27

Dating Tales : Boy 3 : Date 1

I think sometime in October, I got very frustrated with something (or someone, we can say) and I hopped back on Coffee meets Bagel, a dating app for a brief 5-6 days. I wanted to get back on it, but I had a nagging belief that if I focus on one person, maybe it will work. But I realized it was not meant to be. I realized I need a man, and not a boy. And I want a story, not just a chapter anymore. Such a nice dialogue! I should be a writer. Or a columnist. I digress.

So, to cut a short story shorter, I started talking to a guy from the app. I liked him basically because he is a Phd and has 2 big dogs. Yes, that’s my criteria, no judging. I have been talking to him on and off since then. We have exchanged pictures of Moony and his two dogs that are huge and absolutely adorable. He asked me to meet several times when he was taking his dogs to the beach or to dog parks, but I usually had something or the other. Finally, I texted him if he was free on Wednesday and met him yesterday.

This was an interesting date. For one, there was no food involved, and I was honestly glad about it. I met him at a park near my gym after my work out and I wasn’t even dressed up and all that. I was in my workout gear and two sweaters(it was cold!). I did take pains to dab my face clean in the gym locker room and put on some kajal and mascara and some perfume. But that was about it. I reached the park and he got there after 5 minutes and then I met his dogs! And, err, him.

So, to protect any detection, I am going to call the dogs Miss and Mister. Miss was a 50 lb dog that was found on the street as a stray(suspiciously left by owners), starving at 20 lbs. She has the most pleadingly adorable eyes ever and comes to you every so often to look and stare and ask for re-assurance. Mister is a gentle giant and way bigger than her, like a horse, with the saddest droopiest eyes that fool everyone. He loves the outdoors but gets tired easily. He was turned to the shelter after some neighbors spotted him in a foreclosed home. Mister has not seen starvation and streets but Miss has and he said that is the reason that Mister will walk out of open door and car windows but Miss will not. It broke my heart to hear that. 😦

We spoke a lot while walking around. He was not boring. He made some jokes about me and him and the dogs and told me funny stories from Indiana and here. I told him some of my goofy stories and he laughed at appropriate places. It was a nice long walk, and I had worked on my legs at the gym, but I did not complain. I was walking Miss while he had Mister and I did not get bored at any point. He is a Telugu guy from Mumbai, and seems to have quite a cosmopolitan approach. The best part is, he LOVES dogs and even volunteers at the Orange County shelter and I have told him that I want to sign up as well. He is also a vegetarian. One attractive thing about him is that he is very well educated. I always like that in a man and that is somewhat of a turn on. Ooh, he is also moving to the apartment complex just across the street where I have recently moved.

About feelings, I don’t know if I am attracted to him. I have definitely struck a chord with him, but regarding turning it into a romance, we don’t know. Only time can tell. If you are wondering how and why, when I already have Anuroop(the wedding portal) looming closer and closer, let me tell you, that I will not give up trying to find someone on my own. The medium could be a website or an app, or through friends. Not in a bar, definitely not, I am just not that person. And through friends also seems questionable, because I have shamelessly asked Abhi if he has any single friends, and he suggested ONE person VJ who is poles apart and very brother like and funny. Hehe. Nobody has suggested anyone else. Or they all think I am too messed up to ruin someone’s life, I don’t know. 😦 Then there are boys who can’t or won’t hit on their friend’s friend or friend’s sisters. I think I am just ranting now, so I will stop before it turns into a full blown angry monologue. Again.

  

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2

Travelogue : Sequoia National Park

I think I am a medium sized human. I am not super short, but I am not tall. I look like a mid size girl(I don’t think I am ready to be called ‘woman’ yet) at almost 5’ 4”. But I felt really, really tiny standing next to the massive Sequoia trees that form the forests of Sequoia National Park. I wish I was taller. Like just an inch more, or two.

It was Madhuri’s happy budday on Thursday and her boy DD decided to surprise her by flying over from Connecticut. He had taken Abhi, Nish and me  into confidence and we planned a nice little day trip to Sequoia and King’s national park on Saturday. We reached LA on Friday night and prepped for the next day which had to begin early to utilize all the daylight we had. I was up at 4.30 am to shower and we left at 6.45 or so after a Starbucks pitstop. We also took a lovely breakfast break where we had enough breakfast for all the king’s men. We had scrambled eggs, green omelets, toasts, pancakes, biscuits, hash browns, fresh orange juice between the 5 of us. Thanks to that, I was knocked out in the car for almost an hour. The food, and car’s movements and the never ending road is enough to push me into a deep stupor.

The drive to Sequoia is about 4 hours from LA. The road is beautiful because it is lined with huge orange tree farms. We even saw some farms owned by Halos that supply tangerines/clementines/’cuties’ to Walmart and such. At one point, we even got out, took pictures and stole 3 oranges. I had a very terrifying thought of a sniper up in the tree waiting to shoot trespassers, thanks to DD and Abhi.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we reached Sequoia. By the way I have to totally mention that I did not like the way the visitor center lady refused to give me a map. I am not sure how much it costs them, but they may as well print out a non-glossy plain version to hand out to people if they are so worried. It really pissed me off. But I also blame my hormones for over-reacting. I was in a lot of pain, and very moody. 😦

After driving up another little bit to the visitor center, Nisha spotted a sign about gas and that prompted her to ask if we had enough gas in the car. Turned out, we had barely enough to drive back to the gas station. So that cancelled our plan to go to the King’s but that was fine because we were anyways going to run out of daylight by 4.30 pm. There was no point in going to King’s and drive down those winding slopes in the dark.

