Today many things came together in this small spot that supplies and preserves the art of the fine smoke. Some things were planned, other just came upon us as the evening progressed.
Especially because one of our most regular fellow smokers graduated from Notre Dame and carries a ring testifying of his efforts and success levels as a linebacker for the Fighting Irish, we were gathered to watch their first game of the season against Michigan. Nothing out of the ordinary: get a jug of Sangria, or beers or wine or Whisky or Cognac, bring some food, light up a cigar and watch Sports (or Jeopardy).
Only, this evening developed quite different to what we had expected. Xu Lei-ming, known in the western world as Fender Hsu or Hsu Ray (in reference to the thunder/lightning meant in Mandarin by “Lei”) had been there the day before asking for a cigar humidor and returned to pick it up. After he paid for it he bought a cigar and sat with us. The first opportunity I got to speak with him, I informed him of my Chinese blood, stemming from a Chinese slave sent to Cuba that became the grandfather of my grandmother. One topic led to another and I learned that he is a photographer and is here on business for his Ray Studio in Shanghai. We talked a bit about what we do and I informed him that I am finally making it to Asia in November. Japan has been a goal of mine since my first visit to Europe in 1985. He thinks I ought to use the opportunity and take a short flight to Shanghai from Tokyo.
I just might!
And that could be seen as an important aspect of the concepts that led to the creation of smoke lounges in the first place: the pleasures of being with oneself, of being with other like-minded minds and hearts, of being free to share troubles and joys, to contemplate this magnificent human invention of rolled leaves, to create smoke. Also to combine ideas that could bring fruition, far enough to bring monetary profit, what the modern world calls networking.