Visiting Uncle Sam – 5 – Tanning in Santa Cruz

Cometh the weekend and I start planning on what to do….This time, I was wondering if I should do Stanford University or Half Moon Bay or where ? My lunch partner told me that she went to Santa Cruz one day. That had stuck with me, so I chartered the plan for Santa Cruz on Friday night, got the train timings and bus number and the local taxi numbers, charged the mobile and almost got ready by Friday  night itself :). Remember that I had only one acquaintance cum friend out here…and they had a party of their group of friends and parties are not my cup of chai/coffee so I slept with the idea that I will be in Santa Cruz tomorrow..

Since I had decided that it would be a leisure trip and I am not hard pressed for time, I got up late, had my breakfast and started for the 10.58 am Caltrain to San Jose. It was a one hour journey to San Jose and from there I got out of the Diridion Station and I see a Amtrak 17 highway express bus already ready (they plan it so well so that the visitors dont have to wait for buses or vice versa). The ticket for the caltrain was 6$, and now the bus is 5$. This 17 highway express takes you to Santa Cruz downtown Metro Center. The journey is sort of like crossing a hill to get to the other side and it takes exactly 1 hour. So in a total of two hour journey from Belmont, you can reach Santa Cruz. The uphill had some good scenic views, but there is no stops in between. You get to see the Lexington Reservoir and some thick tall woods (which is called forest in our places) in between.

Got down in Santa Cruz Metro Center by 1 pm. You could walk for 10-15 mins to the Beach Boardwalk, but since it was very very hot (not even sunny..literally hot over here) I decided to keep myself alive and took a taxi to Boardwalk which is almost 8 $ from there (min fare..) It was a very nice place, but it was over crowded. You are greeted by a Casino ( I didnt go there obviously), a bowling place etc.. You pass all these and enter the board walk. It is full of fun rides and games for all levels and lots of eatable shops. You can see the pirate ship, the sky glider (which I went just to feel the thrill of the heights again..this time I wasnt afraid that much..but still got some cold feet , literally) , the zooming rides, the one which takes people to the top and drops them (god I wouldnt go there in that for anything in the world… I could still hear the screams of the people so much.. I guess they like the thrill in that…just like Sky diving), and lots of others..

Luckily for me, there was a competition going on, and it was for the CheerLeaders 🙂 If you have seen some teen english movies on the Cheerleaders competitions you would realize after seeing this show live, how close to truth these movies are. The girls were awesome.. God how much effort do they put for this..and since it was this teen girls competition, there were so many of them around, with parents, with boyfriends, with giggling girl friends…baap re… I really felt very old that day :(. In one of the performances, the audio got stuck, but these girls went on with their counts and completed the dance with elan..It was nice to watch them.. I liked it a lot 🙂

Then I took the sky ride, had a long view of the beach and the light house and the hot burning sun.. Ennaku dhaan timing miss aayidichu, eppo inga hot aa irukum eppo cold aa irukum nu theriyala.. andha ooru kaarangalazhuku indha weather dhaan saakunu,  tanning panna vandhiduchunga.. Everywhere moms were applying suncreams for kids and were getting ready to get tanned.. I was like “Ada paavigala… naan already wheatish color.. inga innaiku irundha black aayiduvean poala iruke!! ” I went in a hurry and got a UV protection cooler glasses. Indha kodumai ellam pathaadhunu, I had taken my jacket too.. Indha oorla eppo kulurum eppo veyilaa irukumnu yaaruku theriyum.. Adhu vera oru extra load.. After my sky ride and a big Icecream (rombha soodu paa..thaanga mudiyala.. water ku badhilaa icecream nalla irundhichu) I went to the beach. The water was so so cold and the waves were too high.. I walked for a long time enjoying the people and the kids playing in the water. I wanted to walk till the light house, but it was too hot to really do that.. it would have taken another half an hour to go there.. I rather stay alive than going to that light house.. By the time I went and checked the rides, saw the competition for some time, came to the beach, started taking snaps, it was already 2 hours there. Time poanadhe theriyala..

Lazed around in the cold water, watched people enjoy (especially a lady who was going to the water and racing the waves back and forth , kids using buckets to dug hole and fill it with water, playing in the water, teen girls giggling and trying to get wet.. they looked great in their bikinis and guys trying to surf in those waves and show off to those college girls who were there….. It was like watching and hearing a live episode of sit com 🙂 sema comedy yaa irundhadhu..) and after three and half hours of my time there I decided that I should probably start back now and see the down town a bit and then head back to Belmont.

So came back in taxi and then for an hour roamed the Pacific Ave (the hyped place to hang out and window shop).. Ippo dhaan story la oru twist…As I was walking leisurely…there was this guy who was playing guitar on the road (he played it really well.. I miss my guitar :(…) and after listening to him for a while, moved a little.. There were some people who were dismantling their stall on the pavement and a lady was sitting in a stool there.. She saw me and smiled.. I smiled back (well here people always smile @ you , so you have no choice to smile back.. smile karne mein kya jaathaa hai.. But if you do it in India..they will say ilicha vaayi.. enna ulagamdaa..) and went ahead..I heard someone calling “Madam Madam” .. I was like yaarudaa idhu.. I turned around ( I normally dont..but I felt that I was being called) and saw that lady calling me (very good..nalla intuition) She asked,  “Are you from India?”, I said, “Yes”. She said,” Oh very nice meeting you.. We are from Hare Rama Hare Krishna  [I was thinking “Rama Rama!!ingeyumaa”] We had a stall here.. we are just wrapping up.. Where are you from ? “, I said, “Bangalore”. She said, “Oh.. very nice very nice…Do you go to Iskcon there ?” I answered in positive. Her colleague devotees also joined her..and were happy to see me there.. (idhu nalladhukaa illa ..?) One of them was a American.. He started to talk about Meditation and Krishna and their Prabhu (that means Lord) I heard them and then suddenly they gave me a book of Krishna which has Lord Krishna’s stories ( I thought, “No way they are going to sell me this..”) and after talking for a while, they said, “please have the book with you as a token of our appreciation (I, for one sec, felt so ashamed..but it didnt last long). you can donate whatever you feel like and you should definitely come to our Ashram in Berkeley.” (dho daa.. idhuku dhaan indha buildup aa…) I gave them 5$ and said that was all I had and thank Krishna, by that time, their vehicle had arrived and they left..

I am not commenting anything bad about them or am not opposed to them, but I never felt @ ease when people try to sell religious sentiments (be it Hinduism, Christianity or Islam..what ever) in any form..that is all.. Sorry guys.. I am not that kind of person, even though I look like one. My idea of God and religion is a little different even though its confused.

Then after this small twist, I came back to my loitering in those beautiful avenues, where you see film star type women in high boots with good makeup and very simple old ladies selling coffee… guys playing guitar and drums, …it was a nice place.. After an hour and a half or so, came back to Metro center and took my bus No 17 back to San Jose and guess what, on the way saw some forest fire being put out by Fire brigade.. it was that hot that day…. Came back to Belmont by around 7 or so and then walked all the way to hotel, after having my dinner in a Restaurant on the way to hotel (a  little costlier one actually).

Next day, Sunday, I as usual got up late, lazed around, went to Target for some window shopping by around 1 and then by 4, went to my friends place (they picked me up from Target), had good Veg Briyani in their house, saw Magadheera (Telugu) movie in their 42″ HD television and came back @ around 10 pm.

One more weekend ended on a good note..

Hope to have more adventurous ones soon..

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