Vantage point

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Travelogue So Far

The Bay Area visit so far has been spent mainly away from downtown, as opposed to the NY visit which was exclusively downtown. No, that isn't entirely correct. I did go to the crookedest street in the world, and yes, it is as crooked as can get. And I visited Ghirardelli. But apart from that it has been the outlying areas.

A word about time differences. Substantial time differences are easier to manage. For example if you go to Europe from India, lunch becomes a heavy breakfast, and dinner becomes a late supper and all that. Similarly, a 10-12 hour time difference may throw your sleep schedule out of whack, but is still manageable. A 3 hour time difference like the one between EST and PST can be quite tricky. So for the past few days I have been steadfast on EST while my friends here are on PST. I thus wake up at 5 a.m. while they snore away contemptuously for hours. I feel ravenous when they are feeling barely peckish. And at night, I start feeling extremely sleepy shortly before midnight.

So anyway, Friday was dedicated to the 17 mile drive. It has to be the most scenic stretch of road outside of the Western Indian coastline. Many photographs were clicked, and more importantly, the drive was almost completely desi-free. The only desis I met were people I knew. Ran into Vinayak, Bhavna and a couple of other COEP-ians near the Restless Sea. Which was quite a coincidence, since Vinayak was the same chap I ran into at the Mumbai Airport while flying to the US. That makes it two fortuitous run-ins in 4 months. If fate is trying to send me a chick-flickish message, then it is getting its gender combinations mixed up.

Friday was also all-desi-food day. In the morning we went to a place called Tirupathi something-or-the-other. As typical a Southie restaurant as can get. not a single non-Indian in sight. The ambience, the crowd, the waiters, the food, everything was straight out of a Bangalore stardotstar-sagar restaurant. The rava dosa and the rasam were impressive.

At night we went to a disappointing restaurant called Roti in Burlingame. Disappointing. Enough said.

Saturday was bookmarked for getting drunk in the socially acceptable way, i.e on wine. Napa Valley it was. More specifically, the V Sattui Winery. Different types of wines were tasted, and thank heavens for the Taiwanese. FSM must really love me to send along people who know less than wine than even I do. A couple of Taiwanese girls actually appointed me their wine tasting consultant, and thanks to the training provided to me during my MBA, I was able to give authoritative advice about a topic I know less than a grape-squeeze's worth. The only truly value-adding input from my side was the quip that Madeira is the Sanskrit word for wine.

The original plan was to stop by the House of Nanking on our way back. But reliable sources informed us that the traffic on Oakland Bay Bridge was jammed all the way to Seattle. So we took a detour and decided to drive back to San Bruno(which is where I am put up) via Fremont. Since we lost out on House of Nanking, we decided instead to have food made by the Kings of Nan, i.e Afghan cuisine, and watch the first few episodes of House on DVD.

The Afghan meal at Salang in Fremont was one of the best meals I have had in my lifetime. I had raved about the food at Ariana in Manhattan. Salang made Ariana food taste like Pizza Hut food. I went totally mujahideen on the food and was more stuffed than a thanksgiving turkey. In what was a rare and momentous occasion, I even felt charitable enough to order dessert. The desert was bakhlava, which is a lot like the marathi sweet chirota placed on top of the desi sweet kalakand.

On to downtown now!