I gave "The Known World" to the book courier (aka your mom) today. Cheap-ass me won't pay for shipping when I know bloody well that you guys are meeting up for a vacation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away. But it's just one book... (please notice the sarcasm between those lines).
Pakistanis do it all the time. We brought back dupattas, shalwars, and all kinds of easily mailable stuff from Pakistan. Now jewelry I can understand, as it's pricey and the whole mail insurance thing doesn't really work in Pakistan. But a voluminous bag of plastic kulfi containers? Honestly. There really was a gentleman in Pakistan who showed up at my Khala's house to give my mom a bag of plastic kulfi containers. I had already explained to this guy on the phone that we had too much stuff - we already had an extra bag, AND my mom was traveling by herself back to the States - only to have him drive over with a bag of flipping kulfi containers! And for all the offers of "it's okay; I'll pay you for it" who really wants to say,"sure, I'll lug your kulfi containers across the globe; just give me1800 rupees."
I was out when this meeting went down, but my mom was resolute and politely turned this guy and his kulfi containers away! I'm so proud of her. Chalk one up for tact and good old fashioned common sense. So by me sending a book with your parents, I'm doing the exact same thing! Oh man, I'm so Pakistani. Please excuse me while I go retire to the couch, tuck up my feet, wrap a blanket around myself, and make the "ssssssss"inhale-through-the-teeth-sound while saying it's cold. I'll have a Pakistani accent in two years... you can be sure of that. Of course, I'm really not anti-Pakistani. Indeed this guy's actions had more to do with his age and tact than his ethnicity. It's just that he happens to be Pakistani. While I was there, I really did meet so many extraordinarily polite, accomodating people. It really is a hospitable place. But every now and then, you'll get a guy like that, and he just warrants a funny story...
[update now that I'm awakish: vote for Abez for Best Blogs in Asia! Now, someone give me the link for voting for Owl and we'll be all set for the election season.]
Hulk note that it that time of year when people make amends for past, make resolutions for future, and . . . make lists! Some lists are stupid and make Hulk want to SMASH! What wrong with kids today? Honestly! Some not so shabby *Hulk adjust bifocal glasses on Hulk pert nose*. Some very handy with links to other lists. What on your Top Seven List of 2004?
Homemade oatmeal cookies calling Hulk now so Hulk gotta go. Happy (early) Birthday, Baji's Dad! Hulk love you.
Next up (upon the lavish praise and suggestion of Anju and Sarah): The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Right after I watch Napoleon Dynamite, now out on dee-wee-dee.
If the burly guy who fixes your porch offers to help you slide your antique desser out of the car, politely decline before he gets his meaty hands on one side and scratches the veneer right off of the front corner of it and creates a dime-sized dent on the other corner.
If you want to remove a dent from wooden furniture, you can dip a small rag or towel or wad of cotton in water (damp but not dripping), hold it on the the dent and apply heat from the tip of a hot iron for several seconds. The dent is caused by the cells of the wood being smooshed and the steam from the water and heat will puff them out again. Repeat until dent is gone. Science is fun!
Toasted everything bagels with various toppings and several cups of coffee are excellent snacks on a cold, drizzly Sisters' Sunday.
I distractedly watched about 2/3rds of Jean-Luc Goddard's Breathless before I realized I had already seen it. Meh.
An Indiana University student tossed a guinea pig tied to a makeshift parachute out of an eighth-floor dormitory this weekend.
Winter is now upon us, giving us black ice, school closings, and below freezing wind chill factors. I hate winter. I miss summer.
We were packed today, absolutely packed, and everyone was cranky. Once the line gets long we break it up into four different lines because no one in their right mind would stay if they knew it would take over two hours to see Santa. You can see a movie in two hours. Standing in a two-hour line makes people worry that they're not living in a democratic nation. They go over the edge. I was sent into the hallway to direct the second phase of the line. The hallway was packed with people and all of them seemed to stop me with a question: which way to the down escalator, which way to the elevator, the Patio Restaurant, gift wrap, the women's rest room, Trim-a-Tree. There was a line for Santa and a line for the women's bathroom, and one woman, after asking me a thousand questions already, asked, "Which is the line for the women's bathroom?" I shouted that I thought it was the line with all the women in it.
She said, "I'm going to have you fired."
