8

Of San Diego State, past life and ‘Kardashan’ business…

Whole of last week, I have been sick. I discovered that I am allergic to the smell of roasting atta(wheat flour) that my mom was prepping to cook something. In 5 minutes, my throat started closing down, my nose got blocked and I developed a sore throat that resembled a cat post after the kitty is done filing her nails. Ugghh. I went to work on and off. On Friday my dad texted me if we could go to San Diego on Saturday to see the University. I had already thought of going to either LA or San Diego for a day trip, so it sounded great. Except, I was still sick and feeling like death. Sheesh.

But when I woke up on Saturday morning, I felt great! Except for the coughing, I felt fittum-fine. And then we headed to San Diego at 11 am and then we hit horrible traffic making sure that we took 2.5 hours to finish our journey of 1.5 hours. But we had carried homemade paratha and potato fry (Indian tacos to the rescue for non-Indians!) to calm our hungry tummies. What was intended to be a picnic food at San Diego State was consumed in the car like road-tripping!

We finally reached University and I could feel flowers blooming inside me when the campus came into view. It still looks and feels just the same. 🙂 Wave upon wave of nostalgia hit me, but it was all good stuff. I could see me yelling at Brian to put his shirt on while walking to the International Student center(It is California and people walk around shirtless in summer, even at school). I could see the East Commons where lab peeps and I sat eating our lunch boxes and Adam accusing me of eating cat food/porridge. There were the famed golf carts around that groundkeepers used, which the xBF also used to trim plants, to change trash can liners, and to give me rides. Not kidding, he has picked me up from engineering building, just to show me giant snails in the gardens, because I love looking at slugs(Go Figure.) Once he was working in flower area with his older non-desi co-workers and he cut up some fresh roses and tied them up with Aluminum foil for me. His buddies teased him about his ‘moves’ to red hot embarrassment that day! And of course the library! Where I studied less, and took naps more/ watched shows/ collaborated on assignments with Karen. Then there was Educational Opportunities Office, where I worked for 2 years as a tutor to undergrad Mechanical and Civil Engineering students, that helped me ease the burden on my parents and enabled me to pay for rent and school.

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The iconic Hepner Hall…

It was a Saturday and I was not expecting anything to be open, leave alone Professors being there. But I took a chance and we went to see my Engineering building. Surprisingly, the door was unlocked. We got in and I took my parents to the Department, showed them the lab from outside, and even my first classroom! On a whim, I walked into the faculty area and ran into Prof. B who taught me a couple of classes. He recognized me right away and met the folks too. Being a true Indian, his second question was if I got married?! And then he went on to tell that parents need not worry, I will find a great boy. Haha! He was super nice and he offered to show them my lab. He said he will let Prof. M know later. Ooh we even spoke about our current mutual friends. 😉 You know who you are.

By a giant stroke of luck, he also let me know that Prof. M was at school today since the Research Symposium was on. I have participated in that when I was at school so I knew Prof. M would stick around till the last talk and key note was done. So, after we were done with the lab, we headed towards the library  where I was looking for the presentations. I saw a girl in a business skirt walking across the campus and I decided to ask her if the Symposium was still going on. She told me that the key note had just ended and it was at the Student Union. We almost ran there as I kept my eyes peeled. And sure enough, I reached the stairs and Prof. M was coming down! He stopped, did a double take and got mad excited to see me. 🙂 We spoke over there for almost half an hour, took pictures and then said good bye.

The folks and I got some coffee from the Aztec market and finally sat down. What had started off as a generally mundane Saturday had turned into an extremely fruitful visit to San Diego State. My professor, who is never at school on Saturday, met us, we saw the Lab, and we saw my old spots where I had left tiny pieces of me behind. My dad says visiting the University was at the highest spot in his list. He was very overwhelmed with emotions. SDSU is truly where it all started as far as my career is concerned and we shall be forever grateful.

I also successfully managed to put my finger into the Koi fishes’ mouth. Just like old times.

