Nostalgia with Yangdup Lama: “At 22, I moved to Delhi for my then-girlfriend. Don’t do that!”

The mixologist and restaurateur talks about introducing his parents to the concept of what a mixologist does, playing football for fitness and wanting to be a general manager back then
Yangdup Lama at 22 (inset) and at 49 (above)
Yangdup Lama at 22 (inset) and at 49 (above)
Published on Jan 01, 2022 09:47 PM IST
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ByKarishma Kuenzang

Where were you career-wise?

I had just moved to Delhi from Kolkata in 1995 and started my bartending career at Polo Lounge at the Hyatt Regency.

What was the money situation?

I had 3,000 and lived with friends for two months in a barsati in Safdarjung Enclave.

At Hotel Annapurna, Nepal in 1993, during his industrial training
At Hotel Annapurna, Nepal in 1993, during his industrial training

Any romance in life?

I had a girlfriend in Delhi, who had written a letter saying that if I don’t move to Delhi, our relationship didn’t have a future. So, I packed up my suitcase and left. Three days after I reached, I found out she was seeing someone else.

With Bill Clinton and the GM of the event company, Sukhmani Singh Sareen, at the then chief minister’s residence in Lucknow in 2005
With Bill Clinton and the GM of the event company, Sukhmani Singh Sareen, at the then chief minister’s residence in Lucknow in 2005

Was your family supportive?

They were in Darjeeling and for three years they thought I was the manager at a hotel but I was a server at the bar. They were happy I was financially stable. I went back after working for a year with 90k and I bought a small piece of land, which I built upon every year.

At a Saraswati puja celebration in Kolkata during his hotel management days in 1994
At a Saraswati puja celebration in Kolkata during his hotel management days in 1994

What did you do for fitness?

Playing football on the IIT grounds and Siri Fort.

What was your sense of fashion like?

I was always fascinated with sports which reflected in my wardrobe. I loved wearing sneakers and jackets and jerseys of football teams.

Yangdup Lama with his bartending guru Laval Lim Hon, from Waikiki Cocktail Bar, Majorca, Spain, in 1996; (inset) At his first cocktail consultancy assignment at GK 2’s Snob Bar, in Delhi, in 2001
Yangdup Lama with his bartending guru Laval Lim Hon, from Waikiki Cocktail Bar, Majorca, Spain, in 1996; (inset) At his first cocktail consultancy assignment at GK 2’s Snob Bar, in Delhi, in 2001

Your most prized possession?

My suitcase, which I bought in 1992 and still have though the handle is broken,

Your biggest dream then?

To be the hotel’s general manager. I thought they had the best life.

With his grandmother Chomai Dolma at his hometown Gayabari in Darjeeling district in 1991
With his grandmother Chomai Dolma at his hometown Gayabari in Darjeeling district in 1991

One thing you’d change yourself then?

I wish I had tried more cocktails. I didn’t drink alcohol the first two years. Later, it took time to establish myself as a mixologist.

The biggest life lesson you learnt:

Don’t shift cities due to your girl/boyfriend. Think from your head, not your heart.

At Polo Lounge, with colleagues Pradeep Rawat, Preeti Saraswat, Deepak Singh, Dhruv Roy, Ameet Kapoor and Vikas Sood in 1997
At Polo Lounge, with colleagues Pradeep Rawat, Preeti Saraswat, Deepak Singh, Dhruv Roy, Ameet Kapoor and Vikas Sood in 1997

Any vices then?

Not really. I was just an introvert. It took me three years to find friends in Delhi!

Follow @kkuenzang on Twitter and Instagram

From HT Brunch, January 2, 2022

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022