Middle of Nowhere, CA. Huge cars on wide freeways and multi million dollars homes on hills. Homes that I have seen tumbling down during mudslide season but they build them back anyway. I complain about coming here all the time, taking a four hour flight every week to get to the land of the sprawl puts me off but then, watching the sun set over the Santa Monica mountains on a glorious evening (as if there is any other kind in this part of the country) makes me want to fly here all over again. The mountains are always golden here in the golden state except for a few weeks in January when the rains and the Santa Ana winds confers on them a familiar shade of green. Yes, all's well with the world as I set out from the hotel to climb the nearest mountain. I can see the mountain from my room, the foot of the hill can't be too far. Past the wide roads with no pedestrain crossings. Every house has a neat garden or two, and every garage a BMW or two. A cute little gate like in a fairy tale and a sign that reads "Come in and smell the flowers". I hesitate for a moment, read the sign again and walk in. Wildflowers, a waterfall, and incongrous classical statues. I sit down on a low bench and contemplate life.
The Glockenspiel at Marienplatz strikes 12. Mozart plays at the Schönbrunn Palace. Tango at the Brahms bar in Stephansplatz. A Swarowski guitar is playing Joni Micthell's California. The guitar changes into a veena, which someone is playing in the Malibu temple. Outside the temple, the Malibu canyon beckons. I drive through the canyon, and buy puliyodharai at the SV temple. At peace, I sit down to eat in a garden with a fountain. Ah, the heavenly taste of fresh tamarind. I wake up to find a huge dog staring quietly at me. I jump up. The dog keeps staring, it doesn't make a sound. I start sweating. There is no doubt that the dog is waiting for me to move before pouncing on me. I look around for the owner. No such luck. I look plaintively at the dog. I start talking.
"The sign said come in and smell the flowers. I wasn't trespassing or anything."
You weren't smelling the flowers.
"No, I was smelling the flowers and then I fell asleep. I didn't mean to."
Really? I wonder what you were really upto.
"I wasn't doing any harm. I will leave now."
Be my guest.
"I am going to retrace my steps. Just watch, okay?"
Are you blind? I am watching.
"See, I am taking a step back. And another."
I can see dammit. Shut up.
"Just a few more steps and I will be out of your garden. I mean no harm. I am not stealing any flowers."
Of course you weren't. You were sleeping on my bench.
"I am opening the gate now. I will lock it when after I step out. I promise."
Let us see.
Out. Gate locked safely. I make faces at the dog.
"You stupid dog! You thought you were going to get me? Ha Ha! Now we will see what you do."
Enough talk. The dog barks. Finally. It comes running to the gate. It puts up one of its paws around the latch. I watch, shell shocked as the gate swings open. The dog steps out, stops and stares at me. I start talking as I walk backwards. All the way downhill.