

We talked a lot about our old friends (and the owners) of the old establishment we used to visit (Mark, Chris, Holli.. you were all remembered), her current work and some of the learnings she is having in her new job on the personnel front.

I never thought I was going to see Lori again. It was so great to have been proven wrong again!!

18 August 2019

From the bartender’s corner – Mezcal #9: Aztecali

This is a very different mezcal from any other mezcal that I have had till date. For starters, this is the first mezcal I had that is not from Oaxaca. In fact, this is from Zacatecas (one of the other nine states that can claim to call it mezcal).

My good friend from office – Luz Barajas was visiting her family in Mexico. She knew about my interest in Mezcals. Her husband who is from the Zacatecas area got this for me! Thank you Luz !!

The remarkable thing about this mezcal is that it has absolutely no smokiness to it. In many ways, I am surprised that they even call it mezcal. The agave is NOT simmered in fire underground – which I thought is a must for any mezcal. Also, instead of espadin (the most commonly used agave in Oaxaca), this uses the blue agave – which is what Tequila is made from.

Finally, the variety I had is Anejo – so this has been aged for 18 months in American white oak barrels unlike the Joven or Blanco mezcals that I have.

Made by Real de Jalpa, this has a different production process from traditional mezcals. Like I mentioned, it does not do the underground fire thing. Also, it uses stainless steel stills instead of copper ones. However, it does do double distillation which is a must for mezcals. At least to me, this is closer to a tequila than a mezcal.

Folks who do not like smokiness (like Sharmila) and those who would love to have keto-compliant drinks (low glycemically), this would be a great choice. I also think this will make for some great cocktails…

18 August 2019

When daughters start writing about their dads’ professions….

“Dad, do not publish anything yet”, Natasha sternly told me.
“Why not?”, I asked
“Because it has not hit the stands yet”.

That was a week back.

What she had given me a few minutes previously was the soon to be released copy of the Inc Magazine. This is the annual one where they feature the top companies in the world (by growth etc etc).

As both of us settled down at the Starbucks over a couple of cups of coffee (strictly speaking some coffee for me and some pink looking drink that I am sure Starbucks had given a fancy name to charge five dollars for her), I started leafing thru the magazine.

Of course, the piece de jure was the one about the “State of the CEO” written by her and another editor (also called Natasha). I read it up word for word. It was interesting to find that the portion they had highlighted was about the health problems of entrepreneur CEOs.

I was so excited reading about the article written by her that I forgot to pay attention to the actual details of the companies. Later, I found out that the company topping the Financial Services growth list is Yieldstreet – founded by none other than my friend and the entrepreneur with the Midas touch – Milind Mehere!