Tag Archive | Berkeley

San Francisco II

Earlier in October, I went up to San Francisco for the weekend. The reason for the trip was to give a talk in the Berkeley Linguistics Department, but it was an excellent excuse to spend time in a city I like more and more. I arrived on Friday evening and met my friend Dustin for dinner. The place where we met was a stone’s throw from the Chinese restaurant where the banquet I went to before the premiere of Dream of the Red Chamber was held, but we ate at a different Chinese restaurant, which specialized in Sichuanese cuisine. We had mapo tofu and steamed fish over tofu with chopped chilies.

I made my way by BART and bus to the Marina District, where I was staying with my mother’s cousin and his wife, whose wedding in Maui I attended last year. They very kindly introduced me to some of their favorite places to eat. On Saturday, we went to the farmers market around the Ferry Building for chilaquiles (which I had never tried) and porchetta sandwiches. Then they took me to Lands End. Beyond the ruins of the Sutro Baths, the tide was very low, and gulls and cormorants crowded on the rocky outcroppings just off shore. Here by the ocean it was cloudy, and the wind-sculpted conifers stood tall and eerie on the hillside.

I spent part of the afternoon in Golden Gate Park catching up with my friend Katherine (alas, I did not get to see the bison paddock). Then in the evening my cousins and I went out for seven-course beef (bò 7 món), which I had also never tried (or even heard of). NO PHO, a sticker on the door of the restaurant proclaimed, and inside every table had ordered the specialty. The meal consisted of seven courses of beef in different forms, including a salad at the beginning and congee at the end, passing through various iterations of thinly sliced beef and ground beef sausages. Most of the meat was meant to be rolled in lettuce and/or rice paper wrappers with vegetables and herbs. It was fun and very tasty.

On Sunday morning, I went to church with Katherine. It was the Indigenous People’s Day Service, and the sermon was partly about the Nez Perce translation of the Gospel of John and the Nez Perce story of Coyote and his daughter. After church, my cousins and I drove to Berkeley, where we ate an Indian restaurant/market specializing in chaat. I had a mango lassi, and we shared a bunch of dishes served on metal trays. These included lamb biryani, masala dosa, puri, a puffed rice dish, fried fish, and bhature (a.k.a the big puffy thing), with a variety of sauces and accompaniments.

My cousins dropped me off at my friend Jesse’s place, and the next day Jesse and I went into the Berkeley department. I spent the morning at the Free Speech Movement Café and then returned to give my talk, which was on a couple of my dissertation experiments. Afterwards, I went out to lunch with some of the Berkeley folks, including my friend Andrew. Then I made my way back to the airport to fly back to Los Angeles.

Yosemite and Beyond

Next up in my Northern California trip: Yosemite! My mother and I drove there from San Francisco, stopping for lunch in Tracy. Quite by accident, we stumbled upon an Indian grocery store/restaurant called Apna Bazaar, where we ate a delicious meal. Plus there was a case full of different flavors of barfi, labeled in English and (what I think was) Hindi, and the aisles of the grocery store were full of millet flour and pickled mangoes and rusks!

The last time I was in Yosemite, I was not yet born, so this was my first real visit. We stayed in a tent cabin in Half Dome Village in the valley, and we had two full days in the park. On the first day, we walked past/through the prescribed burn in the Ahwahnee Meadow. The smoke billowing under the pines and the flames licking the earth were a rather eerie sight. Naturally, when I noticed the sign for the Yosemite Cemetery, I had to go check out every gravestone and marker. Then we went up to Glacier Point to take in the views and hiked to McGurk Meadow, where we ate wild blueberries.

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Me and Half Dome

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“Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

On the second day, we hiked along the shoreline of Tenaya Lake (where there were still patches of snow!). Then we went to Tuolomne Meadows and climbed Pothole Dome.

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Tenaya Lake

The following morning, we returned to San Francisco. My mother flew back to Minnesota, while I headed to San Francisco Chinatown. It was in fact the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) that day, and I was determined to buy moon cakes. I just walked up Grant Ave., impatiently overtaking tourists and keeping my eyes peeled for a bakery amidst all the kitsch. (I must have looked like a tourist myself, pulling my little suitcase and wearing a stuffed backpack.) On one street corner, a man sat on an overturned bucket playing the erhu. I finally found Eastern Bakery and proceeded to buy three moon cakes, a 粽子, and an egg tart, which I promptly ate on the street (just the egg tart).

From Chinatown I went to Berkeley, where I was staying for the night. My friend Isabelle had told me about an exhibit by Alina Chau at a Berkeley gallery called Tr!ckster, so I decided to go see it. I hadn’t realized Tr!ckster was both a gallery and a charming comic book store. Alina Chau’s paintings were gorgeous, and there were so many intriguing and beautiful graphic novels to page through. Best of all, I was invited to an impromptu tea party with the owner, a volunteer, a young customer, and his guardian. It was a magical afternoon. Before I left, I bought Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.

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One of the paintings in the exhibit

African Linguistics at Berkeley

Like last year, I spent the end of my spring break at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics. This time, instead of camping in Oregon, I stayed with my friend Andrew, a grad student in linguistics at Berkeley, where the conference was held.

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The Campanile

I presented a poster on Maragoli, the language I worked on in Field Methods last year. Famous Linguist #2 (see last year’s post) came to my poster, and we spent some time discussing the data and the way I transcribe the vowels of Maragoli. I discovered I enjoy explaining my research to others much more than I like actually attending poster sessions myself.

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Me presenting my poster (Photo by Andrew; Logoori is another name for Maragoli)

I had a good time at the conference in general. It was fun to see many familiar faces and to reconnect with friends in graduate programs across the country. I was particularly looking to attend talks on tone that might help me with my work on Efik, the Nigerian language I worked on in Field Methods this year. My greatest work-related success of the trip might’ve been managing to ambush a Cameroonian visiting scholar late on Friday in order to ask him the questions there hadn’t been time for me to ask during his talk on downstep in Babanki.

On Friday evening, I tarried a while in a Half Price Books and ended up buying three books. Then, walking back to my friend’s house, I discovered bookcases of free books on the sidewalk outside Black Oak Books. The store was closing, sadly. Most of the free books seemed to be cookbooks, and I didn’t take anything.

On Saturday, I went to the morning session of the conference and then took a bus to Oakland Chinatown to meet my friend Miyuki. I loved Oakland Chinatown. Every restaurant seemed to have hanging roast ducks and piles of zongzi in the window. We stopped in one for a lunch of wonton noodle soup, bok choy with oyster sauce, and pork liver steamed rice rolls. Then Miyuki took me to the Oakland Public Library–Asian Branch, which has collections in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and more.

From Oakland, I went on to San Francisco to meet yet another college friend, who had also been at the conference. I celebrated Easter with him before returning to Los Angeles.