America Through my eyes -Los Angeles-1
Telugu original : K.Geeta
English translation: Swathi Sripada
Los Angeles! world renowned great city. No wonder, if everyone in the world knows its name. People in India, when we say ‘we are in California,’
“You are in Hollywood then” they comment.
I was so anxious to visit it since I arrived here, but still it took six months for us to get set go to Los Angeles.
Visiting Loa Angeles for the first time is totally different from visiting it.
The first-time experience of anything never gets distorted forever. Especially, first time a start from our village is a great thing to share. Let us go together…
To our village Los Angeles is on its south, at a distance of four hundred miles. Almost six to seven hours travel by car. The year we arrived in America, we planned it in thanks giving vacation. Travel time counts two days in our four-day tour. We earmarked two days to visit places there. By that time, we were not well versed in driving on freeways. So, four hundred miles driving, totally on a freeway is really a daring task. We both are excited so much driving such a long distance for the first time.
We started our travel plans and preparation a week ahead of our journey. First of all, checking the car and its parts to enable it to take us safely to the intended place started the travel fever. No need to mention about my anxiety.
Writing lists, pressing the clothes, packing the bags, everything I have to look after. Satya’s work is to carry the bags out from home and adjusting them in the car. If I want to allot something else, immediately he retorts, ‘” Any way you didn’t like in whatever way I do, why don’t you do it yourself”.
Its true. Unless I do myself most of the things, I’ll not have the satisfaction. The number of bags I packed is three time the number of heads.
Satya held his head and said just before we started, “we are not going for a month, just four days only. Takeout this bag, reduce that”. i stubbornly said everything is the most important one for me. Yes , tell me what can we take out – from a spare footwear to face powder – everything is a must.
Satya insisted that we have to start at home by eight, so I have to wake up at five in the morning. I prepared some Indian food for the journey. (Upma, Pulihora and Maggi for Varu).
By the time we started the car its eight thirty. Hardly we travelled 40 miles from home, Varu showed her little finger ‘Urgent’ indicating the need of a rest room. We went into Gilroy village ( ( let me say about this village at some time later), when we asked about the rest room a retail shop in some complex they replied in negative, a nearby restaurant is closed, when we crossed the road and went into a Petrol pump station, the rest room is locked. Again, we travelled forth, came back and after half an hour we went into a subway and requested a girl at the counter using a rest room without buying any food, she kindly accepted it.
At some other time when my mother was with me Satya hadn’t given us anytime to do breakfast at home. (Off course, he has not even given time to do my makeup now. I have to do smearing fair and lovely and applying powder also in the car itself. So, though we have an agreement that we should exchange driving every hour. But to provide the time for my makeup first one hour always Satya drives. In that one hour I do my makeup touches leisurely)
We were all hungry. To have the breakfast we brought, again we went into Gilroy village. With the experience of rest room episode last time, this time we searched a public park there. There we will have rest rooms definitely. Moreover, we have benches in the park to sit and eat, for kids also to avoid the boredom there will be swings and sliding boards etc. to play. So every time we stop around the Gilroy and spend about an hour in its surroundings.
On 101 freeway through Gilroy on the way to I-5 international highway I love hundreds of acres of land with vegetable and fruit gardens. We all like buying fresh fruits to eat there in the shops on either side of the road. We get various types of berries in their season here including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc. though we had many types of fruits, life seems to be a waste milling our custard apples and good mangos. What to do, they say be romans when in Rome, same way we should have fruits available where you are. The season when we were on tour oranges and persimmons are seasonal. Now my favorite fruit here is Persimmon. It appears as a tomato to look when fully ripened inside it would be very sweet and and gives a taste of a palm fruit. We can’t eat at all the raw fruit. With a kind of sap, it tastes bitter. It takes weeks together to ripe.
Within an hour after entering I-5 we came across the first rest area. Though called a rest area it seems to be a vast park. Since then we started to pause a while at every rest area. Here especially, we have rest rooms. Added to that exclusive play areas for kids around and to walk the dogs, Sheds and benches for lunch are attractive. We have to buy ice cream for Varu always from the wending machines there. We can even buy coffee and tea from the machines.
Swiftly moving vehicles on the freeway on one side and on the other side a stretch of widely spread hay and the blue sky bending down on to the earth as a bow. When I went up and down on the footpath Varu and Satya played Tag. When I came with my mother I was eight months pregnant carrying Siri Vennela . holding my mother’s warm hand, I walked around the park slowly. though it was a bit sunny at that time, without any trees around, we can notice the breeze very clearly on the flat land.
We always take our lunch there and relax a while.
There will not be any change in scenic appears as long as we travel on I-5 till we reach Los Angeles. But for the same type of hay, land as a desert nothing could be seen. The second rest area arrives at a distance of 60 miles but it always remains closed. As we have here, no shops or Hotels are close by freeways. In between when we can find the sign boards, we have to travel a while taking exit from the freeway. By the time we reach close by Santa Clarita, the road goes up and down as if ascending and descending a hill as if concealing a secret slithering swiftly twists. When we reach San Fernando Valley the city starts. If you are intended to visit the Hollywood, it is always better to stay at north area of the city.
