Timeline: Graduated from UC Berkeley School of Business in late May 2003.
Left for Delhi about 10 days later to do raw materials sourcing and patternmaking before arriving in Kabul. Stayed in India for a little over 3 weeks and the excerpt below is part of an email sent to a friend from that time. Aaah youth – I don’t write long descriptive emails like this one anymore….
New Delhi, India | June, 2003
Just wandered in from an evening out amongst the privileged classes of this human clotted city. What could have been a seriously generic experience actually had a taste of pleasure to it. What could have been totally repeat encounter with thumps of techno and cheesy house music against a backdrop of champagne clinking white shirt wearing, overly giddy, bred-for-beauty boys and skinny girls, was really not that bad. I think it had to do with the immediate company-- two very pretty and unmarried 30 year olds still interested in perusing the nightlife circuit with the available unmarried company -- a crew of really happening 22 year olds. One was a quite distinguished looking Sikh kid (turban-free unfortunately) whose ran a luxury tiger farm and old world style anglo raj "camp" in the deserts outside of Jaisalmer (Rajasthan). His friend was a strangely attractive Arab looking thing that was really a Muslim indian boy from Uttar Pradesh involved in local politics. Had an English accent and claimed ancestry from Isfahan. Nobody could get him to talk (except me). His English boarding school friend in town to do a documentary claimed he suffered from shyness. I soon found out it was more a serious case of snobbery. He came from an old school feudal family and made hilarious comments insulting the merchant class “nouveax riche” that shared the sardine packed bar with us – how funny some scripts never change. Champagne poured frequently from hands of the Sikh boy, whose involvement in the hospitality industry had clearly afforded him some slick and precocious social skills for a 22 year old. If I hadn't already witnessed such things in Pakistan and Iran, I might have been shocked. Every 2 minutes, the most astonishingly pretty little waif of an Indian girl would slide up next to the Sikh boy and get politely introduced to the group around our table. They come in all shapes and sizes. Round-chested, flat-chested, minute noses, fitted sundresses, extremely lanky and tall, petite and all pouts. One particularly Lolita-esque one had a full scholarship at Yale and was just home for summer holiday. Can never judge a book by its cover. I managed to recruit a free model for an August photo shoot who claimed to know lots of gifted young photographers.
Earlier in the evening I had had a pretty eccentric dinner at the home of a 40 year dilettante Hindu Kashmiri. Very fair and kind of pretty. Seemed to read a lot and had a thing for collecting Khmer and Indian heads and torso pieces. Didn't talk much. Invited his very angry non-profit worker female friend and the three of us chatted furiously until we ran out of steam early. I was eager to get to the cheesy bar and see a little more life, even if it meant being surrounded by bubbly and promiscuous 22 year olds.