Inspired by Life

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Date Night: Shophouse Kitchen & Kramer Books Afterwords Cafe

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn."
—Rosemary Uriquo

After a hectic week at work, escaping and discovering your own city is a great way to unwind. That is exactly what Aaron and I did. We spontaneously decided to explore Dupont Circle, parked the car around the corner, and almost walked past this gem—The Shophouse Kitchen. It is modeled after the Chipotle brand of restaurants—only this one is Asian cuisine. 

I got a bowl of Jasmine rice, pork and chicken meatballs, eggplant and Thai basil, spicy red curry, papaya slaw, and crushed peanuts. It was to die for! The meatballs were moist and juicy, and it had just the right amount of spice. The service was quick and efficient, the food was cheap and great, but the only drawback was the seating. It is very limited and it forces you to get cozy with the other patrons of the restaurant.

We would have almost licked our bowls clean and stopped ourselves as the thought of licking paper was not very appealing. Bellies full and sufficiently nourished, we continued our stroll. This place was packed—Dupont Circle gets really busy on the weekends. But it is a great place to people watch and window shop. 

We walked down the street, got myself a cup of caramel apple spice from Starbucks, and hit the famous bookstore/cafe - Kramer Books & Afterwords Cafe. We walked in and spent 30 minutes just standing and reading at the very first bookshelf! I loved this place, but, let's be honest, any place that has stacks and stacks of books—I heart it immediately. We wandered around in different directions—Aaron checked out the travel books, while I read some biographies and business books. We walked around the entire store and the cafe, and kept literally bumping into strangers, as there was hardly any place to walk around. I had never seen a bookstore so packed, unless I was in India, where inevitably, everywhere you go, is packed. 

He flipped some pages. I read some pages.
We went home—content.

Monday, April 23, 2012

This town is about Music - Nashville, TN.

"I like this town, it's really great. This town is about music. It's about the kind of music I like. "
Otis Blackwell 

I spent a week in Nashville, TN, recently (March 29-April 5), and was surprised by how much I liked it! It was a memorable week in many ways, but as Otis says, the most memorable was the music—this town is about music. Incredible talent everywhere you turn. The misconception is that Nashville is only country music. Not true. 

The week started out with getting a booth set up for a client at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel—an experience in itself. The Gaylord is an impressive place—convention center, hotel rooms, a riverboat ride, shops, restaurants, gardens, waterfalls, and much more. 

(Danielle, my co-worker, and I, in front of the booth.)

I had the fantastic opportunity to attend a reception hosted by Bell Helicopter at The Country Music Hall of Fame! It was great to explore the place, and to hobnob with some of clients of our client, as we rode in style in a limousine.

(Inside the CMHOF.)

Danielle had done her homework well, so she knew all the places to see and things to do. One of those places that was a tradition in and of itself was Tootsie's—a very popular bar. The amazing thing about this place, and any other place we went to, was that no matter how small and crowded the place was, there was LIVE MUSIC! 
And they were very good! 

(Danielle and I at Tootsie's.)

Our clients were wonderful hosts and took extremely good care of us. One of the most memorable experiences for me was meeting Mr. Art (pictured below) at Dotson's—a homegrown, southern food restaurant. The decor belies the deliciousness of the food—unbelievably finger-licking good! Or, as Mr. Art says, "...makes you want to slap your Mamie!"

(Danielle and me with Mr. Art.)

The BEST southern food I have ever had in my life—succulent meatloaf, crisp and light fried okra, corn bread, fried chicken, mash potatoes, sweet potato casserole, turnip greens, banana cream pie, and a FREE one-pound bottle of homemade peach jam to take home! Yes, I ate all of that (except the jam) and cleaned my plate(s)! To top it all off, Mr. Art enjoyed sitting at our table and chatting with us through our entire meal, that our food was on the house! What a dear old man! 

If you ever go to Nashville, you have to go to Dotson's. Thank you, ISR Group, for being such great hosts!

It was a great experience and one that I will never forget, y'all!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A supreme mortal experience - Washington, DC - LDS Temple

"I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed; life will be better for you."
—Gordon B. Hinckley
On April 15, 2012, I had the opportunity to accompany a friend to the Washington, DC Temple. It is always wonderful to experience the temple through the eyes of one who has never been to the temple grounds before.
 Eighty percent of my co-workers are LDS, so our conversations sometimes include phrases that might not be familiar to those who are not Mormon—stake, ward, endowments, enrichment night, family home evening, etc. With a boss who doubles as my Stake President, it is no wonder that Yan became very curious about the Mormons :)
One day, out of the blue, she expressed a desire to go to church with me. So, of course, I invited her to the Visitors Center. Yan is from China, and has been working with me for almost a year now. We had a wonderful time—watched the Joseph Smith movie, walked through some exhibits, talked to some sister missionaries, and we even managed to find a Book of Mormon in Chinese! 

Thanks to Yan, I had the opportunity to 'see' the temple again.

"Let us truly be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people...Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience."
—Howard W. Hunter

Monday, April 16, 2012

...the beginning of fairies.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of meeting one of these fairies—Piper Grace Kacher. She was only a week old, and such a happy, not to mention, adorable baby! Ben and Bonnie Kacher are kindred spirits and we have become fast friends over the course of two years. 

Piper's older sister, Paije, is one of our favorite little girls—she could say 'Aaron' and 'Yolanda' before she was two years old! Needless to say, we are big fans of this Kacher family and are thrilled that they are adding to their happy brood with Piper, who, as evidenced by the picture, will help carry on that happiness. 

Congratulations, Kachers! We look forward to several years of friendship and memories!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

...someone who liked the guitar.

“You couldn't not like someone who liked the guitar.”
Stephen King, The Stand 

Sitting in my hotel room in Nashville, TN, I look at this beautiful instrument I just purchased. 

I have been in love with the guitar all my life. My earliest childhood memories always include someone playing a guitar, and me, singing and entertaining my family and friends before I was old enough to be bigger than the microphone in my hands. 

Music was such an integral part of my Anglo-Indian culture and I cannot imagine a life without music, singing and dancing. It is what kept my heart beating and my life interesting. My dearest childhood friends—The Jacobs—played a vital role in cultivating this love for music and dancing, and we always had opportunities to develop those talents—weddings, parties, gatherings at home. We never needed an excuse for someone to pull out their guitar, strum a few chords, and start singing and dancing. 

I am excited to learn to coax this instrument to replicate the sounds of joy and laughter that still resonate in my mind from my early childhood and teenage years. It is a journey I have longed to take and I am thrilled.

Thank you, Jacob family, for being that inspiration, for being a part of my life and Filly's as well, and, 
so I say...
Thank you for the music. 

Life is so carefree when heard through the strings of a guitar.