Sunday, February 20, 2005


On Friday I met an old friend for dinner and for a night out. I'd had a full week; I wrote an article on new residential real estate development for the Construction News in Prague, sorted out a scheduling crisis at the Budapest Business Journal for our daily new briefing service, I taught 8 hours of classes and attended to such domestic duties as cooking and washing dishes. When I sent an email on Thursday to my old friend Gregg about getting together on Friday (an event we'd been planning for about two weeks), I wasn't exactly excited. My first wish was to go to the Synagogue for Sabbath prayers and Sabbath dinner. This is an event that has brought me much joy in the past. The smell of the ancient synagogue, dancing with the boys (no girls allowed) and the festive meal afterwards (girls allowed) replete with singing. But Gregg had inidicated that he wasn't much into the idea. And of course by the time his workday finished and he's made his trip to the Gym, it would be long after sundown and too late to welcome the Sabbath in customary fashion.

So we settled on meeting along with his live-in girlfriend Monika at a new trendy and posh Indian restaurant, Kama Sutra, owned by a friend of mine. Gregg explained the three of us would meet there and then he and I would go out afterwards.

I arrived and took a seat at the bar under the emormous wrought iron shandelier surrounded by earthtones and flame lighting. I ordered a small beer. I wanted a Kingfisher, an Indian brew, but the only beer they had was Heineken. It was the first beer I'd had in weeks. On the stool next to mine sat a brown paper bag containing the Yoga teaching manual that Lucia, my wife, had borrowed from Gregg a small enternity ago.

The meal was good enough, but not fantastic. Maybe because it was just the three of us. Monika told me about her recent experiences with veganism and macrobiotic eating. Gregg told me about how he's back to eating meat and off Yoga. He said he had been going to the gym, that he's been making a lot of business trips to Turkey. He asked me if I'd been smoking pot. I told him I hadn't.

Gregg gave Monika the Yoga manual to take home. I politely refused the organic banana that Monika offered me. Looking back, I could have accepted it and given it away later.

Gregg and I walked a bit in the coldish night air toward the massive St. Stephen's Basilica (featured in Modanna's Evita). We didn't have a proper discussion about where to go next before Gregg was on the phone with his work colleague Charles Booth. He chatted breifly with him about where to go, then asked me. As I was unable to generate an extemperaneous response we headed to "Negro", a cramped glitzy place on St. Stephen's square to wait for Charles and his girlfriend.

Things would likely have been better had we walked some more and reflected on where we might like to go or simply walked and found someplace, perhaps in the seventh district. But I was too acquiescent and Gregg was in his manager's mode, so Negro it was and soon I was surrounded by cigarette smoking yuppies of various nationalities with beat music so loud I couldn't hear myself think. After maybe an hour and a straight vodka later I was out of there to catch the last metro and bus home, picking up some kefir on the way.

I could complain about the evening, but I won't.


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