I have one of these childhood memories that I am not quite so sure about these days. It could be a figment of my imagination.
As a kid, for some reason on the other, I had a fascination with music played by bands. I must have been in either elementary school or middle school when I recruited my brother and sister for a session of playacting where we pretended to be members of a band. We had no instruments and had to make the sound of the instruments through other means. In the case of the guitar, it mean pretending to be strumming a guitar while making guitar-like sound with the mouth. I think we had a fake trumpet also. But the centerpiece of this fake performance was a piece of borrowed furniture that played the part of a piece in the fake drum-set. I think it is called a pouf, or maybe an ottoman, in the western world. It looked like a beanbag but was better designed to keep its shape. It was covered with stronger material than on a beanbag, perhaps leather based, and stuffed with material that allowed it to better maintain its shape when sat on. It was quite tightly packed, and one could bang on it with a stick and produce a deep sound.
The siblings were assigned their roles in the faux band, and off we went. I think this “tribute to music of the west” only happened a couple of times, and it only lasted a couple of minutes or so when it happened.
But I was reminded of this when I listened to some big band music recently. Perhaps it was music like this that was my inspiration as a kid, but I cannot be sure.
I am sitting in the restaurant at the Hilton Garden Inn in El Segundo and I have pleasant buzz going. It is Happy Hour at the bar. I am partaking of a glass of red wine – for health reasons of course. The place is not crowded. Off to my left, at roughly 10 O’clock, a woman is complaining to her companion about the irresponsibility of somebody else in her workplace, and about how she is dealing with it. At a table right in front of me, a couple of folks are busy snacking, chatting, and consuming beer and vodka. At one point one of the gentlemen goes up the bar and brings back the rest of a half-empty bottle of vodka. It seems that he is not interested in having his drink poured into a glass by a waiter a little bit at a time. Off to my front and right, roughly beyond 1 O’clock, a group of women are having a jolly good time jabbering away loudly amongst themselves. I cannot make out if they are consuming any of the cheaper drinks that are being offered for Happy Hour. At 90 degrees to the direction I am facing, exactly to my right, is another gentleman who, just like me, is looking up at the Flat Panel TV high up on the wall towards a corner of the room. I think this gentleman is here for a free dinner. Along with his wine, he is eating the free oily hors d’oeuvres and the soup that are being offered a a part of Happy Hour. He has made at least a couple of trips to the buffet table for the food. The two of us are watching bits and pieces of the move “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in High Definition. I see Richard Dreyfuss go cuckoo and start throwing all kinds of things from the garden through his kitchen window into his home. It seems that he wants to build a model of a mountain in his living room. Through the big glass windows of the restaurant right in front of me I can see the coconut trees and a parking lot. Beyond the parking lot is the elevated train station for the Los Angeles Light Rail Commuter train. I wonder if the spot outside the restaurant would be a good location to take a picture of the trees and the train station from, especially when a train arrives at the station and the light of the setting sun hits its side.
I am absorbing all of this while consuming my veggie burger. I am enjoying the French Fries. They are a special treat since I do not eat them often. They are not supposed to be good for me. I will make up for this breakdown in discipline by consuming a plate of fruit salad in the end. All of this probably only makes a difference in my mind.
I am experiencing all of this as if I am observing myself from somewhere outside of myself. Apparently, I am feeling a little detached. I am feeling a little separated from myself. You might think you know what I am doing here, but I am pretty sure I do not. But it is good to have that pleasant buzz anyway. Thanks goodness for Happy Hour.
I took the following pictures during my later trips to the city from the proximity on the hotel mentioned above, at the corner of Mariposa and Nash. Regular trips to Los Angeles were part of my work routine in those days, and I used to stay at this place a lot. I was also still in recovery mode from my heart procedure at that time.
It is a cold morning here in Gaithersburg, with the wind and the sub-zero temperatures making me glad to be indoors. But I am beginning to feel warmer already. I leave today to the land of my birth, to the place of my childhood. It is a trip that I used to make more often. It is a trip that has been delayed this time more than it should have.
When I step out of the airport in Chennai I will once again absorb the feelings of being in a familiar place. But I also wonder how much the place has changed since I last visited. Will I still experience the familiar chaos, noises and smells? I wonder how much people have changed since I last saw them. People grow older, and perhaps wiser, and sometimes more frail. I wonder how much I have changed.
Today is the birthday of an old friend. We go back a long way, all the way back to elementary school. My friend is a remarkable person – full of joy, sweet, smart, kind, curious, adventurous, and always helpful. He is one terrific guy. I went on a bike ride with him this summer in the Rockies in Canada. Here are some pictures from the ride that capture his spirit, including his sometimes playful, dare I say, cheeky nature.
At the start of the ride.At the Goats and Glaciers viewpoint.The lovely couple.Do not know what happened here!Supporting a fellow rider up a challenging slope.He is his own man,but I am not sure what he is doing here.They both have one foot in the Banff National Park and the other in the Jasper National Park.The explorer on Parker Ridgeprobably looking at Saskatchewan Glacier (not in the picture) in the distance.He gives a friendly wave as we head out to our stop for the evening at The Crossing Resort.He was the first to venture into the glacier fed waters of Waterfowl lake. It was cold!Here he is returning from an exploration in the vicinity of Bow Summit.The friendly wave. Happy birthday and happy trails, my friend!
Moments like these anchor memories of happy days gone by,
When one partook of the joys of the simple things in life,
Toes in the water, holding hands, beauty of nature and birds in the sky,
No worries about what tomorrow will bring,
Heart filled with so much joy, the soul could sing.
Still true after all these years!!!
It is a place where giant dragonflies keep you company as they buzz over the waters.
It is a place where the turtles say hello from the trunks of the fallen trees in the middle of the water.It is a place where turtles swim in the waters with most of their bodies submerged and heads above the water – where they quickly dive beneath the surface when they sense that you are looking at them.
It is a place where butterflies stay still enough that you can get close to them to take their pictures.It is a place where the butterflies play with your shoelaces when they think you are not looking.
It is a place where the green heron hides behind the branches of the tree that has fallen over the canal, and moves around as you approach, trying to make sure that you cannot get a clear picture of it.It is a place where the large great blue heron takes off overhead from a spot just near you, and you did not even realize that the bird was there.
It is the place where the startled deer swims across the canal when it notices your approach.
It is the place where the geese hiss at you when you pass them and their little ones.
It is the place where you can say hello to the folks and get a smile in response.
It is the place where canoes glide silently over the waters as the folks who are rowing chatter amongst themselves and navigate around the trees that have fallen into the waters that happen to block their way.It is the place where little children stagger aimlessly on their tiny feet across the trail while their guardians try get them to move in a general forward direction.
It is the place where the grand old river rushes noisily over the rocks, and where the cormorants perch on the branches of the fallen trees in the middle of the river.It is the place where squirrels, and bluebirds and cardinals show you the way on the trail.
It is my magical wonderland, and if I am lucky, I get to visit it for a few hours every once in a while.