...24 oct. 2002, 2am another lufthansa flight out of delhi.
it was a packed trip with an agenda. the purchase or sale of
real estate is a nasty business in india and attempting both
together is masochism with a twist of lime. the phone rings
incessantly. there are brokers within brokers. they are named
brokers because their chief purpose when they are not making
the deal is to break the deal. its an education by fire on
the two parallel economies. white and black run parallel and
close like train tracks. and like trains tracks, it can be
suicidal to try and cross them. ...but if you look with the
right perspective they meet in a nebulous third economy that
is grey. now i am getting philosophical but some things were
accomplished on the trip so it certainly ended on an exhausting
but positive note. anyway, i had three days to unwind and one
city in which to do it. dublin. i think most people keep a mental
list of places they would like to visit someday. i do...
destinations on the list change with time and experience. the list
is small, a handy size to fit within three wishes should you ever
accidently free a genie in a bottle. dublin has been on my list more
on than off, since 1987. things just fell into place very quickly.
kumar is a friend of mine from paraform days. we worked together
until he kept asking to telcommute from san francisco to a point
that they let him telecommute permanently. kumar chalasani married
long time girlfriend una kearns on 25th oct 2002. someday i will
write a book about him called shamrock. sarah murphy was a backpacker
who was picked up by a mate craig lyon in dunedin 3 years ago.
she stayed with us for a few days. i had an old number for her
and got an overwhelmingly warm and excited response at the other
end. the irish embassy in delhi was obliging with a visa...
thurs. flew aer lingus from frankfurt. kumar could not make it to the airport but sarah left instructions so i took a bus to the ballsbridge jury's hotel, where her office, poster plan was. hair pulled back, trendy glasses and business suit, she was pretty far removed from her hobo days. poster plan is into media space management and has a funky office in a little house in dublin-4, alongside a number of embassies. i dropped my bags at the office and headed out, armed with basic directions and her cel phone so i could be reached. walked back north up pembroke to the city center. there was a persistent light drizzle. stopped at the oscar wilde house and then the greene bookstore for a little bit. scoped out a few old books to buy. becket. stopped in at a pharmacy near merrion square to buy insoles. my feet were killing me. they only had a size 5 but then the nice lady at the counter gave me a big foam rubber sheet and a pair of scissors and i crafted myself a pair, which worked out just fine. further down the road or "bothar" as it says on gaelic signs there was a celtic note music store. scoped out a good 4 traditional CDs to buy, the new christy moore live album among them. walking on, trinity college loomed up on the right. impressive old buildings bustling with students. good place to pee. there was a guy on the street selling mystery dancing leprechauns for 5 euros. i dont know how he got them to dance, or even balance. wandered into every used CD shop between the college and the temple bar area. it was fantastic. each one, seemed to have exactly the kind of music i would stock were i to own one of these places. like the whole town had conspired to align its musical tastes with mine. i was going to make all these purchases later. needed to get off my feet and out the rain so i made the obligatory tourist stop at dublin's famous watering hole/live music venue, the temple bar. sat around for a few minutes playing with sarah's phone trying to call kumar till i accidently switched it off and i needed a password to turn it on! phone but no phone... so i made mental hobbit rhymes...
red breast robin rising rain,
moments frozen in a drunken town.
where you find yourself in heaven,
a half hour 'fore the devil knows you're dead.
where hangovers start at your toes,
and work their way up to your head.
where clon tarf reserve is,
the whiskey of of the hour.
where the road to the temple,
starts and ends at the bar.
