Refreshing, If I were to describe my time stay at the beaver state in one word, that would be it, refreshing.
The beginning was kind of sad because believe me I was in a meeting till the plane literally took off, I dropped off at the last moment when they ask you turn of your cell phones, and this time I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to think about work even once when I am there, and unfortunately the start was not a good sign.
One of my very good friends picked me up from the airports, it had been a little over 3 years since I last met him in person. Even though we kind of talk almost every weekend, it was kind of odd after a gap of 3 years, well I always find it difficult to get back to things the way they were, and this wasn’t much different. Initially we didn’t have much to talk about, and we were kind of toying with topics which died down after a few sentences. We decided to have dinner at a Cuban restaurant, and since this was my first time at a Cuban place, I was all excited to look at their menu. The place had excellent ambiance, a little hippie in appearance, and great looking crowd. If you guys ever visit Portland, please do not miss pambiche, specially if you like trying new cuisines. We caught up on old times, we spoke about few things, drank a drink, just had fun. He wanted to take me to a club, and we did have some fun there. We went around to check out his new place and took some pictures, unfortunately unlike last time around I was not able to spend more time with him because he had to go to SFO the next day, so we ended up spending just one evening catching up on old times. He dropped me off at my cousin’s place late night around 1:30 am, which is like 3:30 am my time, so my vacation has not yet officially begun and I was already spending sleepless nights 🙂
When I arrived at my cousins place, something wonderful began, getting reintroduced to a thing which I was unknowingly missed for a long a time, the “pampering”. My cousin snatched the bag out of my hand and just scooted me into his place. Of course we had the customary talk with my friend and wished him goodbye, and he did agree to drop by to Dallas before I get back to India, so we can spend some more time. But this time around it was just a small meeting with him.
Oh I forgot to mention about my flight, it was with a brief stopover at Denver, and the weekend had a girl’s soccer tournament there, so all flights to Denver had this high pitched teenager school girls yickety yacking their way into the city. I found myself seated next to a this girl, who had her hand glued to her I phone, music and games all her way, and as usual I had a crying child right behind my seat. My woos with crying children in flight continues. The flight from Denver to Portland had a old couple seated next to me. For some reason the old lady had the strongest of the fragrances on her which started giving me headache instantly. The old guy on the other hand had hard time listening because of which his wife kept screaming into his ear all the time.
I have been avoiding this subject ever since I started writing this piece, and in a way its not really a big deal but still its sad when I see the very few of friendships which have survived for long, now, slipping away. Time does this to you, just like any relationship, when you dont get to spend quality time with each other, you tend to disconnect. When you talk, you just reminisce, Which is not really good because you will end up not building on anything but get stuck at the place you were. You have these doubts how the friendship would have changed since you last met, and you know its not going to be the same, but you still hope that time hasn’t done that much of damage yet, but you see it unfold before you, and see it has been affected just the way you feared, and you just want to escape it. You know the biggest problem with me, I do not move on, I do not replace people easily.
Since we all had pounced on my cousin’s place the same weekend, there was this other cousin and his wife, both my age, my aunt and uncle from India, and me, my cousin’s house was running out of rooms and beds :). So being the only single guy, I got the couch which pulled out into a neat queen sized bed. We had a nice chat before I finally went to my bed.
The time difference had upset my sleep cycle a great deal, I was up by 5AM pacific time, which is like 7am my time, and what a treat it was. My aunt ready to make me coffee, not one round like always do here, just like in bangalore, smalls cups of coffee every hour, with every one who woke up I got my share of coffee too. This made me realize how I much i have missed the coffee, the home style. Even though I make it the same way as home, I had missed the taste. Hot steaming cups of coffee, in those steel cups, ready to burn your tongue, with a little less sugar, just the way I like it. Man, getting your cup of coffee, made right to your tasre, early in the morning, is just a bliss. I can’t stop thanking my aunt for 4 days of hot steaming coffee.
