Adventures on the Left Coast
It all started with a reminder from my dear friend about the timing of my flight. The not so short of it is that my flight was not at the regular time in the am but a generally normal time 11:45. Who would have thought? It’s a good thing I send my itineraries to my friends and family so that they can remind me that I am subconsciously planning to miss a flight by hours or days. As I prepped for another trip, I began to realize what a shit show I had signed myself up for. Initially I had only prepared myself to attend the christening of my god-daughter Jaden in Northern California then return to NYC to enjoy free summer music and spiked punch. Then I would travel to the land of fantasy (southern California) for some family bonding and bhangra dancing. After not too much time, I was politely reminded that my lovely sister was completing her long-awaited (this is said with love of course) undergrad journey. Now this caught me by surprise for many reasons but primarily for the reason that the graduation was taking place on a holiday weekend where tickets were sky-high (little did I know that this would not be the last of my airplane ticket problems). Sooooo…it finally hit me on my trip to Southern California that I had effectively taken almost all forms of transportation over a period of 6 days. What I love about New York City is public transportation. What I hate about Southern California is public transportation or should I say the lack of it. After accepting the fact that I would be renting a car for way too much money, I set out to take the 1.5 million freeways and roads to arrive in the inland empire. At this, I realized what I love about Southern California: driving and chain restaurants. I arrived in the Inland Empire (IE) in less time than I expected and was able to meet up with my same same but different friend. We had out typical late lunch at Mimi’s and she reminded me of her love language. My friend always leaves me in awe of how she can remember to give little wonderful things that make you feel happy inside. I often admire her for this and love that she explains it as part of her cultural training. Well I have lots to learn and maybe one day can adopt this trait. We chat and make plans for more fun then head to our respective places of rest. I am astonished to find that my favorite little Southern California cousins are now almost taller and smarter than me. Now hanging out with these two I learn so much but soon must retire to the land of mindless television watching. YYYYYEEAAAAHHHHH!!!! As I wake up to drive to little India in Orange County I am too excited to get a sari top made and hopefully find some pretty jewelery. What I don’t realize is that I am in for the culinary trip of a lifetime. While shopping my friend and I receive a bunch of random looks as we being to explore Artesia. I guess I forgot to mention that while I as you know am African-American, my friend is a 5 foot 2 (and im probably being generous) Indonesian-Chinese woman. When you see us walking into the store you probably wonder how we became friends but you also wonder how we found little India. Well thankfully we had a friend that introduced us to India in a major way and ever since then we have been in love with all things, well basically one thing Indian: SARIS.
We search and search and upon us entering our first shop a woman whispers to us after we realize that it will be way too much money to get a sari top made in 1 day that we should just take out a couple of the stitches in my top and we will be just fine (it turns out that this is the best freaking advice in the history of the world – or at least it seemed like it at the time). After we get this advice we are strictly looking for my second love: bangles. After recognizing that my “skinny wrists” are too big for the bangles I selected we walk and walk and walk and walk until we find the perfect bangles and my friend finds the perfect jewelery set. Wondering and wondering we realize that we are a bit hungry. I see a sign for a South Indian Vegetarian Buffet (Udupi Palace) and this is where we enter HEAVEN. Now I am often accused of being a vegetarian while I have a piece of chicken in my mouth but my friend is a certified vegetarian who sometimes wanders into the realm of pescatarianism. Anywho, we walk into the buffet and immediately the host asks us: “hello ladies, did you know that this is an all vegetarian restaurant?” we both reply that we know and I promptly ask for aloo gobi. Now this man is patient cause he explains to me that it’s not on the menu but that we will receive a number of other choices. Im ok with it and we sit down. I am immediately confused because I do not see a buffet anywhere. My puzzled stank eye face then quickly changes into a face of happiness as a silver tray is placed in front of both me and my friend. On our little silver trays are 4 small silver cups. All of a sudden people start coming out of the kitchen with chapatis, fried balls with corn, puris, okra, lentils, a yellow curry, a red curry and the most delicious mango something that I have ever tasted. I am delighted because I LOVE LOVE LOVE this okra and can’t stop eating it. My friend is sooo happy with her lentils. After packing ourselves to the max we are informed that we will now need to select a dessert. I am in shock and awe. My friend selects rose ice cream with basil seeds (I still don’t know what exactly these basil seeds are) and I select a yogurt dessert that has cardamom some other strong spice and pistachios. Once again I cant stop eating the yogurt with my mango something. All in all we finish our meal with huge smiles on our faces and are very happy with our early day of shopping, exploring and eating. I would recommend that if in Southern California you check out Artesia. The people were wonderful (i even double paid on accident for my jewelry and was called directly by the shop owner and sent a check for the amount that I overpaid – this happened almost 2 weeks later and without my prompt). Shingar Fashions, we love you!!! :)I also recommend that when you are there you try this south indian “buffet” with a wonderful Nepalese waiter that has more than his share of stories. Don’t forget to take as many forms of transportation to get there. It only took a train, airplane, bus, airplane shuttle and wedding to get me there.
Peace B. Still,
I will leave you with one of my favorite songs inspired by my dear friend…we are same same no different?!