A Cafe Conversation

This afternoon, in a cafe in Delhi, I had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful conversation with a 62 year old Irish writer. He sat down at my table without any invitation, as if I had been waiting there for him to meet me. We began a conversation as if we had known one another for years; almost as if we were picking up where we had left off previously. As I sipped my coffee, we talked of our travels, of his writing, his homosexuality and the world’s view of such; Ireland and the amazing adventures the world has to offer. We spoke of Greenwich Village in its heyday, as if we had been there together. We mourned the loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman and I told him of the celebrities I had served drinks to in NYC. Within less than an hour, he knew about the death of my parents, as well as their entire medical history. He knew of every place I had visited, not only on this adventure, but on all of them. As he told me of the many lovers he had taken around the world, his eyes lit up as his mind danced with their memories and his heart fluttered at the thought of each and every one. I have mentioned travel horcruxes before, and by the joy behind this Irish man’s eyes, he knows about them; all too well. However, after he spent a few moments lost in memory, he informed me that he could never fancy actually being in a monogamous relationship because he genuinely enjoys being alone. “We only get one life that we know of,” he said, “so we might as well enjoy it.” We discussed politics, religion, and science and all of the notions that modern society has forced us to shy away from in conversations; especially with strangers. Yet, he wasn’t really a stranger to me, at least that’s how it seemed. We discussed the Kardashians and how shameful it is when we are here in India, surrounded by so many hard working people who are living in complete poverty, just simply working themselves to the bone in order for survival of the most modest and humble form.
He was intrigued when I told him of the love my parents had for one another, saying that he couldn’t actually grasp loving one person so intently everyday; forever. I told him that he had clearly never met my parents.
Then we spoke of all the places and people and moments with which we had left a tiny sliver of our hearts. I told him that I call them horcruxes and he liked that very much. Between his many years of travel and many countries and my comparatively few, the two of us have many people, places and moments in time that are protecting tiny slivers of our hearts.
We spoke of how easy it once was to travel to so many beautiful places that are now so heavily restricted. He told me that if Bosnia wasn’t on my bucket list already, then it should be added immediately, as he considers it one of the most beautiful places he has seen. He asked me how many horcruxes I had created on this journey and to be honest, there were more than I had taken the time to tally up. In Norway, as I stood under the dancing spirits of the Northern Lights; in Sweden in an apartment in Linköping with two friends I barely knew until I got there and we became family; in Belgium as I was feeding goats, watching amazing sun sets and becoming sisters with a girl while we bonded over TV, cigarettes, and beer while discussing matters of the heart; and now in India. India, I told him, has been very special. I won’t leave just one sliver of my heart with my time in India. There are four wonderful people (now family) from Scotland and an amazing tour guide (also now family) from Mumbai who all are now each protecting a tiny sliver of my heart. Within moments, a piece of my heart just leapt to each of them without my consent, because those slivers knew they would be well taken care of. I have also left slivers on a camel ride through the desert, at a revolving restaurant 25 floors up in Delhi, in Dharavi, on a late night motor bike ride through Mumbai, while dancing at the wedding party of absolute strangers in Udaipur after accidentally stumbling upon their party and in a very tearful Moment at the Taj Mahal, which is the main reason I chose India. It was the only place out of the United States that my mom had wanted to see her entire life.
Eventually, as it came time for my new friend to bid me farewell, he finally told me his name; Charlie. Charlie, the Irish writer from Donegal who leads a very nomadic, adventurous life while writing most of his pieces in Gaelic. We didn’t names in order to have a most interesting conversation. We were friends the moment he picked my table to sit down at. Knowing one another’s names was simply a formality as we departed. We didn’t need the small talk of asking basic questions because we immediately delved into the heart of all matters. Life, death, love and adventure.


NYC: My favorite things part 2

Spring has arrived in NYC. The cherry trees are about to hit their peak. The lilacs are blooming. The rats have had a nice winter naps and soon the cockroaches will be bigger than we remember them. However there will always be something in NYC that is better than any other town. The Great White Way. The Broadway if you will. As a New Yorker I find that I normally don’t have time, or money to go and see a show, but that should no longer be an excuse. With so many amazing opportunities to purchase discounted theatre tickets, we should all be seeing as many shows as possible. Just a few of the outlets for discounts include: TKTS, the lottery, rush tickets, Living Social, Student Rush .org, and now Broadway Roulette.

Broadway Roulette is new on the scene of discounted theatre tickets and they definitely come through. You put in a date you would like to see a show, the last five shows you have seen and you give them $45 a ticket. Then on the day of the show, they email with which show you are seeing, and the customer service is hard to beat. However, this is not a shameless plug for Broadway Roulette. This is a Broadway review.

