“California: bordering always on the Pacific and sometimes on the ridiculous” – George Carlin
“Lay off California… We have bears and great white-sharks and even our washed-up actors are allowed to kill one blonde chick.” – Bill Maher
I’ve been out of the loop for a while and feeling a bit loopy. The reason is a trip to Anaheim, California to attend a major scientific meeting. Flying to the West Coast I get three extra hours I don’t know what to do with. Flying back I lose three hours I can’t afford to do without.
Anyways, I digress. Instead of boring you with all the details of my seven-day trip, I’m going to bore with only some of the details of the seven-day trip.
Who needs Disneyland when there are discount airlines?
I had never flown AirTran before, but the flights to and out of Los Angeles International Airport were the bumpiest that I’d ever encountered in my life. And mind you, I hop on an airplane around thirty times a year. I’d like to thank the good people at this discount airlines who made me wish that I had been sharing a seat on the bus from Chitrakoot to Panna with various passengers that included one nirvana-seeking Frenchman, two busloads of sleepy farmers, four coughing chickens and three bleating goats.
In their infinite wisdom, the counter-staff also decided not to assign a seat, until a small riot broke out in front of the ticketing counter. It was perhaps only fitting then that their boarding passes resembled receipts to the roller-coaster ride at a carnival. And like at most carnivals I dreaded having a fat lady with a Chihuahua in her handbag and a fat man with Harley-Davidson tattoos on his arms sitting on either side.
Someone please perform the Anaheimlich Maneuver quick!
If you are going to Disneyland or attending a meeting at the Convention Center nearby, you will end up in Anaheim. Anaheim is in the County of Orange, California (COOC). That is kook spelled California-style. The airport scene in the weirdly numbing movie Adaptation was shot at the Convention Center. This should tell you all you need to know.
If you are lucky enough to stay at the Hilton next door, you might get windows with excellent views of the Convention Center, so you can be constantly reminded of why you’re in town. Please note that the bottled water costs six dollars in the room, but you can refill bottles for free from the swimming pool.
For dinner try the “mixed hoursdurs” and “tandoori guail” on the menu at Gandhi Palace, an Indian restaurant two blocks away. The “mushroom matter” there is definitely better than the “anti-matter” that is prepared by desi aunties at Amma’s Kitchen. Or try the breakfast buffet featuring such satwik foods such as bacon, ham, and sausage ala Gandhi. The restaurant says that they have an “all you can eat – Monday through Sunday.” I’d ask before attempting to sleep under the tables at night.
They even call their airport LAX.
In Los Angeles I found a shop called Fresh Produce that didn’t sell fresh produce. It sold fruit-themed clothing. There were a lot of people there with translucent makeup and a lot of eyeliner. Some looked like they were always ready to strike a pose. And then there were the women.
A word of advice to tourists unfamiliar with Los Angeles: Be prepared for the cheesy side of LA, which is in fact, all of LA. During your stay, your taxi driver may try to get you a prescription for medical marijuana, a washed-out Marilyn Monroe impersonator may try to coax you into taking your photo with her, and you may hear protesters chant, “Jesus is a lie” (Do not worry. They are Korean Christians saying “Jesus is alive“).
You will get caught up in traffic. A lot of it.
And if you happen to be brown you may face another situation. You may actually get yelled at in Spanish for being too good to speak in Spanish. Just smile and nod. Go with the flow. It is no use arguing.
Loosen up a bit if you can and you may end up enjoying your time. Be lax. After all, you may not be used to Californication, but it sure as hell beats Massachusifixion.
© Text, 2010-2012, Anirban