Comfortably Numb...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Recepción a San Diego, mi amigo

The drive to San Diego from Southern California is fraught with soothing visuals and a laid-back coastline that delves sporadically into the Pacific Ocean. The entry into this gorgeous city is quite unannounced and understated. Lush green meadows interspersed by hills are a recurring theme throughout the city’s expanse. Civilization is realized once you take an exit from the freeway to visit your chosen destination within the city. Armed with my brand new semi-automatic digital camera, I was salivating for photo-ops. (Preparation for the hunt involved a lengthy 2 hour rendition of my camera manual and concomitant twiddling of the multitude of knobs and settings within the quirky little opto-electronic gizmo a.k.a the Canon Powershot S2 IS.)

The first thing that you notice about this gorgeous city is its green vegetation. Almost every slope, every hill is swathed with a lush green carpet and interspersed with wild flowers and flora rouged in varying shades of green.

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My first stop was La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya), a beautiful community by the beach. It resembles the inimitable city of Monte Carlo with its rather curious geography, a juxtaposition of the beach and ridged streets set along the jagged slope of a hill. The streets jut over a bluff and face the beautiful cove that makes La Jolla a family favorite in summertime. Art galleries and expensive showrooms dominate the shopping landscape in this sunny paradise. Sidewalks are lined with the 'Californian signature' palm trees and beautifully manicured gardens replete with flowers and potted exotics. The buildings sport a sand-stone color scheme throughout the community. The intelligent choice of sandstone accentuates the colorful flora and promotes the high-end promenade quite beautifully. Expensive cars, well-heeled clientele and a sunny countnenance add to the Monte Carlo-ish legend!

(Right-click on the thumbnails and open in a new window for full-size images)

The palette of eateries is quite diverse and mouth watering. My choice of lunch was a mexican restaurant adorned with a palm thatch and a hammock for an entrance. The interiors resembled a mexican beach shack with grill-meshed windows overlooking the beach. The restaurant's functional menu lists all the regular mexican cravings i.e. Chilli rellenos, flautas, burritos, tacos and chalupas. The food was simple and tasty, but the view from the beach shack was the actual sumptuous treat!

The bright colors of the La Jolla inn in stark contrast to the emeraldine foliage and the tranquilizing azure background of the beach! The scene would have inspired Rembrandt to migrate to this paradise if not for its obscurity at that time. The blame should fall squarely on the dumb migrants, who delayed their 'Gold Rush'. 200 years too late for Rembrandt's existence to embellish this world with his virtuosity! It's a shame that California escaped the Maestro because the marriage would have yielded a breathtaking array of art...that would have left Europe to look like a desolate meadow ravaged by a thousand rampaging elephants! Ahh...the possibilities register a tingle down my spine (Sigh!!) .

A sumptous lunch devoured was followed by a gentle jaunt towards the warm, sun-kissed beach. It was a perfect day in the late 60s with just the right smattering of feathery clouds. The impish sun engrossed with it's late afternoon game of hide-n-seek with the cotton puffs. A sizeable crowd taking in the sun with their picnic baskets and family to provide succour. The sandy beach funnels into the La Jolla Cove. A sandstone cave carved out over multiple reptitions of the high-tide, carefully crafted for the young and the old alike to frolic around.

My next stop was the island of Coronado, a short drive across the bay from downtown San Diego. An island that brings back fond memories of Goa, laid-back and languid, cordial and pretty! The shops an invitation for indulgence, the promenades set in cobbled stones. If you are in a hurry, you don't belong here. A driving speed of 30+mph would be termed astronomic and rude. A perfect place for a lesuirely stroll, a steaming cup of latte' or a generous helping of your favorite ice-cream. A view point along the coast offers a magnificent view of downtown San Diego and the adjoining bay is a hub for water-sports enthusiasts and weekend sailors.

