The Saratogan Night Out

It is a dull day and I have a sore throat and I can see my sprightly neighbour do his bushy-tailed dance on the cable wires hanging outside the apartment. This squirrel scurries up and down the wires everyday. The first day I saw him I was worried. Was he stuck up there — trying to figure a way back to the sprawling greens across the road? But  sometimes you need to hear your thoughts out loud before you can fathom the ridiculous nature of them. Now having redone the apartment this morning feeling the call of hygge, having put away some extraneous details and arranged the leaves of autumn to lie artlessly around, some pine cones too, I have lit a candle which smells delicately of eucalyptus and mint. Good enough for me as I set out to write. I wanted to take you further into the heart of the beautiful Cornish villages in Britain till I felt the urge to tell you about my weekend which was eventful for someone who likes to huddle in a couch with a book or binge watch shows on the telly.

I was going to do just that — read Diana Gabaldon and swoon with comfort food ordered up in my hotel room this weekend – when Adi would hear none of it. I could not be sitting alone in a hotel room on a Friday night and he be partying. Woeful by any measure, he declared. We had driven up to the former spa town of Saratoga Springs in New York which is home to Adi’s boss. Now Boss Man has decided to fly the nest of his present firm for greener pastures. His colleagues naturally grew misty-eyed and threw a fond farewell party at a dimly-lit taproom that was the picture of distressed chic. Exposed brick walls, textured ceiling, Edison bulbs, sepia-toned photos hung upon the walls, the hubble-bubble of men and women.

As the evening matured with alcohol, cheese and laughter, it turned out that I would be the only woman in a group of five men because the female colleague decided to (intelligently enough) leave early. Over red wine, platters of salami, manchego and blue cheese, I was learning about the kind of life I have only read about and gleaned from conversations with a Swedish chef who I had interviewed a few years ago in a hip Shoreditch restaurant in London. The chef lives in the wild inaccessible forests of the province of Jämtland in Sweden, forages for vegetables, lichen and berries, and hunts every piece of meat he puts out on the menu. Naturally he has been acing lists of foodies who have taken the trouble of reaching his outpost in the great outdoors. I would like to experience it except for the thought of a cow’s substantial femur being sawed out before my eyes as live theatre and the prospect of being presented with the contents of the marrow — makes the bones judder. Not Adi’s though. He has stressed over and over again that he is up for it.

To get back to the evening at hand, one of Adi’s colleagues shares a similar outlook of life as the Swedish chef. This guy lives on a remote piece of land, about 300 acres of it under his ownership, in the woods near the Canadian border. There where towns by the name of Bombay turn up, named for ‘Indian princesses’ who migrated there from the city of Bombay in India, and where his neighbours are Native Americans in a reservation noted for gambling (here he interjected the conversation with, ‘one of my friends from the tribe was arrested lately for driving around the area with $500,000 stashed into the car’) — this chap lives off the land. He hunts for big game and fishes in the lake nearby to put food on the plate for his family of two toddlers and wife. He showed me a photo of the wife proudly holding aloft a fish that must have spanned 4ft. at the least.

Every bit of food is accounted for and nothing is wasted. In the last week or two he has been out hunting moose, but they are elusive creatures and live high on the mountains, usually it is just deer. His grandfather liked hunting for bears because he liked bear meat. All I could think of was:

A sweet, innocent, harmless, leaf-eating, doe-eyed little deer. … Imagine you’re a deer. You’re prancing along, you get thirsty, you spot a little brook, you put your little deer lips down to the cool clear water… BAM! A fucking bullet rips off part of your head! Your brains are laying on the ground in little bloody pieces! Now I ask ya. Would you give a fuck what kind of pants the son of a bitch who shot you was wearing?’ The Marisa Tomei monologue in the rip-roaring My Cousin Vinny. Yes, you got it.

BM reached out for his hunting colleague’s neck and patted it saying sardonically, ‘You are meeting the quintessential redneck.’ In this world where we obsess over politically correct terms, our friend from the woods was least bothered by any of it. He was just quietly confident about the kind of life he leads. ‘I eat what I kill, I know where my food comes from and I do not hunt for pleasure,’ he told me simply.

Later after two glasses brimming with red wine, I was ready to call it a night. But when you are with the guys, you gotta develops guts of steel, and do what the men do. Drink. We tripped down to a bourbon bar. I drank endless glasses of water – so much so that the two bartenders ended up replacing my glass as soon as they saw me without one — and the men luxuriated with their measures of golden bourbon. There I heard the life stories of the male bartender with the silver nose stud and of the tattooed initials of his little boy who had died early of an infection, the female bartender who can do just about four shots of tequila in a night, watched people enter the loo in twos, an irate bearded bouncer hot on their tail, and had my forearms examined by a jockey to determine if I had the makings of a horsewoman…evidently not.

