Californian musings

In the middle of settling down at our new house in Socal (South California), thanksgiving, black Friday, forest fires and the such…we did meander around South California…An insight

Temecula, the place where we live, is beyond the white specked cliffs as you drive north from San Diego to LA on the I 15 (see my previous blog….). The town that borders it on the North is Murietta and down South is just hills & desert. West of the Temecula town is the French Valley vineyards where prospectors and amateur wine hobbyists and wine pros (ala French kiss – what a great movie that was!!) vie to set up the winner farm and reap a good grape harvest to bottle it. We have never been there; it is a plan for a future weekend with nothing better to do, probably go ballooning as well. It was in Temecula that Erle Stanley Gardener decided to settle down some years ago when driving on the old 395 in 1937. Legend has it that his dog ‘Ripp’ started howling his head off and Gardener stopped to let it loose for a break. The dog would simply not step back in. Gardener looked around and said ‘well, dog you seem to have a point, this is a nice place to settle down’ or something to that effect. He purchased large tracks of land, many thousand acres and lived here for many many years…For those who don’t know this chap(you have missed a lot), he was the author of the great Perry mason – Paul drake books (82 of them - sold 350 million)!! Well, Temecula is a nice medium sized American town with all the usual shops and malls, decent schools, great weather (except summer where it rivals (?) any desert temperature).

As we are located virtually midway between San Diego and Los Angles, it takes a good 60-70 miles drive to reach either city. No real Desi crowd in Temecula, though we have a Sardar running a provision shop, son running an Indian restaurant and a second Indian restaurant
Niti’s to rival. So week ends are spent driving to Mira Mesa at the outskirts of San Diego for provisions and some Desi Khana! Or to distant Artesia which is the real desi place.

Get off 91W to hit
Artesia, the little India… Woodlands, Annapurna, Tirupathi Bhima, Shaan, Ambala sweets and so on and so forth line the Pioneer blvd. Here is where the LA Desis come on weekends to shop, eat (yes, Paan available) and see movies. As you would expect bars are hard to come by though you can get Kingfisher beer or other Indian beer on the tables. The latest desi movies are released here and a good number of us come by to cheer Shah Rukh and Hritik at their antics. After the movie you amble off to the Tirupathi Bhima to see a line waiting patiently to get in. It is easier at Udupi cafĂ©…but then if you want a good biryani, try Shaan. Provision shops vie to get your attention, you see signs like 230V AC items available, we convert NTSC to PAL etc…to pander to those who want to take stuff home on their holidays as they are expected to..Saree shops, jewellery all line the streets, neons glowing at night…Little India Artesia is neater & better organized compared to its counterparts in Chicago or New Jersey. It was here that we found John and his Kerala store. Not a man of cheerful countenance, John was soon grumbling about the diversity & factionalism in Kerala about how the Malabarian will avoid Travancore food and so on, and the reasons why one should not start a Mallu hotel (one state 10 different food cultures). He has a point though!!

The people…you see a good number of Mexicans in this part of the world. I am really surprised, many of the Mehican (that is how Mexican is pronounced) girls look similar to Indians, wonder where & when the lineage converged. The men are a different matter though; they are swarthy and fierce looking, or glum depending on the situation. Driving in the LA area is daunting, neither traffic nor drivers are orderly or friendly, it takes a while to adjust to the multi track roads and multiple exits on these freeways. You do need a good big car or else the bigger one will try its best to intimidate you on the road. The Americans here seem to be of a better disposition compared to their brethren in the East of the country, taking life more easy.

Black Friday went by the way it should, Arun and I covered all the electronics stores by noon, Bestbuy, Circuit city, CompUSA, Radioshack, Walmart. That is the day when big sales & discounts are announced and Americans go crazy, lining up from the early hours of the morning. It is fun (my kind, I guess) though and you do get good bargains, not just on computer and electronic goods, but also clothes & home items.

Then there were the forest fires, a common occurrence in Socal. We had one close by where many acres were burnt down overnight – deliberate arson. The smoke was horrendous, while driving back from office; I could see the sky going hazy and the ash dropping on the cars, driven through the hills by a stiff wind. You could smell smoke in the car and outside for a couple of days.

Yes, it looks like we are settling down to Californian life fast, after a two year sojourn in the UK…

Pictures - Wikipedia


Anonymous said...

hey bud,
i have been reading your blog for long time.
good to see that u r in us.
I like to be Anonymous but i can say that i am from calicut and a mallu who has worked and across the globe.

Maddy said...

hi stranger - thanks for the comment and nice to hear that u hv been following my blog for a while..keep reading, plenty more to come