the open road for the travelersâ€™ souls
I fell asleep last Wednesday night to the sound of my father asking, “Who wants to go to Santa Barbara tomorrow?” When we woke up the next morning, it was Thanksgiving Day and Santa Barbara was almost four hundred miles to the south. We showered, dressed, and packed in record time, far more efficiently than weâ€™ve ever prepared for any visit to the relativesâ€™ in Sacramento, and thatâ€™s only an hour away.
I will be the first to admit that I have an obsession with mountains, but this time even I couldnâ€™t help but keep my face practically glued to the car window mainly in the direction of the ocean instead. Following the twists and turns of Highway 1 as we made our way down the California coast, mountains to our left and vast expanse of water to our right, we took endless photos and filmed the sea and otherwise thoroughly behaved like giddy, overawed tourists. Something in the (salt)water, I guess.
I was somehow accorded the position of official navigator, which brought back some dÃ©jÃ vu feelings of the summer when I was nine and we drove from California to Toronto, Canada, me reading The Wizard of Oz while propped up on pillows on the backseat as we laughingly renamed obscure Midwestern towns after imaginary relatives of the infamous Oz. Then, as now, I stared in bewilderment at the map, tracing my finger along the red, yellow, and blue lines, trying to unravel the junctions and interchanges with the tip of my finger, squinting at highways and interstates and the point at which one would meet another. This time, at least, all we had to do was follow all the signs labeled “South” (and, on the way home, those labeled “North”), so thankfully I didnâ€™t make any damaging navigational suggestions or decisions.
In the hotel room the first night, I made a predictable beeline straight for the wall heater, where I stood for several minutes gleefully warming up my hands, and was finally dragged away only to watch Spiderman on TV. Later, I lay on the couch, reading Ray Bradburyâ€™s short stories, while Bean listened to Josh Kelly and studiously flipped through her two-feet-thick, bajillion-pound biology textbook.
In San Simeon, our father kept raising his eyebrows at the hordes of tourists there to check out Hearst Castle, muttering, “Foreigners!” under his breath with mock superiority and outrage, while we laughed and retorted, “Look whoâ€™s talking, Daddy!”
Roadside billboard advertisements that made me laugh:
(1) “Big Bubbaâ€™s Bad BBQ”
(2) “BUELLERTON: HOME OF SPLIT PEA SOUP â€“ Everything For the Traveler”
I hope the humor in these is self-explanatory. Or maybe Iâ€™m just far too easily amused.
I had a cough and cold, so I spent much of the trip listening to my father say things like, “Yasminay, did you take your Vitamin C tablets? Take two right now. Right NOW. And this is YOUR water bottle, okay? The one with the blue label. Iâ€™m putting it in THIS cup-holder. Make sure you donâ€™t drink from mine. Donâ€™t make me sick. What about Sudafed? Have you been taking Sudafed? Take two right now. Whenâ€™s the last time you took some Vitamin C? THIS one is YOUR water bottle, Yasminay, donâ€™t forget now.” Iâ€™m five years old, in case you ever doubted it, really.
Bean filmed me singing the chorus lines to various songs, including Jagjit and Chitra Singhâ€™s Kaghaz Ki Kashti, Sardar Ali Takarâ€™s La Kha Wakhte De, and random songs from the Beatles (like Hey, Jude). And, just to clarify, this portion of the family video is not available for public perusal, sorry. Actually, even I havenâ€™t seen it yet either, come to think of it. Sadly, the Haroon Bacha tape is currently down, so we missed out on old family favorites such as O Zarojaanay and Bibi Shirinay. We all agreed that our fatherâ€™s version of Yellow Submarine is better.
The best part, hands down, was praying on the beach, and later on one of the turnoffs for a narrow mountain road where you could look down over the side of the cliff and see the beach and the ocean below. Gorgeous.
Our father translated the Pukhtu lyrics for us while singing along to all the songs, and approvingly drummed his fingers against the steering wheel when Bean played her sitar fusion CD. He also became suitably enthusiastic at our suggestion of listening to the Beatles. In the late evening of the second day, highly bitter at the fact that he couldnâ€™t find an NPR station signal along the coast, the Daddy-o finally resorted to singing along with the oldies station on the radio. “Don’t you know who this is?” he bellowed towards the backseat where I was laughing at him. “This is Bob Dylan!” “Bean!” I hissed at my drowsy sister, as our father continued loudly accompanying other artists on the radio, “Is this normal?”
And, of course, no discussion of my Thanksgiving weekend is complete without mentioning missed connections with 2Scoops, Audioblogger Extraordinaire [link is from the November 23, 2004 audiopost on Chaiâ€™s blog] from Southern California, who was in the SF Bay Area this weekend. On Friday, we were still driving down to Santa Barbara while he left me a voicemessage saying he was going to Jummah (congregational prayer) at SRVIC. Bean and I just stared at each other and moaned, “Thatâ€™s our masjid!” Yeah, so the one day weâ€™re not there. Geez louise. The next day, Bean and I were at a Unity Halaqa in San Jose while 2Scoops was also in the city, but we couldnâ€™t coordinate a meeting because of our convoluted scheduling conflicts and stuff. So hey, next time youâ€™re in the Bay, 2Scoops, we need to grab some ice cream and continue that list of all our mutual friends and acquaintances. Small world, man. Itâ€™s amazing.
Also, I ate a lot of french fries over break. And cranberry juice. And ice cream, too, of course (two scoops of double fudge chocolate in Santa Barabara, yeeeuhhh boyyeee). I knew you all would be proud.