Friday, June 17, 2011

Notes from a Traveller’s Diary - I



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.


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46 comments:

  1. yayyyy! welcome baq! look fwd to hearin more frm ur end abt ur tk on new york women. women cnt praise odr women. is dat true? hehe.
    grt pics! :)

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  2. Purba,

    Enjoyed the trip through your eyes. Very well told. Looking forward to hear about long legged lasses of NY.

    Take care

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  3. Loved the sea lions. What a visual treat! and those oranges are so fresh and tempting :)

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  4. Welcome back dear Purba! Seems you had a marvelous trip to US. Nice pictures of Californian roads and oranges in Silicon valley:) And about the "how could he do this to me"...LOL!!!

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  5. Action packed....Loved the pictures.
    All of them :)

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  6. welcome back Purba...lovely snaps...and thanks for the virtual trip...

    Cheers!
    SUB

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  7. Whoa, it was like a short and crisp running commentary of the trip packed with tiny bits of what happened here in your absence with the trade mark sarcastic touch.

    Welcome back madam Purba :)

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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  8. The much awaited post is finally here :)

    You seem to have had a whale of a vacation. Awesome!

    Can't wait for the next post.. dying to know if you were avenged.

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  9. finally ...purba express. good to read you again...

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  10. Ah you're back after a vacation that sounds like great fun! Nice dot...dotted descriptions of the places esp on LA :)

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  11. Looks like you had an awesome time....waiting for more!!

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  12. Sadiya...Hey I have no trouble praising other women but I have to see them first naa?

    Jack..The LLL of NYC will follow soon :))

    Abha...And they were sweet. Had them everyday for breakfast.

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  13. Nivedita..Exactly!!! HOW COULD YOU :D

    Sangeeta & SUB...Glad you liked them.


    Anshul...How could so much drama shama happen behind my back? Hussain went to Jannat, Baba took to white and Sushma Swaraj turned item girl? I am sobbing my heart out.

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  14. Pzes...And you had a whale of a time in Leh? Waiting to read about it.

    RK...Yet to get my bearings back...still chugging along.

    Ambika...Dots and dashes...hope it didn't read like Morse code :p

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  15. aah now that the introductory post is out of the way, shall await the torrid details as you tear into the fabric of USA!

    welcome back to the land of babas and babus!!

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  16. Dazzle Diva...Only a full fledged post can do justice to the Big Apple :)

    magiceye....I have come back docile and serene :p

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  17. what did you come back to? happy to be back? or is that for a new post?

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  18. Welcome back and a lucid travel diary!Look forward for more.

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  19. Sounds like a really great vacation Purba, I would wait for more stories to come from you from the trip :)

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  20. Sounds like you had loads of fun!! Welcome back. Nice oranges. Wish I could grow some in B'lore too :)

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  21. That was a travelogue with a difference. Waiting to hear more of your adventures. And hope some adventurous tour operator does not pick up your idea of advertising the netas annd babas and corrupt cops as a tourist attraction in India :)

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  22. Well, I'm already waiting for the next parts! Beautifully written travelogue. I could almost see it happening.

    Consider writing a book!

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  23. Menon....Sounds like an interrogation :p I came back to the warmth of my friends and family. Yes, I did spend a few days feeling miserable but once I started writing my blog I knew what I had been missing all this while.

    Alka...coming soon :))

    Sidhartha...There are so many to tell. I don't think you guys will have the patience for my inummerable anecdotes :)

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  24. Sapna....I wish I had a garden with a gardener :D

    Zephyr...But isn't it a nice publicity gimmick for Indian tourism?

    Umashankar...Good to see you back. And a book needs a story.

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  25. Looks like you had a nicey time there. The story is perhaps coming in the 2nd part. :)

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  26. Hey Purba
    Beautifully written and you successfully catch the reader's attention..do write a book..Looks like travel log is ur forte:)
    cheers
    Vishal

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  27. Bibek...Is there a story waiting to be told? Guess you"ll find out soon.

    Vishal...Travelogue is not exactly my forte but I do love reading them.

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  28. First things first. Welcome back yayyyyyyyyy!
    And seems like you had one hell of a trip. "Odd creature with tentacles" in your salad? oh my!

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  29. Your back with a bang. Love the descriptions. N I do the same when I have to eat the squids body.

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  30. Sam...The trick is to convince yourself that it doesn't exist.

    Rituparna...LOL...now I have a partner in crime!

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  31. Hey, incredible idea of promoting India and what a nice way to celebrate the summer vacations!!

    Would love to read more about New York Women..

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  32. "Chomping away furiously" I am imagining you as Obelix right now. And like those Pirates, the fishes swam away in terror at the mere mention of your name. :P
    Mexican and Indian cuisine have some similarity.
    And....going to read your next post.
    Did Mrs Ray stalk and kill all Long Legged Lasses? Did she burn down all stores selling LBDs?......read in the next episode......*Aunty Ray has an evil grin an the screen fades*

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  33. Perception...the long legged lassies of NYC...coming soon

    Prats....His imagination always goes wild at my expense!

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  34. great travelogue,I was wondering, where you gone missing.
    welcome back to India.

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  35. You're finally back! You and your writing has certainly been missed, I must say! You have taken all the pictures I would expect you to take in the US. And did you or did you take the Alcatraz cruise? I don't know about you, but that and the Golden Gate Bridge were the best for me.
    Also, did you visit Monterey? The world's most beautiful golf course is there (home to the US open). I want the complete travelogue! :D

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  36. Pramod...Glad you liked :)

    D2...We gave the Alcatraz cruise a miss. It was rainy and too cold.

    And yes, we did visit Monterey but missed the Golf Course. Should have spoken to you before heading off :))

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  37. Dear Purba
    Welcome back! Now I know how much I misd u...:)
    Thanks to you...I just visited California, San Diego, LA & Saratoga! It's been a mesmerizing trip!!!
    It's so wonderful to read you, Purba:))

    ps: Following u in ur journey:))
    Hugs
    Deepa

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  38. at last...i was so hoping u wud cut u travels short, and return a bit early...

    sojourns always provide writers with lots of new materials....don't they....???

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  39. Deepa...Overwhelmed by the warm welcome...you guys are almost like a family now.

    Abhijit...A trunk full of anecdotes that last a lifetime :))

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  40. Welcum back, Purba-ji!!!
    Long, long time :)

    Glad u hd a fabulous vacation n an excellent description of ur account complete with the pics..really nice :)

    But one question which I simplay cannot contain is..n I ask this question from the fraternity of all the other sneaky bachelor men like me out there... When in LA, dincha hit the Sin City? :)

    Waitin fr NYC.

    N Welcum back again, Purab-ji:)

    :)

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  41. Nice vivid account of your trip to California, San Francisco. Nice pictures. Looking forward to reading more of your travelogue:)

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  42. "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." - can so relate to this. Experiencing something similar currently.

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  43. RAJ...Naa I'd rather sin at home.

    sajeev....Glad you liked.

    posie...Really?? where are you now?

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  44. You know where, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. :-)

    Btw must say love the way you write!

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  45. Purba, looks like you had a great time! I've been to Cali a couple of times too. Great vacation spot. Great weather, scenic drives, and you gotta love the crazy roads in San Francisco! :-)

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  46. Purba, thanks for your comments on my posts. Always encouraging for a new blogger. I've got new posts and updated my site. Check it out when you get a chance.

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