October this year was a month of ordinary yet enjoyable weekends, prompting me to recollect and write about them just for fun.
It began with the first Sunday which we decided to spend in a way guaranteed to provide relaxation and enjoyment. Yes, you guessed it right – “dinner followed by a movie”, the most fool-proof (provided the film does not burn holes in your brain and the food does not poison you) of plans ever. Or “movie followed by lunch” in our case, with the film in question being ‘Gravity‘, which definitely lived up to its rave reviews. The special effects were mind-blowing, but it was the way the human aspect of the story unfolded, leaving a cliffhanger at every turn and riding smoothly on the able and spacesuit-padded shoulders of Sandra Bullock, that made it truly engrossing. Scientist Neil DeGrass Tyson later cheerfully ripped it apart but also said that he enjoyed it very much and applauded many of the accurate representations. And we have to file some things under ‘creative liberty’, don’t we? Also, as my hubby, who loved the movie, put it, “they did not misuse 3D technology at all!”
I had binged shamelessly on popcorn throughout the movie and let me tell you, when I am hungry and the wonderful smell of popcorn is all around me in the darkness of the movie theater, I do not just eat it, I literally start shoveling popcorn into my mouth like a crane dumping materials into a pit. So, after the movie, stomach rumbling, (everyone else’s, not mine), all of us friends decided on this Thai restaurant called Mango Garden for lunch. My husband and I had been there once before and had been joyfully taken aback at the free food we had been served. An appetizer and a delicious desert, free of cost! Of course, we returned to that place with more people in tow since the food was good as well. We got the free appetizer and when the bill arrived with no sign of the free desert (with me thinking, how greedy could I have been?), we ordered a bowl of the decadent Mango Shaved Ice that we had lapped up last time. Rich and creamy, soft as snow, drizzled with sweet mango syrup and topped with the chunky fruit. As we leaned back, our stomachs warning our brains not to pile on more food, the waitress placed another large bowl of Shaved Ice – Green Tea, topped with red beans – in front of us and said that it was “on the house” as well. Brain, with eyes popping out, said to Stomach: “you can’t refuse a free offer like that now, can you?”
One Saturday afternoon I attended sessions on The Art of the Short Story and The Art of the Novel as part of San Fransisco’s wittily named literature festival ‘Litquake‘. Conducted at the artsy and quaint Z Space Studio were two wonderful panels consisting of published authors who rained upon us showers of wisdom as they spoke about their writing experiences. The moderator quizzed them on thought provoking topics like values that a writer possesses, why most writing revolves around negativity like devastating pain, on writing about life experiences the author himself/herself never had, what the biggest misconception of the writing process was, whether writing was similar to project management, how one comes to know that the written piece really is finished etc. Writing is primarily a solitary process and so it felt good to come out of the den and be around the large number of people at the event who were interested in this craft.
On yet another Saturday morning I volunteered to assist students at a school with reading as part of Santa Clara University’s Alumni For Others project. Alumni belonging to diverse graduation years gathered in the school library to meet the principal. We were very touched with the warm welcome given by the students’ mothers who had cooked us a breakfast as a way of thanking us. I gleefully followed three spirited girls Joanne, Julisa and Jasmine (the ‘J’ group I called them) to the book shelves and we picked out books. We took turns reading aloud and then they solved quizzes based on what they had read and comprehended on iPhones that were docked at stations for educational purposes. It was so much fun reading with the sweet little girls who moved through the books with enthusiasm and confidence. Sweet Jasmine even drew a picture of me, cleverly capturing all of the details in my appearance. At the end of the activity the principal and the parents once again thanked us with heartfelt words and colorful paper garlands that had candy hidden in each of their twists and which they lovingly placed around our necks.
Another weekend rolled around to announce post-birthday celebrations for two friends. The venue: The View, a lounge on the thirty-ninth floor of the Marriott Hotel in San Fransisco. We were fortunate to get good seats by a large window at sunset, enabling us to enjoy a splendid view of downtown San Fransisco with a slice of the blue waters of the Bay visible at the corner and the Bay Bridge peeking out between two buildings. Sipping our drinks (two delicious mocktails for me!), cheerful conversations riding on hearty laughter and high pitched voices while the programmed LED lights on the Bay Bridge came on and danced for us (checkout http://thebaylights.org), the evening could not have gone better! Dinner followed at fancy ‘Dosa’, an Indian gourmet restaurant specializing in dosas and idli fries that were to die for. We left for home that night, feeling high on a nice time spent with good company and refreshed for the week that lay ahead.