I had two people say that to me today: "I'm going to have you fired." Go ahead, be my guest. I'm wearing a green velvet costume. It doesn't get any worse than this. Who do these people think they are? I want to lean over and say, "I'm going to have you killed. "
Yes SUPPLIES! this is LAR aka lamushy, lamisil, lasheesha, labaksheesha er whatever u will signing in! its good to be back u know I cant complain...i narrowly escaped the thermals-plus-eight-layers-of-clothing-plus-winter-coat season out there, was welcomed back to CA by Bean, Yaz and PPP- who successfully completed her term Yeuuuhh bwooy- and the rest of the clan should be done by this weekend? inshaAllah! and u can say it s back to the basics, fake sushi ( CA rolls) Tigers' Yogurt, kickin it with friends and blurking ( I really got hooked in dc tho) Forget real work, people in the nation's capital don't know how to relaaax , except for baji the chillest realist person out there mashaAllah, I ve had the pleasure of meeting the fam, even the crazy cousins and adopted chilluns online! Unforgettable...
Highlights: Cornel West at Olsen's, working with A an elder Palestinian who volunteered at my organization, B, my kinda person from so-cal (this a crazy sista) and Miz Nuri, mobility across DC/MD/VA fanks to the wonderful Metro...now what do I do? okayy I'll work on it..., Philly, TBM samitches at Cosi's ( is that only in DC? I won't survive), the crazy weekend where some friends visited and we wisited all the monuments, I m glad they came cuz otherwise its very likely I would have come back to CA without having even seen the White House which was like 6 blocks away from what i stayed...what can I say i m too cool to do the touristy stuff ;P, dinner at Alero's with Baj, TP, LB, Najm, iftar with the gang at the old flat, HU homecoming concert, election night. or not, getting care packages, meeting extended fam for the first time, and all kinds of people from the motherland hehe and a tete a tete with baji b4 I left... alhamdulillah
YO ShoUt OuT to my calis and of course baj, lil baj, giggles, tp for the last minute interview, chai, tahaha, Yamin, Yaseen, 1009, erni, sylvie, lupitita ok buhbye
In other news: MouseWatch 2004. Thanks to the internets, I learned that although mice do love peanut butter (our bait of choice), they are so light and clever that the traps do not even register their weight as they lick the trigger clean and then go and play videogames and laugh at you. The key is to make them work for the bait, to use some effort and strength, and the resulting pulling and struggling sets off the trap. So with the delicacy of a surgeon, I tied some cheese to one trap and set it. And with the brutishness of Lenny Small, TP smashed some cheese into another trap and set it.
TP: 2 Meece: 0
1. Jaan Pehechaan Ho - Mohammed Rafi (Punjab)
2. Aicha - Cheb Khalid (Algeria/France)
3. Girl from Ipanema - Frank Sinatra and Antonio Jobim (US and Brazil)
4. Dur Dur d'Etre Bebe - Jordy (France)
5. Daydream Believe - Shonen Knife (Japanese band in Engrish)
6. Welcome to India - MC Vikram and Luda Krishna (India via US)
7. Si Senor - Control Machete (Mexico)
8. First in the Gang to Die - Morrisey (England)
9. Jing Jing (Firefly) - Shoukichi Kina (Japanese band in Japanese)
10. Isolda - Cesaria Evora (Cape Verde)
11. Chan Chan - Buena Vista Social Club (Cuba)
12. Darts of Pleasure - Franz Ferdinand (Scootland, blast yer eyes!)
13. Dynamite - Junior Senior (Denmark)
14. United States of Whatever - Liam Lynch (US, just to tie it all up; meant to put the Sifl and Olly version though)
15. California Love - Tupac (represe'in Cali)
16. Suggestion - Fugazi (represe'in DC)
Poll: which is worse - mice or cockroaches? TP and LB are of the (ludicrous) opinion that roaches are worse b/c they are filthy and ugly whereas mice are kinda cute. I feel that mice are worse b/c they are harder to kill, can bite you, and leave little black rolls of presents here and there. How do you vote?
Soundtrack to "Cold Mountain"
Soundtrack to "Buena Vista Social Club"
Aimee Mann - Save Me
Beatles - Her Majesty, Dear Prudence, Golden Slumbers, Blackbird
Beck - Tropicalia
Billy Bragg - The Short Answer, The Price I Pay
Call + Response - Rollerskate
Cat Power - Free
Cesaria Evora - Vos d'amor, Tchintchirote
Cheb Khalid - Aisha
Bobby Darin - Somewhere Beyond the Sea
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy
Bonnie Prince Billy - The Way
Eels - Fresh Feeling, I Like Birds, Woman Driving Man Sleeping
Elvis Presley/ Stevie Wonder/ Dolly Parton - take yr pick
Geggy Tah - Driving in My Car
James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday - take yr pick
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah, Last Goodbye
Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe
John Coltrane/Miles Davis/ Louis Armstrong/ Django Reinhardt - take yr pick
Helium - Leon's Space Song
Katrina and the Waves - I'm Walking on Sunshine
Moby - Natural Blues
Nina Simone - I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl
Ray Charles - Georgia on my Mind
Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Don't Know Why
Frank Sinatra - Fly Me to the Moon
Kinks - Nothing in the World Can Stop Me Worrying 'Bout That Girl
Elliot Smith - Needle in the Hay
Nick Drake - The Fly, Pink Moon
Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane, Oh, Sweet Nothing
Tina Turner - Proud Mary
Sarah McLachlan - Full of Grace
Creedance Clearwater Revival - Susie Q, Bad Moon Rising
Chuck Berry/ Buddy Holly/ Johnny Cash/ Cat Stevens-Yusaf Islam -take yr pick
Ween - Loop de Loop
I was so sleepy this morning that I forgot to put water in for the coffee and burned the coffee grounds, stunk up the joint, and completely ruined my little Bialetti.
