Saturday, November 26, 2005

Days Unanticipated

Los Angeles, which is so predictably gloriously sunny most days, had such fickle weather today. It started with warm and clear sunshine, brightening the palm trees and the mountains into the sort of postcard imagery that tourists send home, certain that they would be met with huddled whispers and envious sighs. S and I were on the 101, picaresque at most times, but dazzling today with clear vistas, and reflections off gleaming convertibles. The object was the purchase of a motorbike for S, and he was so excited I swear I almost heard him humming (and S never hums).

This started out as a quiet day, after a fairly socially hectic week. My mind is always berating me for spending too much time in a social whirl and neglecting work. But short of locking myself away and disabling my phone and net connection, there's little I can do to wriggle out of the countless occasions that require presence. Not that they are not very enjoyable, they are, and that is indeed why temptation is so hard to evade. Last Saturday we attended 3 birthdays during the course of one evening, travelling from Arcadia in north LA county to Anaheim in the south, and ended up in Beverly Hills in the West, tracing a neat triangle with a perimeter of approximately 100 miles. Our reward? Bits of excellent brownie and icecream in the first celebration, yummy freshly barbecued Korean style ribs (galbi) in the second, and great ash-e-rishtey (Iranian bean and lentil soup) in the third.

We had a near repeat performance on Thanksgiving day, when we decided to accept three separate Thanksgiving meal invitations. Thankfully they were paced out, but again it involved driving first to the Northwestern end of LA county, then to the extreme south and then a two-hour drive to San Diego. And at all three places we had an identical meal, turkey with cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, yams, and mashed potatoes. But the meal was besides the point, at least for me, because I detest turkey, and am happy that I have to eat it only once a year.

We had excellent hosts and company at each of the three meals. The first was a family friend of S, YG, a Greek man married to an American woman, who had given up a career as a professional musician to work with computers. I loved their house, which glowed with such intense light, a blooming rose patch on the premises, matched with rapidly growing fruit trees on the other side. They had guavas, figs and even an apple tree that produced off-season miniature apples, tricked by the Southern California sun to sprout fertile blossoms. Their neighbours are two horses, prancing about in a small ranch, and apparently, at times these neighbours would lean over the fences to partake of small hospitalities. At some point after lunch, the niece of YG's wife, an intelligent, attractive girl when reminded that she was turning 22 next month said: "That is so depressing! What is there to look forward to after 22?"

And YG said: "You know, I turn 50 next year, and I can assure you that for me and my wife, this is truly the best time of our life. We've raised our family, are financially secure and in good health. What could be better?" I fervently wish I get to say similar things when I'm his age. And look as happy and contented as YG and his wife.

The conversation at our second dinner mostly revolved around schools, expectations from students, growing up bilingual and the problems of parents regarding the correct approach to a child's upbringing. It was interesting to see three sets of parents with teenage children reflect on these issues. Growing up in a culture where children can never study enough (and many end up spending every waking hour studying) it was fascinating to see one of the mothers talk about the dilemma of encouraging her child to get good grades and yet develop other aspects of her personality and not end up unidimensional.

And at the third meal, the hosts were our old friends the Pumpkins, G&C were also there, as well as another friend Neil. We played dumb charades all night and then the guests pitched their inflatable beds and sleeping bags in the living room. The joys of sleepovers with buddies!

The next day, after an unsuccessful bid to join the material mainstream by buying something at Fry's (we'd rather haul our material asses to, we returned to LA. And hoped for a relaxed Saturday. But while S was filling in the paperwork to take possession of his bike, I got a call from an old friend visiting from Arizona, wondering if we could join him and his friends for lunch. So off we go, dashing across town to make it to lunch with the "Lebanese mafia", as we love to call them, all smart, funny, some reflective, some plain crazy. The afternoon was spent catching up on old gossip and spawning some new bits, who had pierced nipples, whose girlfriend's orgasmic screams kept up the entire building, who is supremely disinterested in men but equally uninterested in women. where did I begin? Oh yes, unpredictability. After the blazing sunshine, when friend from Arizona was leaving my house in the evening, cold winds swept off dry foliage and deposited debris in our swimming pool. Our tattered window blinds flew in all directions and fell, and after basking in the warmth of the afternoon, I am feeling very cold. Make no mistake, winter's here.


Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

Yeah, I don't like turkey either. But, I do like it in sandwiches.

Winter's here unusually early this year all around. But you sound good :-)

7:16 AM  
Blogger anthony said...

Wide social circles indeed, or would you rather say long triagles.. Nice post, and that greek touch as always lol.. I can understand when you wish if you could say the same things as YG did when you are twenty.. there is something called regret minimization framework, a very intersting theory...More ;-)

10:52 PM  
Blogger AB said...

What does turkey taste like?