I have personally seen quite a few of the shows currently running on Broadway and now I will finally voice my opinions on the last four, in no particular order:

The revival that never ends. This is the most recent show in my arsenal of collected Playbills. I couldn’t beat the price I paid for simply wanting to add another notch in my Broadway bedpost, but that is where the rave review ends. This show is tired. The actors are tired. I was torn between the emotions of “Bob Fosse must be rolling over in his grave every time the curtain goes up” and “I wonder if I can convince my boyfriend to leave at intermission and go drink our sorrows away.” Now don’t get me wrong: the ensemble was great. They were hot, limber and excited. Mary Sunshine, R. Lowe, was not only great, but even better when the surprise comes along. The musicians were right on point, but everything else fell terribly, terribly short.  Roxie didn’t seem to really care one way or the other and I was amazed that Velma could still dance at all, even though her choreography  had obviously been changed from that of a young limber dance, still of child bearing age, to a woman way out of her prime. In my humble opinion, it is a sad day in theatre when percussion instruments replace the sound of tap shoes dancing honestly across a stage.


I may be a little bias considering that I bar tend for the show, but in all honesty, I should be sick of it by now and I am not. I was granted the amazing opportunity to attend the invited dress and I was blown away. I have also heard the songs on the monitor six to eight times a week for the last month and have seen many many rehearsals.  From the first moment Michelle Williams says “Hello dahlings” until she violently finishes Cabaret, she is everything you want in a Sally. She is honest, hard to hate (even though you know you probably should) and has a way about her that is “perfectly marvelous” in every way. Alan Cumming is so talented and needs no introduction, but this time around he brings something a little different to the emcee. He portrays a man who is trying to make the best of a world that he knows is about to violently end. He is wise and sexy and easy to love. He has no problem helping everyone to leave their troubles outside and to remember that inside the Kit Kat Club, life is beautiful. The entire cast, down to the amazing understudies for both Alan and Michelle (Leeds Hill and Andrea Goss, respectively) are without a doubt are one of the most talented, enthusiastic group that I have ever seen or had the pleasure of experiencing. The show has been extended through January, so GO SEE THIS SHOW>!

What can I really say about  an experience that hopefully everyone knows is worth any ticket price you have to pay in order to gain access. Neil Patrick Harris fans have been awaiting his return to The Great White Way for quite sometime. The movie of the same name has such a cult following that even my favorite band, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play it almost constantly on their tour bus and become very irritable when their DVD copy breaks. From the first second that Hedwig (Neil Patrick Harris) makes his grand entrance onto the “recycled set” (recycled, yet intriguing and perfect) until the last song has been sung, I was on the edge of my seat. They way that he embodied this character so well, seemingly effortless, reminded me of why I wanted to be a theatre professional. His voice, his character and Lena Hall… man oh man… what a pleasure it was to experience these two along with the rest of the Angry Inch on stage. I’ve loved NPH since his Dougie days, yet his talent never ceases to amaze me. He has become such a powerhouse, yet after the show signed as many Playbills as he could before his body-guard convinced him it was time to go. Lena Hall is definitely a force to be reckoned with as well. The notes that she can hit and the character arch she created are rarely ever attempted and actually accomplished.

When I heard that they were making a musical out of Rocky, I am fairly certain that I physically groaned. “Why can’t they get any new ideas?” I said. ” Why do they have to keep making musicals out of movies?” I said. “When is there going to be something new and fresh again, Like Jerusalem, or Next to Normal?” I whined.   Boy was I wrong. Rocky wins! The cast is perfect. The set is incredible. The music and book are perfect (and that almost never happens… “nothing like a bad book to really screw up an other wise terrific musical.”) Rocky and Adrian are a bliss of chemistry on stage. The songs are fairly simple at times, but in those same moments, you don’t want anything more. The Broadway rendition of “Eye of the Tiger” (come on that is NOT a spoiler) is incredible. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the “Golden Circle) and I got to see the conductor and during this song it was as if he had been waiting his entire life to conduct this particular version of this song. From a technical standpoint, this show should remind every theatre technician why they ever loved this industry in the first place. The emotions are high and everything is on point. Rocky cannot lose.


As far as The Great White Way goes, now is a pretty amazing time to get tickets. There are so many ways to avoid paying the full price. There are so many amazing (and some not so amazing) shows on right now and always. Get out, go so see a show. You never know what might inspire you. And as always for visitors to NYC, follow the rules of the city and please see something other than Chicago, Phantom (though still great in its own right), and the Lion King (also great… once). Don’t be afraid to get a little gritty, to get your head out of the guidebook, and to not pay full price for theatre tickets. You never know what you might discover.


Shameless Plug

Hello Blogger family. Happy Thursday. I know that we are all here for at least one of the same reasons. We love to write, or we have a story to tell and we need a place to tell it, or we need to vent frustration or clear our heads. What ever the reason we write, we know that it is inherent and something we cannot live with out.

I know that my blog is a travel blog, because I love to travel. I also love to write. Yesterday I decided, after years of receiving rejection letters in the mail, to self-publish my first novel, Barbecue, Fried Chicken and “Where’s the Will?” as an ebook, Kindle edition. It took a lot of thought and I finally just decided to make something happen as opposed to waiting for something to happen.

Though this is not a travel novel, but a (strongly based in truth) fiction novel that focuses on family, women, food and surviving anything, I assure you that if you have never been to or lived in the South, it is sure to enlighten you. Every chapter also contains one of my cherished family recipes, all southern comfort food.

I invite you all to check it out and I look forward to your thoughts, though please be gentle, it is a first novel after all 🙂

Barbecue, Fried Chicken and “Where’s the Will?” By Shanna Riker