Then, with the help of my parents, I had to disassemble my old futon, move my dresser, and shift over all sorts of knick knacks to make room for my new bed, nightstand, and dresser.
While I fretted over the delivery time (call ahead with a four hour window my arse), the guy fixing my porch took the front door completely off of the hinges and started sanding it before I knew what was going on while I was running around the back door to make sure the bulky bulk pick-up guys would pick up our old (heavy, naily, dusty) stuff that we lugged out of the attic last night. (Thanks to Dad's sweet-talking, they took everything even though the rules are only seven items per pick up).
We dodged traffic up to Silver Spring to meet LB for lunch and dodged some more traffic back down to DC in the rain.
We spent two hours assembling the new bed and nightstand, dragged my parents' 60 pound suitcase down the stairs, tiptoed over the running primer that had washed away from the porch steps and into the grass and sidewalk, and got in the car.
We took about two hours in stop-and-stop traffic to the airport (normal commute time during non-rush-hour, non-rain-hour, non-broken-down-vehicle-on-the-highway-hour is 20 minutes) and arrived at the counter only to find out that United screwed up their tix, the suitcase was 10 pounds overweight, and that the flight was closed now anyway.
Drove back into DC to get something nutritious and fast and then tried to go to the hardware store next-door to replace our stolen drill only to find out the store was closed. The humidity gave me mujahideen hair, fogged up my windows so that driving was difficult, and the rain just would not stop.
I just got home and I still have to arrange stuff, perform amazing feats of acrobatics to get from one room to another without tripping, bashing my head in, or otherwise doing myself severe bodily harm, and go to sleep so I can wake up at 6:30 tomorrow to make another airport run. I just knocked down a partially-filled humidifier and soaked the carpet and my sox. And to cap off the evening, a little mouse decided to join me in brushing my teeth in the bathroom. How was your day?
I haven't slept a wink,
I'm so tired,
my mind is on the blink.
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink.
No, no, no.
I'm so tired I don't know what to do.
I'm so tired my mind is set on you.
I wonder should I call you but I know what you'd do.
You'd say I'm putting you on.
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm.
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane.
You know I'd give you everything I've got
For a little peace of mind.
I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset
Although I'm so tired I'll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh.
He was such a stupid git.
--The Beatles, I'm So Tired
panjandrum \pan-JAN-druhm\, noun:
An important personage or pretentious official.
So she went into the garden
to cut a cabbage-leaf
to make an apple-pie;
and at the same time
a great she-bear, coming up the street,
pops its head into the shop.
"What! No soap?"
So he died,
and she very imprudently married the barber;
and there were present
and the Joblillies,
and the Garyulies,
and the grand Panjandrum himself,
with the little round button at top,
and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can
till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.
by Samuel Foote
They call me Yuckmouth, cause I don't brush. No, I keep my teeth like this.
They call me Yuckmouth, cause I don't brush. How's about a little kiss?
I got some beef in my teeth and some chicken, too.
OUCH! That's a cavity. Hey, that's new!
So if you don't brush your teeth then you can too be a Yuckmouth.
Good times. Good times.
Hee. That reminds me of the time loooong ago when, according to legend, I got a hold of a Whitman's Sampler box of chocolates. I would select a bon bon, take a bite, and the ones that I liked, I gobbled down and the ones that I didn't, I nonchalantly tossed behind the couch. Lucky for all of us, Cybermom is close to godliness with her cleanliness and found the sticky stash while vacuuming behind the couch one day.
Tomorrow, the movers come and, Calgon-like, will take it all away. By tomorrow night, I can finally rest, perhaps play connect-the-bruises, and gear up for the next task: unpacking. So until then . . . um . . . enjoy this oldie but goodie about wonderous archaeological finds! And pray for my and LB's bones and muscles and sanity.
btw, happy 50th birthday, Gojira! (trivia alert: Godzilla's roar was the sound of a resin-coated leather glove being dragged across a contrabass (double bass)).
Baji, over and *collapse* out.
A river of packing tape,
A mountain of boxes and crates.
High-tech plastic pillows,
Low-tech crumpled up newspapers.
