On a regular basis, it so happens that how we start our day gives absolutely no indication as to how it would end. But yesterday was exceptional even by these standards, and there's no way to highlight the strange quirks of yesterday other than to write them out bit by bit. Oh, a bit of background before I start. So Farid's back in town after decamping to Boston for his PhD, and leaving me without an "Adventures in Eating" companion. So hurray, I shall eat sushi and sashimi now, and we've promised to tuck in some Indonesian grub as well. Now Farid's friend wanted to go windsurfing on Saturday and Farid wondered if we wanted to go as well. Hmmm...well let's see, S's been windsurfing for only like what, 14 years now and been dying to have a windsurfing companion in LA for only about three years.......Of course we'll be there darling!
So S, who's incredibly dilligent in such matters (in fact he woke up at 7 today to go surfboarding with a friend), woke up at around 9 to reach Cabrilo Beach (near Long Beach) about 11 miles south of where we live at 11, the meeting time indicated by Farid's friend. I call up Farid to confirm, but no answer. I call his friend then, but she isn't answering her phone as well. Seems they've been up late last night. So we decide to run errands while we wait for her phone call. The car needs to be smog checked, so off goes S to a repair shop, while I hop over to the Indian store across the street to get some coffee. Finally Farid's friend calls, she's obviously woken up seconds ago, and windsurfing seems to be the last thing on her mind.
Then we decide to head off to Marina Del Rey, to enjoy the sun, check out some yacht clubs for boat rentals (we go sailing frequently, at least S does), and get the car smog checked as well. And almost immediately, we get a lesson in geographically differentiated pricing, aka, if you belong to the hood, get all your stuff done in the hood. It's almost $20 more to get your car smog checked in Marina Del Rey, the home of vintage Porsches and multi-million dollar marina view apartments. So anyway, we abandon our mission to smog check the car and move on to exploring the yacht clubs and land in the fanciest of them all, the California Yacht club
In the meanwhile I had received a frantic call from Suze about her fight with her boyfriend and how things are falling apart, and he's cancelling his tickets (he's coming to LA from Delhi on Monday), etc.,etc. I try to calm her down as best as I can, but I'm frustrated because:
a) she chooses to live in this state of suspended misery, alternating between expressions of undying love and laments about how she suffers his cruelty.
b) they would neither try to make things better by being more considerate, empathetic and respectful of each other, nor make a clean break from each other and start afresh.
c) it's a classic codependent relationship, where they feed on each other's insecurities, and don't even realise what they are doing.
d)she's a beautiful, loving, lively, engaging person who deserves much, much better in her life.
But then, Suze and her love life deserve a post of its own about how miserable long-distance relationships are, and how moving to a new country should be accompanied by some serious rethinking about any existing tentative romantic relationships (where the couple is just dating) and to preserve the sanity of both, a mutually amicable parting of ways.
Back to more pleasant things, the California Yacht Club
. It's strange how, if I had not gone sailing in my life, nor been with a man as passionate about sailing as S, I would have had nothing but contempt for Yacht Clubs as bastions of snooty privilege. There is perhaps a bit of that as well, of those who get Yacht Club memberships to show off or join an elite network, but there is also a certain camaraderie of seamen and women, a passion for the sea and the romance of the sailboat. The club is gorgeous, the membership fees steep, but knowing S and his dogged pursuit of his interests, I wouldn't be surprised if we become a regular fixture at their boat races and cruises. He's already planning to drive down to the Club on Wednesday to make it to their weekly race. The thing starts at around 4, which means S would have to leave his office at 3. To do this, he has to report to work at 6! Wonder how he would have the energy to sail after that.
After leaving the Club, we decided to go check out Cabrilo beach anyway, so S could come to windsurf on his own if he wishes. We drove down the lovely Pacific Coast Highway, that true to its name rings the California coastline, traversing through numerous beach communities on the way. On the way, we stopped at a garage sale and I bought a bunch of books, including a Sewing Manual brought out by The Vogue in the 1970s (yes, I'm trying to learn), a glossary and guide on classic French cooking, and a massive two volume coffee-table style book on culinary traditions in a bunch of European countries. We continued and were soon very hungry and looking for places to eat (and since I can bully S, I shot down plans to go to Subway or some dodgy Chinese takeout, in retaliation he vetoed a perfectly good Indonesian restaurant). And then we saw banners, in blue and white, with the image of an Ionic column in the background. That could only mean one thing: a Greek festival!!
And sure it was, announcing the South Bay Greek Festival
being held just round the corner. And a Greek festival means lots of Greek food, and when we reached, we really managed to stuff ourselves silly. The food is usually at par with what passes for Greek food in restaurants here, neither inedible or tremendous. After eating the food, we queued up for loukoumades
, a fried dumpling drenched in honey with liberally sprinkled cinnamon and crushed walnuts on top. This is a pan Greek favourite, and in every little town on mainland or island, you'd find a loukoumades shop, frying them up fresh, sometimes served with a side of delicious kaimaki icecream.
We walked around checking all the stalls, till I found one that was curiously different. It was a stall that was providing information and accepting donations for an orphanage run by the Greek Orthodox Church (the South-east Asian diocese) in India. I checked out their display and was surprised to discover that the orphanage was actually in West Bengal! I started talking to the girl at the stall, a very pretty Greek-American girl who was delighted to learn that I was Bengali and told me that she had just returned after spending about 6 months volunteering in the orphanage. She adored Bengal, and was very keen to learn Bengali. She also wanted me to let her know of any Bengali events around town and get her invited to any Bengali weddings if possible!! So if any Bengalis in the LA area is reading this, please help me out, especially with the wedding bit.
S invited Soto and Triangle to come join us, and they did, Soto attacking the food, while Triangle kept calling different girls to try and hook up with them that night. Sadly, none were available. Sometimes, even the slut machine's charms fail to work. And then we exchanged notes about dealing with body hair (strange, I had a Sex and the City type conversation with E-M and Helen a few days ago about body hair). Triangle didn't want to remove all his chest hair with laser, because he felt that when he's older and pot-bellied, he'd need some hair to cover up the belly! Triangle's a cad, but he's hilariously funny.
And then as happens on many many Saturday nights, we ended up after our wanderings at Emil's house to watch Mad TV and SNL. Hmmm...so the end is predictable, even if the middle is not. And SNL had a best of Christopher Walken special who is absolutely amazing, especially in the Mango skit with Chris Kattan (where Kattan is a gay dancer and Walken is the janitor at the club and has a crush on Kattan). The point where he parodies the song "Lady" is just fab.