Saturday, March 24, 2012

Culture Shock and Tea

23 March 2012

O San Francisco Bay Area, your grand skies and crisp spring days.

That's true but also, feeling rather ragged today, all this travelling and looking at amazingness can grow bewildering, the TV here is also large and loud, (yet strangely subtle and sneaky, o the sophistication it has to be seen to be believed) and I could be allergic to it, but o well, we shall see I suppose. It is Friday after all, Adam's cooking something delish and we went to the most stunning grocery store I've ever seen as far as range of produce and goods go, I spent an hour in there overwhelmed then bought three fruits I'd never had or do not buy as a rule - a particular kind of mango, a Jona-something apple and a USA orange, (I do not usually buy imported fruit at home).

24 March 2012

Now believe I am in culture shock and needed to mute the TV ads last night which helped me a bit, then also, off to have a lie down for a while earlier yesterday early evening was useful.

I think I always need a nap round the afternoon or a strange ache starts up behind the right ear, phantom pain. Constant newness not good for small country visitor I suppose, and getting on in years as I am, (well, you know, a fraction).

Still, have managed to get to the local Park St shopping centre unassisted and back on a bus both ways, alone, put correct change into the machine and everything. Managed not to annoy the bus drivers too much. I suspect many bus drivers like people to just follow a routine, no issues. I was this rather flamboyant woman with grey hair, (rare here, where many people dye their age away), a little trolley with two black bags on it, one of them with a fine cat brooch knitted by a crafty friend, and carrying a paisley walking stick, a woman who was not only visually distracting but also, seemed unaware of the usual behaviour. Yes, me.

I gathered later that people getting on the bus make as little contact with the driver as possible, but I didn't know that when I embarked and grinned, saying, 'Hi.' Then took a time putting my money is as if I'd never done it before which I hadn't, (o well, I had once but was with Adam that time).

The first driver eventually smiled and chatted briefly after I apologised before alighting and said, 'Sorry, I only got here from New Zealand a few days ago and I'm a bit thick.'
'Reaaallly?' She grinned at me and rocked on her seat a little, held the wheel of the bus. 'Nooo Zeaaland?' The driver looking ahead so it was obvious she had to go on, but looking pleased I wasn't just some wierdo (and that the mystery of my accent was solved too, perhaps). Loved her grin, all the more impressive with her deeply dark skin and quite a beauty, a great picture in mind to remember.

I'd got on the bus all smiles, asked if she'd tell me when we got to Park St. This driver sat up straight to regard me, professional, The machine will tell you. But later must've realised I did need some help. A disembodied human voice announced, This is Park St. The machine and her relaying where I was, together. That was when I made my apology, in relief finding myself where I wanted to go.

Spent all day there in Park Street where I was reminded a little of Grey Lynn, Surrey Crescent shops except the stores stretch on for miles. (No kiometres here). A great variety of places too, with a couple of excellent and quite different junk/antique shops, a manicure place, several banks, opticians, shoe shop, many food places, a centre for gifted children I saw somewhere, by a hardware place but that may've been further back near Bay St along Santa Clara Ave. Anyway, the Peet's Tea and Coffee place attracted me more than the blatant ....bucks place across the street.

In there, (dark brown, black and cream decor with wooden furniture), I said, 'Tea for one.' The young man just stared at me in alarm.

I did not know how to ask for tea the usual way or my accent was puzzling, I supposed. 'Sorry,' I said, 'I'm from New Zealand how do you ask for tea for one person here?'

He instantly tried to cover his bewilderment and got me the tea. Service here is very good I must say, so far, most people are so willing to help and take care when they finally get what you mean.

He gave me the tea in a large takeaway container, then we spent a while smiling over this, because I wanted a real cup, to drink there if possible. The cookie I wanted also 'not out yet' but soon found. This was all a little confusing but also absolutely fine. I just want to point out a lone New Zealander wandering an American suburb seems to be quite odd to all concerned, but it's soon nothing to worry about really.

I then spent a pleasant time at a window by the table, writing in my notebook, reading the local paper and eating a gigantic vegan chocolate chip cookie then sipping my tea, a snack which lasted me til dinner-time I might add. Excellent cookie and black tea, the tea bag a substantial arrangement like a long muslin bag with perhaps an in-house blend, it looked like they could add their own leaves to it, anyway.

Great to wander shops, the antique places were really fascinating. Enormous, packed with things and lovely people work in both of them.

Then after a short sit down in a bus stop, (my knees are a trial) I found the library, where I'm pleased to say I edited my book WWTAWWTALDAM (that is an acronym for the title, not the title), for epublishing soon, for some hours.

NOTE PLEASE - Remind me to tell you the story about the maniac in the library when I get back, it was astounding and needs to be told in person with actions and sound effects. It wasn't harmful to me, nothing to worry about but quite a tale. Scary too. Mwaahaha.

Now we're off for lunch somewhere nice. A dreary rainy day but the air outside smells gorgeous.

'If Max, [one of the three cats here] had memoirs they'd be called Meowing at God,' Adam my host says, 'because he will meow at the rain if he's outside.' Maybe Max will impress the weather with complaints so it's sunny for my flight to Seattle tomorrow, I certainly hope there are no storms, anyway. Send me good wishes x

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