Stereos wrapped in cords,
Computers wrapped in foam,
Shirt wrapped in dust,
Mind wrapped in recollections.
Boxes of letters,
Boxes of pictures,
Boxes of souvenirs,
Boxes of boxes.
Throw out the magazines,
(but this one is a collector's issue)
Donate the clothes,
(but I might wear this next season)
Box up the VCRs, DVDs, CDs, and MP3s,
(but I need some tunes while I pack)
Store away the plates and silverware,
(wait, not yet!)
Change of Address, Mr. Postal Employee,
Change of Address, Mrs. Bank Teller,
Change of Address, friends and family,
Did I forget anyone, or anyone forget me?
Whose is this?
Is it yours?
Do you want this?
Can I have this?
Who knew how much noise
the framed art on the wall absorbed?
Why is this Persian rug
so very heavy?
Good-bye familiar creaky floor
that doubled as a burglar alarm.
Good-bye clanging radiator
that doubled as a headache.
So long, roaches;
you get no forwarding address.
So long, freaky shower;
hope the next tenants figure out your secrets.
Carry the mirrors by hand,
the monitors and jewelry too.
Carry the memories by heart,
the guests and slumber parties too.
Eid brunch in Maryland (puris, chole, haleem, samosas, gulab jamen, sheer khurma, and chai; all enjoyed during daylight hours).
Eid movie in D.C. ("Bridget Jones II" for Sister's Sunday; shoulda watched "The Incredibles" instead.)
Today's mini-blurb brought to you by Harper's Magazine:
From comments made by the producer of this year's Democratic National Convention while he was unaware that his outburst was being broadcast live by CNN which had microphones in the control room.
Awww, how romantic!
We spent the afternoon perusing through the open-air market where we were dazzled by the [radio edit] and the delicious [radio edit] and the scrumptious [radio edit] which we picked up for our picnic lunch at Luxembourg Gardens. After a brief sit-down at Cafe de Flore, we watched a battle of the bands take place when a chanting, finger-cymbal-wielding Hare Krishna parade marched through a lively brass band (complete with crazy dancing lady) playing in front of the Saint Germain church.
It turns out that throughout this particular Saturday night, Paris was celebrating its Second Annual Nuit Blance ("White Night" or "Sleepless Night"), a city-wide contemporary arts and culture festival where you can visit a theater, enter a number of museums, or see exhibits at an art gallery from dusk to dawn. We walked to the riverbanks to experience the "Foghorn Concert" performed by 15 barges sailing down the Seine (recall the honking notes of the spaceship in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"). People filled the streets either as performers (tiny local bands set up their sets at almost every corner) or audience members (did I mention how much I love free?). Some artists displayed their talents with vegetables. Some artists left their marks directly onto the streets of Paris:
The night was very surreal, made doubly so when hordes of rollerbladers took over the streets for several long moments. We spent the rest of Sleepless Night wandering around the city, taking a nap (but it was artistic sleeping, so it was ok), and by Sunday morning, touring the Louvre for free (FYI, free rules!). Actually, Nuit Blanche aside, the Louvre would have been free anyway because the first Sunday of every month is free. After touring the Islamic Art Exhibit (portions of which were on loan from the NY Met), we walked to Place de Concorde, hung a left, and met our touristy obligation to visit the Eiffel Tower (which had been closed due to a worker's strike earlier). We capped off our last day with ice cream directly from the one, the only, actual Bertillon shop on Ile St. Louis. Final gelatoish report:
Earl Gray Tea: B+
Extra Dark Chocolate: A+++ valedictorian, best in show, undisputed champion of the world.
In other news, that concludes the travelogue so now what should I blog about? Any suggestions?
We stopped at Pizza Pino for lunch where we shared a pizza with beef, two kinds of cheese, and an egg (whaaa?). The pizza was humongous and could possibly rival our neighborhood's jumbo pizza that made the cover of the City Paper this week. We walked along the chestnut tree-lined boulevard and stopped for some crepes. We continued on to Place de Concorde and stopped for Belgian waffles liberally dusted with powdered sugar. We strolled through the Tuileries, crossed the bridge, and finally made it back to the apartment by late afternoon (just in time for a nap).
Upon waking up from the nap, we learned that several Tunisian guests would be arriving soon for a house-warming party (i.e. excuse to shop in Paris) and were asked if we could help out with the dishes, ironing, dusting, distract the toddler, move the chairs, put out the plates, and greet the guests. The old crew from Hammamet (see Tunisian Travelogue for details) showed up with their finery wrapped around their necks, brand names wrapped around their bodies, and high-falutin 'tudes wrapped around their heads. TP and I escaped onto the balcony for some fresh air and to give the guests some privacy in which to discuss and eye each other's clothes, shoes, and latest acquisitions. The "fabulous set" decided to go to a "fabulous restaurant" and our only amusement came when they could not identify any of the dishes (upon the advice of a friend, one guy ate a whole scoop of wasabi before dashing off to the bathroom to wash out his mouth) or operate the eating utensils. After getting our fill of fakeness, we passed on joining the group for dessert and, in full anti-social mode, took off on our own before calling it a night. Seriously, I chose getting away from those people over getting some Bertillon ice cream. *shudder*
In other news, despite the near freezing temps that are predicted tonight, I'm going out to see Interpol! For free! I heart free.
