58. Someone Is Really Watching Over Me

Keeping quiet wasn’t too difficult for a while longer because I was making a decent take-home wage between the two restaurants.  Eventually it would resurface, mainly in wondering what I could do about it.

In the meantime winter had passed and spring was in the air, mild as it was but that’s the city by the bay for you.  It was now April and much to my surprise Bill and Jack wanted to celebrate my 24th birthday there at the restaurant.

Wow!  They suggested I could call over a few friends if I wanted and we’d all make a good time of it.  How generous; perhaps it was a stroke of appreciation for helping their business to grow.  Either way it was very nice of them.

Now down the road a ways there was one particular man (let’s call him Sam) who came in a couple of times and he did seem to enjoy exchanging dialogue with me.  We spoke casually and he managed in conversation to get some information from me about my working conditions.  I thought absolutely nothing about it.

Sam started the first time we met by asking me a little about the history of the restaurant.  There was no yarn spinning here, I shared with him what I knew.  That was about the sum of it.

He then returned the next week.  Sam remembered my name and in greeting, he told me he had enjoyed the food last time and then from a friend he had heard about the ‘Jadoo’ stating it’s what brought him back in.

I took his order and then brought out his appetizer basket and a glass of  ‘Jadoo’ he was intrigued.  I told him I am the one who introduced it to the owners.  In the course of the evening in between servicing his table and the others in the dining room -I am the only server- we talked a little about me.

He enquired a little as to my personal history, what brought me here and how did I end up working in this little Indian restaurant.  When pressed for time believe it or not I can tell a piece of the story briefly enough!

Anyhow the chat led to how was I doing for pay; was it enough to live off of?  Sam didn’t seem to think it would be.  Here’s where it got sticky though I didn’t realise how sticky it would become.  

I told Sam straight up about our agreement, the one between Jack, Bill and myself.  Business certainly had picked up but the promised set wage had not yet begun.  ‘And to top it off, they are taking half of my tips every night,’ I plainly said to Sam.

His mouth fell open in surprise no doubt. “It’s one thing not paying you a set wage, you knowingly agreed to that but to actually take money from you?”  Sam was clearly upset. “No, no, this will never do!”  I felt a little comforted knowing that someone else beside me didn’t approve of it.

All of this discussion took place during a few rounds between tables of course.  Sam knew I was allowed a meal every shift and that’s alright but they, to not beat around the bush, were stealing from me.  He seemed as though he would make sure I didn’t stand for it any longer.  

“I say Blue, go to the Union and see what they have to say about this.”  I hadn’t told him I was already a member, see I never gave much thought about what the Union really meant for me.  And even after he mentioned this, I quietly listened to his opinion about the whole thing.

Over the next couple of days, still going in to work of course, I pondered the whole thing over.  At last I made the decision to go into the office.  First they asked me to show my Union member card which I had safely tucked into my wallet.  “Okay let’s get started!”  

I gave the initial summary of why I was there and shortly afterwards, I was taken into a back office.  There the full details surfaced based on the questions I was asked.

I was told not to speak of my visit to the Union to anyone and not to worry about anything.  “You did the right thing addressing the issue to us.  We’ll handle everything from here.”  a Union representative assured me.

He also told me that a field agent would be visiting the establishment to observe.  I of course wouldn’t know this person from Adam and that was just fine by me.

Confident that I did the right thing, I returned to my normal days and nights.  Also I was very glad and most grateful at least I had the other job where there was a steady, reliable wage and I did pretty darned good in my daily tips.  Another perk was I was fed both breakfast and lunch at the Italian joint.

Best as my memory has served me, it was about a week, maybe 10 days before a change was noticeable.  One evening as dinner was close to the end, some men came in and went back into the kitchen. The big and small of it?

Bill and Jack were told the restaurant was under investigation under the Labor Department and would be closed until further notice, pending such investigation and its findings.

They would wait till all the customers had left and the restaurant was closed immediately thereafter.  A sign was pasted up on the window facing the street, stating such but without personal embarrassing details.

This was my last night there too.  Honestly though I had felt just a little sad that it all had to go this way.   This is also the one night Bill and Jack didn’t help themselves to half of my night’s tips.  I was safely sent out into the night.

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Easter Weekend 2017

delicious honeysuckles of Monterey

I took this photo up in the Salinas mountains during the 4th of July holidays, back in 2014.  We enjoyed the perfect hospitality of our hosts spending a fabulous week up there, dipping down to the coast into the Monterey area every other day with my daughter.  The honeysuckles on their property were vibrant; still as delicious as when I was a kid!

 

I trust you’ll enjoy the views I am sharing here with you!


We enjoyed refreshments and lots of delicious produce, naturally!

C - Lambrusco & Blackberries for 2 (sq) -signed

Breathtaking scenes that stopped us in our tracks.

C - A refreshing point of view (sq) -signed

 

 

Friendly faces to behold!

C - Seal Life Monterey (sq) -signed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And amazing natural beauty along the way!

C - Monterey (sq) -signed

While I missed sharing LBM’s adventures with all of you I will admit, once again, the time spent away from the computer was worth it.  A weekend in so Cal (no I’m not including the location of Monterey in my so Cal geography) and some family members not seen in a while, made for a very special weekend.

