I’m writing this at the San Francisco International Airport. I arrived 2.5 hours early, got through baggage check quickly enough (though I had to remove shoes and belt), and now I’ve got 2 hours to kill before my flight to Narita International in Tokyo takes off.
Here’s a thought: after having spent 8 days in San Francisco and visited quite a few places – including all five of the city’s main attractions covered under the City Pass admission – these sights weren’t for me the true eye openers.
Running off my head: The Exploratorium had all the interactive exhibits, but the experience wasn’t refreshing. The Palace of Fine Arts just outside it had the neo-Roman-inspired architecture, but I’ve seen them in photographs before. The natural sciences museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and Aquarium of the Bay, was very well done-up, new, and had beautiful animal and marine life exhibits, but you can see the same at any done up marine aquarium exhibit. And the SF Museum of Modern Arts – well, let’s just say it takes a bit of effort for me to properly enjoy drawn art. And the Golden Gate Bridge… well, it’s just a big orange bridge, impressive as it was cruising underneath it.
The most indelible memory I’ll have of my stay here is the flock of seagulls that flew with us (blogged here). As for the other memorable experiences of the trip, here’s a list:
Listening to black dudes chat. You’ve seen and heard them on TV, but until this point I’d always thought their colloquialisms were exaggerated just for entertainment. But they *do* talk that way, especially the way in which this phrase is appended to every statement:
“You know what I’m saying?”
So if I were to transcribe a local conversation I have with the bak chor noodles seller at Hougang Mall into black dude style, it’d go like this:
“Hey brutha; give me one of those bowls of bak chor noodles. You know what I’m saying?” (Must be said with elaborate hand gestures)
“You want chili with it? You know what I’m saying?” (add more hand gestures)
“Na dawg. Just leave the chili out of the bowl. You know what I’m saying?”
“Ok, $3 then. You know what I’m saying?”
No kidding. It’s fun hearing them chat. They really are a unique culture unto themselves. And all the black dudes I met seemed friendly, though I’m sure Matt has a more informed opinion.
Italian-Americans mafiasos talk just like in The Sopranos. Like the above, I’d thought that the Italian-Americans in the show talk only that way in the show. But boy was I wrong. No wonder the TV show had no issues offing characters each episode. There’re easy replacements for characters everywhere. You could take for example any of the Italian-American limousine drivers outside my hotel, given them a few lines and a gun, and they could be the newest member of the Soprano family just released from jail and inserted into the latest episode. No speech training or makeup required. They already look and talk the part.
Crazy people everywhere. On the street, I ran into street protesters of one issue or another, doomsday soothsayers, people who’d yell at the top of their voices talking to themselves, people preaching their take of Christ to passer-bys.
Then there’s the spitting culture. People spit. They’ll collect a huge amount of whatever that’s in the throat and in a huge din, ptui out it goes.
Then the other night, while I was walking along Market Street back to my hotel at 9 pm after a networking event, the dude in front of me veered to the right, plonked himself in front of the closed entrance of a department store, and let out a steady stream at its door step.
Then this early Saturday morning when I had two hours before checking out of my hotel, I went out on a morning walk and saw three piles of clearly human shit beside a post box 50 metres from my hotel. There must had been three guys huddling together each taking a dump. Or just one guy doing a huge dump, but shifted the weight of his legs twice.
Continued in the next post!