The Holiday Season Arrives, and So Does Anubhab


Okay, I'm going to start doing this more sensibly now -- embedded photos no longer serving as links to the full photo sets, which should prevent the photos from showing up annoyingly stretched when this blog is viewed on a smartphone. The photos are still links, mind you -- they just now go to their specific photo page on Flickr. You can still scroll down to find the link to the full photo set.

Or! You can just click here for the "Seattle Holiday Sights" photo set, which includes the 10 photos I took at the Lighting of the Tree Ceremony at Westlake Center, as well as three shots of the Christmas Tree and lights I set up in the living room after coming home from that; and you can just click here for the "Snowflake Lane" photo set that resulted from a spontaneous change of plans yesterday evening -- something I never even knew would wind up happening at all. If all the other stuff I already have planned next month actually pans out, I'm liable to wind up with 6 or maybe even 7 separate photo sets for the Christmas season this year; Black Friday Weekend is barely ending and I've already got two.

Anyway! I'll tell you briefly about Friday. It was pretty quiet, predictably, at work, but I still worked until pretty close to 4:30 -- unlike Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, when I was the last in Merchandising to leave and I still left at 4:00 -- mostly because I knew I wanted to stop through the Lighting of the Tree Ceremony at Westlake Park.

The forecast had not show any rain and so I foolishly did not bring my umbrella. But it was lightly raining when I left work, not heavy enough to be terrible but ultimately not light enough for me to want to walk in it for half an hour. So, I went and caught a bus, which got me to Westlake Center earlie than anticipated. There was a pretty huge crowd already assembled at about 4:40, so when I got to 3rd and Pine, I decided to go down to the Metro tunnel and then come back up via Westlake Center, which would put me smack in the middle of the crowd -- the Holiday Tree itself is right outside that entrance.

It took a bit to get through that crowd itself, as I wanted to be across Pine Street from there and into Westlake Park to get the best photo angles. I encountered Black Lives Matter protesters right outside that entrance, the presence of whom I have mixed feelings about. They have come to disrupt the proceedings at this event every year since 2014 or maybe before; the performances at the event have since been massively scaled down (their official statement being that it actually did not have to do with the Black Lives Matter people), and the police response has clearly been refined, in getting them basically quarantied, if still seen by plenty around.

On the one hand, it's tempting to say these tactics are counterproductive. I feel like the jury is out on that idea, however. And I still hesitate to say they should not disrupt whatever it is they disrupt -- from holiday events to Pride events -- when, from their perspective, this is literally about issues of life and death. And what it is about those who might be annoyed by their tactics on a night like last Friday night? A Christmas Tree. Shopping. Those are pretty pathetic things to prioritize above people's actual lives, honestly. Also: I've now actually marched in a Black Lives Matter march, which, though it did not disrupt an annual event, it certainly disrupted traffic. Expressing any issues on my part at this point would be pretty hypocritical.

And anyway, they were far outnumbered. They seemed to be concentrated near the entrance to Westlake Center, and I went to stand under the awning outside Sephora across the street in Westlake Park to get out of the rain. Over there, anyone around me might have had no idea Black Lives Matter was even there. I have to admit, though, I did wonder how I would handle it if any kind of violence broke out. I'd probably have panicked.

There was a middle-aged black woman also standing under that same awning, clearly waiting for the Tree to be lit, just like everyone else there around her. Her greatest annoyance was people moving through the crowd and cutting through by her when there was a clearly much easier path about ten feet away. I wondered what level of awareness she had of the presence of Black Lives Matter. I decided not to ask.

I wound up waiting roughly forty-five minutes, just to see the Christmas lights on the tree light up, and the Star at Macy's to light up. And the Holiday Carousel launched its inaugural ride of the season, and the requisite fireworks shot off the roof at Macy's. I had walked through the crowd last year as well, and took a couple pictures, but I didn't stay for the lighting of the tree -- so this was the first time I managed to see the full program in Seattle since probably 2009.

And then I walked home, and I put up the Christmas Tree in our living room.



This is the fourth year now that I've used that same white artificial tree; all four years the living room decorations have looked pretty much identical -- just with one or two new ornaments on the tree every year. This is the third of those Christmases that Ivan was around, incidentally, and likely the last. It was when he lived with me the first time, in 2014, that I first bought it and put it up. He sat on the couch in the living room with his laptop as I put up the decorations.

Tommy lived with me for a year and a half after that, but that only included the one Christmas, in 2015. He really seemed to enjoy the decorations and was actually kind of bummed when I took them down the day after New Year's -- "But it's so pretty!" I remember him saying. Well, they have to come down at some point, right?

And then, Ivan moved back in with us just before Christmas last year. So he'll find presents under the tree for a third time this year. I still need to figure out what those will be.

As for yesterday -- Saturday -- that turned out to be quite the unexpectedly long day for me. I left to make a couple of errands at maybe 12:30, and wound up not getting home until nearly twelve hours later.

First I dropped off dry cleaning. Then I went to the post office on Broadway to mail off a Christmas gift to Uncle David and Mary Ann in Australia. I always figure the earlier I get that mailed out the better, as it can take a long time for mail to reach the opposite side of the planet. From there I decided to go to Steamworks for a while, and I was there about three hours, only the third of which made waiting through two hours of total dullness worth it. In the end, though, totally worth the $11 to get in.

