SBIFF & Travel

Just a quick post about the fact that I was at the Santa Barbara film festival!!! I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to volunteer. As you can imagine, being a volunteer comes with it perks 🙂 I was given 4 free passes that I was allowed to use, however I pleased! I did a couple of shifts and then spent rest of the week, between mid-terms, watching movies with Reyhan (from Stirling) and a few other friends! As volunteers we were given the privilege of seeing the movie Flying Lesson before anyone else (excluding director, producer…duh!). I would love to say it was an amazing film, but I think I need to see it again as it did have a rather ambiguous plot. It was chosen as the opening night film, perhaps due to the fact that it was filmed in and around Santa Barbara! Any comments on the film are more than welcome, as I’m still trying to figure the whole thing out! I do consider myself quite a specialist film buff as I do seem to welcome the strange and the new in terms of fictional work and most of the films that I have are some what outside the norm and not necessarily popular, but from time to time I do need help working the film out. Flying lessons is one of those films, where someone needs to explain some of the abstract ideas presented so I can internalise them and admire the film or give it an overly unnecessary critique!

So with the exception of that film, I also got to see Up! in 3D as it was a special screening for kids and I just so happened to be helping out at the same time! I have said a million and one times that Pixar films are simply amazing and Up! doesn’t disappoint. Most of you have no doubt seen the film and anyone who doesn’t like it has to explain themselves in the comments section! And for those of you, who just like to push by buttons (and a few names come to mind e.g. Statiku!), feel free to take the opposing side of this debate but I know that in your hearts you enjoyed the film! I realise I’m getting a bit carried away with my blog at this stage, but the reasoning for this digression will become apparent in the following paragraphs! With the free passes I got for the film festival, I also went and saw Waiting For Forever, a kind of a romantic drama but somewhat different and with an open ending! I really like films with open endings as they allow us to imagine various ways in which things could unfold for the characters concerned. Yea…I know…I take escapism to a different level…but I think I’ve mentioned before that I do have an overactive imagination 🙂
The last film I saw was A Single Man…and please spare the gay comments about the film! I urge all of you to look beyond that! I don’t think this is the first place where you’ll read that Colin Firth deserves an Oscar for his performance but I’ll say it anyway…I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t win an Oscar! Given his recent BAFTA win…l wish him the best for March 7th!
So, let’s get on to the issue of bike rides again…or have you had enough of my bike rides?! I think for bike rides, pictures speak louder than words, so I’ll leave it to all of you to check the flickr site for the pictures! So, moving on from bike rides, let’s talk about the travel. Something I don’t think I’ve done enough of, since coming here! Don’t get me wrong, coming to California is travel in itself and despite my lack of enthusiasm for flights I somehow still feel the need to put myself through the painful ordeal of going to the airport. For my trip to San Diego, I did manage to avoid going to the airport and opted to use the Amtrak! Initially the plan was to drive but due to “unforeseen” (code for people dropping out!)  circumstances me and my friend Joshua ended up on a 6hr train ride to San Diego. I have to admit that I did ponder on what we would do for 6hrs, but turns out Josh was quite the gossip! Due to the spontaneous decision of going to San Diego we hadn’t really worked out where to stay nor what we would do! I guess we both expected wild parties with nothing but grinding but we had been warned that UCSD = University of California of the Socially Dead! Thankfully due to my networking skills (yes yes…I know…Nik…networking skills…don’t make me laugh!) I knew Sophie from Psychology who was studying at UC San Diego! She very kindly offered me and Josh a place to crash for 2 nights and I have to thank her and her wonderful flatmates for putting up with us!
So let’s just start with UCSD really is socially dead, relative to the hardcore party nature of UCSB! We had a rather tame party on the friday night with Sophie’s friends, and the spent most of the night being chased by various on campus security for being too noisy! It was a spontaneous game of cat and mouse with kudos points for people remembering the boom box! To be honest, the quiet nature of UCSD and iHouse was a welcome change! No matter how much partying you do, there does come a point where I think we do crave a quiet night in or just going to a pub as opposed to some stuffy house party! I know, I know, some of you will be like “house parties are the bomb” but I can assure there’s nothing like going to Coopers or Brel in Glasgow! I hate the fact that the Beer Hall closed down, otherwise that place really was fantastic for its pizzas and fine selection of beers. This is coming from someone who detests beers! Anyway, after that short session of reminiscing, let’s get on to San Diego as a city! All I can say is, if it comes down to LA or San Diego, hands down San Diego wins! It is everything that LA is and isn’t! It’s a lively place with hidden pockets of serenity that LA so desperately craves! Coronado is just one example of SD’s serene places! It was the first