Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Luncheon Today

I went to lunch with the most eccentric of my co-workers today. Usually we ask other colleagues before we head out for a restaurant. Given the excellent weather in the Bay Area many folks join us for a stroll or drive while chatting amongst ourselves.

Today he came over my desk and asked me if I am hungry. I said Yes. So we decided to head out.True to his European roots, he warned me ahead saying he is not the person to have the usual $6 lunch for hamburger/sandwich but proper fine dining that might cost me more.

We chose a place and we drove in his Inifiniti. For the first time, other than work details, he asked me where I was from, how long I was around in this country, etc. We came to the restaurant and he held the door for a lady who was coming in the direction. Watching him hold the door, she ran. Immediately, he was asking the lady to take her time and told me

"I dont understand why women run when I hold the door. Is it the fear that I will leave it/close it in the middle. I have opened it and will hold it till she gets in". (This is one of his signature ways of discussing the world around him).

He ordered red wine ( Cabarnet Sauvignon to be precise) and asked me if I would like some beer. Phew! Its been ages since I have seen anyone have wine at lunch.Said it was good for his heart and explained me the difference between various grapes and wineries.The guy knew his food stuff.

Then he explained me that I didnt suck or else he would have voted me off the firm in the first week itself. Glad to know atleast I am worth something in his eyes :)

When we were in the middle of our lunch, I told him that gastronomically speaking, I come from a far superior culture than I have been dished out in this country. Explained a few things. Then we digressed. As was his wont to precision in such matters, he asked me the following question when I told him how I cannot speak my neighboring states' language nor understand their script.

"Tell me this because your country's diversity in language amazes me. Who took the pain of defining these languages, grammars, syntaxes and semantics?"

Me: "I dont know" (Thinking hard to assign a person or a group of people for cleverly coming up with the language Manipuri or Bhojpuri)

"How did they evolve so differently being the part of a same country? ".
I told him that there was no such country as a whole and ethnicnally there is no race called as "Indian")

He discussed the hardships of being a Eastern European Jew, approved the organizational capabilities of Nazis whilst feeling sad for his own folk, recreated what it was like to be in 16th century spain before all of them were expelled from the country.I threw in my shallow comments here and there but there arrived a final kodak moment when he was watching something in the air (an imaginary homeland I guess) saying

"This country is the last hope of the promised land. Nothing has happened since the last 100 odd years since we have settled here. Yet."

Curious about the "yet" part, I quizzed him if he was being cynical given their history or being paranoid given the circumstances. He said neither. He just wore his sunglasses and asked politely

"Shall We?"

Then we wanted to get some decent coffee.( or "agreeable" as he called it). He cursed Starbucks and showed the his vote for the best in the Silicon Valley area called "Peet's Coffee". I ordered the usual and was about to get it in the usual paper cup when he interrupted me with the hint that I am insulting both myself and the coffee if I drink from it. He got me a ceramic cup and told me this was the proper way to enjoy coffee.

Then we basked in the sun for a while trying to think where else in the world would you get paid for doing so, all the while you are recharging yourself. We came back to pick up the loose ends of work we left.

The day is over and I still somehow felt some volumes of words being spoken in his silent stare into the thin air..Ahhh.


Anonymous said...

aren't we all looking for the "promised land"..


Primalsoup said...

Hmmm. nice!

So, why was he eccentric? He sounds like an intelligent man with good taste! :)

I suspect, that as a nation we are pretty much various strings that have been held together by a fragile commonality. But, we have by and large peacefully co-existed, so I guess there must be some inherent 'Indianness'...

And somehow, the notion of the last hope of Promised Land reminded me of Linkin Park, 'I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I'm close to something real
I wanna find something I've wanted all along. Somewhere I belong...'

gvenum said...

>>He cursed Starbucks ....being a Eastern European Jew,

Pbbly he didnot know the Starbucks is owned by a Jew:)..who else would charge 3 bucks for a coffee. chaah....*taking the last sip of the
latte from cup which has lady with tresses picture on*:)

Paddy said...

[Pri] Yes. He even joked about why they wouldnt also find it in just 3 words

They Hate Us.
We Won.
Lets Eat.

[Bonnie] Thanks. He is eccentric because he perpetrates a fraud against himself by acting something he doesnt.For example about his mom he was saying that having his mom is almost like having a medical condition whereas in reality I am willing to bet that he does like her very much.

--[Begin Digression

A lady and her mom were passing before us and the lady cussing out her mom on some issue.Our guy enquires her mom if the lady was her daughter and tells her that it if were him, he would slap her.Twice.

Immediately the lady hit back against him sayin its none of his business.
----------] End Digression

Linkin Park also said "In the end it doesnt even matter..."

[Venu] He does actually but nevertheless as you could see he is after something more than Starbucks could offer.

Hirak said...

I trust your colleague to be a bonafide epicure, but Sideways seems to have spawned a lot of fake oenophiles with a taste for Pinot-Noir.

Geetanjali said...

:-) The lunch outing sounded like alot of fun - sometimes it's cool to hang out with eccentric ppl like your colleague; jogs yur grey cells and spices up an otherwise boring day!

Anonymous said... much is the bill from this restaurant???