BOCA RATON - A Peek into Florida
Assumptions maybe, but cannot help that.
A certain quality of wealth greets my eyes,
Right from the airport in Fort Lauderdale.
Very few cars on the highway.
A relief indeed, with slow traffic at that.
Closer to the hotel, the roads are wide,
Beautifully lined with well- trimmed flowering bushes.
Once in the room, a rush to the window,
From where I can see inlets of water, so close.
A new and exciting sight for me,
Was to see many a draw bridge lift up,
To allow luxury yachts to go by.
Pleasure boats criss cross in great speed.
Would play non- English music in the eve.
So I ponder is it worth, this thrill
While spewing oil into these waters?
The next day I adventure, out for a walk.
Noticed that sidewalks were only on one side.
On either side of the wide roads,
Are large buildings, of architectural beauty.
Multi-storied vacation homes, for snowbirds I am told.
Upper East Coast folks own luxury second homes.
They arrive each winter, fleeing from the cold.
The trees here are large and lush,
The motherly banyan hosts many other species.
The sea-grape trees are everywhere.
The red ixora, is the most common hedge.
The coconut trees laden with orange fruits
Were being trimmed for fear of the storms.
Tiny lizards with spiral tails scoot across the sidewalk
While the bizarre green iguanas dare you with their looks.
Early morning one is greeted,
With screeching flocks of parrots
While by the ocean pecking quietly at the grass
Are families of ibis with their beaks, long and curved.
I have become partial to the waters,
Of the Atlantic ocean, here.
It has a character more attractive than the Pacific.
The language of their waves
Have a special appeal, I feel.
The beach is strewn with broken turtle shell casings.
In all the years in California, I have seen only empty sand,
Dotted with sand crab holes and tiny broken pieces of shells.
But here each day yielded colorful shells and beautiful corals too!
Add to this the occasional burst of warm rain,
That made me feel whole and complete,
Washing away any toxic remains,
In my body as well as the stiffness in joints.
My system enjoys the heat I realize,
As long as I have the humidity !
The Boca Raton museum is small.
But surprised I was at the collection they had.
Highlights were the holograms of Mathhew Schreiber
“Order of Light” made with lasers, many reflecting covid times.
Then there was “The Resonator- Reanimator of Sri Prabha.
Digital projections sweep over paintings and sculptures,
The play of light accompanied by monks chanting.
So peaceful and conducive to meditation .
My eagerness to visit an arboretum here,
Was planned from the start.
For here was an opportunity,
For a plant lover like me,
To check out what I knew,
Would not grow where I live.
The Arboretum at Constitution Park,
In Deerfield Beach it was.
Palms of varying species,
Tropical fruit trees and flowering ones too.
I stumbled into an area, felt I was back,
In Kerala, my birth state in India.
Here were tamarind, neem, curry leaf,
Jambu, Rangoon malli and Nagalingam.
Why even the jack fruit trees,
Had luscious fruits hanging, nice and green.
As much as I enjoyed exploring the gardens,
Sad to say many trees had no signs posted.
Most of all, at the reception center
I was met with a lack of enthusiasm.
They were just paid employees,
With soda and chips in hand,
With no love for what they have.
Peculiarities of this place was fun for me.
At the grocery store no avocadoes or sourdough bread.
Ordering at a deli, you have to choose,
Between a half or a full sandwich.
4 slices of bread in a full one !
Restaurants serve food in large quantities.
The rates are affordable, their quality good.
Small ice cream stores and bake shops
Saw very young girls work at the counters.
Their accent revealed a southern origin,
To my ears, new, soothing and sweet.
The folks here form a subculture by itself.
The two categories I saw, were connected by need and service.
The wealthy swaggered about in restaurants and hotels.
They lay on the beach simply to get a tan.
The well dressed ones care not to greet.
And when greeted, simply oblige with no smile.
Definitely slow witted, when compared to Californians
But friendlier than Silicon valley-ites !
Oh, how I miss Sonoma County, especially Petaluma,
Where even strangers you meet on walks,
Full of nods and smiles,
Acknowledge your presence, thereby.
The service providers here live outside,
Faraway from the posh city.
Many of them are minorities,
Who dispense their duties soberly.
I made it my choice to greet and talk,
Beginning with their name and often with a query.
Where are you from originally?
Then on, each day as we exchanged glances,
You could see that you made a difference.
They responded to genuine interest and care.
David, the Portuguese, proud of his heritage
Daniela of mixed religious parentage,
Rashid a non Muslim, with a Muslim name
Ira, a German Jew, meticulous in her work,
Abdul the Iraqi security person,
Who treasured his Jerrahi heritage,
Franz, the valet, who sang and danced with joy
Went over basketball moves while waiting.
All shared stories about their family and their history.
Each story was equally precious to me.
Peculiar that my name triggers connections,
For those who have migrated from elsewhere.
Here my name Vasanti, gets the following response.
“Oh in Greece it would be Basiliki”
“In Russian it would be Vasilisa.”
But the best was in Kauai ,
When many said goodbye with the following,
“Oh kahuna, do come back !”
To me this was the essence of a festival.
Holi, the Festival of Colors, in India,
When you can douse any one with color,
Regardless of age or status,
Thereby connecting the identity of the other,
To fuse in love with your own.