My last stop was downtown San Diego; home of the famous Gas Lamp district, Balboa Park, the MLB Franchise San Diego Padres and the NFL franchise San Diego Chargers. The cobbled sidewalks in the gas lamp district offer the perfect avenue for a romantic escapede with your paramour. The lazy mist that rolls in at dawn acts the perfect catalyst to trigger your hormones and wreak havoc in your blood stream! The choice of restaurants seem tailored for a romantic date as well, candle-lit tables for two populate the side-walks with many a charming maitre'd welcoming you to splurge your hard-earned money on their conniving establishments. Every restaurant has its own charming quirk be it live jazz music, a flamenco band or an exotic feng shui. Every element chosen craftily to foster your hormonal cataclysm and siphon exorbitant sums of cash for services that promise to bolster your courtship and weaken your finances!

There is a distinct mexican flavor to the city as it is the southern-most tip of territorial USA and leads directly into the mexican border. Can there be a better exemplification of the latin american flavor than the Cuban Cigar? Select establishments along the promenade deal with original cuban cigars. I was curious to investigate the immense hype that is perenially linked to this rarest of man's creations! What makes a cuban cigar...well, a cuban cigar? A walk around one such establishment enlightented my inadequate faculties! To learn about the 'Cigar way of life' was quite unique and fascinating...A life size humidor (humidity controlled wood chambers maintained at 68F and around 65-70% humidity) is stocked with cigars that cost anywhere between a 10 to 1000$. (Yes, I did type it right, a thousand dollars!) The cost is generally a function of the grade of tobacco and the location of the cigar-maker. Cuban cigars are the most sought after, while some from Honduras and Nicaragua are deemed a close second. All this might sound like a morbid indulgence for the ignorant soul, but for these 'cigar afficianado' it is perhaps a way of life, a surreal act of indulgence on the choicest tobacco to kill themselves with!

All said and done, San Diego is a gorgeous place to be young and in love! The activities to indulge your better-half are limitless and charming, a life meant to be ravished with passion and let us raise a toast to San Diego mi amigo...'Ola!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I am Back!!

I realize that my blogspot has now begun to resemble a haunted castle, an edifice that has been orphaned and left to decay, the disgruntled relic bearing vestiges of its grandiloquent past! It is time that I dust the cobwebs and atone for my sins of indifference and sloth! Crimes committed in the wake of accruing professional commitments, alluring NBA playoff action and a crippling addiction to the X-box 360! I agree that the aforementioned excuses might sound like a lame attempt at camouflaging my laziness, but I dare you to try them on for a week and then let me know if I am lying!

I do wish to thank all those loyal souls who have frequented the site with an unwavering optimism that I hold in great esteem. I promise you that the blogspot was not an attempt to garner instant celebrity status nor was it a mere indulgence in the latest fashion craze that has infected netizens young and old alike! It will remain an ongoing adventure and I welcome you to steal a peek as and when you wish. I only wish the frequency of blogging could resemble a metronome rather than the staccato of an AK-47 that has been the case till now.

Now that the 're-introductions' and apologies have been taken care off, redressing my extended sabbatical hopefully…I shall launch forth into my upcoming series of blogs! Life has been a rush lately, the latest joyride being a 13-day trip to sunny California on a ‘purported’ business visit to a conference last week. Careful planning and a beneficial distribution of strategic contacts/friends across the Californian coast empowered me to contrive a ‘homerian’ odyssey across this magnificent state. Each episode of this odyssey a delicious dish of an elaborate seven course dinner, a sumptuous treat to the senses. The sights, smells and sounds held me spell-bound, ravishing me with a beauty unforeseen. A feast that I devoured with the hunger of a refugee teleported straight from Somalia to a Victorian buffet in Buckingham palace!!

The promise of delivering this travelogue in various chapters is borne purely out of my greed to relive each of those spectacular moments in high-definition. I hope to capture the magical experience in sufficient detail and transport you to those magical realms. Besides, it is my unabashed attempt at experimenting with the genre of travelogues!! So, Ladies and Gentlemen...I present to you my Californian Odyssey in spectacular technicolor! Keep tuning in to savor California through the eyes of a hopeless romantic!