At Sequoia, we did a little hike in the woods to go to this Tunnel Log which has been carved out of a massive fallen tree to let vehicles pass. They say that they never move the trees and let nature take its own course. Some of the trees have been there for almost 2000 years! A few witnesses say that the tree suddenly starts to snap and the roots make a huge sound like thundering avalanche and that’s when the tree falls. It is all a matter of minutes. I would rather not stray in that tree’s path. There was also an interesting point about forest fires and how natural fires are beneficial to the eco-system. Due to man-made activities, these fires have become rarer and more dangerous. So rangers start controlled fires to help in boosting the ecological balance of the Sequoia and Redwood trees. Oooh, and there are bears in the area. Also, we spotted a deer from very close in the car!

There was a foot of snow on the sides but the roads were clean. Some parts had the frozen, slippery snow, but it was okay to walk as long as you were careful. We were driving an all wheel drive SUV, so we did not need snow chains as well.

Some pictures form the park:

Pointers:

  1. There are campgrounds at the start of the national park and we plan to go back there to camp overnight in the spring. It is beautiful and very green.
  2. There is no gas for 40 miles inside the Park, so definitely put gas in the car before you enter the park. It doesn’t hurt to have a full tank.
  3. Keep in mind the amount of daylight you have if you plan to go hiking and plan your spots to see accordingly.
  4. Carry your camera and wide lens(if you have them). Beautiful opportunities to capture a very different landscape.
  5. Wear waterproof shoes with good grip. I wore boots but without any grip. But thankfully, I did not fall.
  6. There is nothing inside the park to eat. Or at least I did not see any café or restaurant. We carried potato fry and bread to make sandwiches. So, stock up accordingly.
6

Travelogue : Death Valley

Thanksgiving. Long weekend. Get out of town. That’s the mantra we seem to be following these days. Any long weekend or vacation spent at home is akin to a crime.

My holidays started pretty much when a very old friend from college Sayali came over to my part of the country to catch up on our friendship and enjoy her vacation. We had a blast, went to Las Vegas, clubbed, gambled, boozed and did the usual Vegassy stuff. After coming back to Orange County, we visited the local beaches which were too cold to be enjoyed thoroughly. Yet we had a great time sitting on top of the lifeguard’s post and talking.

Thanksgiving dinner was had at my buddy Shawn and Alicia’s where food was served to us in quantities that will put an elephant’s diet to shame. I am still eating leftovers and I am still set for two more meals.

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One of the very exciting things that I did was to go to the Death Valley National Park with Abhi and Nisha. It is one of the largest national parks in the country and is a huge expanse of flat lands and mountains, a lot of it actually below the sea level. The say that Death Valley is the land of extremes. The temperatures range from 120 F in summers to 20 F in winters, which is around 48 C and sub-zero. Also, you get to see extremely beautiful night skies with the milky band. It was a few nights after full moon, yet we could see a gazillion stars just at 7 pm. My skin tingles at the thought of a moonless night over there. And a date. Meh.

We stayed at the Panamint Springs Resort which is a family owned resort with a few rooms, pre-built tents, RV hookup sites and campgrounds. It is an old and basic arrangement but worked very well for us. The restaurant had vegetarian options in pizzas and burgers and a couple of appetizers. Nothing fancy considering that it was a friggin’ remote location with ZERO cell service. Yep. No internet. No phone. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

We stayed in the lodge on Friday night after a 4 hour drive from OC to Panamints springs area. The drive was rough with a lot of unpaved roads as would be commonplace in such an area. In the next couple of days, we enjoyed quite a few Death Valley massages as Abhi called ‘em gravel-ey roads. We ate and slept, prepared for a an early day. We had some sumptuous buffet breakfast on both the days with pancakes, scrambled eggs, cereal, croissants and such. On Saturday, we set out to cover most of the sightseeing in the area.

There are two things worth mentioning. First, I was awed by the sand dunes. They were so beautiful! Now, I have an itch to go back to Rajasthan in India to see the desertlands. For the nerds interested, scenes from Star Wars have been shot at those Sand Dunes in the Death Valley. We walked quite a bit in those dunes to get to a nice high point and then returned with scoops of sand in our shoes, socks, jeans, yep.

The second point of interest that I loved was Badwater. It is a highly salty marshy area with encrusted soil on top as of now because of the heat and is about 300 ft below sea level. The history says that a traveler thought it was a good spot for his mule to have a sip of water but the mule refused to drink it. So, he named it Badwater. The water is so saline that only a few special aquatic creatures like this bunch of weird snails can survive there. To maintain ecological balance, straying off the boardwalk is not permitted. By the way, there is also a Badwater marathon for idiots who like to run in extreme weather conditions and die. Count me out.

Leaving you guys with some pictures I took during the trip.

Pointers:

  1. September-November seems to be a great time and so is spring. Any other time will ensure that you will either boil or freeze to death.
  2. Come prepared for some walking and bring your hiking shoes. Each point is atleast half a mile away from the parking lot with some good hiking loops around.
  3. Bring plenty of water. Don’t be too fussy about food if you are a vegetarian and be prepared to eat same meals. It is not a place to expect buffets.
  4. If you are a social media or smartphone addict, you are screwed.
  5. Bring all your camera equipment. The place is indeed beautiful for photography and astronomy enthusiasts.
  6. Book lodging or camping grounds well in advance. It seems to get full real fast, especially for long weekends.
  7. Do an estimate of the amount of daylight you will have and the places you want to see. Pace yourself accordingly.
  8. Forget everything above and let Abhi and Nisha plan, so that you can sleep in the backseat. 😀