place we visited in SD with Sophie and we ended up spending almost the whole afternoon there! After Coronado, I went a bit nuts with the idea of finding a Puma shop in SD! I know I know…contributing to the consumerism that so eloquently defines the US…but this is something that my wonderful flatmates and Karine started for me. Before leaving Glasgow they gave me this Puma shirt with the map of Glasgow imprinted on it. Later, my mum gave me a similar shirt but with the Liverpool map on it…hence unconsciously encouraging me to collect such Puma shirts from the various cities that I would see. San Diego was one of those cities blessed with a big Puma store! LA didn’t have one…so 1-0 to SD 😀 It gave an infinite amount of pleasure to buy the SD Puma shirt, which probably freaked out Sophie and Josh but they weren’t interested in the back story 😦 But I think the highlight of the SD trip occurred after the Puma Store. We went to this place called Fred’s and indulged ourselves in the awesomeness of SD Margaritas! Again, don’t start with the “you big girl!” comments! The Margaritas in SD really are the best I’ve tasted so far and they come in these huge goblets that really leave you thirsty for more! But we made it a point to implement discretion and didn’t indulge ourselves further despite the temptation. We moved from Fred’s to join Sophie’s friend for dinner at Mr Tikki’s! This wonderful Japanese/Hawaiian restaurant where I devoured this huge greek bread like pizza thing! I know…I don’t get the whole Japanese/Hawaiian cuisine thing either…but it tasted beyond amazing so can’t complain! The sangria that was also ordered reminded me of my days in Spain..but it did make me a bit tipsy! Don’t remember tipsiness in Spain :S After that we went to Hustlers! Not really going to expand on that too much 😉 My final thoughts on SD, when we left on the sunday morning were simply “wow!”. It felt so good to be amongst various people from the UK! As I said last time…don’t really get home sick…but when you meet people from the same place as yourself and spend time talking to them and their accents, you somehow activate some kind of familiarity schema!
For my final trip, courtesy of my cousin Nash, I went and visited Boulder, Colorado! Again, just simply based on the the cold weather and snow, I couldn’t help but think of Glasgow! I’m one of those cold blooded people who thrives on cold weather and boy was it good to be welcomed to Denver Airport with snow! And yes, this trip did involve the airport, a topic of immense contention for myself! On this particular trip, I had started reading this book called  A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary by Alain De Button! An amazing read that I finished during my weekend in Colorado! As I mentioned earlier…my digressions on this particular post are all a direct product of that book. I find that each time I read some literary piece of work, it makes me more vocal about things, even though they are just words on a page! Anyway, so back to Denver! Apart from the homely feeling and my cousins’s enthusiasm to show me around…it really was a wonderful place for getting into some extreme sports! Apart from the usual clubbing, we paid a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park where the scenery was comparable to that of the Swiss Alps but on a much bigger scale. The wilderness and the remoteness of life there really invited people to explore the grandness that existed and I don’t think I can quite spell out how amazing it was just to be driving on these snow filled roads, occasionally seeing Stags hiding to find shelter…simply breath-taking! We also went to the Vail Ski Resort. Sadly, no skiing for me but we did enjoy tubing! Basically sitting on a tube and going down these huge slopes. Amazing fun, but given my lack of protective clothing…I really couldn’t be out in the cold for that long! The resort itself is a testament to the commercialism that inevitable infects places of amazing beauty. I think I would be generalising too much in suggesting that it only happens in the US, but try to recall a Starbucks at a ski resort in France! By no means is this a complaint, but more of an observation of differences. I probably contributed to the commercialism by buying some mulled wine to warm me up 😉 Amongst other things that weekend, we went and saw downtown Denver as well as downtown Colorado! Colorado in particular made me feel really home sick, the university was just 15 mins away from the center of town…like Glasgow! It had a typical studenty feel to it and with no disrespect to Ashton lane, but Colorado had one almost 2x as big and with even more entertaining pubs. It had a weird hippy feel about it but I’ve already explained my openness to the new and strange 😉 Overall the trip was amazing and I left pondering on my next visit to Colorado. Especially for the skiing and hiking that seem very accessible there! I also enjoyed the much needed catch-up with my cousin! I’ve practically grown up with him, even though he was brought up in India and myself in the UK. Especially with my evolutionary psych class emphasizing the nurture part of growing up, it was interesting to talk about how different our attitudes were on certain issues! Not that I was analysing you Nash 😉

February was an amazing month and I guess at the peak of the highs up till now! Having settled to the system, studying going well, good grades and also the travel really made it a memorable month! My involvement in the film festival, the biking and the badminton also made me feel a little bit more involved in Californian life! You know what…I could get used to this 😀

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