Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taj Mahal

Imagine that you’re in Bakersfield, California. Give yourself a good fifteen minutes to acclimate to the hybrid alfalfa/cow fart/beer smell and the dreadful heat and humidity. Take stock of the 300,000 mouth-breathers spread out across a landmass large enough to fit 58 Hollywoods. Soak up the squat buildings, the bad drivers, and the “Cowboy Up!” bumper stickers. Are you still there?

Now imagine you’re with a group of friends. And this group of friends decide that it’s time for nourishment. What comes next is inevitable, “Where the hell are we going to eat?” It’s an obvious progression of the conversation, and one that’s easily hurdled. A few people throw out ideas. Some are shot down, some are accepted. A consensus is taken, and the group heads off to discover new culinary frontiers.

Now, that would be the short version. But this is Bakersfield, California we’re talking about. Land of eight million dream-cicles. There is approximately one McDonald’s hamburger stand for every four people in Bakersfield (numbers are estimates only). Throw a rock out of any window, out of any building in Bakersfield, and you will hit a Carl’s Jr. Need to eat? Drive in a direction. Any direction.

Today, it was Indian food, served at Taj Mahal (5416 California Ave). Yes, that gastronomic delight from that country somewhere way over there. Curries, biryanis, and lassis (unfortunately, no bhang lassis on the menu here) served with a smile, or at the very least, some confused expressions. “You want an order each of cheese and spiced beef naan? And mango chutney? And lamb biryani? And a mango lassi?” Translation: “You are fat, American pig.”

The stunned waiter brought my food out dutifully, along with the food of my luncheon companion (who ordered shrimp tandoori, and gladly helped me with my feast as well). The lamb biryani was a little dry, but good. The naan was fantastic, though, and I had to order a second mango lassi when the first one mysteriously disappeared into my mouth. We feasted like royalty. Bakersfield royalty.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I miss my old Geo Storm. It was my second car, following a '57 Ford truck that doubled as a tank. I got it my senior year in high school and was very proud of the silly thing. It was electric blue and sexy as hell. When I got it, I drove over to Kara's place and took her for a ride around her complex. I probably thought I was the shit.

The car, which was a '91, lasted about five years. Shortly after getting it, I bought one of those silly license plate frames that read, "Let's put the fun back in funeral." I remember pulling into a parking lot, blissfully unaware of my surroundings. A older couple, probably in their 60s, approached my car.

"Do you think funerals are funny, asshole?" the husband asked. "Well, yes, they can be quite funny, in the right circumstances," I replied. "Well, I'll have you know…" was about as far as the conversation went on his end. I practically skipped away.

That car made me invincible. Or, at least I thought so at the time. I think we all have those times or objects we associate with our youth. That Geo Storm didn't actually make me cool, I just thought it did. Still, I miss that damned car.