Friday was a pizza and beer day, except that we had the two at different times. Our usual Friday morning meetings meant a call for a pizza after that. A fresh salad and a nice crisp Italian pizza was our lunch. We followed this with a couple of relaxing glasses of an Indian pale ale in the evening. We’d run out of good beer for a month or two. Then finally, when the state government allowed alcohol deliveries, we again started to get our tipple when we want it. Unfortunately the age of the beer is not guaranteed (more signs of the collapsed supply chain), and we got some duds now and then. These two bottles turned out to be fine. A couple of samosas, some bhajia, and a small seekh kabab rounded off an evening of quiet companionship.
We’ve got to start meeting other people on these Friday evenings, over video chat of course. Pubs will not be safe again for a few years, that is the new normal. But that doesn’t mean we’ll stop having fun.
Niece Tatu passed through and spent a night with us. We decided to take her and Niece Moja out for dinner to our favourite restaurant. This generation refuses to be surprised, so Niece Tatu researched the place and pronounced herself satisfied. When I mentioned this to The Family, she said “Who does that remind me of?” Don’t look at me, I don’t do that with restaurants. Okay, maybe some times. But how do you go beyond the curated experience? Our simple solution was to order every dessert on the menu. Fortunately, this restaurant turns over its menu rather frequently, so while there were a few old favourites (deconstructed and dressed up, like the gulab jamun and ice cream in the featured photo) there was also enough new to keep me interested.
By the time we got to the desserts, it had been a long evening, even though Niece Moja managed to come in earlier than her usual (she must have cancelled a few appointments). Before she breezed in, we’d worked our way through the first round of cocktails. Niece Moja had chosen to follow The Family into non-alcoholic terrain for the second round. I wanted to settle in with something solid and interesting, but new. After some quizzing, our evening’s guide through the menu suggested that I try an Eight Finger Eddie. The bottle and Niece Moja arrived together. She inspected my drink, decided to be my poison taster, and then ordered something else. The proven-safe drink turned out to meet my expectations. It was new to me, but not to the youngsters. They were fun kids, but so much more interesting as adults.
The thing about coming to a new country is that everything confounds you. I arrived in Myanmar and immediately travelled to the banks of the Irrawaddy river. There was a pop-up bar under a beautiful spreading banyan tree and several local boys were sitting and drinking beer under it. The very relaxed setting reminded me of Munich’s biergartens.
Each beer costs about 4000 kyat (around 3 US dollars). The median income is 65,000 kyat. So this should be unusual. Do all these boys earn well over the median income? Probably, since you can see one of them trying to take my photo with a smart phone.
Maybe after a week I would be able to parse the subtle social signals which tell a local which of the many people you pass on a road probably owns a smart phone, drives around in a motorbike or car (imported, as they all are), and could be expected to have beer at a relaxed biergarten.