Riz picked us up so that we could have breakfast at her house before heading out to Lyon to catch our 11 a.m. TGV back to Paris. Unfortunately, her husband was operating on D.S.T. (Desi Standard Time) and didn't arrive until quite late. We reached the Part Dieu train station at 10:59 a.m., just in time to watch our train (and our reserved seats) slide out of the station. We were assured that we could board the 12 p.m. train (there is one every hour to and from Paris) so long as there was room enough. We found two seats together, tried to look as inconspicuous as possible, and when the conductor came by to check our tickets, we meekly handed them over. He glanced at the ticket, glanced at us, shook his head and said something in French of which I only caught "un probleme." We asked if he spoke English. He looked at us again, took the ticket of the passenger next to us, reviewed it thoroughly, and apparently found un grande probleme with that guy's ticket because he passed our tickets back to us with a curt "c'est bon" and focused his attention and glower on our neighbor instead. Whew.
We arrived in sunny, balmy Paris and immediately hit up La Croissanterie for their wonderful croissants, flan, and cafe creme. TP bought me a cool, orange messenger bag from Mandarina Duck for my birthday. We strolled around the neighborhood, did some window-shopping, and finally returned to the apartment to take full, uninterrupted showers. Stink waves be gone!
In other news, thx to Abez for the great gingerbread punjabis (I got the @-man and the pirate), thx to Najm for the moist brownies (excellent sehri material), thx to Literaunty for the spicy haleem and southern peanut salad (TP had haleem for sehri this morning!), and thx to Chai and HBiddy for the laughs (and not killing me for leading you in a complete circle downtown).
9/29 Nibblet: After our daily alarm clock went off, we found out that our little pink farmhouse in La Championniere was still sans hot water. My cousin, Riz, picked us up, took us to her house, and there, I tried to take a hot shower. I say "tried" because I managed to shampoo my hair, rinse, and soap up before the water cut off. Not just the hot water; all of the water. So with a thin film of soap rapidly drying on my skin, I bellowed for help. Apparently, there was a notice from the construction crew nearby that they were doing some work that morning and that the neighborhood's water would be shut off for a few hours. Alas, in this sleepy little village, no one really checks the mail on a daily basis and so the notice went unread. Riz came to my rescue by heating up half a bucket of bottled mineral water for me and 10 minutes later, I got to rinse off. The only highlight from that little incident is that I can now say "why, yes, I have bathed in Evian water!"
Since TP needed to wash up as well, we zipped over to Riz's sister-in-law's house which, despite being nine centuries old, had both hot and running water. Alack, we zipped too quickly and Riz kinda crunched up the car against the wall. Oops. Now running even later than we were, we scarfed down our breakfast and drove into Lyon to meet Gojira's mere and chien. The second largest city in France, Lyon is a sprawling metropolis located between Fourviere, 'the hill that prays' and Croix-Rousse, 'the hill that works' and is split in the middle by two rivers, the Rhone and the Saone. Mrs. Gojira's apartment was in a very lovely neighborhood that bore a striking resemblence to Saint Germain with its chic shops, bustling cafes, and spotless boulevards. Mrs. Gojira welcomed us warmly and immediately fed us a wonderful leek pie, fresh and healthy tomato and avacado salads, and all sorts of cheeses. We shared some stories about Gojira (heh heh), saw some family pictures (ha ha!), and eventually bid her and MacDuff adieu.
We drove up to Fourviere hill and worked our way down from the Roman Ampitheater (where TP stole a bunch of grapes) to the Notre-Dame de Fourviere Basilica to the St. John Cathedral. We had a clear view of the city below at each stop.
In other news, check out the front page of the UK's Daily Mirror.
See Baji and LB.
See Baji and LB go to vote.
Stand in line.
Wait, Baji, wait!
Two hours is a long time.
Wait, LB, wait!
Almost at the "Festival Center" voting location.
Grab Number Two Pencil.
Vote, Baji and LB, vote!
If "Dick and Jane" is not your style, how about a haiku?
So many choices, which one?
Paper or plastic?
And now back to your regularly scheduled blog.
Update. Daily Show Election Blog. Thx, Julestress!
