Friday, March 4, 2011

What whisky can and can't do


Last night I ended a pretty busy day at work over drinks with Y and a couple of other friends at Polo Club's Last Chukker. I really just planned to stay a couple of minutes but then we all got comfortable and before I knew it, there was pizza on the table.

"How about a couple of shots to go with that?" Y asked. He and his friends were killing time before leaving to spend several days on someone's pretty fabulous estate several hours out of Manila, indulging in their favorite sport. They were going to take a chopper but they'd left things too late, and so they were driving later in the evening instead after traffic had subsided, and were chilling out by the Polo stables in the meantime.

LIFE'S TOO SHORT

I looked at my watch. It was 545 pm, which was rather early to be thinking about whisky, and I actually never do shots -- or whisky. But they all looked at me expectantly as if the decision to have shots or not depended entirely on me, and they all so looked like they wanted one. Life is short, I thought. So I shrugged, sighed, and said: "Why not?"

Whoops of joy around the table and a tray of shots arrived shortly.

"Is this how you usually end your day?" I was mainly asking Y because I knew it was his idea to order the shots. He smiled as, obviously, I'd gotten it all wrong. "This is how I start my day," he replied. Yes, Y's at his favorite sport in the daytime, and then he's at one of his favorite night spots in the evening. Everyday.

"How many shots can you actually drink?" I asked. Again, he looked very amused. "I've never actually counted. But I do know that there are 22 shots in a 750 ml bottle."

Then it was time to do the deed. I looked hesitantly at the shot placed in front of me, especially as I'd had very little for lunch, and I usually never ever drink whisky. But the pressure was on since the shots had been ordered on my account. "You can't back out on us now," Y insisted. "We've ordered these because you said yes."

There was nothing else to do except to down the shot. It felt like fire racing through my insides but when it was over, I have to admit that it felt incredibly good. Suddenly nothing was wrong with the world and everything else was about ten times more wonderful, although in a very normal way.

A GREAT BAR ON A SUNDAY NIGHT

"So where else do you hang out aside from the Last Chukker?" I asked Y.

"I have a couple of places for every day of the week," he replied. "I even have two or three places for Sundays." Now that intrigued me. I didn't know too many decent places open on Sundays. Even my favorite Salon de Ning was closed.

"There's a really cool bar that turns into a karaoke place on Sundays," he continued. "But it's not your typical karaoke joint. People request songs but they don't go up on stage or anything like that. Instead the whole bar sings along. It's really fun."

"And we're talking cool songs, here, right?" I said. "Not 'My Way' and that kind of thing?" He nodded, still smiling.

I thought this was something to blog about. I'm sure lots of people would want information on such a fun place for a Sunday night. "Where is it? What's it called." I asked.

THE MILLION DOLLAR J QUESTION

Again, he grinned. "I won't tell you now. But one time, when you get back from your trips, I'll take you and then you can see it for yourself and blog about it then." I'd just returned from Boracay and was going away to places as disparate as Hokkaido, Bali and Sabah over the next 14 days or so. Then he said, "So. By the way. Who's J?"

Aha. Lots of people have been asking me the same question but there's never been whisky involved. Fortunately, the whisky wasn't strong enough for that. It was my turn to smile. "I'm sorry, but I can't tell you," I said.

"And where is he now?" Y asked, still fishing. I replied, deliberately vague: "Somewhere where there's no Blackberry service." I hadn't gotten a BBM from J all day so I was assuming he was still in the middle of the middle of nowhere.

It was all light and easy banter, and actually so much fun. But I had to leave midway as some friends were coming over for coffee and dessert at home at 9 pm.

UNEXPECTED DETOUR

But the shots were obviously still at work. I was already on the way home but I still had a half-hour to spare, so I asked the driver to make a detour and take me to the Lexus showroom to check out the cars. Call it a sudden inspiration. Fortunately the showroom was still open. Everything looked so nice and one car in particular felt absolutely right for me. I sat in the back seat of the showroom car making mental calculations of the damages involved if I actually went home with it. But my good senses rescued me and so I decided to leave things hanging, pending a test-drive after my return in a couple of weeks.

RETURN OF THE PROLIFIC TEXTER

When I finally got home, my friends still hadn't arrived so I went online to check the progress of our layouts for our fabulous Travelife Magazine April-May issue, on the news stands from April 15. Our wonderful February-March issue with a special on India is still on sale right now, by the way. I hope you pick up a copy.

Midway, there was an email from J, still in some god forsaken place, asking about my day. "Are we going to be talking on email now? What happened to your BBM?" I asked him.

BBM wasn't working properly, he said, and so his only access was something very complicated like a combination of regular texts whenever Globe's roaming partner in that part of the world came through with a connection, and email via satellite on his phone -- whichever worked, and it changed by the minute. And, oh yes, BBM sometimes worked for a minute or too as well. But at least he had some kind of signal today, although he didn't know for how long.

I was under the impression that he was texting and typing as he was navigating some kind of nature trail, just because he'd actually, finally, found a precious signal that connected him with the real world. In the meantime, I had to keep checking my Mac and my phone as I worked on my magazine layouts, to see on which device his next message would land.

"Life good for you today?" He asked.

"Pretty good," I emailed back. "I've just been invited on a luxury cruise next week and right now I've just returned from drinks at the Last Chukker." I didn't mention the Lexus stopover anymore. TMI. Too much information.

"And what are you doing today?" I asked. It was the start of his day on the other side of the world.

"Well, I'm looking at some rocks right now and I'm having a hard time appreciating them," he wrote back. "Either they're overrated or I'm just dense."

Maybe it was the whisky still at work because I just couldn't resist it. I immediately replied: "You're just dense." And this time, it was my turn to put a smiley face after my text reply.

Here's a photo of the Travelife Magazine team
at our portable HQ in Bora earlier this week


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