San Diego: Sunny Side Up

San Diego: Sunny Side Up

Taxi Driver
Every seasoned traveller knows this unwritten golden rule of travel.
Before getting into a taxi or rickshaw, ALWAYS NEGOTIATE the price and there is nothing such as a FIXED FARE!
Just because I was in the land of the free and home of the brave, there was no need to relax my guard. I did and a few minutes into trip I noticed the meter rolling, which resulted in the age-old Passenger vs. Driver exchange,
'Why is the meter rolling? I thought you had a fixed fare of 24$.'
'Sir, that is 24$ a person, not a flat rate!'
'But that's not what the guy told me yesterday.'
'Yes, that was yesterday. Today is Christmas Day, a holiday!'

Moral: In Vegas the house always wins, in a taxi the driver always wins.

In short, we got bilked of a cool 70$ for a 30 minute ride to Detroit Metro Airport. The only lame excuse I can offer is that 5:00 am ,five below zero is no time and place to NEGOTIATE a taxi fare. I should have known better, the seasoned traveller that I claim to be!

Shooting away in San Diego
It pays to get up early, especially if you want great photographs. In my opinion it pays even more to do this alone and early while co-travellers are sleeping. Since people are constantly pained by my 'constant adjusting' and then 'darting off somewhere'. How am I to convince them that there are people out there who do wait hours for the right light, that might disappear a minute later. The more I walked in Old Town, San Diego, the more I felt I was in Goa. Seemed like it; 9am and no sign of life on the streets!
One of the disappointing aspects of the trip was the reinforcement of popular stereotypes. Our motel was owned by a Patel and so would our other motel. Siddharth Rege made the observation that almost every Indian couple we saw at Sea World was a South Indian couple. I was impressed by his acute observation and theory on why this was so. Surprised to see a guy so domesticated, who just a few years ago was busy ogling at good looking girls!
Never thought that I would want to go to a zoo. The San Diego Zoo is great. It isn't fair, but somehow I couldn't help comparing it to my hometown's Peshwe Park zoo, which has animal after animal lined up in cages like mailboxes. In all fairness, I must give some credit to the PMC's Katraj Snake Park, constructed in the late 80s, which is more thoughtfully designed. Also, how many would pay an equivalent of 200 Rs. to see animals for a day? Using glass screens and cleverly designed barriers and moats, you get really close to the animals without disturbing them. This also minimizes potential feeding and visitors irritating the animals. I observed an interesting effect. All of us believed that we had seen many of these exotic animals like a lion, giraffe, hippopotamus before, but really we hadn't. All these images in our memories were from TV or pictures in books. So often our memory deceives us to believe otherwise.
Caught a magnificent view of the sunset on the La Jolla(pron: Hoya) beach. A beautiful beach in a slightly tricky to pronounce place. Reminds me of a quote by Mark Twain,
"They spell it 'da Vinci' and pronounce it 'da Vinchy'. Foreigners always spell better than they pronounce."

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