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Topping off the evening, we headed to Abhi and Nish on our way back where I learned Pav can be made from scratch and can be more scrumptious than store bought ones. After a fabulous meal of Pav Bhaji and tawa pulav and avocado custard, we set off for home. Mumbai ki galiyon se(Off the streets of Mumbai) should be Nisha’s kitchen’s name till she decides to open her food business.

I learned about another thing on Saturday night while watching TV at home. My very Indian mother who has been in the US for only one and a half month recognized this picture below as the person who is ‘Kardashan’ husband, father of North, insulted a blonde girl and is CRAZY! I think we have hit apocalypse and some magazine stories need to be banned.

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This generation is screwed.

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9

Last few days of summer…

Last weekend I went to San Diego and had a fabulous time!

I joined a couple of friends to go for the La Jolla seven cave tour by kayaking. It was a very hot day and I have tanned almost 4 shades darker even with a gallon of sunscreen on me. But it was all worth it.

The tour guide took us into the sea where Amru and I were on a kayak and her husband and brother were on another. Our arms were absolutely in pain by the end of it. But you know what the cherry on top of the cake was? I along with Amru’s husband, jumped off the kayak into the sea!

After the tour was done, the guides took us to a nice spot faaaaaaaar from the beach. We could see leopard sharks and sea turtles swimming in the ocean and we could see some dolphins and sea lions a li’l further away. They told us that we could swim there if we wanted. Everyone was really hesitant. I could see Ninad wanted to do it, so I egged him on! 😀 I mean, we had our life jackets as well. And he jumped! I looked at him, and slipped off my kayak too, although carefully, because I did not want to get my contacts wet.

I have done snorkeling before, which was a mindblowing experience as well, but this time, I was much more further into the ocean. The hard part was getting back into the kayak. It took all my core strength and mad, furious kicking into the water to hoist myself up. I managed that and was sprawled b*tt up, in the kayak, while Amru balanced the boat, for a good 10 exhausted minutes. At some point, a great white shark did cross my mind. They often have a sighting of one and have to close the beach down. Anyhoo, thank God there were none while I was dangling from the kayak.

The water was just the right temperature. So amazing and a beautiful blue. Usually, the Pacific is very cold, saving for July to September.

Swimming in the deep blue sea is one point checked off from my bucket list.

After the kayaking session, I had plans of going for Dandiya with Abhi and Nisha and their few friends. But we ended up canning it in favor of going to watch Haider. The movie is like an onion. It has so many layers to it. A fabulous example of oedipal complex, the movie has quite a bit of shock factor. A lot of people are pissed off that the censor board released a movie showing the Army in a bad light. I don’t think it was necessarily trying to show the army in a bad light. Now, it is what it is. There have been many cases where AFSPA has been mis-used. We have heard of plenty of cases from Kashmir, North-East, and the tribal areas. Also, those ^#%$&@% terrorists and militants have brought out the animal in everyone. Anyways, in short, I saw a movie that had some substance.

Now I just need to watch Bang Bang in the coming week. 😛

18

Sketching characters

I was talking to Moo the other day about Mumbai and I told her how I feel some cities have such a character built into them and it is very easy to think of it in a particular way. Both of us have lived or are living in a place which is like a mixed pot and doesn’t have that ‘backstory’. The very next day, my conversation with Tatsat lead us to the same route. He said that even if places are different, people are the same. Well, I am still drawing up my conclusions about that. I have had very bitter experiences with people from a certain region at different points in my life. I cant help but judge, but still I would rather not. I am still learning. I have had sets of similar experiences from people where they belong to a particular city/state. But I am not sure if i want to generalize. Just for the heck of it, I thought if my favorite cities were people of my age-group, how would they be….

Pune : Full of youth and gossip, who dresses up in jeans/shorts and a cute top daily, club wear on weekends, and in beautiful suits and sarees complete with bangles and bindi on every festival. Knows how to balance late night movies with classes early morning. Goes with parents for Ganpati darshan and enjoys walking on the streets of Camp with a litchi juice from Marzorin. Is a pro at balancing the old with the new.