And when I left there, I was thinking about Shobhit's suggestion that I come meet him in Northgate when he got off work at 5:00, and I had said I wasn't sure if I'd be able to or not. And I decided to; I was already closer to Convention Place Station than I was to home, and if I was to do this, there was no point in going home first when I'd literally just have to turn right around and come back.

So, down to Convention Place Station I went, and I caught the #41 to Northgate. I could have stayed on the bus until I got to the north end of Northgate Mall, but I got off at the Northgate Transit Center so I could go into the mall and pee. Between that and the amount of time it took to walk to Shobhit's work, I killed twenty of the thirty minutes I still had before he got off.

We decided to go to a nearby falafel place to get dinner to go. And it was while we were waiting for that falafel plate to cook that Shobhit got a call from his cousin -- technically his mom's cousin -- Abhishek.

Shobhit's youngest cousin (actual first cousin), Anubhab (prnounced "Anoo-bob") is visiting from Mumbai, and has stayed at Abhishek and Vinaya's in Bothell since Thanksgiving. It was three or four days, something like that. But since Anubhab was in town, Abhishek had suggested we all get together.

Shobhit's mother apparently tried to convince him to see Anubhab alone, without me, as though it would make any difference to the clearly now-widespread knowledge that Shobhit is gay. Anubhab, as it happens, totally dismissed such notions and was super friendly and weloming to me.

The original plan was to get together today. When Shobhit was on the phone at the falafel place, though, he learned that Anubhab's flight to Las Vegas was to leave tonight, and he apparently was hoping for a "quick trip" today to Snoqualmie Pass because he had never seen snow before. So then Abhishek was asking if we could met up last night instead.


So this was how, when I thought at first I would be back home by about 6:00 at the latest, my time away for the day wound up being doubled. I messaged Ivan to ask him to feed the cats for us, which he did, and Shobhit and I just kept the falafel plate to go in the back seat of the car and headed off to Bellevue. They decided they wanted to take Anubhab to see Snowflake Lane, the nightly holiday entertainment that happens at Bellevue Square between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, for fifteen minutes.

This is also how I now have a collection of Snowflake Lane photo sets on Flickr. It's just two sets, but that makes a collection! The previous, and first, time was in 2012 when I met with Danielle to see it with her and her daughters. I can hardly believe that was 5 years ago now; both Morgan and Rylee were still pretty little kids then -- aged 8 and 4, respectively. Now they're 13 and 9.

Danielle actually started messaging me about something unrelated while we were there, and I had to write back, You'll never guess where I am! I was right, too. She wasn't able to guess.

Shobhit and I actually spent a while wandering around Bellevue Sqare when we first got there, waiting to hear back after we texted Abhishek that we had parked. We just ran into Vinaya and her younger daughter, Ishita, by chance in the mall. They were waiting for Anubhab; I don't know if he'd gone to the bathroom or what. When he arrived and I met him for the first time, he made some comment to the others about a "long queue." Abhishek and Nikita had gone home to feed their dog that had been kept in a kennel all day; I guess they had made a semi-spontaneous decision earlier in the day to go to Snoqualmie Falls. Given the way we wound up making this plan for the evening, I get the feeling their entire day yesterday was just a sequence of events that were the result of sponetaneous decisions.

This Anubhab guy was kind of cute, I thought. A little chubbier than I usually find cute, and the photos don't quite capture it -- you kind of have to be there. But he's cute. Also, eight years younger than Shobhit. Super friendly, too. If Abhishek and Vinaya were any indication, though, that was hardly a surprise. It was interesting, later in the evening, to hear a few details I had never heard before about Shobhit's extended family from his childhood years. Apparently once when Anubhab was little, Shobhit would ask him questions like how many planets or continents there are, and when Anubhab didn't know the answer, Shobhit kind of dismissed him as not very smart. I don't think that's precisely what happened -- it's just how Anubhab remembers it. Granted, I did later mention how Shobhit can tend to just pull so-called "information" out of his ass, and Vinaya said something kind of telling: "None of us are smart enough to challenge him." (To be fair, in that specific instance, Shobhit managed to demonstrate that he did know what he was talking about.)

Until then, though, I had a hard time understanding a lot of the discussions going on, between the outdoor noise at the Snowflake Lane parade (of which you can find several photos on Flickr), and after that, dinner at Palomino, which was right behind where we had been standing on the sidewalk. The restaurant itself was pretty loud, though. The pizza Shobhit and I ordered was delicious, I can tell you that.

Abhishek asked if we'd like to come over for a bit and have a drink at their place, and I said, "I'm not going to turn down a drink!" So, altough it was an extra 25 minutes or so to drive there, we all headed to Vinaya and Abhishe's place in Bothell. He made me two vodka drinks, and Shobhit one gin drink. Vinya kept bring out snack after snack, to the point that I started to find it comically ridiculous: tortilla chips and salsa; then pita bread and hummus; then even a plate of baked samosas (which were decent but nowhere close to as good as Shobhit's -- these ones were not homemade). I ate far too much of it all and it's a miracle my weight was actually down even 0.1 lbs this morning from yesterday. Then again, Shobhit had made us delicious huevos rancheros in the morning, and that had served as brunch, and not even a super-heavy one; so at least, as big as dinner wound up being, I only had two meals yesterday.

All in all, we spent a good five hours with Abhishek & Co. last night. Every time we get together, roughly once a year, we talk about how we should get together more often. Maybe one day we'll break the cycle and actually get together more often. We don't have to have another family member from India around to make it happpen.


[posted 6:37 pm]