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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

On the Santa Fe Trail

I had nothing to do this Christmas weekend. Nothing planned, that is. But, all of a sudden, I found myself on a Pontiac Vibe en route to Santa Fe.

The Pontiac Vibe is an insult to its illustrious siblings like the G6 and the Grand Prix. Indeed, it's an insult to automobile engineering. Just like this piece, which is an insult to Santa Fe. Nothing that I say or write will do justice to the city of Santa Fe.

Anyway. San Antonio to Santa Fe. With two hardcore gults (need I say more) and a pseudo-bong (my lucky day, I guess) for company. In the freaking Vibe. 710 miles. 400 miles of Texas wasteland. 300 miles of New Mexico desert. Non-stop gult rock.

Kotuthe six kotaali
Aaduthe rough aadali...

My god. I swear...


For a while, I wondered what I'd let myself into. But finally, at the end of the road, I saw the oasis - Santa Fe.

Let me just say this - it's not everyday that I make recommendations. Santa Fe is a truly amazing place. For those who value art, culture and beauty, it's an indelible mark on memory.

But first, to the geographically challenged, Santa Fe is the capital of the state of New Mexico - a state that America bought from a stupid Mexican President. Man, was he a ch** or what.

I'm not going to wax eloquent about facts and figures that may be more accurately obtained from a website or a tourist guide. I'll just talk about me and the city.

I've just fallen in love with the place. It's so beautiful. It's so f***ing beautiful. If American cities were girls, Santa Fe would be the Playmate of the Year.

You got to see the place to believe it. It's like stepping into some sort of a time corridor. All of a sudden, it feels as if the clock's been turned back a century or two.

It's not for nothing that it's known as the City Different. Yes, just like New York is called the Big Apple, Santa Fe is known as the City Different. Everything is so different. Everything is so artistic. So imaginative. So pretty.

The buildings. The offices. The homes. The markets. Everything is right out of this world. They call it adobe architecture. Adobe is a mixture of clay, sand, straw and stuff. Now, don't ask me what 'stuff' is. I don't know. But I do know it's beautiful. Everything has a distinctive reddish-brown or yellowish-brown colour. It's like some magnificent potter decided to 'just do it'.

The city hasn't been built with brick. It's been conjured out of clay.

It hasn't been designed by architects. It's been dreamed up by artists.

You don't see Santa Fe. You feel it.

You walk down to the heart of the city. You see the amazing pueblos (native Indian homes endemic to the region) You see the lovely churches. You see the quaint old homes with their ancient fences and rustic wooden doors. You see the narrow roads lined with galleries and museums and curio shops. You see the electric lamp-posts made of wood. You see the manicured parks with the leafless shrubs of winter. Damn.

Some people have the power to make this freaking world so beautiful. There's so much to see and to learn in this world. I don't know. Somehow, Santa Fe made me go sento.

Anyway. The place is a repository of Native Indian culture. Hispanic culture. And American culture (of the Wild Wild West kind). It's supposed to be one of the art and culinary capitals of America with loads of history behind it. In fact, it doesn't really feel like America at all. There are many places where you hear nothing but Spanish. I mean we Indians speak better Engish than the peeps of Santa Fe! And that's saying something.

Most places out there hang bunches of what are known as chili ristras. These are like the dried red chillies of India, only somewhat larger. Although it's now an ornamental practice, the native Indians believed that fastening ristras to their canoes warded off dangers from the water. It looks fantastic.

Because of the Mexican influence, they have lots of spices as well. I was surprised to find so many varieties of spices being sold in the local markets there. I was told they have a wonderful cuisine as well. Not much for vegetarians. I'm not going to forget the fajitas (one of the many variants of stuffed tortillas) at the Las Palmas restaurant in a hurry though. There are a couple of 'East Indian' (that's what they call us :-D) joints too. Don't ever go to India House. $21 for a buffet laced with laxative. Call it Cerrillos Road robbery.

Santa Fe has traditionally been a railroad hub as well. I saw trains in America for the first time there. Their trans-coastal trains are just like the ones in India, with the diesel engines and everything. No electric engines and stuff. They blended in perfectly with the city.

Apart from human intervention, nature has done its bit for the city as well. I'm sure there are many places more endowed by nature, but Santa Fe hasn't been treated too unkindly either. Surrounded by scrubland on two sides and by hills on the other two, it presents a picture worthy of a postcard. The hilltops are covered in snow and coniferous forests. It is a popular retreat for skiing aficianados across America. I tried a bit of skiing as well. It's an exhilarating sport and a dangerous one - one of the guys in my class ended his tryst with a sickening crunch. But I'm going to be doing more of that. And I'll be doing a lot of it in Santa Fe.

The drive from the city to the ski area is very scenic with stately larches and proud firs standing sentinel over the long and winding road. Lucky tourists can catch a glimpse of a mountain lion or a brown bear along the way. I saw nothing more than some deer. While climbing the hills, one may see half-hidden log cabins and dirt roads heading off into the wilderness. The motel receptionist told me that quite a few celebrities from Hollywood have cabins in the Santa Fe hills.

And hey, the city's got an eponymous pretty little canal of a river too. It's sweet.

It's also got ranches and pastures in the vicinity with lots and lots of cows. Their cows are so big and so furry. But I think the famished Indian cows, with their ribs sticking out, are much better off. At least nobody eats them.

I'd like to describe it properly but I'm unable to. It's not only Santa Fe but New Mexico as a whole that's a great place to be. Deserts, lakes, hills, mountains, forests and the great Rio Grande river - it's got it all. For adventure sport enthusiasts, it's a dream world. Skiing, white water rafting, hang gliding, ballooning. And on top of that, it's got so much culture deeply ingrained in its daily life.

Santa gave me a wonderful gift for Christmas by way of Santa Fe. What a place. Inspite of those bums, what a place. I mean, get a load of this. These freaks are in Santa Fe. It's so damned pretty and these fools are like, "What the f***?" They want to go to some godforsaken Hanuman temple in some useless place four hours away. When time's at high premium. How many temples have these dworks seen in India? Seriously.

What bums. The look on the faces of these hardcore gult bums when I spent a couple of hundred bucks on some beautiful pottery. That itself was worth a million dollars. LMAO.

Whatever. We left Santa Fe. We were driving through the New Mexico desert. The night sky always puts on its most seductive look over a desert. The deepest shade of black and zillions and zillions of stars. Not a cloud in sight. So beautiful. It was nine o'clock at night.

I saw a board by a field which said, "UFO Crash Site." I was in Roswell. Roswell, New Mexico. I could not believe it. The X Files. Fox Mulder. Roswell. I was in freaking Roswell. I asked them to stop the car. Nope. You expect hardcore gult bums who work for a certain global top 10 company to understand what Roswell means.

Sometimes I can't believe the way I've let myself down. Anyway, I said I was going to piss in the car, if they didn't stop. I got out for a minute, looked longingly at the starlit sky and inhaled the breath of life. That was the best part of the trip.

Next time, I'm going there alone. Hopefully, I won't have to come back.

Management Class : Unravelogues

mental baba 11:28 AM
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