I am hovering over the keyboard waiting for the writing rabbit to swing past my greyhound fingers and for them to go chase.
I sank into my sofa bed with gratitude last night as I bid adjure to a v.full day. Pure fun, the totality of my to do list for 5th November 2010. I ran (that’s fun, for me), I submitted a proposal for a piece of travel writing, A TOP TIPS article of 613 words, to www.AIRBNB.com, I will also send to others but that is another to do list. I then wrote an impassioned email to www.taylortonics.com, a ‘tea ‘n’ fizz, bottled soda, so GOOD, it had me sitting down to saviour every, ginger rocking, mind blowing drop. I swear, this dark slim bottle sat in the cooler with such an air of ‘buy me…don’t buy me…whatever’ I couldn’t resist it. It met my passive aggressiveness with a kick in my derrière of throat stripping ginger. Wow wa! The brewster actually wrote straight back with paralleled passion and admitted that the slow manifestation of his brew was exactly that, a confident concoction that speaks for itself. Blasé boy!
I walked home from the Luv a Java cafe on 26th and Dolores, content, no, more than that I floated in stillness. I felt I’d accomplished something. I had earned the right of passage, for the morning at least. My lunch of rehydrated split pea soup together with kimihi (fermented vegetables), I wrapped in a rice tortilla, did not disappoint. I was humming with delight. I set my internal g.p.s on Valencia St and the Museum of Modern Art and wandered through the mucky chaos of 24th to 17th street. Crossing to 16th and it was like the sun coming out and the sidewalks had been given a makeover, the shop fronts were minus the messy sprayed curves and swirls of the local graffiti artists and I have to admit I felt better. Hip cafes and modern home designer shops, highlighted that my tolerance level for dirt and grit has slipped of late. This lasted about 5 blocks until Market St and the scene altered once more to a seedier side, but it was amongst the Georgian, or Art Deco high rise instead and more than a sprinkling of the homeless.
The Museum of Modern Art was comfortingly familiar and I began to feel excited as I purchased my ticket and stepped inside. I’d visited previously, back in 2003 and it had made quite an impression. MOMA had packed a whole lot of great art into quite a small space (in comparison with my beloved Tate Modern). But this time, I felt bloody cheated. The two top floors were in process of receiving some installation. The photographic exhibit; Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera since 1870 an interesting mix of depressing scenes of pre and post war life. People captured unawares when the camera gave people the medium to capture pin-points in history. Some graphic, some shocking and a spattering of amusing ones. Mostly it showed a side of life it would be easier to ignore.
All the walking and extra use of my brain to filter new images and take in extra information had of course let me ravenous. I decided to use the BART, an underground system I had not used before, preferring to use my feet and a map. A rather nice chap helped me use the confusing ticketing system and I took the billet and headed down the escalator. Two lines; one going North, one South, easy enough. In under ten minutes, I hardly had time to settle into the seat, I was alighting at 24th and Mission, my purse only $1.75 lighter. The Tube and the London Tourist Board could take a lession from this in speed and cost of fares. I never would of thought I’d derive so much joy from a short train ride. Well done SF!
Dinner tonight was at the Udupi Palace. OMG, I was in search of a dosa that had ‘stop me in my tracks’ qualities and I found it here. The slightly gloomy high ceilinged restaurant at 1007 Valencia did not breathe the smells of a magically combined heady spices from its walls, but Jesus when the food came….Pow! A modest precursor to my Dosa was a stack of undulating, crispy popadoms served with mint chutney and a thin tamarind sauce. I was lighting up, the place had promise. I sat alone, I did not mind though, I was beginning to think attractive, straight, single men are thin on the dirty, ground in San Francisco. It seems every male voice is devoid of testosterone tones and instead are all squeaky and effeminate. You know how it can be when their heads gyrate on their necks and and every word is delivered in pinched cheeks and pronounced s’s?! Blargh, how is it I’ve found myself single in the most gay place on the planet? AND I’ve seemed to of booked myself into Babyville. In the past two days I’ve witnessed more pushchairs and window dressings of cutsie booties, and men walking around holding hands than is funny or, for my present single girl status, bloody acceptable. Food, food, ok so lets forget the absence of a male in my life and get down to my, another ‘present’, love. I almost slapped the softly spoken waiter’s hand away as he attempted to remove what remained of the chutneys I couldn’t quite manage to slather on my popadoms. I feared the dosa would not hit the mark so wanted to keep them just in case they needed a little help . He left the chutneys at my table and my entrée came, delivered on a steel platter, a few minutes later.
Three circular dents in the steel platter, held the chutney and the 2ft dosa was halved in the compartment in front.. Ginger lentil chutney, sat alongside, tomato and, the perfect partner to the dosa, the coconut chutney. I poured on the masala gravy and cut into the mushy potato centre and slowly welcomed in the flavour. Joy upon joys! The chillies, the ginger, sweet onions, sour tamarind, warming mustard seeds and cumin sank into the tart, thin crisp of the lentil and rice pancake, and brought layers of flavour and heat through the mashed potato. It was perfection. I pasted the chutneys over the roof of the dosa and savoured every, coconutty, spicy, flavoursome bite. I’d be lying if I said I’d sampled that many dosa in my life but of the few I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy, that has to be way up there and perhaps even overtaking my, so far, frontrunner back in Brighton at India Summer!
My tummy was insanely full. I was totally happy. I walked back up the hills to my studio in the Valley feeling very grateful and thanking God for Indian cooks.
With the evening stretching out in front of me I headed back to grab my coat and then took a stroll back to Valencia St with the hope of getting on the wait list at the Marsh www.themarsh.org. Once putting forth my plea for a space I waited in their cafe next door, only moments passed and my wishes granted. I was there to see Dan Hoyles one man show about his travels to find the real America
I passed a very happy hour and 30, enjoying his hilarious and observational recreation of the characters he encountered along the way. How much was exaggerated through his own magnifying of events for the sake of comedy I do not know. But his trips through Texas and Central US showed a scary portrayal of what may be lurking. I found myself trying to find the well spring of goodness in these people and put their idiosyncrasy’s down to lack of education, they made great comedy and Dan is a genius impersonator, male and female alike, you could actually see a morphing into characters so removed from his own. Bloody funny and the time passed so quickly and didn’t once bring on a bout of restlessness due to my very short attention span. The only blot on the landscape was the seat and the millions of prickly hairs sticking through my dress from the horsehair escaping through the upholstery. All in all, not to sound like a newspaper reviewer, but I will nick the ubiquitous quote, it was a riotous evening of fun and an enlightening story of Dan’s discoveries on his trip. I don’t need to go find the ‘real’ America for myself now. I’ll save the airfare and forego the parched skin and the dust in my suitcase and stick to Cali.