Sunday, December 10, 2006

Postcard from San Francisco!

I'm in San Francisco this weekend on a long overdue vacation. We're having a good time, although it is raining on and off. That stinks because it cuts short the walking, which is the most important part of sight-seeing in SF. We're struggling with our itinerary, trying to make the best of the non-rain weather (sunshine was shortlived). We saw the Golden Gate Bridge in cloudy, windy weather, from the distance with the sunlight breaking through and another in rain, which was not fun!

Anyway, the fun points have been unplanned. We ran into a parade of 100 or so "Santa Clauses" on Fisherman's Wharf. Apparently it's a pub-crawl "conference' but people were dressed (or undressed!!) in various Santa outfits. It was great and we took some pictures with them.

We did the pilgrimage to Ghiradelli Square and had super-rich hot chocolate. They should put a warning on the sugar/chocolate levels before you order a large. In Sausalito, we went to the No Name Bar and had fun chatting with Ilse the owner. (If you see her, tell her we said hi -- we're the group with the guy who couldn't drink beer because he was hungover from the hot chocolate).

We went to Chinatown via Lombard Street -- I held my breath and prayed on this roller coaster through the city because it was dark, rainy and we didn't know where we were going! How do you live in a street that is at a 45 degree angle??

Our friends had told us to go the Stinking Rose, so we checked it out. The food was alright, but atmosphere is fun. We had the garlic ice cream, which was like eating vanilla ice cream with a dirty spoon.

We asked the girls at the restaurant where to go since it was soggy and rainy. One suggested City Lights Bookstore.

We went to the bookstore and got lost in it. I used to say Farley's Bookstore in New Hope, PA was my favorite, but this wins! We were jumping up and down in the Third World Fiction room. We wrote down names of authors and books that we want to read. There were books that I had not seen on bookshelves - Amitav Ghosh's "Calcutta Chromosome", Samrat Uphadhyay, Nedjima, Anita Nair. There were anthologies of Modern Indian Literature. Plus, Orhan Pamuk and Naguib Mahfouz. I couldn't believe this collection because there were some obscure South Asian books that I have on MY bookshelf and did not get the popularity that Lahiri and Rushdie get, such as "The Dancing Girl" by Hasan Shah.

I was thrilled with the collection of literary journals. I'm always sending my poems and stories to journals and don't see these available at Barnes & Noble. So, I spent some time reading poems.

The poetry room was inspiring -- a whole shelf of Neruda! There was a lot about Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation. However, this morning I just read more about City Lights and learned they had published "The Howl" in 1956. They were right on the website -- this is a literary mecca!

So, we went into this bookstore to get out of the rain and it ended up being a worthwhile find.

Anyway, the sun is peeking in and out. Let's see where we end up today!

No comments: