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Notes From California

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– Tweedledee & Tweedledum –

I was inconsolably late. The train was leaving at 7:30. I was on my wings. I skipped lunch and I walked as fast as I could. I was three minutes late. The next train was departing in time. At 8:40. I am good at keeping myself busy. I bought a snack, I read a book, I idled. When the train arrived, I took my seat diagonally from a gentleman in grey vest and dusty jeans. Two minutes before departure, two red-haired boys, thirteen or fourteen years old, came in. They asked us to move so they could sit together. They were very polite. I kept looking at one of the boys’ hair. It was impossibly orange as if it was dyed with a desert sunset.

– Succulents –

I’ve got used to see succulents as cute little plants on my windowsill. I have even got an idea of bigger succulents as in John’s nursery. But I have never thought of them as trees. I have never imagined them as water barrels, giant octopuses or bushes with snake-like branches and heads the size of a soccer ball. It all changed after my visit to San Francisco botanical garden. It was a revelation. It was mind blowing.

– The fusion –

Kebabs make my back ache. At my friend’s birthday party I met her eighteen year old cousin. The cousin had hair the color of pale dahlia and wanted to become a veterinarian. After a short conversation about animals I found out about the fusion. She was seven when diagnosed with an abnormal curving of the spine and had no choice but to undergo arthrodesis, a surgery meant to straighten the spine by fusing vertebrae. There is a long skewer-like scar along her spine and she is not shy to demonstrate it. ‘Once, I was invited for dinner into my friend’ s house, ‘ she said. ‘My friend’s mother set me as an example to my friend pointing at the discipline of mine to keep my back ideally straight at the table. She did not know that I could not sit otherwise.’

– Terrible wine in California –

I am fed up with ghost shops. I arrived to Mountain View and went to buy a bottle of wine in a shop I’ve passed by two days ago. It was a dinky supermarket at the end of Castro Street. I remember I made a mental check mark in case I needed to come back. After fifteen futile minutes of hurrying up and down the street, I started to question reality. The ghost shop refused to reveal itself. I spent another ten minutes walking circles and cutting zigzags. I still could not find it. So I abandoned the idea and went to a Chinese place which looked like a souvenir shop but had a sign “Liquor”. I bought a bottle of pinot noir that was neither too expensive nor too cheap. The wine turned out to be undrinkable but I was determined not to allow a little thing like this ruin my experience of California and kept drinking it anyway.

– Wrong questions –

I hate when people ask wrong questions. I hired a taxi to bring me back to NASA International Lodge from a Caltrain station. Surprisingly, a driver did not know the route. I thought that among all people, a cab driver would definitely be the one who knows. He did not know. I guided him till we arrived to NASA security post. Instead of a dutiful question ‘Where are you going?’, a police man in the security booth asked, ‘What are you doing?’. I contemplated on his question for a second but decided not to be rude.

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