travels

Hi-Fi Vinegar

January 23, 2010 :: Tags: , :: Comment

Last few years I did a lot of consulting in Miami, staying at a boutique hotel in South Beach. Few times dined at a good steakhouse (not a chain). In fact, once the night before I ate there, Gorbachev was there. This steakhouse is also known for their wine cellar which I have toured a couple of times. They have a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, priced at $175,000. The sommelier once told me and my guests that this wine is really vinegar now.

Maybe I mis-took him as being serious. Thinking of it, I can not help but think of the products of some companies as expensive vinegar. One can also conclude that if we do not use our gear, regardless of the price, they “vinegar”. Hope you are enjoying your music this week-end.

A customer of mine once said he is rich. He tells his daughters they have a lot of money, but they don’t have a penny to waste. That comment resonates in my mind at times as I talk to customers. I do my best to treat them as they have no pennies to waste.

An ex-president of a multi billion dollar, highly respected luxury retailer told me once that at his shops they do not sell what customers need, they sell what customers want. There are people like me who want the absolute best, and are willing to pay for it. For us “value” may be less important. We know we are paying too much for that very last bit of perceived improvement or differentiation. We also tend to be loyal to a brand or a company, or people. Those companies or brands or people can screw us once, but then they lose all the potential lifetime revenue from us as we will be goners.

frankfurt, germany

October 23, 2009 :: Tags: , , :: 1 Comment

hartmut mehran laughinga quick visit to frankfurt to meet my good friend hartmut janssen of amazon audio. it is always a pleasure to see hartmut. he is vivacious, full of ideas, and funny. passionate about audio, his creations, and above all his friendships.

those who know me, know that i take pride in my friendship with the manufacturers i represent. as such if i can not have them as friends, i do not want their products either.  i want to be able to look at their products, and think of good memories. in case of hartmut janssen, i love him and his AMAZON REFERENZ turntable so much that keep a couple of them in stock ready to ship. pure elegance, great sound from a great friend.

tehran – final report

October 22, 2009 :: Tags: , , :: Comment

sweet trip. sweet people. bitter sweet memories. best thing happened to me in 2009.

iran death to dictatori needed it. no secret to my audiophile friends and close friends/associates that 2009 has been a shitty year for me, mainly thanks to the worst betrayal i have ever experienced in my life (from a couple of business associates). i needed to look back at 2009 by thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and mention a couple of good things about 2009. my trip to iran is one.

this, combined with the fact that i just got my iranian passport and waiver not to be drafted, gave me the peace of mind i needed to embark on this trip.

most places in iran, even shopping malls have “no-photo” signs. a baker and a street vendor asked me not to take pictures of their set up. no idea why. perhaps a mis-trust thing.  security guard at a shopping mall came to me inside a shop and very politely asked me not to take any pictures and delete what i have already taken. to his surprise, i asked him if i could take a picture of him. then i told him i joked but i wish i did take a picture of him. point: he was incredibly polite and professional. i think in most other places, my camera would have been confiscated.

back to the mis-trust thing. i think this, as pertained to the governments, is ingrained in the iranian culture. at the time of shah, people did not have the courage to talk politics (unless they sucked up to the shah) in the cabs or public places. at times, not even among closest friends or family for the fear of retaliation by shah’s secret police, savak. well, it ain’t any different now.

i am in particular grateful nami and sora got to meet the rest of my family and my birthplace. traditional japanese families, although highly caring, do not show their affection much. no hugging, no touching. with my iranian family this is just the opposite. sora and nami were the centers of attention with everyone wanting to hold, play with, hug and kiss sora. everyone made sure they felt part of the family and were comfortable. they are now considering going back to iran for a couple of months, and study farsi.

my stay in tehran is ending. a great place to visit. great people. what i had always heard and suspected myself proved to be correct again: iranian people are some of the nicest, most welcoming people you will ever come across. they care about westerners and there is a sense of envy when they meet people from other countries or an iranian living abroad. like all people, they are proud of their country and heritage. in many social events, they sing a “national anthem” that has nothing to do with religion or the government. only talks about their beautiful country and heritage.

as for me, i continue to be proud to call myself “iranian born american” and hope my american friends get to visit iran, and make their own interpretations of its culture and society.

iran — food

October 21, 2009 :: Tags: , :: 2 Comments

now you see how i gained about two kilograms in three weeks. delicious home made food. and of course many great restaurants. how about the drinks? well, drinks of choice seem to be home made wine, home brewed beer, heineken, johnny walker black label, and basically anything else.

iran, gilan province

October 17, 2009 :: Tags: , :: Comment

i spent last few days in the northern part of iran where i had lived for a few years. the changes in the last 32 years are stunning. at my time, most houses were single family homes. now, the prices (land, home) are so high that single family homes, commonly referred to as villas are rare. the food is delicious, and people are as hospitable as people in the rest of iran, if not more so. i spent most my time in rasht and lahijan with a few stops in other small towns.