Sunday, August 22, 2010

Indian Poker

While on our "looksie" trip in November, the wife and I were playing an innocent game of gin rummy in the Crowne Plaza lobby and were quickly told to put the cards away as it was basically considered gambling. As a result, I had no intention of finding a poker game while here and didn't even bringing a set of chips with me from home. So you can imagine my surprise when I received an email at 10:09pm on Friday night from a friend from home, Paul Williams, who's randomly here in Gurgaon for a two-week work trip. The email read simply:

This is going to sound strange but I found a local poker game with some co-workers tonight - interested?

Um, interested? Even with the inferiority complex of having been in India for over seven months with not so much as hearing the word "poker" while Paul had been here for all of six days, of course I was interested. However, I knew the wife had had a very long week and figured I'd better be served playing the part of supportive husband. When she arrived home a few minutes later, I mentioned in passing what Paul had offered and she looked at me crazy and said, "Yeah, of course you've got to go." To emphasize her point, she called the driver and said, "Ashok, sorry, but can you come back? Sir needs to go someplace." Who was I to complain? She's pretty awesome. A few minutes later Ashok was back at the apartment and I was handing a slip of paper with a random address to find my first poker game.

After getting close enough in the car, I walked around a locked gate and found my way to the correct house, which ended up being a guest house owned by a friend of one of Paul's co-workers. It felt a little like a cross between a safe house and a sparsely furnished bachelor pad. Pretty much the perfect place for a card game.

If there had been college football playing in the background, it could have just as easily have been a game in my basement in Lake Zurich. Well, except at the games in Lake Zurich there aren't houseboys scurrying around to bring plates of fried appetizers. In no way was I surprised when they starting bringing out chafing dishes at midnight to prepare the buffet table. From here on, I'm just going to assume that if I'm invited to a social gathering of any kind that is hosted by an Indian that I can pretty much count on a full meal served after midnight. I'm pretty sure that's just the way it is.

The game itself was enjoyable; as in most casual games, there was a variety of characters; including the guy that just looks at the game as means for social interaction that cares little about the money, the guy who's sort of part of the group but is obviously a much better player than the rest and knows he's going home with money in his pocket, and the first-timer that doesn't understand the game, likes it a little too much, and keeps throwing money out of wallet to try and learn the game. Plus, at this game there were two random Americans keenly observing the entire scene and situation.

That scene lasted until around 2:30am when I determined it was probably best to make an exit and minimize the silent disapproval I'd receive from the driver when getting picked up. In all honesty, if someone had pulled on me what I had pulled on him, I'd be a little upset. Basically, he thought he was being released from duty 90 minutes early, was called back shortly after being released, and then had to finish out his shift and work 3 or 4 hours of overtime. If this had happened in America, I would have received a big "EF YOU" right around the time the phone call was made to request him to return to duty.

While I felt guilty and bad for Ashok, I must admit it was nice to just act like a retarded dude for the first time in nearly eight months.

No comments:

Post a Comment