One thing and one thing alone makes work related trips bearable: combining them with pleasure. So, when I had to go to Louisville for a meeting, I made sure I also visited LA to see my cousin, his wife and new baby boy and San Francisco to see JJ and our new office.
Meeting JJ felt like being reunited with a long lost friend. He put me at ease with his warm manner, was relaxed and unassuming but most importantly had a great sense of humour. Our lunch was too short. I was ready to spend the whole afternoon and evening hanging out with him. But it was a good job I didn’t because something mind blowingly unbelievable happened to me as I was walking aimlessly around Union Square afterwards.
I was about to cross a street when a hand reached out from behind me and gently tugged at my shoulder. My initial reaction was to continue to cross the road. After all, what could the stranger want except money. As I pulled away he pushed his way through the rest of the crowd to stand along side me.
“Hey man, I know you man… ”
“You write for Iranian.com don’t you?”
I thought I was dreaming. I felt my face burn with a deep read blush. All the more so when I noticed that half of the people who were crossing the road with me had now stopped to listen and work out why I had been recognised.
“I can’t believe it man I’ve been following you for two blocks to make sure.”
“You recognised me?” I was incredulous.
“Yeah — you live in England don’t you? What are you doing here, man? Does JJ know you are in town?”
“I can’t believe it, man. You’re famous… Listen, I gotta go, I was walking in the opposite direction when I recognised you, bye man.”
And with that he took off back up the hill. I grinned broadly as I looked around to notice a small group of people still standing around me trying to work out who I was. I concluded that I had been lucky. Many readers don’t like my writing, lifestyle or appearance. He could have been one of those and spat on me. In fact, there is a dumb Iranian lawyer in NYC who would want to do just that and more. I say dumb because he sent irritating emails and never thought I would track him down to his place of work (he used an anonymous AOL account) with the help of a few friends of mine.
I can’t be certain but I am sure I still had that grin on my face two days later. I kept wanting to ask complete strangers, do you know who I am? I appeal to the stranger who recognised me: please write in and reveal yourself to those who might think I have made this story up. You know who you are…
I landed in London Heathrow on a Wednesday morning and immediately went to the office. I had a mountain of work to get through before going to Euro-Disney the following day, together with 20 or so In(dian)-Laws.
A word of advice about Euro-Disney: don’t do it. Go to Disney in Orlando instead. The one amusing story about the Disney break was when we (myself, our twins and 18 or so Indians cousins ) were queuing to go on a train ride. One of those rides which gently takes you around the park so you can see everything. It was a steam train. As soon as our group saw it a few suggested we get on it the way only Indians know how.
“Let’s get on the roof like they do back home!” shouted Varinder.
I’m not sure why I laughed so hard but I am very good at constructing images in my head. And this one was of a group of Indians riding on the roof of a steam train around Euro-Disney. I think I laughed a little too hard for my father in law’s liking.
As I type this note I am sitting in a rather nice hotel called the Okura in Amsterdam. The day after returning from Euro Disney I had to get myself to a retail finance conference here. It is a Japanese hotel with a two Micheline star Tepenyaki restaurant. Last night I almost had to be carried out of there I ate so much… What will I tell Jahanshah when he asks me about my diet?