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The journey so far...
My bad-luck from Delhi, continued right into the plane. For the first time in my life, I got a window seat which had no window! (Seat number 34K, two seats - aisle and window just that there was no window). I slept through most of the flight.

Amidst all the intense blogging, I think I forgot my cozy black jacket in Delhi. Did not quite need it till the plane landed in Amsterdam. The 100 meter or so of stretch between the plane and the airport (air-bridge), is hardly ever air-conditioned. The temperature outside was -1 degree C and I was in a skimpy grey t-shirt. Needless to say, it felt like longest stretch I've ever walked (surprisingly, my innards came through intact - unfrozen)

Had a 4 hour stop-over at Schipol airport - which is perhaps one of the most pleasant airports in Europe. There are lots of cafeterias serving interesting food (and they do not demonstrate any particular bias towards non-vegans - vegetarian is as readily available). I gingerly nibbled through my hot cheese roll and washed it down with strawberry shake. Did some music-shopping. Found a CD of Beethoven Piano Sonatas that had the three which I really wanted. (Moonlight, Pathetique and Appassionata). I was pleased to find Moonlight sonata in particular - the first movement of this sonata has this eerie haunting melancholic texture while being softly romantic at the same time. I also netted Jesus Christ Superstar DVD and two Dulce Pontes, Fado albums (Lusitana and O Primerio Canto). Dulce Pontes has sonorous voice which is perfectly suited to singing Fado. O Primerio Canto comes across as an album that was result of a lot of hard work and introspection. Most of the sounds are vividly surreal and soothing, with at least one of them showing some Indian influences. Slightly disappointed with the JCSS DVD, this particular performance is missing the valor and passion in singing that the audio CD performance I own has. Tried hard to have a nap but the fear of falling asleep and missing the flight kept me up. Hunger soon beckoned again. This time I indulged in a scrumptious Apple Pie (though managed to avoid those inviting, luscious sandwiches loaded with think chunks of brie), which was studded with nuts, a cup of hot cappuccino completing the gastronomic duet.

Before I knew it, it was time to board the plane for the onward journey to LA. Another boring ride. This time I had a real window seat, but the view outside remained a constant consistent white sheet of clouds. Occasionally there would be cracks in this cloudy veneer - but instead of revealing the underlying geography they would reveal another thick layer of clouds underneath. As we neared LA, I saw two planes from my window - their long white jet stream trails made them look like a comet with a long tail, shooting across the skies without purpose.

Arrival at LA was smooth. The outside temperature was close to 25, but it was foggy. It was a little awkward to see almost no greenery at the airport. There were soil-beds, but the grass in them was wilted, shriveled with dust accumulated on it. Reached hotel after an arduous 40 minute wait for my shuttle. Almost everyone in LA, right from the reception desk to the cab driver has been warning me about walking in downtown LA after dark. Hooliganism it seems is rampant on the streets here (my sleep was disturbed on at least two counts by howling police sirens and chopper circling above my hotel - it's spotlight would occasionally peep into my window).

I woke up first day at 5:00 AM and was all dressed up at reception desk asking for directions by 7:00. It was still dark outside and I was told to take a cab as it was not safe to be walking outside "at this time". I reluctantly agreed, but for some reason it beehoved me to ask what the time was. "5:00 AM sir" was the prompt reply. The answer caused me considerable embarrassment and anguish. It meant that I had gotten up at 3:00, thinking it was 5:00 because the clock near my bed said so (and because I felt so darn fresh!). As if this was not enough, LA yesterday made some daylight saving adjustments. A note was slipped under my hotel room door instructing me to set my watch backwards by one hour.

I am right now in cozy confines of an air conditioned convention hall. I had ventured outside for a short walk (and to "absorb" some sun as the artificial lighting inside the convention hall, makes me loose sense of time, which then wrecks havoc in recovery from jet lag) a little while ago but came running back because it is so very hot. Several forest fires have been raging in California causing large scale monetary and environmental damage. The smoke from the fires, it seems, is gradually descending on LA as well. There is a fine smoky mist hanging in the air and the breeze outside reeks of burnt coal, its funny that it feels so much like the afternoon right after Diwali in Delhi.
posted: 26.10.03

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