Thursday, June 4, 2009
Chaptette 11: Chi Square Test
So, a classicist, a poet, an economist, a conflict resolutionist, and a statistician walk into a bar.....Yes, these are my Georgetown colleagues.
It wasn't just a bar, however; it was Khazana, the finest Indian restaurant in Doha, run by Sanjeev Kapoor, the only Indian "celebrity" chef, and located near the Souq Waqif (old market, which is not old, as it was totally rebuilt in recent years) and the Corniche. The bar didn't serve liquor, no, no, no, no no! but it did make the most incredible fruit cocktails: I had the pepper lychee lassi (yes, it does sound like an rare-breed dog). Wow. The lassi is the yoghurt, the main liquid in this and many other drinks and sauces. So, before we dine, let's all hoist a toast of yoghurt fruits and spices!
The meal's first highlight: the classicist's son was wearing a Redskins football jersey. Recognizing the number, I said "Hey, Clinton [Portis]"
He said: "See, Mom, I knew someone would recognized this jersey here." (Special thanks to my Laura for helping me refine my love/hate relationship with the 'Skins.)
After that: dish after dish of aromatics, breads, rices, hammour curries, chandi kaliyan, mutton patiyala kababs (you busted me: I'm not that sophisticated, so I had to look a couple of the names up). Wow.
Better, still the company. I can't remember the last time I sat down with colleagues who were classicists, poets, and so forth. It hasn't happened, I don't believe, on any "non-business" dinner in the many years I've worked at Georgetown. And this is just Sunday. By Thursday, I'll have broken bread with others three more nights.
Food, and friends, bring together the most essential, and with luck the most luxurious, elements of the human experience. Sensational food, and smart, friendly, lively conversationalists....what is the Indian word for it? Nirvana?
That was Sunday. Monday? Dinner for 10 in a "singles and strays" (maybe not the most apt name, until I remember that "technically" I'm single and "actually" I'm a stray, so, well, ok) ex pat group at a different Indian restaurant. Pim, who amazingly worked 20 years at Georgetown (I never met her there) before quitting and heading to Qatar sits on my left; across from me sat Deanna and Steve, two lovely Australians who came to Doha via Washington DC, and who obviously adore each other. Emily and ??? took me home. Emily, from Wisconsin, met ??? from Istanbul through some internet bulletin board (she was interested in Turkey; he was interested in her). Two weeks later, he flies to the US to meet her; soon thereafter, she flies to Turkey, where they decide "Why wait?" and fly back to Wisconsin to meet her parents. Blissful, three married years later. Curiosity, openness, instincts (and, who knows? Perhaps some Turkish food!) brought them together over the 1000s of miles.
Tuesday night? An egg sandwich, solo, in my apartment. Wednesday? A German couple (colleagues and neighbors) hosted me with chicken liver, carmelized onions, dare I say the world's most perfect beer, then thai curried shrimp with jasmine rice. Oh. My. Our brilliant host's name is Kai (which rhymes with Chi, which is the hypothesis test mentioned in the chapter title, which allows me to tie this all back to statistics), who is married to Katrina, an equally brilliant architect. He hails from West Germany; she from East. She specializes in designing "green roofs" which are much in demand in the US (praise to Mayor Daley!) but not so desired in the land of 10 million air conditioners. Kai and Katrina met a week after the Berlin Wall came down, and their foundation remains solid.
Tonight: Chinese/Thai food back in Souq Waqif, again with delightful Deanna and Steve, as well as two Americans (one who works for the State Department, the other in investment banking). Highlight: Zen, the petite blond investment banker, tells the story of how she gets out of her car and pops a Pakistani in the nose for cutting her off. The punch bloodied her knuckles. I think that she, and perhaps other investment bankers, may not be entirely what we call "risk averse".
I thought I was going to talk about food, but the friends and couples proved more interesting. Right now, I'm satisfied. Tomorrow, I'll be hungry for more again.