Mer de Glace
Bustling Rest Stop
Crossing Swiss Border
Championeire Water Pump
In other news, Gojira and I totally have to apply for this position! Because we arrre the best and everyone else is the worrrrst.
We spent several hours inside, on top of, underneath, and then back inside the musuem and then headed outside for some fresh air. We caught some sun and did a fair share of people-watching at the Jardin des Tuileries. As the children pushed their rented wooden boats around the fountain and shrieked with glee when their boats made it safely to the other side without crashing into other boats or ducks, a lively band played some marching music (I can't call them a marching band because they were pretty much standing still) under the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (not to be confused with its much larger sister, the Arc de Triomphe at Etoile).
The combination of sunshine, sitting, and sweet crepes (of which we had several which makes crepes our new gelato) took its toll and after packing for our trip to Lyon, we snoozed the rest of the late-afternoon, evening, and night away. Crepe report card:
Sugar and lemon, A+
In other news, it's raining.
Sibilo : E voi. Chi ha potuto voi essere, signore?
John Piccolo : Sono sir Reginald, duca di chutney. E non attacchi la vostra linguetta fuori me, capretto.
(Hiss: And you. Who might you be, sir?
Little John: I am Sir Reginald, Duke of Chutney. And don't stick your tongue out at me, kid.)
When the rain abated, we hit the Snacketeria, meandered through the streets, and sat by the pool soaking up the humidity and heat before our return to Paris. We packed up our belongings and waited for the car to take us to the airport (the driver was late by an hour which, I suppose, in Italian timing, was right on time). At the Naples Airport, we checked in, grabbed a bite to eat, and waited for our plane to arrive. Number of cents extra they charge for ketchup: ten; number of open head-wounds caused from falling on the slippery floor: one; number of people gathered around aforementioned head-wound victim: twenty-five.
Paris was cold and rainy, so we made haste in gathering our luggage, catching the RER back to the city center, and running in between the drops back to the apartment where friends, presents, and chocolate raspberry cake awaited me. *contented sigh*
In other news, only one week left until Election Day. And for the laziest of D.C. voters, we . . . I mean someone can elect to vote "curbside"! Sweet! Check out this insult to chimps everywhere: Ook, ook.
We caught the SITA bus back to Amalfi even though the bus was completely full and we ended up spending the next 10 minutes as far in the front of the bus as one could get and still be inside it: me, standing next to the driver and trying not to jostle his elbow as he drove; TP on the steps of the bus trying not to bang his head on the windshield or fall out of the door. We arrived in Amalfi in one piece (yay!) but the inclement weather had stopped all of the ferry travel that day (boo!). Luckily, the combination of front seats, 4 'forte' motion-sickness pills from the farmecia, and no espresso helped make the ride a smooth one.
Savvy locals us, we jumped off at the Piazza rather than the train station and had an excellent lunch at The Garden. Back at Hotel Girasole, the chilly wind bringing in smoke from one of the ubiquitous fires in the hills drove us from the pool and forced us to take a nap inside. In the evening, we spent our wild Friday night touring the grocery store with as much attention to the displays as we would any museum. Later, I prepared a lavish grocery store dinner while TP tweezed out the glochids embedded in his fingers that he got after trying to wash a prickly pear by hand. Ah me. So ended our trip to the Amalfi Coast. Buona Sera, Sorrento; Bon Jour, Paris.
In other news, apparently in honor of Halloween, we spent much of this weekend watching terrifying, nightmare-inducing, disturbing, creepy movies including one romantic comedy with zombies flick (where, during one particularly gruesome scene, two patrons leapt from their seats and ran out of the theater). Plus, holy role-reversal, Batman! I spent yesterday painting the bathroom while TP fixed an amazing dish of Iraqi Lentil Soup with Meatballs. Yum.
Upon our arrival at Amalfi, where we had to switch to another bus to get to Ravello, we stopped for a light lunch, hiked up to San Andre Dome Amalfi, took some pix of the cathedral that brought to mind the Mezquita (mosque/cathedral) in Cordoba, and hiked back down to the marina. After some confusion and some jostling around, we boarded the bus Italian-style (all elbows and no quarter given) and wove our way up the cloud-piercing mountaintop to Ravello.
