We had an absolutely humdinger of a great day in San Francisco yesterday! Our friends bundled us into their seven-seater car at 11.30 am, and took us for a real magical mystery tour! However, before I start I have to first salute the absolute selfless love and affection that our new Cupertino family embraces us with! It has been such a special feeling for Surendran and me; and we are delighting in every minute of the fun and sharing that this new friendship unfolds. It is my firm belief that only Indians know the capacity to love and share without ever keeping a hissab. But our new friends set standards of caring that are truly unparalleled.
The magic started off in the Mission District of San Francisco. Off the 16th street, tucked into it's corner is this lovely church popularly known as Mission Delores. You enter and exist from their tiny little gift shop, where you are greeted by the warmth of the volunteers. My sister, who had flown down to SF to be with us for Surendran's exhibition opening, had purchased a wooden crafted Mexican sculpture of the Madonna from this shop, and so I too wanted to buy the same sculpture (for my catholic memorabilia collection), so that we both would have the same object in our respective homes as a connective memory! The church is spectacularly beautiful with its wooden carved idols and interior decorated with paint and gold leaf; and you are instantly awed into silence by the magnificence of craftsmanship. The larger church that is by it's side, where larger congregations obviously gather, is filled with the most divine light that comes from the sumptuous stained glass windows that filter light into this place of prayer Outside is an intimate cemetery where the mortal remains of worshipers were laid to rest from the earliest days of the Mission, until the 1890's; and their silent stories whisper themselves to you, as you sit on the bench and rest for a while with them.
The De Young Museum was like a treasure box that we wanted to greedily devour, once we got there! With an exterior that is in burnished copper, this building stands opposite to the Science museum. One of the largest museums in SF, the De Young houses an amazing display of African art and the extensiveness of their collection is quite spectacular. Beautifully curated, each room is filled with objects that hanker for ones' attention and one feels almost intoxicated from the headiness of sheer bliss and wonderment!
We were fortunate to get tickets to view the special exhibition currently there which is an extensive Post-Impressionist show; and though packed to capacity we wandered amidst "old friends" with memories of interludes with them in other locations; and at different times of our own learning. As conversation with "old friends" go, there is always a banter that ensues which holds aspects of older conversations with new perceptions, vying and nudging for attention. Renoir is still kept at an arms length by me; and Cezanne continues to find new tricks of temptation that lure one to engage with closer consideration all over again! Lautrec holds an edginess which comes from the disdain with which he could mock at himself through his art, as well as the world around him; whilst Van Gogh and his deep hunger of life, holds my attention by the sheer nakedness of his struggle to survive.
We visited an exhibition of local art that was sadly disappointing but the dinner before at the famous Nanking Chinese restaurant was mouth watering; and the ice cream treat at legendary Ghirardelli Ice Cream and chocolate room at SF bay, was sinful. And then the delightful rummage through a shop on the walk back to the car that yielded a hand crafted tiger object from Indonesia!....what more could the lass from Vadodara ask for?!!! Surendran was equally like the Cheshire cat as he had his quota of pure blissful time in a wonderful book shop in the Italian quarter called City Lights. You can imagine what a treasure trove it was because Surendran actually turned to me and said:" Take me away before I buy more"!!!!
We were quite startled to see the streets of San Francisco dotted with Santa Clauses of every shape and size and gender! On enquiry we were told it is a yearly ritual to have this day on which from 1 in the afternoon people dress up as Santa Claus and basically have a mad party that spreads all over the town. Well there were many weaving Santas; and I think some dumped their sacks in all the merriment of the occasion that certainly appeared to be in abundance!
Finally like two over indulged children our wonderful hosts and their beautiful twin daughters dropped us home at 11.30 pm! Staggering up the path way, with all our shopping parcels, it certainly felt like a Christmas treat in advance with two secret Santa's from India seeing that we had one hell of a good time!