60. No Matter, I Love San Francisco

© Golden Gate -signedSomething changed inside of me but at the time I didn’t realise this.  I loved San Francisco and I continued to enjoy being there.  I made a point to walk the Golden Gate Bridge for leisure with a thousand thoughts racing through my mind like the choppy ocean below.  

One of those swirling emotions was in regards to Noori.  By now I had written to her a few letters.  Of course I could only mail them to my family home and trust that my sister or mother would be sure to give these to her.  But you know I never, not once received a reply.

Down the road a ways I heard many tales of what happened in her life since I left.  It’s really quite saddening because I couldn’t help as a lot of us do, to think, ‘what if?’  

It was around mid-summer when I changed jobs from the Italian restaurant and through the Union I moved uptown into a position in a very nice hotel.  There was a lovely American restaurant on the rooftop level, the 17th floor as memory serves and well, that was a good experience to have.

I left the Italian joint under very good circumstances.  They were all too happy to provide me with a letter of recommendation as well.  It had been a good relation; roughly 6 months of employment and all good memories.

Even though I am not able to recall the name of that beautiful hotel now, what I remember most about working way up there is how much I always enjoyed the view, oh the view!  

By now you should know how much I absolutely loved watching all the ships coming and going through the Bay.  And at night I would be mesmerised by the lights on the Bay Bridge.  What a treat as far as I was concerned.  Very nice.

Back to my new position.  The food in this establishment was top notch, spread out in a delectable buffet.  The selected dishes were of excellent quality and the clientele definitely had the wallet affording to pay for that phenomenal view.

I was quickly flowing with the hotel restaurant staff, customers and management and yes I’ll admit it, I was loved.  I made an hourly wage and kept my own tips and really good tips they were!  I stayed employed here about 4-5 months.

I still enjoyed the occasional ‘joyride’ on the cable cars, heading out to the turnaround point at Market & Powell Streets.  I loved helping turn the car and waiting for people to climb aboard for the traditional thing to do in San Francisco.

When some friends and I would head out to Fisherman’s Wharf, we were going not for the fish but for what we thought was the best pizza and ice cold beers.  Saturdays however were reserved for crab eats!

I’ve been living in the city for all of the seasons now and winter was once again setting in.  It would be cold earlier than later and I remember my friends and I walking around the city and always realising ‘suddenly’ that it was so cold!

We would pop into an inviting coffee shop, plug a nickel or three into the jukebox and enjoy a hot coffee or chocolate to the sounds of Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Frank Sinatra, well you get the idea.

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10. Kiwis For a Queen and Aussie Burgers For Me! – part 3

En route to Sydney, Australia and with that being an approximate distance of 1570 nautical miles, it took us about three and a half days.  Our ship was unloaded of her cargo which consisted of raw sugar from Fiji and the previously mentioned saved load of lumber.

Every evening we would go ashore to see the town and eat what we could.  As we are seaside and when the sun has gone down, there’s a bit of chill to the night air.

The next day, while it was still warm and sunny, the guys and I walked across the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  At the beginning of our trek I spied what looked like an amusement park underneath the bridge on the far side.  ‘Hey! something more for us to investigate, let’s go there!’

Our company of guys who would go ashore together exploring the new surroundings was usually the same four; two were say about mid 20’s in age while the other guy and myself were all of 18.

It turns out this point of interest is Lunar Park and as we got closer I could see it’s wasn’t exactly under the bridge, it only looked that way when seeing it from the other end.

As we entered the park it was almost right away we could sense eyes upon us; the girls were definitely checking us out but we also knew we had to be very careful as there may be boyfriends about and probably a lot of them, versus the four of us.  Most likely our appearance gave us away as foreigners.

I guess what I’m saying here is that we made great effort to stifle any urges to flirt, mainly for safety reasons you understand.

For the little bit of time we had left in the day we thought we could check out at least some of Lunar Park and so we did.  🎢 We walked around a bit, grabbing a snack here and there and played some arcade games.  It seemed like no time at all had passed and the moment to leave was already upon us.

As dusk rolled into Sydney, the Ferris wheel lit up with its dazzling display of lights 🎡 and so too did the entire park.  The rest of **the city donned her evening wear as well.

Oh how I hated to leave this place;  I realized it encouraged my youthful spirit.  🎠 It could have been a night full of great adventures, I’m sure.  We were nearly all the way back over the bridge into Sydney proper when I turned to look at where I had just been and saw a sight to behold.