So much of food and fun in your post. And yet the week's just started:( I want to go on a long holiday.

2:28 AM  
Blogger rainbeau_peep said...

u own a swimming pool?!?!?!

9:30 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Pidus, yes so far so good. The sun's still shining, even though I can feel my toes getting icy. I dread the day it starts raining and becomes gloomy.

Anthony, regret minimization framework? I'll take a look :).

AB, trust me you don't want to know. The blandest, leanest, most insipid meat ever. When I complain about turkey to Dad, he wonders if making a turkey curry would make it more edible. I don't think so.

Rainbow, I wish!! No, this is the common swimming pool in the middle of our building, shared by all tenants. It's a fun common area to socialize.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Er, an angeleno complaining about the weather is like the Swiss complaining about their poverty. Toes getting icy indeed, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!
Oh and I totally agree about turkey - the ways to make it taste better would also work on cardboard or newspaper, huh!

10:00 PM  
Blogger Rimi said...

here's another of my pretty pointless comments.

*gushes* oh, it was such a lovely post, i could almost feel the glow of the sun on my skin,*sigh* i was basking in the contenment of YG's family and my god, all credit to you, you captured it all so well! *end gush*

see, i bet you didn't need me to tell you all that. but i really, really wanted to :)

but, but...i still cannot reconcile 'glorious' with sun/sunny. oh well.

1:19 AM  
Blogger said...

its snowing here - I thought I would share my envy :)happy days!

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

:D You definitely don't like it. I don't use icy, I say moist, wet toes and those are perfect reasons to stay securely inside a comforter. I don't know, but I love clouds, some rain and the fall colors here. Depressing would be -20C temperature, gray clouds, 20mph winds and streets stripped of any life whatsoever, not to mention the mud and slush.

Okay, fried turkey and grilled turket is definitely better. It carmelizes and is a little sweet. I get turkey burgers and grill them. Between two bread pieces, hamburger style it's very good.
Sandwich - with grilled eggplant, green peppers and fresh mozzarella, toasted. Okay, you can argue it's good otherwise. But grilled turkey goes well with green vegetables normally associated with Chinese food.
Sautee green vegetables with ginger, add grilled turkey, some Cantonese/Schezuan Stir Fry sauce and chicken broth. It's very yumm with rice or noodles, Kung-Pao style. Grilled turkey tastes more like red meat, hence, you can do something with it.
And, all of them get done in 10-15 minutes. Had to defend turkey on Thanksgiving :D

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

turkey, caramelizes and saute

9:27 AM  
Blogger K said...

Hey, I actually like Turkey. Well, its as insipid as most other bird meats, but less insipid than chicken. Duck is better anyday though!
I always thought that cold and LA are two terms that don't go together. Exposing your Bengali roots are you?

12:12 AM  
Blogger Abhishek said...

Thanx for the WebSite(

I have a habbit of reading one's blog from the very first posting.I am going through your blogs.I appreciate the honesty, with which you sew the words together ,of the past with the present.I thank you for introducing me to, which is a treasure, full of wonderful gems.We have more things comman with Iran than any other culture, but we fail to see that.Our Hindustani Classical music is its own proof.
I live in Badarpur,NewDelhi and things have changed so much , after you might have left Dilli.Still, Bengali Delhi(CR Park) is the best place to hunt for the tastiest of Sweets and Dohi(I relish all Bengali Sweets , but I must admit that not all Bongs:)Sorry!
And I am sorry for posting this comment here as it has no relation to your current posting.

10:07 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Urmi, we angelenos are the worst sort of sheetkaturey. One chilly breeze, and we start dressing like New Yorkers!

Rimi, thank you so much. You are too generous. And believe me, you will see how those two reconcile so well once you come to Southern California.

Gypsy, here's sending some sunshine your way :)!

Pidus, thanks so much for the recipe ideas. I'll give the turkey burgers a shot!

K, you find chicken insipid? Nahin!!!! But seriously, chicken is so much more versatile than turkey. Duck, once you get past the smell, is divine. Peking duck yum yum.

As for cold, see reply to Urmi above. All my cold tolerance has been stripped away in the last 5 years. As for Bong roots, haven't pulled out my monkey cap yet!

Abhishek, thank you. Glad you found the link interesting. If you like classical/traditional music, do listen to Mohammed Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri, the foremost exponents of Iranian traditional music.

Glad to find someone who finds Iran as fascinating as I do. some Bongs are edible then eh?

11:05 AM  
Blogger Docs Dope said...

main tumhe bhool jaoon yeh ho nahin sakta
aur tum mujhue bhool jao yeh main hone nahin dunga

docs dope

10:26 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Daacter sahib,

Bas ke dushwaar hai har kaam ka asaan hona
Aadmi ko bhi mayassar nahin insan hona

12:10 AM  
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2:41 AM  

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