When we disembarked at the town's square, I spotted a bus with the name Hotel Marmorata, Best Western on it; our hotel! I ran up to the driver and asked if there was room for two more people on the already completely filled bus. He shook his head and said, "only one, not two." I tried negotiating at little more, explaining it had to be two until the woman next to the driver spoke to him, spoke to the passengers, got a vote, and spoke to him again. He nodded his head and let us sit on the edge of the raised platform that separates the driver from the passengers. Backwards. All the way back down the mountain. Turns out we had caught the only shuttle to the hotel (which was actually at the base of Ravello rather than at the top) which was dedicated solely for the comfort of the entire busload of American senior citizens on a package tour of the Amalfi Coast. The elderly tour group applauded us when they heard we were on our honeymoon and then began a game to see which couple in the shuttle had the most years of marital bliss under their belts (45 years was the winner). Lucky we were that we caught this shuttle as it turns out our belief that the hotel would be within walking distance from the square was completely wrong. After a little showdown (our lengthy hotel bus vs. a towering tourist bus both trying to negotiate a tight curve with several cars lined up behind each; we won), we arrived at the hotel. The location and view here was pretty amazing and you could walk down the staircase from the pool directly into the Med. Our balcony opened up to a wonderful view from which we could see the sea churning, crashing, and foaming only a few feet away.
After a dip in the pool and the Med, we washed up and got some recommendations for a nice restaurant in the nearby coastal village of Minori. It was only a 10 minute walk, but we had to share the same skinny highway with buses, motorcycles, and cars with the cliff on one side and sheer drop to the sea on the other. We found a hidden staircase that was a shortcut to the square, hung out and watched the locals promenade up and down the marina, wandered around yet more Roman ruins, and had dinner at Gardinera. Best pastry shop in the entire coastal region hands down: La Pasticceria Salvatore De Riso. I think I had about three cannoli and several scoops of limone gelato that night. A+ all around. No joke, this poem, written by an annoymous 17th century poet, could well have been talking about the kind of cannoli served here.
Beautiful are the Cannoli of Carnevale,
No tastier morsel in the world,
Blessed is the money used to buy them;
Cannoli are the scepters of all Kings.
Women even desist [from pregnancy]
For the cannolo, which is Moses's Staff,
He who won't eat them should let himself be killed;
He who doesn't like them is a cuckold, Olè!
In other news, LB, TP, and I met up with Najm (who gave me a very thoughtful, very slayerific birthday present that combines both of our joys in one book; thanks, maign!) and LR (with whom I am going to be tres nerdy and hit the lib'ary today) for dinner last night. And Cybermom, those aloo prathas are wonderful! Ithna muzidaar!
9/22 Nibblet: After purchasing our all-day, all-zone, all-modes-of-public-transportation (bus, train, funicular, metro) pass for 6.40 euros, we boarded the "direct" (meaning direct to each and every stop along the way) train to Naples. We arrived in the (rather crummy and run-down) Stazione Garibaldi and made our way through the (usually unmarked) streets until we found the arch-rival "best" pizzarias in Naples. When Trianon's gates slammed shut in our faces just as we were within a foot of entering it, we spun on our heels and decided to grace the (some say) more popular, less expensive, and equally famous da Michele's. Although also famed for long lines, da Michele's at 4:00 p.m. on a September Wednesday was not so crowded that we couldn't quickly find a seat and be served fresh Vera Pizza D.O.C. rated pizza (of which this 19th century establishment always has and presumably always will offer only two kinds: marinara and margherita. Don't believe me? Check out the menu).
After lunch, we took the metro to the posh Chiaia district, got turned around no thanks to Fodor's map (a plague on Fodor's houses!), and ended up far away from the sea-level "Riviera" but with great aerial views of Naples below.
Train. Donna Vittoria's. Davide "Il" Gelato (speaking of which, why did no one tell me about this?!?!?!(triple interrobang!)). Report:
Amaretto, B (given by TP although almond-flavored anything (except actual almonds) makes me want to vomit through my nose and so I would have given it an F-)
Tutti Frutti, F
Perfumo di Sorrento, A
In other news, I came to realize that I sorely need to update my playlists on my mp3 player as this weekend's seemingly unending road-trip to and from North Carolina proved. Don't get me wrong, I love my Le Tigre and my Ramones and my Fugazi (I think I saw one of the guys the other day) HuskerDuSleaterKinneyArchersofLoafYeahYeahYeahsSleaterKinneyLizPhair (classic, not the new stuff)PavementFetchinBonesRadioheadCafeTacubaNinaSimoneCarborundum (sigh) TheSmithsShellacMuleDeerhoofPizzacatoFiveEnonPJHarveyHelium (wish they were still together) WeenFolkImplosionInterpolLiarsDr.DreTheShins, etc. as I ever did. But I gotta get some new tunes. Any suggestions?
Our first pit stop was at the restrooms near the docks where a grizzled old woman with yellowing white hair clipped her dog's toenails with one hand and snatched up 50 cents each with the other. I suppose it was worth it since this place at least had tissues whereas the Pompeii PeePee Facilities did not. We spent a fair amount of time thereafter waiting for the bus at the Marina, taking the bus up the incredibly precarious, hairpin turns up the mountain to touristy Anacapri, and waiting for another bus (whose fearless driver shrugged off ear-piercing shrieks when his bus scraped another bus taking the same curve) to the Blue Grotto. With limited time on the island, we chose lunch over seeing the famed blue waters of the Grotto. I will spare you the mouth-watering description of my meal, but I will share with you my own personal shock and awe when I got the bill: 44 Euros! Oh, my poor poor wallet.
