Time is a pesky thing...when you wait for it to pass, it drags itself like a snail and when you want it to stop, it flies away.
Our much awaited, meticulously planned trip to California has come to an end. I am back home, jet lagged, with a woozy head and a heart that feels like lead. It’s interesting to note how easily we get unused to routine. A routine that you may consider mundane, yet guard so zealously as if is the bane of your existence. A month of being continuously on the move, clutching maps as if your life depended on it, aching legs and experiencing the unknown – it was a rollercoaster. I think I got addicted to the constant high.
My memories of our trip along the West Coast and New York are still a scattered montage of images and emotions. They have yet to settle down for me to sort them.
Our vacation started with a bang. Our flight to San Francisco didn’t take off at all, thanks to Delhi’s tempestuous weather. Lufthansa did an Air India on us. A day after spending the day holed up in a hotel in Delhi, watching over-enthused firang chicks dance furiously around the pool from my room on the 9th floor, we finally took off, albeit a day late.
We arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and didn’t mind shivering in cold, rainy and foggy San Francisco. Fog is listed as one of Frisco’s tourist attractions. I wonder why we crib so much about corruption in India. Imagine inviting tourists to incredible India with a come bribe a cop tagline! Or an amusement park that features fasting babas or netas throwing chairs and chappals at each other. Which other country can boast of such a spectacle? And all that San Francisco can boast of is fog and a golden bridge that’s far from golden. Bahh....
We had quite an ambitious itinerary chalked out for the next three weeks covering the West Coast and New York.
California Highway 1 is considered one of the most scenic drives along the breathtakingly beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline. My first sighting of the aquamarine ocean foaming at the foot of emerald green mountains will stay etched in my memory forever. Northern California boasts of a stunningly beautiful topography. The flora, a vivid hue of colours, the ocean sometimes a green, sometimes a moody blue, acres of orchards, interspersed with picturesque lakes – it is a treat for your senses. Imagine walking down the beach and getting startled by the sight of a chipmunk on its hind legs, begging for a treat. Or a rocky island with hundreds of sea lions noisily sunning themselves. Hugging yourself for warmth on Pismo beach and watching young boys surf the icy cold water in their body suits. Our senses were constantly doing cartwheels and did we love it.
San Diego is unlike any other American city with a distinct Mexican influence. It is choc a bloc with restaurants that serve Mexican cuisine at its authentic best. Unfortunately I still belong to the school of thought that thinks the cuisine doesn’t go beyond beef, corn and kidney beans. I haven’t travelled half across the world to savour Rajmah! We stuck to sea food, our eternal favourite and didn’t mind the odd creature with tentacles in our salad. I just closed my eyes and chomped furiously. Hmm that was chewy. Some of the best seafood restaurants are located along San Diego’s beautiful shoreline.
San Diego for me was waking up to the sounds of the seagulls... watching the yachts sailing in the bay....walking on the grass at Balboa park....the imposing Byzantine clock tower... colourful fish swimming in the pond...walking under the Jacarandas in full bloom at the Spanish Art Village...raising a toast to a perfect stay with a glass of vintage Riesling....
Los Angeles is the antithesis - glitzy, glamorous and cheesy. A sea of painted faces waiting to audition under the sweltering sun..... trying to match starry footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre....imagining the Oscar Red Carpet at the Kodak Theatre....driving through Beverly Hills, a boulevard of exotic mansions of the stars...clicking away furiously without a clue...soaking in the revelry at Third Street Promenade at Santa Monica...discovering that the iconic Hollywood sign was originally Hollywoodland way back in 1923.
We drove back to Saratoga our home away from home, for the next three weeks. Saratoga is a pretty little neighbourhood, whose denizens rule the Silicon Valley during the week and grow zucchini and oranges in the backyard during the weekend. Most bungalows have beautifully tended gardens and the sunny weather ensures you can grow fruits and veggies in abundance in your very own backyard. It was interesting to overhear ladies exchange notes on how to grow tomatoes at a barbecue party.
I was now looking forward to New York. My friends had prophesised that I would have no trouble falling in love with the city and had warned me about the legendary New York women. I’d already experienced their prowess first hand thanks to the husband. Aeons back when the worse half of the newly married Ray couple had travelled to New York, he couldn’t stop gushing about the women and their long legs and LBDs to his brand new wife. The wife who was pining away in his absence promptly picked up the phone and bawled her heart to her father in a law with a how could he do this to me!
It was time for sweet revenge.