For what I have seen up till now in my life -apart from my first sighting of Honolulu that morning not so long ago- and coming from a little south pacific island; as far as man-made sights of beauty, this was unforgettable for me.

The illuminated bridge, the lights of the Sydney skyline and how their reflections played upon the water, and all the various sized and types of boats simply buzzing about their watered way, left me momentarily speechless.

We all took in this sight and then turned to walk off the Sydney Harbor Bridge towards our return for an early morning shift.  The air has now brought back its sundown chill at the water’s edge and we are walking with our hands in our pockets.

There it is again, I caught wind of it before on the other side of the bridge and I suspect this beautiful smell in the air has to be following us around because now it has directly assaulted my nostrils!

I don’t think it’s going to let-up anytime soon or show any mercy until I’ve paid direct attention to it.  As if we didn’t already know it was dinner time this aromatic, similar to hamburgers but ….I don’t know, was delightfully wafting through the air working its magic on my curious taste buds.  The guys and I followed our noses to a cafe, stopping to peer in like window shoppers.

Beyond the glass there were many people happily enjoying every bite of what looked like well, fat sandwiches.  I’d seen these before …ah yes!  =It was while I was employed in the private home back in Fiji.  We could see the grill loaded with patties of meat smoking, sizzling, lapped by flame spurts and scenting the air.

That did it, we knew where dinner was!  Only moments later we too were inside and soon after, deep into our own dripping experience and so it is noted here, I ate a hamburger for the first time in my life!

Okay it’s a possibility; maybe it was a kangaroo, goose or wombat burger for that matter, I don’t really know but it sure was juicy and I enjoyed every bite of it!  It was the beginning of a lifetime of burgers, not a regular experience of course but I did love ‘em.

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** The Sydney Opera House wasn’t a part of the gorgeous skyline view at this time.  It’s construction didn’t begin for a few more years.

=    The house chef had prepared these hamburger sandwiches a couple of times for the family but I dared not indulge, still a youth living in my Hindu home; absolutely not a good idea.

7. Diamonds & Lumber – part 1

At this time Honolulu was protected by United States but still independent from America.

This first experience I had on this job was a seven-day journey from Fiji to Hawaii; this was just the first leg.  My shipboard position placed me in the pantry, which is where we prepared the foods that were just cooked in the kitchen for the waiters to serve the passengers in the dinning room.

Even though this was a cargo ship, there would be passengers on board.  These people paid good money to be on a cargo ship instead of a cruise ship mainly because the stops in port were for longer periods of time.  Plus it’s not as crowded.

While on the ship we worked every day but we also had several long breaks in between meal times.  The routine is easy to follow and it works flawlessly.  My new friends, workmates and I would always listen to music, we’d play cards a lot and enjoy a beer or two along with lots of great conversations; life-stories and what have you.

I did my best to take my time off responsibly as call of duty was 6am regardless, there were no excuses and no exceptions; passengers were my duty, that’s it!

I will tell you some thoughts I initially had while out at sea on this very first adventure of mine. I missed my mother terribly, my sister-in-law’s cooking and my close family members and friends.

I was not scared about anything; I loved the ocean so very much.  I felt its beauty as I saw its power and in its calm and rough faces I knew I made the right choice.  I have to admit here, I did experience seasickness at a point for a couple of days, and then it was over and thankfully didn’t occur while I was at my post.

And just so you have a little idea of how the mornings went along, I share this:  after breakfast service was over, we’d clean the dining room and set up for lunch service.

Then we could order from the chef anything we wanted to eat and it was our turn to enjoy a very nice breakfast. I do recall the chef definitely took pride in his meal preparations for anyone that would be eating his food and a bonus; he was a very nice man.

After breakfast it was time for us to get into the passengers’ rooms and tidy them up.  We were multi-taskers as this ship was not staffed the same as a luxury liner would be.

The captain’s boy who had originally set me up for this position on board the SS Lakemba kept me at his side and we’d handle the skipper’s quarters.  Once all the rooms were done, we had to get our own cabins cleaned up.

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Once again I thank you for checking back with us.  I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season in one form or another.  The Little Blue Masala has finally set sail, tasting the open sea and different climates too!  Well, at some point we all have to get our feet wet don’t we?