There I was with an old friend and his partner, my partner and his old friends – who just so happened to know each other.
It is a small world like that.
My partner was in Kolkata to perform in a play.
I was in Kolkata to meet with my client and conduct focus group discussions with their team.
It wasn’t an accident we were in Kolkata at the same time. One commitment sparked another and thankfully nothing got in the way.
So that Sunday evening, we came out after the play to meet our friends, enjoying the slight nip in the air…
I could not have been happier.
For me, Bengali is one of those languages that I do not speak but I was immersed in enough consider it a familiar friend. It is the sound of one of my many past homes… the home where I lived in the 90s as a student in Chittaranjan Park, Delhi.
And Bengali food is something that once upon a time was what would constitute a regular home cooked meal.
The setting? A piece of history.
While the Tollygunge club was officially founded in 1895, the Club House was built even earlier and is now over 220 years old. What was once home to Tipu Sultan’s son and a member of the East India Company now is where our friends come out to enjoy their day or night.
Rather than be a stuffy relic, ‘Tolly’ is where families and friends go to entertain and be entertained, relax and re-invigorate…
It is a nice reminder that things do change… yet also retain elements of days gone by.
It was also a time to reflect…
Looking at a friend I’ve known for more than 20 years, it was clear that I’m not the same person I was back in early 1995 when we first met.
However I would not be the person I am today without all the ups and downs, rights and lefts that occurred in between.
So though Bengal is no longer a core element of my everyday today in a way that it was living in a Bengali home in a Bengali colony, hearing Bengali, eating Bong khanna, listening to Bengali music… these experiences are all intrinsically part of me, not just my past but indelibly part of who I will always be.
And for that I am thankful. It was indeed a ‘Tolly’ good evening!
While it is true I spent much of November and December in Indonesia, I’m home in India now and discovering the new day-to-day reality of life post demonetization.
For those not familiar, on November 8, 2016 the Prime Minister of India with a swipe of his pen made the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes no longer legal tender – effectively taking 86% of the currency out of circulation.
The rules of how to exchange or deposit any cash kept changing and, more challenging, the new Rs 2,000 then also Rs 500 notes were a different size so ATMs didn’t immediately work. Then when re-calibrated, apps popped up informing where you could get cash – finding an ATM (or bank branch) with cash became a more elusive race than catching Pokemon Go!
Just wanted to raise a virtual toast and wish you all a very Happy New Years!!
As I was away in Indonesia for most of December, my Whisky Lady posts were mostly catch-up on earlier tasting experiences…
Once again the Bombay & Malt and Cigar gentlemen managed to accommodate my mad travel schedule and arranged our night to coincide with my limited dates back in Mumbai. The theme was Berrys’ and a blend featuring:
- Berrys’ Speyside 46% – Sour cherries meets bitter sherry… hmm….
- Berrys’ Islay 46% – Peaty sweet cinnamon spice…
- Ghosted Reserve No 2 42.8% – A trio of lost Lowland distillery spirits from Ladyburn, Inverleven and Dumbarton…
It is a time of celebration. It was a year of change. From some nerve wracking months when I didn’t know whether I could remain in India to manic work back in one of my favourite places – Jakarta – 2016 had lows and highs and many moments in between.
Blogging honestly hasn’t been a priority. From September, I was more in Indonesia than India. Even when home, my focus was on the project. However I didn’t just work in Jakarta. I did manage an escape to Bogor to breath in oxygenated air at the Botanical gardens and even attend a Christmas fair in Kemang.
Everyday Asia has been quiet for an understandable reason – I’ve been pre-occupied with a project in Indonesia for a couple of months. When not in Indonesia, I have either been in Singapore or Mumbai or somewhere in between.
There has been lots of activities and not much “down time.”
Even weekends have been packed with things like Whisky Live in Singapore or cramming four social events into a single evening home in Mumbai.
Until the long weekend. In Jakarta.
Naturally I had delusions of being able to go on adventures outside of Jakarta… maybe Yogyakarta and Borobudur or other places…
Naturally I also did not book anything in advance… So by the time I tried to fix on a plan, most places that looked reasonable were full.
Emel seduced the audience with the powerful emotions her voice emitted… punching through with passion, protest, shifting from lilting to wrenchingly raw.
After the show, Emel shared how much she enjoyed their short stay in India. Yet after extensive touring also appreciated a chance to relax in the hotel, swim outdoors…
She shared that they had been to Vancouver and Montreal and enjoyed their Canadian tour. I later met the guitar player who talked about being busy working on their new CD, soon to be independently released – Ensen.
Emil Mathlouthi – Ma Lkit
Want more? Check out:
- Website http://emelmathlouthi.com/home.html
- Facebook https://www.facebook.com/E.Mathlouthi
- Myspace https://myspace.com/amelmathlouthi
I’ll admit I’d never heard of her before the event… and yet for much of December, Christmassy music was replaced by the haunting sounds of Tunisia.