Back at Piazza Vittoria, we poked around the villa before we decided to work off our decadent lunch by hiking down Scala Fenicia: the "Phoenician Stairway" that is cut into the rocks and connects Anacapri's Villa San Michele with the Marina Grande far below. Far, far below. Like, 900 steps below (yes, I counted each and every one of them). The walk only took about 20 minutes which means that the stairs (good exercise, some shady and cool spots, and 20 minutes) wins out over the bus (nauseating, jam-packed, and 30 minutes). One caveat: the stairs win for the downhill trip only.
Back in Sorrento, we made up for our extravagent lunch by going grocery shopping and making our own dinner at 'home': a little of this and a little of that and we were sated for a mere 6 euros. Gelato report:
Lemon, A+ valedictorian
Mint, C+ but can make up grade during summer school
Chocolate, I think you know the grade for this one
In other news, apparently I bring harmony to the cosmos, I am popular in the northern parts of China and Taiwan, and you do NOT want to mess with me or I will go Shaolin on your ass. Also, I make one mean veggie lasagna.
After chillaxing by the pool for a few hours, we caught the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. Our timing was perfect because by late afternoon, the tourists had disappeared and the slanting sun gave everything a warm glow (I believe photographers call it "sweet light").
Considering the city was devastated by earthquakes, a tsunami, and exploding Mt. Vesuvius' whose lava buried the city and whose cloud of ash blocked out the sun, the Forum, the villas, the uh thing with the things, the gargoyles, and the tiles were incredibly well-preserved and restored. To learn more, clickety click right hyah. TP even made a couple of friends, one of whom was thoughtful enough to demonstrate how the ancient residents died of carbon dioxide asphyxiation. For more gruesome pix, check it. We gave ourselves a self-guided tour of the grounds, pointing out the fig trees, trying not to trip over the ruts in the cobbled streets, and contemplating what the frescos were attempting to depict. If we had had more time, we would liked to have visited Herculaneum (the lesser-known but equally destroyed neighbor; kinda like Brian) but the trip to Pompeii was very edutaining.
We had dinner at Il Lanterna which, besides the refreshing insalata caprese with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil, creamy risotto with perfectly cooked asparagus tips, and hearty, belly-warming gnocchi ala Sorrento (sorry, fellow fasters), boasts original Roman mosaics illuminated under the floor on the way to the self-cleaning, self-flushing toilets. A leisurely stroll along the calm streets (traffic was mild on this Monday night) was followed by . . . you guessed it.
Zuppa de Ingles, A- but with some extra credit homework, a potential A.
In other news, for you South Park fans, the Motion Picture Association of America has given Team America: World Police an R rating. Yeah, that movie with the puppets. Rated R.
Got a Fodor's guide (lame), two mosquito bites (drat), and dinner at the marina with accompanying festivities, frolicking, and fireworks (holiday). Gelato report card:
vanilla cherry, C-
profumi di sorrento (citrusy), A
plays well with others. listens carefully. completes homework assignments.
In other news, Ramadan Mubarak, y'all!
Eager to sample some of the famous Napoli pizza, we stopped at what we thought was the main square to eat at the first restaurant we saw : "Restaurant Number Two". Worst. Pizza. Ever. Pasty, doughy, limp . . . how can this be? Upon further investigation (i.e. 2 minute walk away) we found the proper Piazza Tasso which was packed with much better restaurants, excellent people-watching perches, and Brits as far as the eye could see (in fact, we heard more people speaking English than we did Italian). We consoled ourselves on our bad lunch with gelato (pistachio gets a B; watermelon gets a B-) and returned to the hotel and tried to take a nap (where the pillows made out of either (1) wadded up towels jammed into thin cases or (2) a huge brick of foam). In the evening, we flirted with death and returned to the Piazza where we were rewarded for our bravery with dinner at Donna Vittoria, an excellent restaurant (good service, delicious meals, inexpensive bill, and the waiter will behead and fillet your fish for you). We celebrated our reversal of culinary fortune with some more gelato (strawberry gets an A; chocolate gets an A+). On our walk along the coast of the Bay of Naples, TP was overwhelmed by the beauty of the cliffs and the sea and was subsequently inspired to eat his third helping of two scoops (tm) of gelato (sicilliana gets an A; egg nog gets a D).
In other news, TP and I were browsing around for a new bed (futon days are nearly over) and whilst doing some research, I came across this article. Anyone wanna drop $20,000 for a comfy night's rest? And, in yet other news, today LB and I met Yasmine's and PPP's friend today!