it was freezing outside and all i had on were two t-shirts. i left the bar dressed warmer... two tshirts and a shot of whiskey. now i am hungry for junk food. its toss up between the franchise "abrakebabra" and some shop claiming dublin's "most famous fish and chips". the latter wins. its getting near 6pm so i call sarah from a pay phone. she is back at the office so i wind my way back over the liffey and onto some bus that goes back down the road i walked up. the no. 7 bus i think it was. we pick up my bags and take a cab to sarah's place in rathmines. she lives in a house with another 3 or 4 guys... sharkey, tom, doc... its a big soccer household. rathmines is sort of a young studentish residential area. kumar is having a sedate party out in portmarnock where una's family lives which seems too complicated to get to. clean up and have a fantastic italian dinner with sarah at the italian place near slattery's in rathmines. from there we take a cab to needlans or something that sounds like that to watch a t.v. show. sarah's sister produces a reality t.v. show called "ask ana". ana is a lesbian ex-nun who gained fame on another show called "big brother". todays theme is that sarah's friend brian, who is an amateur musician from australia has a hard time meeting women that think of him as more than just a friend. sarah is one of the people interviewed in there on vox pop. there are about 20 people in the bar along with brian himself watching the show, cheering along as brian goes through makeovers, physical and mental to turn him from a mousey nice guy into an australian stud muffin. after the program sarah and a friend of hers orla, go on a pub crawl with me in tow. a traditional irish place, with a "snook" where women could hide and drink in the old days, to a fancy place called the morrison to bono's bar i think, back in a cab to rathmines. slattery's is closed so we go to a place that shounded like radyboolins, by which time its almost 3am. sarah has to work in the morning and leaves instructions to pick up the house key under the back right tire of doc's green car parked on the street. orla and i go on to tram-co, a club in rathmines. the whole evening has been a mix of guiness, black bush, jameson and paddys. the girls drink this awful bulmers cider. the place is packed and everyone is dancing involuntarily like a can of beans being shaken. its about 5 in the morning, we make it back to orla's and pass out.
orla needs to be in cork before noon for mass. there is a station at her house this weekend. stations are a big family affair. she wakes at 10 and cork is four hours away. sarah has taken off for work with the keys to her place and i need to be in portmarnock for the wedding by one. orla drives me to sarah's office then back to rathmines to pick up my bag. i enter sarah's place and trip the burglar alarm that i call to get the code for in desperation. we then drive back to ballsbridge to return the keys to sarah. orla heads to cork and i take the bus to the liffey from where i can catch the bus to portmarnock. it starts to pour and so i hop in a cab. am in portmarnock shortly before noon. it is an upper crust part of dublin and the portmarnock hotel is attached to a PGA rated golf course right on the beach. very pretty, lush green and undulatingly coastal, very irish. kumar is getting dressed for the big event. i shower and change. 1pm and we are headed off in cars to st. sylvesters church in malahide. the wedding ceremony was quite beautiful, interspersed with organ, violin and opera. we then head back to the portmarnock hotel for a reception that starts with champagne toasts and moves onto guiness toasts and other toasts. i am already pretty toast and by the time dinner is served i am falling asleep at the table. by the time the pavlova shows up i have a second wind. then the dancing starts and the band is reminiscent of the wedding band in "the commitments". after the first set they are joined by a few brass musicians up from the jazz festival in cork and the music level goes from here to HERE. then there is more dancing, then more drinks, then sandwiches, then the cycle repeats. i have a vague recollection of talking very excitedly with a guy paul about jimmy's pies from roxborough. around 3 am the party moves to the residents bar in the hotel at which point i am having a hard time keeping my face out of my guiness. the mind is willing but the body has switched off. una's brother inlaw john is singing summertime. crash at the hotel.
