Often times when people ask "what are you doing today" there is a somewhat common sarcastic answer "living the dream". I think I might be able to answer sans sarcasm. I currently own a restaurant in one of the most interesting places in the world, cook food that I love, serve it to people that love it in turn, have an outdoor terrace with possibly one of the best views on the planet, and continually get to meet some really intriguing people that seem inclined to buy me shots of Patron or a New World Chai (my favorite of my creations- Cocoa infused tequila, bourbon, cinnamon tincture). Now I'm not a big drinker, but few people get to hang out and drink with great people and call it work, fewer get make money from it.
What I see on my way to work is a little different
Sometimes I'll be walking to the restaurant in the morning and as I pass cows, woman in saris, people selling vegetables on the side of the road and all the street scenery that makes Nepal so different from back home and wonder what exactly happened in my life that I ended up doing what it is that I'm doing. I get to the restaurant and start making bread and after I sit and look out over the mountains and think that I'm pretty damn lucky. How many people get to show up and do what they love every day in a place that they love? In my experience not too many. At the end of the day the job of someone who owns a restaurant, and a chef is to create experiences for people that make them happy, to create things that they want to repeat, that they enjoy, things that are new or maybe things that they miss. That's a good job to have, and sure you can't please all the people all the time, but if you do it right you can most people happy most of the time.
For me there is nothing I enjoy more than watching people enjoy things I've created. After all the work that has gone into not just designing the location itself, but the cocktails and food on the menu it's really great to be able to watch people enjoying it. It's almost surreal to hear people ordering drinks you've named, or menu items that got cheeky names. I still grin every time someone orders a Mother Clucker (our loaded chicken burger). I love telling people about the food, be it our cheeses or what goes into making our sauces. I like helping pair our food with wine, or guide people through our cocktails. I love seeing people smile when they realize we offer things like Patron or Jagermeister, things you can't normally get in Nepal. Yesterday I watched a couple each order a different cocktail and share them so they both got to taste them. They did three sets of drinks like this, ordering a number of our infusions and some drinks I had designed. They were all smiles the whole time, and that makes you feel like you've created not just a place that you love, but experiences for other people that they will love. Nothing means more to me than people come up to me and say "Thank you for building this." I've had at least four people say that now, and really mean it. While I can't take all the credit, as this project is the result of a lot of hard work by our whole team, it's immensely gratifying to see people love what we have created.
I don't mean that my life isn't without challenges or a few things I might want to change- but those challenges are part of what makes my life currently so intriguing. Sure you might dream of infinite wealth, with a yacht that cruises from port to port wherever you like, but I'm sure that even comes with its own unappreciated problems and difficulties. If, like a video game, life could be set to easy mode it would probably offer similar results where at first it's kind of exciting, but after a short time the lack of any real challenge makes it dull. Sure this isn't easy, but easy isn't fun and it doesn't make for the best experiences in my opinion. The greater the challenge, then greater is the potential victory, the greater the accomplished, and the more esteemed is ones reward. That to me is living.
Watching the sun set over K town. Not the worst place to spend 16 hour days.
Kim regularly notes that she thinks I'm a bit of a Pollyanna, that i could get hit by a car and manage to find something positive to say about it (man if I had taken one more step I might have lost both legs instead of just one- boy am I lucky!). There may be a bit of truth to that, but really I stop and look at my life sometimes and think that if it were a miniseries on HBO- I'd probably watch it and I'd probably be rather interested to see what happens. Maybe that's not the best measure of what makes a good life, but it suffices for me at the moment. I wouldn't swap this experience with anyone.
It's cliche and cheesy to talk about following your dreams and "just do what you love", but there is a certain amount of truth to it. If you work at something you love, it isn't really "work" any more- it's a way to create within it your own mark, a physical extension of what is within you. Americans have a bad habit over over identifying ourselves with just the jobs we have, and what I'm doing now goes beyond just the restaurant. It's where I am, who I'm around, and most importantly how the whole experience comes together. The one bitter note to the whole thing is I wish I could share it with my wife who is currently in the US (and can't wait to show her the place when she visits in July). Despite her absence here I'm happy to see her much happier than she was here, even if it's difficult at times.
In this moment I am happy
I wish you were here