In 1967, the students at San Francisco State invited the poet Amiri Baraka to the campus for a semester. He attracted other influential black writers such as Sonia Sanchez, Ed Bullins, Eldridge Cleaver. What emerged was something we called the community communications program. That's how I got involved; I got involved in a little play.
One winter, I went to Erfoud to research trilobites and got to know the quarries, the dealers, and the remote mining villages. They are not easy places to visit, and this was a completely unknown corner of the world economy: children slaving away on desert cliffs to furnish wealthy collectors in San Francisco.
I remember returning to Bangalore after a few months of travel and seeing it as a first-world city, like New York or San Francisco. This may be obvious to some people, but I grew up in Delhi, and I had no experience of how someone from a 'Tier 2' city may view a 'Tier 1' city. You really do emigrate between worlds when you come from those towns.
I had talked for years about doing a restaurant with Rocky Dudum, who's been my friend since I first came to San Francisco. Then Rocky's son, Jeff, said he wanted to design it, so he traveled around the country to sports restaurants like Mickey Mantle's and Michael Jordan's, and he came up with a great concept.