In celebration, my eldest son returned home safely -once again- from his tour of duty in Iraq (previously having served in other Middle Eastern lands as well), to the relief of his many family members thus making this weekend the best!

To add to the beauty of it all, LBM celebrated his 82nd birthday this past Friday!

I hope all of you had a perfect Spring Break/Easter holiday too.

13. Meet Gary

I am now about 3 weeks into my unexpected shore leave and doing my best to adjust.  It was the not knowing …isn’t that the way of things?  Has Sonia received my letter and did the guys find the time to return to the club; did they all meet up? did she ask about me?  what did they say to her and how did she react?  Oh it was all I could do to distract myself from these haunting thoughts.

One of my family members was having a birthday and there was to be a party in our home that evening.  It wasn’t uncommon for the rest of us to invite someone we wanted to share our celebrations with.  My little sister invited one of her favorite classmates over for the evening’s affair.  Her name was **Noori and at this time, she was seventeen.

Noori’s gift to give was a delightful Indian birthday song and wow, what music came out of her!  Without any instrumental accompaniment to her clear, beautiful voice, every word rang like crystal.  I felt as though a professional singer, an excellent one at that, had graced us and I could see that everyone else was as taken as I was.

Afterwards I complimented her as others did too of course, and I asked her where she learned to sing so wonderfully.  Noori laughed and answered, “I’m a bathroom singer.  And when it’s really cold, I just sing my heart out!”

‘You know I’m a pretty good singer too.’  I told her.  I explained briefly that I sang nearly every night to my family.  As I lay in bed after we all said good night, I began to sing with all my heart.  And with my softer songs, most of them would often fall asleep.

I loved to sing, I had a good voice and I knew all the latest songs.  In the morning I was always told how much they loved listening to me sing!  Quite often I was given their requests too.  I found singing to be a good release; oh it was all great fun!  I had come a long way from ‘baa baa white sheep, have you anything for me to eat?’

Anyhow that birthday evening was really a good time for all.  It was dark and late by the time the partying had come to a close and so my brother walked Noori home.  It didn’t take me long to realize how happy I was that she had come.

Well she must’ve really enjoyed herself as well for she was back at our house the next weekend.  Noori helped my sister-in-law prepare lunch for the family.  As I was going about whatever business I had around the house I took notice that she appeared to be looking out for me, perhaps taking note of what I was doing; curious I suppose.

You see I kept looking her way too all the while trying to do it inconspicuously if that was even possible in this not-so-very-big house.  Well this was kind of fun and as the days and weeks went by I sensed her fondness of the family as well as their growing tenderness towards her.  Okay.  I took pleasure in her presence too; what can I say?  She was a delight!

I guess the time had to come when one of her younger brothers would feel obliged to make his presence known.  And what better opportunity than that being every time I walked past their home -which actually was unavoidable when one has to get to town from my spot on the island- an invitation for aggressive behavior I suppose.

Their home was a big house up on the hill, perfect with large picture windows and so they could see all the comings and goings on the main road below.  This included me walking down the street minding my own business.

But I also came to discover that if Noori was at home and she figured it was about the time I might be present, she’d look out the window for me.  This had to be the fuel for his challenge: as I knew it, their family was strict Muslim and mine of course was Hindu.  A no-go and a reason for a hot-headed adolescent male to assert his brotherly duty.

He’d yell at me from his window up there, “Leave my sister alone or I’ll come down there and beat you up!”  One day I guess he had had enough of just hollering out the window so he hid behind a tree on the main road, waited for me and as I approached he jumped out in front of me.

We exchanged a few punches, almost comical.  Then one of the older brothers who must’ve passed by one of the big open windows of the house noticed the scrimmage below and yelled out to his brother to get back home immediately!  He ran off right away.

After that day our paths crossed a few more times again and of course he tried to intimidate me and I always told him the same thing; his sister comes to my home not to see me but because she is good friends with my little sister.

For whatever is written in the stars, Noori continued to frequent my house.  It was like a second home to her I think.  I say this due to her actions; she’d go around the house helping everyone in any way she could.  Naturally this bonded her with us – her constant presence and her conduct to be counted among her beautiful qualities.

A funny thing was that she began to call me Gary.  So I had to ask, ‘Why are you calling me Gary?’  She replied, “I like that name very much.”  Noori further explained that she had read a book and the character which left a favorable impression in her mind was named Gary and so she wanted to call me Gary.

She added, “A little secret between the two of us and no one will know I am referring to you!”  I think she likes me.

Time waits for no one and now it is 1954.  Remember Hemma?  Well her family is feeling the need of pressuring my family to commit me into marriage with their daughter; this based on a previous discussion that had already taken place while I was gallivanting around the Pacific Ocean.  And they even said they thought it should happen by May of that year.

How about that for life-altering measures?  Here I go again; I was just getting into a comfortable place with Noori, what an annoying problem!

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**Noori is of course a fictitious name once again, yet for a very real person in this account of the Little Blue Masala’s life.  I’ll insert here that all the names (save for Gary, that is accurate) are fictitious but all the characters themselves are true to life.