There is something about we Indians and treating guests with great food, from the day I stepped into their house to the point I came back, I have been in a food heaven, since my sister-in-law, it feels weird to call her that because she is so much like a friend, same age as me. It was her first to Portland, so 3 guests meant that, my aunt and my other sister in law made a lot of special dishes. Even though we spent most of the days out and hence ate lunch outside, breakfast used to be huge, with lots of things. The last day we had a feast ala festival, with complete set of dishes we do during a festival. The Basundi my aunt made still makes me drool.
First day saw us visiting the gorgeous Mt St Helen’s in Washington state. Its the place which saw an volcano erupt during the 1980’s. You have a view point in a neighbouring mountain straight across the volcano. You can get to see the smoke coming out, and also the crater formed due to spit lava. The place was beautiful, with snow covered at the peak. I was at my cheerful best, doing one thing I do always with family, thats tease and pull leg. There’s something which happens to me when I am around family, I turn into this guy who just cannot stop teasing people. And I assume people like me that way.
We spent a lot of time having lunch at a ranch overlooking the valley the view was very good, and so was the veggie sandwich and the curly fries, one of the few vegetarian options they had. At the end came out the chocolate cake, which we all pounced on like hungry rats. Some of the moments which I wont forget from my vacation. That evening, sitting there with family, with kids playing around, and we just talking nonsense, laughter and chatter around. I just loved it. Not for even a second I remembered about what I had done before, or what I got to do later, I didnt even realize I was having a great time, I just lived it.
After St Helens we drove back to Oregon, and straight into Columbia gorgue, to view the famous Multnomah falls, I had seen it before, but this time we were there right around the sunset, the golden orrange at the top added the right coloring which was missing from the canvas. It was beautiful. A perfect end to a perfect day.
The first day of my vacation introduced me to the best of the trip, thats my neice T. I had met her when she was 4/5 months old, and now she is almost 2 and was she fun. Just like any kids she was shy to begin with, hiding behind her mommy, slowly she got used to me, as soon as she got of her car seat, all she used to do was scream on top of her voice, Rambler mama [of course she used my real name]. I had a great time with her. T got a barney DVD from me,which she calls her Barny TV, so the whole evening was spent with her watching her Barny TV on the couch, as my aunt made some delicious dinner for us.
As usual I woke up early on saturday, and so did my nephew. We began working on his toy car with my morning cup of coffee in my hand. It was fun spending time with him, he has changed so much, grown so much quieter, and less clingy then the last time I visited him. He was so much like T during my last visit, this time he has grown mellow.
Saturday was our time to hit the cannon beach, and the Tillamook cheese factory, it was a beautiful day, unfortunately it turned out to be very cloudy at the beach and also cold. My aunt and uncle struggled so did the kids, and it was a bad day to choose to wear shorts, as I could see my knees turn red with cold :). I did get into the cold water, getting inspired by the bikini clad women getting into it, if they can I can too right. After few hours of kite flying and numerable picture later, we started our drive on the pacific coast highway to the cheese factory, as my niece T would say “seeze” factory, even though the tour of the factory was very small, we feasted in the freshly made ice cream, we got to taste almost 8/9 varieties as all of us had taken different flavor, and mine was the caramel Toffee delight, and I followed that with a strawberry cheesecake flavor.
That night we went out to the downtown, to catch a late night view of the lights, and also the rose festival which was about to begin in portland. We walked around the water front, and finally hit the bar. My aunt and uncle had skipped, and the kids had slept, so it was time to do some beer tasting at a brewery in hillsboro. My SIL had a fiasco, as she forgot to get her ID, and the waiter refused to serve her, and also barred us from sharing it with her, and she had to settle for lemonade, which we pulled her leg forever, and I got to taste some really cool flavors of beer.
Great thing about alcohol is that it gets you talking about topics you would avoid normally. So it was an amazing night, spent sipping beer with family, even though I would have preferred better food to go with it, pizza tasted all right.
So there I was at the middle of my vacation, and two more days to come.