presse agent Danny Abichandani
while rubbing the libations out of my eyes from an indulgent evening out, this morning was met with equal parts anxiety and relief. for the first time in this loosely defined vacation, there were no familial obligations – the places to be have been and the people to see have been seen. oddly enough even the blinking light from my Blackberry, that has conditioned my peripheral to succumb to its demands for attention, has stopped. there was (quite literally) nothing to do – and i am alone.
now loneliness and i have a tumultuous relationship. for someone motivated primarily by accolades and the attention of others, there’s not much in it for me to be alone. i have yet to perfect a way to either comfortably pat myself on the back, or convincingly play the applause track in my head…for the time being.
however, i’ve been fortunate to have inherited/collected an interesting menagerie of family and friends who i continue to strive to please in exchange for them peaking my interest. as a consequence, solitude is seldom at best and i suspect that my crippling fear of eating dinner, or watching a movie, alone is probably rooted in the fact that i’ve never had to.
so i defer to the norms of South Beach Miami. i put on some shorts, grab a few things to read, and was ocean bound. walking aimlessly until compelled to stop.
it was the striking blanche of the Delano day beds, umbrellas, and uniforms juxtaposed with a sparkling blue ocean that got my attention. it felt right – at that moment – to pause.
i walked up to an attendant who enthusiastically welcomed me. armed with fresh towels and cushion covers, he knew the exact (and highly limited) amount of pleasantries that I was willing to invest on our short stroll to my spot. eager to establish that there was nothing the staff were unwilling to incur for my enjoyment; all without the slightest hint to an entitlement to gratuities. this was refreshing after the less-than-enjoyable hustling of restaurateurs on Ocean Drive flipping tricks with misguided “specials”, and the 18% gratuity added to every bill independent of the level of service realized. in the chit chat, i must have mentioned that i was parched as within a few minutes of settling down, i had a bottle of water sitting in a generous bowl of ice and a cup hinged with a lemon wedge. soon after, another attendant came by with a cup of frozen grapes.
this unspoken attention to my whims continued throughout the day. with a mere tilt of my head, i would catch the eyes of the servers patiently waiting for a cue that i needed something (anything) else. it was time for lunch and i was quick to order the mahi mahi and shrimp ceviche. my empty cup of grapes was replaced with a sample of their mango and strawberry daiquiri, a drink quite apropos for a day in the sun.
the ceviche arrived. the tortilla was crisp, the fish and shrimps were fresh, the citrus just right. as i re-taught myself how to sip rather than drink, to taste rather than chew, and to BE rather than feel – i looked up for a few minutes to take in my surroundings. the sand was pristine. the birds were well mannered and distant. even the children were just how i like them – impeccably groomed, muted, dressed in neutral hues, and seemingly content at building sand castles without a hint of a whine or protest. the sun was bright, high in the sky, and in perfect unison with a carefully choreographed breeze that cools the flesh upon the precipice of a burn. aside from a disappointing read of Bryson’s take on privacy, the redundancy of the economists’ predictions of 2011, the day was postcard worthy.
i had not seen the Delano pool during the day so i made my way up to take a glimpse. i asked the Blue Door restaurant to seat me overlooking the pool area for a mid-day snack. i had the daikon and ginger-seared yellowfin tuna and a few ‘Miami mornings’ to drink (comprised of champagne, cognac, and raspberries and somehow tastes a bit like bananas). a buzz and bill later, it was dusk and reading became a chore so i headed inside.
i was drawn to warmth of the Rose Bar – and perched myself on a stool for a neat scotch and watched the eccentricities walk in and out of the lobby. i observed a consistency of purposeful strides partnered with a confident air of belonging. at this point, i’ve gone without non-service oriented conversation for over 10 hours and thought it prudent to reintegrate into social interaction. the idea was some discourse before the main course and the large communal table of the Blue Sea Sushi Bar was a perfect spot to do it. i strategically sat myself in the middle of the table to allow for contingencies perchance i bore of the first person that bites. predictably, the first conversation was a dud. the couple beside me was cordial but numbingly boring. from what i can remember, the conversation was centred on articulating the monetary value of their lifestyle while simultaneously showing clear evidence that they’re new money. the husband continued to taunt his wife to try caviar and sushi as if she’s about to enter a round of Fear Factor. “fish eggs? eww”… why are you sitting at a sushi bar?
to my right sat my last hope for something to get me through a rare dinner alone. two lawyers from the south – Jared and Justin – were in town for work and most of the conversation was focused on the devastating effects of Katrina and BP on their economy. we also talked about the common plight of the American from Tennessee, as well as the Canadian Newfie being disadvantaged by an accent that lends itself too easily to stereotypes.
i had the soft shell crab and the tuna tataki. both excellently prepared, but hard to top the omikase at Tojo’s in Vancouver – my benchmark for Japanese food. like most things, i lost interest in conversation once it went sideways with Justin trying to convince me that his twang is a useful litigation tool that many ‘common’ jurors can easily empathize with. that was my cue to finish on a good note.
i walked out of the Delano – sincerely thankful to the hotel for helping me re-acquaint myself with myself. the luxury of loneliness.
Danny is a super elite method traveler and Moleskine enthusiast. carry-on or none at all. feasts on everything from mystery meat to the Michelin ranked. hates emoticons, but hash tags prolifically. find him doing so @dabichandani.