What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An American Odyssey - Part Nine

Part One
Part Two
Part Three 
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight

Waking in Oklahoma City

We awoke to a dull and cloudy day in Oklahoma City. It still is kind of a beautiful city though. Even in the gray gloom that had descended upon the city, the city stood out magnificently with its unique charm. This is a city that truly captures the essence of old fashioned southern charm and new age urban development in a happy medium. I actually felt sad to be leaving Oklahoma City after just one night. I just wanted to be there  a little longer, to soak the ambiance in more. Alas, it was not to be.

The last breakfast

Well it definitely was not a last breakfast. There were plenty more breakfasts after it, and plenty more for years to come I hope. But it really felt like a penultimate last meal I was consuming. After all it was my last southern breakfast. Well probably not the last, but last for the time being at least. Who knows when the opportunity may come again.  It was my last opportunity to awake at a hotel in the south and pile my plate high with biscuits, eggs and sausage gravy. It breaks my heart to know that in order to savor those moments again, I will have to travel to the south and check in at a hotel that serves hot southern breakfast. Until then when the cravings overwhelm me, I shall have to wake up, get dressed and venture out to a joint that serves such far.

K for Kansas, K for Kow

Indians are delusional when they think that they are the only ones who worship the cow. In fact the whole world is a bit loony when they assume the cow is holy only to the Indians. Apparently, they even have some sort of cow belt in India. Well in the eighteen years that I lived there, I probably can count the few dozen cows I've seen. When I moved to the United States, I discovered that a whole lot of people across the world worship le cow. The only difference is that the Indians share a platonic bond with le cow, the reverence other people have for le cow is more visceral and driven of pure carnal and carnivorous human instincts.

For the longest time, I thought the holy shrine of le cow in the States was Wisconsin. After all we are America's dairyland. We take our cows pretty seriously in Wisconsin. Almost everywhere you go there is a cow representation of some sort a statue, a poster, a painting, a Spotted Cow deer or just cow on the menu. However, when you get to Kansas you realize that Wisconsin is just as delusional in its cow love like India.

For the long hours we drove in Kansas there were barely a few urban stretches and spots here and there that were cow free. Otherwise every bit of the state is just rolling lush carpets of green pastures dotted with an unlimited amount of cows. If you looked at the landscape from a height the cows would appear like a million stars against the night sky, except stars that move and moo and a night sky that is green. Even my grandmother who usually makes it a point to point out a field of cows or horses, eventually gave up figuring it was an endless field of cows. Idaho grows potatoes, Iowa grows corn, seems like Kansas sprouts cows from its earth.

In the few patches that were cow free there were odd looking pumps placed all over that slowly churned up and down in a steady rhythm. We wondered what these pumps were drilling for. On the surface they looked like water pumps, but usually one or two in the field suffices. Later we discovered that these were oil pumps drilling into the depths of Kansas for Texas tea,

Cows and black gold, what do you make of that. Everything is big in Texas, but it looks like Kansas can have a chicken fried steak in crude oil and eat it too. In my book Kansas pwns Texas. Nuff said.

Toto, We're not in Kansas anymore

I'll confess. The only reason I planned the second leg of our route through Kansas simply because I wanted to say that. Call me a book nerd, but I like to do stuff like that. If feasible, I like to include literary references, movie references or other nerd like stuff in our travels. When we went to London, we made it a point to visit Platform 9 & 3/4 to satiate our Harry Potter mania. We even went to Baker street to the bank that fictionally is the home of Sherlock Holmes and we passed by the Sherlock Holmes pub popularized by stage actors like Basil Rathbone. We would have gone in for a few pints if we were not due back home to relatives.

We had lunch in Missouri close to Kansas City. After a week with our family we were frustrated and argumentative. That meant we were not relying on trip advisor for directions to a delicious gourmet meal or a highly rated diner or dive. Essentially when frustrated with the drive, we pulled off the highway and looked for a fast food place where we would fancy eating. McDonalds and most other cliche places were already ruled out. Eventually we settled for Waffle House since we do not have one in our neck of the woods.

Our server was a nice Puerto Rican guy who initially mistook us for Hispanics of some sort. Then with our accents he was curious on where we were from. Turned out he was from Wisconsin as well but was working there. It is an interesting cultural phenomenon, minorities always tend to flock together and seek each other out. However, the further south you go, the more defined this phenomenon is leading to almost a sense of cultural separation. In the Midwest the phenomenon is less pronounced as for some reason cultures seem to mesh more easily. At least the way we perceive the Midwest.

Midwest Sweet Midwest

Excessive traffic and rainy weather meant we did not make much time or distance. In fact we were desperately lagging behind. On the bright side of it all, we were at home in the Midwest now. The border of Iowa and Missouri is miles away from Wisconsin, and more miles away from Madison. However, there is a sense of familiarity and contentment when you are in a Midwestern state. We are Midwestern hicks and the Midwest is our home. There was a certain sense of bliss seeping through our souls as entered the Midwest, the same sort of bliss that I felt when I had gone back to India for the first time.

Dinner was fast food again. This time though it was familiar fare at Culvers. It was some small town off the highway in Iowa and I don't even recollect the name. The most important thing though is that we filled gas and found a Culvers there for dinner. At Culvers we enjoyed our favorite fare of greasy butter burgers, fries, cheese curds and other Culvers delights.

Then at Culvers we experienced a moment that makes us realize why we love the Midwest so much. The manager like a good manager was doing the rounds and meeting the folks. This was a very small town, a predominantly white small town and obviously we were new people, new colored people who had never been there before. As she was doing rounds  the manager came up to our table, asked us how we were doing, smile, laughed and told us to enjoy. People may speak of southern hospitality, and I'm sure all the tales are true. To me however, there is a warmth and homeliness that goes beyond southern hospitality and that is Midwestern hospitality driven by the same principles that drive good old fashioned Midwestern common sense.

Home Sweet Home

Initially we had planned on taking a break in Des Moines for the night and then completing the last leg on Sunday the 15th. However, we were so close to home that we decided that we just wanted to plow our way home and make it. More importantly, we had spent way too much time together as a family. When you are five years old, you can spend days with your parents on trips and still be fine. Granted your parents probably want to gag you and dump you out somewhere, but you are in pure bliss. Unfortunately, once you get to older more conscious ages everyone wants to kill each other and dump the body somewhere. We were not sure if we would be able to sustain our sanity for another night with each other. All we wanted to do was get back to our own rooms in solitude.

In retrospect I am not sure if that was a good idea. We far exceeded our twelve hour cap with each other in the car. Stewing in a tin can with relative had reached dangerous critical mass, and we were just one disaster away from nuclear meltdown in the car. There were tons of heated arguments dangerously close to igniting weapons of mass destruction. To make matters worse the weather was not cooperative either making it a dangerous and difficult ride in bleak darkness and pouring rain. It was such a gray night that even the gorgeous Dubuque lost its beauty and sheen in the wet gloom that prevailed. Eventually like desperate Japanese scientists we were able to steer away from disaster and make it back home. We braved darkness, rain, night blindness, bad driving and made it home.

Home Sweet Home!

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