Last week I took a seventeen hour flight from San Francisco to Dubai and another five hour flight from Dubai to Madras. In the first leg of my journey I sat with two boisterous Afghan women, one whose hair rivalled Cruella De Vil.
The Economy class gives one no option but to befriend your fellow passenger, and considering its seventeen hours you’d almost become BFFs. But isn’t that the most basic of human tendencies? The ability to friend a stranger? Growing up my mother always warned me about strangers. She would drill the Little Red Riding Hood story in to my head and would remind me about the wolf every time I walked alone to my bus stop.
But growing up I’ve realised that not all strangers are bad. In fact the wolves could be people you meet every day.
My theory that urine and phenol is the first smell that hits you when you land in Madras has been verified yet again. Honestly speaking though, I missed the smell of phenol. I always associated it with cleanliness.
Seeing foreign returned Uncles and Aunties at the airport is a nice time pass while waiting in line for immigration. The clothes they come up with are mind boggling. I saw an uncle wearing grey satin pants carrying a leather backpack. Go ahead, imagine.
Aunties wearing silk sarees and sneakers is the norm.
Madras seems a little different, like it’s lost its old world charm. I’ve only been away a year so maybe I’ve lost mine.
The number of times I’ve picked up a book and dropped it to check my phone is despicable. I have a huge stack of books to be read, yet I find myself watching random YouTube videos. At first it was funny like “Oh I’ll just watch this last cat video and get back.” But the thing is it never stopped. There are a million videos on YouTube and somehow I’ve made it my aim in life to watch them all.
The next experiment I tried was to turn off my computer so that I could concentrate better on my book. But my hands have a weird magnetic attraction to my cell phone and the next thing you know I’m checking Twitter. I realize the need to disconnect myself from technology is infinitely greater now.
I can feel technology slowly creeping in to all faucets of my life and setting shop. I know that’s a bad thing and I should stop, especially when it comes to my reading. Sometimes I feel like this online life is inching out my social life and just my life in general. How do I consciously stay disconnected at least for an hour without checking my phone. I don’t even get that many messages! I’m not that important!
When I was growing up I was anti social yes, but I read. I read all the time. I tried my best to get out from playing with other kids so I could read My mom hated it. She pushed me to play with the other kids. We can see now that it had absolutely no effect on me. I just want to go back to the time when I didn’t own a smart phone and my brother didn’t let me touch the computer. Things were much simpler back then. I didn’t worry about the future or Instagram and I managed to finish reading my book in record time.
“… while I bathed, while I tried but failed to sleep, I considered how I might become more like the women I respected and admired. Surrounded as I was by ambitious, accomplished women, I couldn’t ignore the little voice in my head that said maybe I was supposed to shed halfway, and do something significant. Contribute something. Accomplish something. Choose. Be.”
- Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler
Yesterday I turned twenty four. A year older. A year wiser? I surely hope so. I want to feel wiser and smarter but its taking me baby steps to get there. Year after year I try to work on how I present myself. I try to be a good person to others. But I forget to work on me. And me has been needing a lot of “me” time lately. For a long time I’ve struggled with the person I am. I was confused about what was expected of me. I was continuously pleasing people around me, ignoring what I wanted. By the time I could get that idea out of my head it had become a habit that was hard to shake off.
Now I am trying my hardest to take the reins of my life in my own hands. And I want to ride fast and strong. I don’t want to stop. I don’t want that number to tell me what I’m supposed to do right now.
Here’s to a positive year with nothing but happiness and sunshine, something I need a lot of in my life right now.
I declare October first Annual Cheesecake Day. Every year on my birthday I intend to eat a slice of cheesecake. Last year it was a Godiva chocolate cheesecake. This year – dulce de leche cheesecake with almonds and crunchy caramel bits. It was beauty in a take out box.
We bought a new coffee machine this week. It’s safe to say I am permanently on a coffee high. I have about three cups of coffee a day. Two, if I’m feeling guilty. I want to cut down to one but the smell of freshly brewed coffee is such a beautiful thing. So if my hands are twitching or if I’m being crazier than normal, you know why.
Over a year of living in California and towards the last days of summer we finally went to the beach. I had dreams of blue waves softly caressing the white sand on a perfectly sunny day. Instead I got grey waters on a windy September evening. Capitola Beach was a pretty small beach. I come from Madras which has the Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world so I might be a little spoiled. Or maybe I had high expectations for Capitola. None the less the beach was decent enough to last me till next summer.
There were quite a few restaurants around the beach. All that was very nice but I missed eating hot molaga bajjis and sundal on the beach. How can it be a beach without molaga bajji?! Americans are so weird, man.
The ratio of the beach size to the number of restaurants was like 1 : 8. We had dinner in a cute Jordanian falfalel place. Now that’s one thing I like about California – no matter where you go, you are never far away from a falafel.
I had the saltiest salted caramel ice cream at the Village Creamery, a must visit if you’re in the area. They have over seventy five flavors of ice cream! Say whaaatt!!
Last week I found out through Instagram that California was having its first halal food fest. Since food and I are BFFs I immediately searched for the location of said event and estimated how far it is from where I live. Half an hour? Not bad. An SOS was sent to Jay and Saturday morning saw me skimping on breakfast to make extra room for all the delicious halal food I was going to ingest.
We reached an hour and a half after the fest started. The stalls didn’t accept cash. We had to buy tokens that were sold at the two ends. In order to use time efficiently Jay and I each stood in one of the lines. The place was busy but as soon as the lines got smaller they ran out of tokens. We had to wait a good twenty minutes until they were replenished.
There were a decent number of food stalls – Indian food, Thai, South African and a BBQ place, cupcakes, shaved ice and bean pies. I felt the number of stalls for the amount of people that turned up was less. We had to stand in long lines to buy the food and longer lines for pick up. But I had come for my chicken wings and I would get them come hell or high water!
The South African chicken wings from New Africa Kitchen, Oakland were freshly fried and delicious. I gobbled them up while waiting in line for burgers from the newly opened King’s BBQ and Grill, Fremont. The people making the burgers and the girls in charge were extremely efficient. I was looking forward to try the brisket but they were sold out.
We had a few more tokens left and ideally I would spend them on more meat but it was around 1.00 pm by then and the lines were insane! Instead we had a Caramel Scotch cupcakes at Rajabelle’s. The frosting was on point! So decadent! Definitely one of the best cupcakes I’ve had.
The last few tokens were spent on Hawaiian shaved ice which was a fancy version of the humble Indian gola, except you could get three flavors in one serving.
Overall I had a pretty fun time at the Halalfest. I just feel some aspects could have been better organized like the seating area and crowd management, but apart from that it was good for a first time event. I can’t wait for next year!
Below are some pictures I managed to click. There aren’t too many pictures of food as I was either busy eating them or buying them.