That pretty much sums up our recent visit to Ojai, CA.
We were visiting Ojai, some 5-6 hours drive from San Jose, to attend a friend’s wedding. This was only the third wedding I ever attended since moving to the US nearly 17 years ago and I was excited. I love weddings and I am one of those folks who cries at other people’s weddings. There is always something so innocent and honest about the official ceremony, that it gets me each time. Crying at other people’s weddings when I was single or newly married (each of the two other weddings I attended) was a different experience. Now that I have been married for a while, have two kids, and know that marriage is not necessarily all that it is cranked out to be, I wondered if I would cry at this one.
I did cry, not boo hoo cry (never did that at the other weddings either) but I did get a little teary eyed at the vows because they were just so simple and heartfelt and you just knew that it was special to the couple and that’s all that mattered. At least my tearing up consoled me that my humanity is still alive.
The ceremony was short and just right. There was lots of love and friendship in the air. Poor Baby E was very stuffed up, constantly sneezing and coughing (although she did great during the ceremony) and even had a little cut under her nose from us wiping it all the time which hurt even more every time we continued to wipe it. She was just sad and stuffed up the entire time. I was really proud of her though. Even in the midst of her own discomfort, she kept a graceful presence about her and took everything around her in stride. Love that girl.
TJ had a really great time running around the venue and its beautiful gardens with one of Aaron’s best friends’ daughter who is only a couple years older than him. They both did need to be supervised by either Aaron or me at all times but mostly, I just let him be and he enjoyed himself. He even ate a good amount of dinner, being bribed and tempted into the many stickers I had carried along for that very purpose. His favorite part though, was the dessert. Unfortunately, it was getting too late for the kids and so we couldn’t wait for the couple to cut the cake but we did eat the chocolate fudge brownie which was a sort of pre-cake dessert and that made TJ very happy.
As for the rest of the trip, the before and after, it was not quite the break we were hoping it would be. In fact, till the very last hour or so, we weren’t sure if we could all go. Baby E had, had a fever all of Thursday and most of Friday and the rest of us were still recovering. It was a wait and watch game for a long time with regard to our decision to go. In the end, we kept our bags packed and ready so that if we did decide to go, we could do that.
We did indeed go. The roadtrip itself was tiresome. The kids were unhappy about things in general. Poor Baby E, still recovering, was very stuffed up, didn’t sleep a wink of the nearly 6 hours drive, and TJ barely slept an hour (Baby E’s coughing and crying woke him up). I kept trying to feed Baby E who was also hungry because she barely ate the whole way there. I would reach my hand behind my passenger seat in the front to caress her hair and hold her hand. When she felt up to it, she would reach for my hand and hold on to my fingers too. So, basically I was sitting on my side, reaching out toward Baby E a lot of the trip.
The drive to Ojai is very curvy and winding. It is a very scenic drive though so that made up for some of the heightened vigilance that was needed while driving. I took a lot of pictures whenever I could. We got to see huge green mountains, farmlands, green houses, a Lake, and even the Beach driving by Santa Barbara.
I really enjoyed the nature that presented itself so majestically all around us. Except for the fact that by the end of the day, all the driving along winding roads was making me feel quite nauseous, it was a really enjoyable ride.
We got there around 6:00 p.m. but with little kids, that is almost bed time so we ordered and picked up food from Agave Maria’s Mexican Restaurant. The food was really not commendable. It was alright and Baby E managed to eat some of my chicken and a few beans but all sick and stuffy, was really in no mood to eat anything. TJ shared some of my rice and some of daddy’s food and ate a chip or two that was given, complimentary.
We were too exhausted for anything else. After a quick clean up, I nursed and put Baby E down for the night in the main bedroom. We put TJ to bed in the second bedroom, that he shared with Aaron. I slept on a couch in the living room, not wanting to wake anybody up with my coughing although, at that point, all four of us were coughing. Still, the couch just worked out better for me.
The Farmers’ Market
The next morning, we were to meet one of Aaron’s best friends and his little girl. On the way there, we noticed a Farmers’ Market and if you’ve read one of my previous posts, you know how much in favor I am of such markets. We loved this market. It was much bigger than the ones we go to here in our city and just had so much more stuff. They had really eclectic little booths and it was just plain fun to walk around the narrow aisles and feel, smell, see, touch, and hear the sights and sounds.
There were also a few musicians doing their thing, food booths, and a guy giving free hugs. While I did not avail of a free hug, for the first time, I actually gave some money to the musicians.
While that was not on the plan, we did get sucked into buying TJ a treat – his choice, a pack of cookies for $6 SIX!!! (that were only vibrantly colored on the top, the cookies at the bottom were regular plain ones.)
A Chance Encounter
One of the most memorable things that happened at the Market was running into a former student of mine. Not just any student but a student whom I really like and respect. In fact, J had even helped us out at our small wedding. She and another former student, together, made sure everything ran smoothly behind the scenes, from handling all the food, bringing it and organizing it all at the main buffet table, to even serving some when needed, taking videos…just over all….their help was tremendous in the success of our wedding day over four years ago.
Aaron was a little ahead of me around the corner with TJ while I was casually loitering behind with Baby E in her stroller taking my time around the different stalls when I just happened to look up and see this very familiar face walking toward me! WHAT!!!!
I love such serendipitous moments and I loved seeing how much she had grown over the three years since I last saw her. She introduced me to her boyfriend and he seemed like a really nice guy too. Aaron later told me that she had first run into him and asked him, “Excuse me, are you Dr. Shenoy’s husband?”……that just melted my heart right there and not just for the fact that she recognized Aaron right away or that she was so polite about calling me by my title but because she asserted my professional identity, that to my students, no matter how many years ago, I did make a difference to whatever extent and I did that mostly as Dr. Shenoy. I loved that since the move here to California, for the first time, my husband got to be called my husband instead of my identity inextricably intertwined with his, my being a stay-at-home-mom and all. Everything about what she said and seeing her again was just very, very special. Thank you J.
I wish we had more time to explore the food options in Ojai. Agave Maria’s notwithstanding, Aaron and I being foodies would have loved to try other restaurants. No such luck with two kids. Anyway, one place we did stop in at for lunch is called Food Harmonics. I tried their Murgha Dosa which is basically Chicken Dosa. Being a South Indian, I am always fascinated by how dosa is made and served in random contexts. For example, when we were at Borough Market in London, I chose to eat at a small stall that was selling Mung Daal Dosa. Nothing special but I figured why not and it was alright. No big shakes but happy I tried. (See the pick below – that’s me from a few years ago at Borough Market)
The Murgha Dosa at Food Harmonics was really good too. It was definitely very filling, not the dosa itself which was paper thin but the stuffing was loaded with shredded chicken and I was able to feed some of it to Baby E too.
The House We Rented
As a concluding note, I did want to mention the house at which we stayed. It was a beautiful two bedroom house which I would have loved to enjoy on any other day when all of us weren’t sick or recovering, when we had more time, or when I just wanted to take a casual vacation with just my husband (although why we would rent an entire house if it was just the two of us is beyond me). The owners had clearly put a lot of love and care into decorating their home. I liked walking around the backyard and laying on the hammock with TJ. At least, in that moment, while Baby E was peacefully napping, and the three of us were hanging out quietly in the backyard, everything about this visit seemed right.