Chasing Dalí by Adnan Lermontov
At 12:08 a.m., on May 01, 2011, I heard on T.V. that Osama Bin Laden was killed. Immediately and bizarrely, I thought why don’t I go on a trip to see all my favorite Dalí paintings around the world, and write a travel book about that. How long would it take? How would I make time for it? And how would I pay for it anyway? I was drinking and having dinner with my coworkers, at the Hattricks bar in Tampa, Florida. I was in town for the American Telemedicine Association’s annual show. It was the first day of the show, and my day started with the sunrise. I stayed inside the Tampa Convention Center almost all day, while the outside was roasting and being seasoned by the salty air.
Hattricks wasn’t too far from the Convention Center, a mere three minutes walk. When we arrived it was almost 8:00 p.m., and the bar was full of young people, watching the hockey game between Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals. The inside of the bar was dark, almost as if I was seeing things in candlelight. It was as noisy as youth could get. Beer mugs were flying like bats, and the chicken bones were everywhere, on the plate, on the table, on the chair, and on the floor. It’s true that they were eating and drinking real food, but they were really eating and drinking the game on T.V. It seemed that to them the surroundings didn’t exist.
My fascination with Dalí started with his name, and the painting, The Persistence of Memory. When I was a boy, I first read an article about this painting in a Bengali newspaper. The painting was in black&white. I imagined how it would look in color, in all sorts of ways. Years later when I saw it in color for the first time, I was shocked, because I got it completely wrong. I was fascinated by the name too. Why the dot on the “i” wasn’t a point, but a short slanted line? I dreamed to see this painting in original one day. “One day, I will see it, one day I will go to Spain,” I imagined. I didn’t know that the painting was in the New York Museum of Modern Art, and not in Spain
While the youth screamed with the T.V., as the game progressed, my coworkers and I was planning how to beat our various competitors with strategic business moves. Erica was waiting our table. She was about 5 feet 8 inches tall, and in unbelievably tight shorts. The air smelled of beer and fried food, and the bar-air was thick and sticky just like the skin of her face. I just finished my 14th beer, and 2nd Irish Carbomb. So, she looked even hotter than when I came in. She had a sad face, like she was about to cry, but she was actually smiling all the time. I guess the Carbombs were working! One of my managers said, “Boy-o-boy, if you could walk up those legs, you would surely find a can of caviar.” We all laughed, because that is what you do, when this sort of things come from the higher management.
The game went into the overtime, but the local team ended up winning the game, and the place was the scene of a massacre, everything was shaking and falling on the ground, while people hugged and shook each others’ hands. Soon everything calmed down, but we kept planning on how to beat our competitors in the coming years, and drinking, I lost my count by then. I needed to go to the restroom, and when I turned, I read on one of the T.V. that Osama Bin Laden was killed. I looked at my cell phone, and realized it was already the next morning. Then it hit me! From The Sheraton Hotel Lobby, I picked up a brochure of The Dalí Museum (Tampa, Florida), the day before. I knew I had no time to go and visit the museum, but I was secretly hoping to go. I’ve never seen any of his painting in original. I could’ve delayed my flight back to San Jose, California, by one day, but I decided not to do that. I realized my idea of writing a travel book about seeing my favorite Dalí’s paintings had a surreal origin; so in that drunken moment, I planned to begin chasing Dalí, beginning with The Persistence of Memory. What if I go off on this mission? What would that book be like? I am still thinking, and I just may go for it, I have enough numbers on my United Mileage Plus card to go to New York, and then to Tampa for free. But what about going to Spain? No, I don’t have any fund for that yet. But it may happen, it’s all surreal!