surfaced around 11 to sounds of housekeeping. took the bus back into town with una's friends from the wedding party jefferey and terese. the tull song "jefferey goes to leicester square" rings in my head on the whole way back. call sarah from near the liffey and she is right around the corner. she has been out shopping with her boyfriend martin's parents. boyfriend martin himself is busy entertaining said parents visiting from the countryside. we are all starving and good greasy irish stew with another pint of guiness at oliver st. john gogarty really hits the spot. she calls up her friend speedy. "speeds, i am with an old friend here who is going for three nights in a row on the batter..." speedy joins us for lunch. speedy has a story about going drinking with tourists that he says he will save for later after more beer. he also has a story about standing on the street with sarah sucking on helium baloons and singing summertime. this town is soaked, i mean drenched in music. terese wants to go to grafton st. the big shopping st. of dublin. we walk to it over the ha'penny bridge, a little old walking bridge over the liffey which sarah pronounces as the "hate me" bridge. she says it was made famous by a publicity shot of phil lynotts from a thin lizzy video many years ago. i say "brilliant". everyone there says "brilliant". terese and jefferey take off to shop and speedy takes off to speedistan and sarah and i wander back towards merrion square through a lovely park to see the local aritsts put their stuff up on display in the street. its still drizzling again and the showing is sparse so we go to the national gallery instead. i like museums these days. the highlights of this one are carvaggio's "taking of christ" and a vermeer. personally i am quite taken in by francis danby's something of the sixth seal and jack b. yeats, "singing horseman". in fact all off yeats paintings are cool. lots of paintblob horses. the yeats family is a real irish institution, father john butler the painter and sons, w.b. and jack b. nimble. the coffee shop is closed by 5 and we decide to head back to rathmines for a cup and a nap before a sold out show that sarah got us tickets to. one sip of tea and i am out cold for an hour. we order in pizza and then its time.... sinead o'connor, live at vicar st. vicar st. is a relatively new venue that the guy at the celtic note told me about two days ago, when he was recommending the christy moore, live in vicar st. album. its a tiny place with a bunch of tables in front of the stage and then a balcony area close above, which is where we were. a couple of pints and then the warm-up act damien dempsey takes the stage. great voice, accoustic guitar... poor lyrics, on the odd occassion they were understandable. sinead joins him for a song. she is a very petite woman with a very beautiful face. her voice messes with the molecular structure of the air. you hear it not just through your ears, but you can taste it and feel it on your skin. another couple of pints and she takes the stage very relaxed, engaging in banter with the crowd, saying she is happy to be signing in her own accent again. the first half of the show is a bunch of traditional irish ballads... peggy gordon, molly malone, a gaelic one about brave grannie mhoile or however you might spell something in gaelic that is pronouced "grawnye veil". she dedicates a few of them to her dad in the audience. the band is amazing... guitar, bass, drums, keys, violin, cello, concertinas, and a guy on banjo and tin whistle. she then goes through all her old favourites with fire on babylon dedicated in the encore to cardinal connor, upholder of irish catholicism. around the second encore she says she has a little surprise and goes off stage. i have my nose in my pint when sarah says "shite, there's christy moore". it does not register. she says it again and then i say twice "holy shit there's christy moore". and he is still there. sure enough, sinead's little surprise is really a big surprise. christy is a big boy built for playing rugby but with a voice that can reconfigure the air as well. they sing a traditional song about old turkey bald and his daughter and lord baker together to a very sparse organ accompaniment. then its all over but molly malone singing "cockles... and mussels..." is burnt into my head forever. walking out of vicar st. i call kumar's brother inlaw john, who says the wedding party is at the octagon bar in some hotel. there is a group of about 20 there. one of una's friends tammy comes up to me and says that she has known me since thurs. before the wedding. she had gone into a pharmacy to get her nails done for the wedding and the lady at the counter said she knew this long haired, darkish fellow who was also going to a wedding in malahide and to say hello to him. that reminded me of the bookstore and the CD store and all those things that i had scoped to buy but then never did. another time... everyone was buying rounds all around and i found myself stuck with two concurrent pints at one time. so we play pint races. will the left or the right hand win... then to mess up the bookies i mix my drinks. mixing guiness with guiness is sacrelige. around 1 they throw us out and some of us go to a club called four dame lane. we stay there for a while and then sarah and i take a cab back. sharkey is gone for the weekend and so i get his bed for the night. i am a little amazed that i remember all of this now 4 days later. the night sees a full force gale the like of which i had only heard of. in the morning the winds are still strong and i borrow doc's jacket as we walk to the shuttle bus stop in rathmines. it seemed like the wind was at my back this whole trip. am at the airport by 8am with doc's jacket still on. i leave it for sarah in left luggage, make a few calls. meet a friend of kumar's at the airport and he says, so how much longer did you stay last night... and i say, a couple of pints. only in dublin is a pint a unit of time. the plane took off shaking like a leaf. the woman next to had her rosary going in a blur of beads. the hangover of three nights should wear off pretty quick. the hangover of the experience will likely linger a long time.