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Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

81 thoughts on “The Saratogan Night Out

    1. Heh thanks my wonderful lady! She is one of my favourites and that movie is right at the top of the list. BM …indeed Adi has to chase him up 😉 But our friend from North Lawrence, the place I mentioned up near the border of Canada, has invited us to go have a go at his kind of life. I am thinking we might just land up there one day. I don’t know if it is quite up BM’s alley though 😛

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  1. I now have TS Eliot’s ‘Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock’ rattling through my brain ‘in the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo’ …. I loved this ramble and I want that chef!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Osyth 🙂 Then you must check out the restaurant Fäviken. His name is Magnus Nilsson and he offers 32-course menus at Fäviken. You have no choice about what what you will eat when you land up there though, to be warned beforehand.
      I was narrating it to Adi when he called the other day from work and he could not wait to hang up! That refrain…the imagery of the yellow fog and the yellow smoke…everything about it gets me too. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I once tried memorizing the yellow fog crawling stanza because I like the imagery so much. Obviously my memory fails me. Ugh, I’d just love to be back in college taking courses in literature!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. OK – you’ve really gone and done it now! I’ve just checked it out and it’s gone straight into the top ten on my bucket list with a BULLET!!! I have to go there. There is no option. It is a singular must. And the rooms are all booked until June 2018 …. now to nag the husband!!! Xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. They are? It has retained its popularity with the niche crowd then. As you bullet your way there, I shall bolster courage to give into Adi’s demands one day and get ready for ‘rektun mat’ or real food as Nilsson calls it 🙂 I will wait to hear about your experience in the mean time. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello iwannabealady …. I’m glad to have jogged that thought. I am going to sit in the garden and read it out loud and hope my French neighbors appreciate all I do for them!!

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  2. I once spent my entire lunch break taking photographs of the squirrels that filled the trees around my workplace. They are one of my favorite creatures. I think it’s great the way that you interact with your environment. You are truly a journalist, always seeking the story, adding rich details, bringing a scene to life. Even the bouncer stomping to end the couples restroom visit, haha. Thanks for the My Cousin Vinny clip. That movie never gets old. It will live forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine you tiptoeing around them, trying to get their colossal adorableness on the camera. Hehe, thanks Lyz, you are sweet. Sometimes I am observant, sometimes I am too absent-minded really. The bouncer later told me that he was routing out drugs stashed into the toilet!
      My Cousin Vinny…I think I need to watch it again and chortle along. xx

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  3. Ha, I’m here in Portland, Oregon with my daughter. The neighbor came last night and mentione that one squirrel was electrocuted. A lot of squirrels running around this time of the year. I know what you’re saying when with the guys. I tried to join them for a glass of wine, but I couldn’t keep it up. Even with one glass, my husband has to help me finish it. My alcohol tolerance is very low. You seemed to have a enjoyable evening!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds horrible. I have been wondering about that too – the dangers of electrocution. And that glass of wine…it has got to turn into two for me if I have to withstand a night out with men! 😛 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A redneck game hunter?……Yes, I would need a drink afterwards too! 😉 Great observational blogpost! You read people very well. Loved the My Cousin Vinny clip. Always very funny! – Neek

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather. The sniffles appear to have come early this year (already suffered them myself). Maybe that portends a rough Winter to come? ? Anyway, your comment about the female bartender reminded of an old George Carlin line: One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not listened to George Carlin yet. Am I missing out? The line goes with her, yeah. Now only if I knew of it then.
      I keep hearing about the rough winters here so I am wondering and asking the winter god to bring its worst foot forward. Let me see if I can deal with it 😉
      Thank you, I am tired of being cooped up at home two days in a row! Ghastly thing has turned into a fever that makes the legs shake like jelly but I am determined to get out today and shake off the cobwebs gathering in the mind.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Carlin is quite clever. And he loves language, so I’d be surprised if you you didn’t find him interesting.
        As for Winter, you may get what you wish. Last year we skipped it. This year we may get a double dose.
        And look on the bright side: when one catches the flu or a bad cold early, normally the immune system is primed to fend off whatever else comes the rest of the season. Pay to play. ?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Whoa! My punchline for the season rests right there 🙂 He does not believe anything that the government tells him. A gem. I thought he was a musician, now I see he is a stand-up comedian! Even better. Thanks for the laughs. I needed it. xx

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  6. You are such an adventuresome girl! And an ear for dialog, an eye for setting description. Thanks, Dippy-Dotty Girl! – it looks like it was fairly warm outside on the patios, has it started to get cold and stormy there yet?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh! Thank you for the hug, Dippy-Dotty Girl! Was needed today. I asked about the cold because here in the Seattle area we had a giant wind-and-rain storm yesterday, but earlier in the month it was oddly temperate and even warm, which is not what usually happens. Usually at the start of October we have a sudden wham! of rain and wind – almost like clockwork when Oct. 1 comes. So I was thinking of the storm we are having when I read your post! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, yes I did hear about the storm from my SIL when we caught up yesterday briefly. It was the mother of all storms I believe. But well maybe peace reigns today… And the peace after a storm is so peaceful, ain’t it? We are having sunny days and blues skies for the moment in New Jersey 🙂 I am sending some of these vibes your way. xx

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  7. […] the Adirondacks. But all promises of wildlife were foregone because that is what happens when you owl it into the wee hours of the morning (with alcohol). It crosses out any prospects of hiking. Yet […]

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