Throughout the way very long trucks going by the side, we feel alarmed as if the car gets attracted towards them by the wind. Stubbornly going against the the wind increasing the speed and exceeding courage, all at a time provided a great feel of achieving a kind of victory in our maiden long drive. Sometimes, both sides we have the trucks and create a feel that they are dragging us forth not our driving. However, it’s a strange experience for me..
At a distance of ten miles we can get good hotels at cheaper rates. We first stayed at Sylmar. We reached at 4 in the evening. By that time, we all are completely exhausted, its being our first long drive. The cold here is exactly the same as in our village. No difference at all. Moreover, winter season, not feeling to go out, we have taken rest in the room. We adjusted for dinner with the roti’s I brought, I carried some grains and other things for cooking but time and patience were not at all there to do that in those two days. Now, this is the time for eating out, since we started the journey. Breakfasts at Mac Donald’s, lunch and dinners at various American restaurants, though the bills are tattling Satya feels happy to reduce the luggage in the car.
First day we went to visit world famous Universal studios at Hollywood. Satya woke up all at five itself and hurried us to be there at the gate by the time they open it. We parked the car at Jurassic parking and entered in it appeared as if we are into a big street in New York, ( I saw that in many movies), Hoardings outside, shops of mirrors and glasses, movie theatres, and many more. Tourists already started walking around. Watching for the original entrance gate, taking photos by the time we reached it took one hour. The ticket is very costly, 77 Dollars per head. Out side the gate still fog is covering. A globe moving on with Universal Studios welcomed us. Throwing out the smoke. A red carpet was laid from the ticket counter to the gate.
As soon as we stepped in the statue of the Director, light boy and the cameraman attracted us so much. Satya was anxious to see every specialty without leaving anything, so he took us into house of horrors that started at the gate itself. I am so scared of such things. I never like them a bit. But before we exit it, we come into a hall. I liked very much the eruption of a volcano there, the moon and the dawn there.
We planned to see any other thing after visiting the original studio tour. Already there was a long que. Here and there hot smoke in line is comfortable. Varu wanted to stand there itself. We had our turn after an hour. The guide of our three compartments, before the tour started narrated us about the sheds showing them and the shooting completed and still going on there for ten minutes. “We are finished. Nothing seems to be there “Satya said. Later how they shoot action scenes one by one he showed us. Cars going up and falling down, bombing scene and everything going in as usual, while going through the streets with movie settings, cowboy explosions, fighting scenes, set of fish in Jaw movie, everything is strange and exclusive. Taking us into a cave gave the experience of an earthquake. Everything while we are in bus itself.
No need to get down the bus anywhere. Floods and the scene of rain I liked so much. While watching, suddenly a heavy rain falls resulting in floods. Till we are alarmed water comes and recedes. Finally, we saw a scene where a plane crashes into pieces. One-hour tour completely mesmerized us. Such a technology showing everything so natural was a wonder.
For lunch they sell all day eat pass at the rate of 20 dollars. That is the best one. Whatever you want you can have whole day till night. A tag will be tethered on the hand. They should go to get their food. Very long ques, it’s an experience. Due to timings adjustment instead of upper lot attractions we went to lower lot. We have to descend down taking four or five very big escalators. If we have steps alone, we could have seen the heaven there itself going up and coming down.
I went to a ride. I felt so giddy, I shut my eyes tightly. for some of the rides Varu’s height is insufficient so we both sat outside. Satya almost all saw everything. when we went another time komal took my mother also. now i was sitting alone looking at the sky and people moving around. i stubbornly insisted that I will see only shows. We went to a 4D show. They say 4D but create slight 3D effects practically as if in movies.
For example, moving of chairs, drizzling water from the front seats and so on. Varu dragged me to the same show two times. The strange thing is before going inside for a show in waiting period we have an introduction in darkness. At that time when we were in a back row Varu saw a couple hugging and kissing. She was very young so went on watching them without even a wink. Here, even on roads at day time also such scenes are very common. But I could not forget how she saw them at that time. I tried my level best to turn her head away but she turned back again and again to see them and no chance in America to move in the hall from the place we seated.
We went to the water world show in the last batch. That was the live show of the theme of water world movie. In that movie it was a scene of fighting, bombing, and finally a plane crashing down and other scenes taking place inside an ocean in a tin shed setting in a vast setting appears too good. Young and old also like it so much. If we sit in the front rows we will be drenched completely.
How we spent the time till night roaming there is not at all noticed. But at least to see everything once will take a day completely. When we visited it the next time not much attractions were in the tour. Probably it was a weekend , but Universal studios is a place that must be visited at least once in life time.
A native of Nizamabad, writes poetry in English and Telugu, Novels , stories In Telugu. Translates from Telugu to English and English to Telugu.
Published 5 poetry volumes in Telugu, 5 story anthologies, 5 novels and 32 translations. Loves and lives in poetry.