Yesterday was a day out with the Fey Norris Gallery director and his wife and tiny infant daughter. They picked us up from our hotel at 9 in the morning and we started with a breakfast in the mission district, at a bakery that is famed for it's amazing food. People spill out of it's doors and there is hardly any room to sit at the tiny tables that are squashed against the wall. The bustle of jostling elbows and hot chocolate served in bowls, as is the tradition of the French, was a lovely kick start to the day out.
With our host leading the way on his Yamaha motorcycle, leather jacket and all, and the rest of us in the Honda 4 wheel drive; we set off with Surendran as the baby-sitter in the back seat with little Siri, who should receive the best behaved baby award of the year! We drove to the Red Wood forest over the golden gate bridge, which somehow didn't hold the "spectacularity"(!) I had envisaged from all the Hollywood hype it has received through the years. Also I stupidly imagined it would be painted gold in colour!!!!
The Red Wood Forest is a space that holds silence and magic, and you become dwarfed and insignificant standing under the intimidating scale of these giant trees. The strong fragrance of bay leaves assault you, and for those of us who use them in cooking, it holds the strains of a nostalgia that wraps you back into your grandmothers aprons, in metaphorical memories that are preciously private. The quiet of these surroundings are honoured by all who are umbrellaed by the shaded shadows of these magnificent trees, and who silently walk in ceremonial like lines whist paying homage to these wise elders, in meditative self-reflection.
The landscape of the city of San Francisco is hilly, and because of the strict building laws it has maintained a shallow skyline as most of it's vista; with only small clusters of occasional sky- scrappers reminding you that it is indeed America that this city belongs to! These laws have not been prompted by the fact of San Francisco being an earth-quake zone, because Japan too has such similar geographical fault line and yet the Japanese have built massive architectural buildings that are linear and deify gravity (!), incorporating technology that withstands the assault of these natural disasters. Though some city dwellers here would lobby for more innovative architectural experimentation's in San Francisco, I must say that I rather delight in the conservative caution that has kept this city able to breath in ways that are hard to come by in most other urban centers. There is also hardly any pollution which is perhaps the best gift of all to receive as a visitor.
At around 2 we stopped at a beautiful English pub to have a quaint lunch. I ate the most delectable fresh salmon on a bed of lightly cooked spinach, with baked farmers potatoes that had been drizzled with a vinaigrette that was tart without it being over powering. I think Vir Sanghvi too would have been rather impressed by this wholesome but finely flavoured cuisine! I of course have to mix and match food (!), so I stole from the collective plate of cheeses to wipe up the residue of dressing on my plate, as well as dunked some crisply fried potato wedgies into an apple chutney that tasted completely divine. Should I say heaven visited earth in that moment?!
We came back to our hotel by 4.30 and then wandered around the streets, bobbing in and out of stores to poke around the Christmas fare that winks and blinks its charm at you. The only purchase of the day was a gift for missy Begum! Oh stop that raised eye-brow look all of you!!!! Of course she heads the gift list!!!! What did you imagine!!!! My alphabet only begins with the letter B!
Today we are all packed and ready to head out to Montalavo Art Centre. My dream of being no where near a kitchen for a month has been crashed to the ground (!!!) as the Centre only provides an evening dinner from Monday to Friday. All other meals are to be self generated. I will have to see whether there are any possibilities of take-outs, order-in facilities or nearby restaurants. The Residency management have not been very clear or articulate in defining the structures of what conveniences to expect too well, so it will have to be a see and adapt process for us. I am quite happy with my instant noodles fix for a meal. It is Surendran who will be out on a limb, on a sandwich trail treasure hunt perhaps!!!!
With the temperature turning hotter each day I look in horror at the woollies that I have packed! Oh well, live and learn is my motto!!!!