New Delhi : Walks around in an artfully ripped jeans and kurta and goes for cold beer-clubbing and lassi-tikka nights with equal gusto. Enjoys jogs early in the morning at India Gate and goes shopping at the high-end retail store as well as cheaps out for the trendiest stuff at Sarojini nagar. Can quote Marx and Premchand at the drop of a hat. CP and Def Col have a special place in their hearts. Goes to weddings in bling that can put Jay-Z to shame.

Mumbai : Has learnt to jump from the running local train in high heels, laughing along with the gajra clad bank-aunty who gets in daily at the borivali station. Loves having corn at Marine Drive and enjoys wine tasting festivals. Plans for Goa/Lonavala/Matheran trips every month with friends. Binge-watches Game of Thrones and has mastered the art of ignoring daddy when he goes ‘aa su che/ he kay aata naveen/ kya hai yeh/ what is that!’

San Diego : Switches up between dreadlocks and free flowing curls every now and then, irrespective of gender. Shorts with flip flops is a staple costume, be it at school or working at Qualcomm. An 18 deg C temperature needs a hoodie and a 21 deg C temperature require shedding of clothes. Usually has a wide selection of barbecue material and sunscreens. Home will usually have a bong, surfboard, classical rock record collection. Avocados are treated as lovers.

New York City : Has mastered the art of calling a taxi, while balancing an ipad, a newspaper, a bagel and a Dunkin’ Donut/Starbucks coffee cup. Teeters around in sharp suits and Jimmy Choos on weekdays and takes lunch breaks in the Central Park. Enjoys mimosas and brunches on weekends. Knows subway routes like the back of their hand, just like the distant cousin Mumbai. Enjoys art and movies and some old school hip hop dancing.

London : Can sport a blue punk rock bob and ironed straight hair with equal ease. May be seen in a leather jacket or a very classy trench coat. Enjoys reading during the tube rides and likes her tea with a hint of lemon and a dash of sugar. Has her fix of Kababs and Saag-Paneer once a week courtesy her South – Asian friends. Scoffs at ‘American slang’ on the other side of the pond. Was glued to the tv when the royal wedding was on live.

19

The city of many memories

I had a really fun weekend. Some bar hopping on Friday in Santa Ana, some super awkward dinner incidents with people who I don’t like and who don’t like me on Saturday in San Diego, giggling away with a girl friend and a new gal till 3 am and a fun Mexican lunch with half a glass of weirdly spicy margherita, turned out to be just what Dr. Life ordered.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I am in love with the city of San Diego. I just love that place. Although it makes me tear up inside every time I am there and engulfs me in nostalgia, but I simply love San Diego. It is like that torrid love affair that harms you from the inside, but is too passionate to break off. *I think I am watching a li’l too much of ‘Scandal’.* 😉 The city is splendid. I spent my Master’s years there and my last two years were some of my best times ever. The xBF and Abhi totally made my time worth all the ache that has been left later. I would not trade any of it away for anything.

I want to list down some of my absolute favorite places in the city that have given me amazing memories. If you ever visit San Diego, you should go to some of these places. Some of them can be rather touristy or just a taste of culture or could be just a balm of peacefulness. I am not even going to mention the legit beaches here, because, well, they all are ah-mazing!

