Sunday, June 14, 2015

A night in Downtown San Francisco

A night in Downtown San Francisco
There can no better learning experience than staying in a Hotel room, right above a teeming night club, in the middle of downtown San Francisco. Such hotels call themselves “boutique" styled establishments. When I did a casual research on the word "Boutique”, this is what I found : "Boutique hotel is a term used in North America and the United Kingdom to describe small hotels in unique settings with upscale accommodations.". Interesting! The hotel is definitely uniquely located, but whether upscale or not, I may not be the best judge. I am perfectly happy with this place though. I am a firm believer in the tradition of Alexander pope that the poper study of mankind lies in observing man and his behavior in the different circumstances. It is easy to put on ones best behavior in a place where everything is decent and orderly, but to remain so under most tempting circumstances is difficult. Ones gets pulled in different directions. This is definitely a place where temptations can wind their strangling tentacles around you. When I checked in yesterday afternoon, I was in this rather tranquil state of mind, after having spent close to six hours on flight reading Rebecca's Goldstein's book on Gödel and his incompleteness theorem. The esoteric subject of the book, and peerless prose of Ms. Goldstein together tickled my intellect and managed to push it into a cocoon of solemn reflection. So when I checked into my room, it took a little while for me to realize that there was no window to my accommodation. There was only an opening which may technically fall within the broad definition of a window, but all that I could see outside were walls of another room a feet away, and some odd looking chimney pipes crawling up the walls to some unknown destination. But frankly, I didn't mind it. The little room was neat, clean, and decently furnished. And to top it all has a fabulous internet connection (much better than most hotels I have stayed in). More importantly, I felt wonderfully comfortable and cozy. As night descended on a chilly San Francisco evening, things began to warm up. I had a good hot shower, jumped into my Shorts and T-shirt, ducked my Kindle in and stepped out to meet the diverse, eclectic humanity are an integral part of this beautiful city.
Tourists, gay, lesbians, homeless, college students, working professionals, hawkers, hookers – name them and they are all there, bustling around. There is a quality of freedom and way of life that was palpable in the way people moved, conversed and bargained. One couldn’t walk a few steps without bumping into somebody else. My Hotel lies in the corner of Ellis Street, which my friend tells me is the heart of downtown. I believe him. I always thought Manhattan was crazy, but this place has a distinct stamp to its craziness that I haven’t quite observed elsewhere. I was told that Pizzas at “Blondie's” is something one shouldn’t miss.( Here we go again - I am not sure what it is with the word Blonde and me, We seem to be having a rather strange relationship with each other, of late). Well, I wasn’t disappointed with my Pizza and the crowd around. I was surrounded by young couples in distinct postures of embrace, literally oozing love and affection - that kind of made me look an odd ball out. Yet, despite all distractions, the food had to be eaten, which I did and was fabulous indeed, then walked straight to the night club right below my hotel room.
This was not an adult club, but one of those establishments where youngsters love to dance and frolic in gay abandon. Drinks overflowing, food devoured, bodies giving into crazy rhythm of music played by a DJ hidden from common eyes. Fluorescent lights, incandescent glow papers, glasses and walls gives one a feeling of stepping into a world that is cut off from normal waking consciousness. It was a weekend and the place was packed. The decibel of noise was almost deafening as one stepped into its insulated walls. Thirty five dollars to gain entry. Bouncers assessing your demeanor with hawk like eyes; like TSA’s, they are trained to spot trouble. Once inside, a beautiful looking hostess, dressed in low necked skirt, blue eyes, and a smile that bordered between good manners and charming led me in. For a moment, her eyes wandered to see if there somebody accompanying me, but quickly realized I was alone and very courteously took to a booth at the further end of their lengthy dancing hall and graciously retired. I had a wonderful hour or so, eating a bowl of fried rice, sipping iced tea and watching action around. It somehow reminded me of Dionysian rituals I have read about. Human beings wish an escape, a relapse into a state of nescience – where mind is kept at bay, and all that matters is dissolving in the vortex of energy and heat created by gyrating bodies and warm fluids. Frankly, there was nothing indecent or rabid about it. Thee hall was packed with at lleast 400 people, but there was an unwritten decorum followed. Of course, occasional miscreants did creep in, but overall - after a time, I fell in tune with this orderly chaos.
It was twelve in the night, and I had work to do to keep me awake for at least three more hours.… So Here I was sitting on my comfortable bed, right on top on where the maddening action was happening. Not for a moment would I have believed if anyone had told me that there was a night club below my room. Here it is then: Peace at one end, chaos on the other and life dangles in between.
God bless…

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