  1. Seaport Village : My absolute favorite, hands down. I just love this quaint little part of San Diego harbor. It is right on the harbor line and boasts of tiny shops that sell anything from hot sauces to handmade soaps, beads and jewelry to magnets, mugs and tea cups to exotic hats and fascinators. There is this small shop that sells swings and hammocks. They don’t mind people sitting in the swings or lying down on their hammocks. The sales assistants are very friendly and usually are ready for conversations. This place has some very nice eateries as well. Nothing beats sitting at Asaggio’s with a pitcher of beer and their delicious hot cheese garlic bread. It was my date spot. Just perfect when there is a nip in the air.Image
  2. Sunset cliffs : I can sit here forever on the rocky cliffs and get drenched! It feels like someone is throwing buckets of salty water at you. The force of the water has knocked me back several times and I never come back from this place without some cuts and bruises. 😀 There are adorable little pools of water that form on the rocks and you can see an entire little sea world in those. I have a paranoia though and I am insanely afraid that a crab will come and attack me and I will die. The insanity notwithstanding, this place can be amazing if you want to sit on the cliffs and catch the sunset, or if you want to be a total nut and jump off the cliff into the Pacific. I was not allowed to even toe the waters from the edge of the rock at sea level, courtesy the paranoid xBF. “Bahu jokham che!”(Very risky, in english) Haha!Image
  3. La Jolla shores and coves : If you are into snorkeling or scuba diving, this IS the place. I have gone snorkeling here for a Tiger Shark tour, and it blew my mind! We saw sting rays, tiger sharks, so many colorful fishes that I know I will never remember the names of. It was a lot of work though because we turned up in our glasses(the snorkel gear isn’t meant for glasses), and we had to reschedule it. Thankfully I found a set of my unexpired extra contacts and the xBF had a pair too. We used those and threw them after we were done. The guide was sweet enough to hold my hand throughout because I was having real trouble breathing through my mouth. Dude, seriously! Once your face is under water, you totally forget that you have a tube in the air! It just becomes too scary and you end up gasping frantically for air! It takes some time to get used to the nausea and saltiness. But I powered through and enjoyed it immensely. The La Jolla coves is an adorable rocky and cliffy area where you can see seals lazing around shamelessly. It stinks of fish, but the sight of seals flopping around, basking in the sun or plopping down on top of each other makes up for everything. This place is a little annoying when it is cold, but is just perfect when it gets warm. There are little caves you can go to at water level. You just have to climb down the cliff for that. This also is a great spot if you like kayaking. There are many tours here.Image
  1. Point Loma : The panoramic view of the sea is spectacular here! You are surrounded by a vast expense of azure blue Pacific with teeny tiny yachts and ferries dotting the sea. I have actually been here only once when five of us had some time to return a rented car and we just wanted to skip classes that day. We did some crazy picture session in the light drizzle. There is an old lighthouse and museum here. The lighthouse was the perfect studio for even more mad pictures.Image
  2. Coronado beach and island : There is a wonderful bridge that takes you to the Coronado beach and islands. There is a rumor that the bridge was curved and not made straight, in order to get it to a particular length to qualify for federal funding! Sneaky, sneaky. Not sure how true it is though. But what is true is that it has the third highest suicide rate in USA. Anyhoo, the Coronado beach has ‘Coronado’ spelt out in plants that you can see from an airplane! The Hotel Del Coronado boasts of lodging some famous Presidents and movie stars and is known to be pretty haunted. The Coronado island has some lah-di-dah restaurants that boast of a killer view of the water and San Diego skyline.
  3. Mt. Soledad : I have been dragged here at 5.45 am in PJs, boots, a sweater and a hoodie by my sunrise/sunset crazy xBF. This is a beautiful, extremely peaceful place though. One side covers the city scape and the other has a view of the sea. Some sunrises have been pretty awesome here. Especially when it is just a little misty. This is the spot that has inspired many a bromances between the boys. *Rolling my eyes*Image
  4. Old Town : If you want to experience some delicious Mexican food and culture, that is your spot right there! Fun food, fun music and dancing and cute little shops to collect knick-knacks, make this place up.
  5. Gaslamp, Hillcrest : For the best downtown experience, Gaslamp is the place. Period. Amazing clubs, food, my favorite dessert place, Extraordinary Dessert. Hillcrest is a foodie’s and a brewery enthusiast’s delight! I think it has an extensive LGBT settlement and that gives this place a very free, happening vibe for some reason. Some of the best breweries and restaurants are located here. And, of course, San Diego is known for its amazing micro-breweries!
  6. San Diego State : My awesome campus! 😀
  7. Fashion Valley : Countless of indecisive shopping hours have been spent here. Enough said. 🙂

P.S. I have not been paid by anyone to say nice things about San Diego. If someone wants to, they are very welcome!

P.P.S. All the pictures are mine/the xBF’s. Taken by our phones or camera.