My phone vibrates with a weather warning message. Aerial flood. How torturous can a six-hour drive from Claymont (Delaware) to Framingham (Massachusetts) get? A question that gets answered without delay. The mist rises and falls like a soft fluffy blanket putting every road, river and bridge to sleep, making them invisible. We play Misty Mountains Cold from The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey. And when the rain starts pelting down with a rage, we switch to Queen of Rain by Roxette. For a few seconds, it is fun to visualize the tall buildings of New York dripping like melting candles. The fun soon dies, and we wonder how Marion Crane ever got to the hotel (Psycho).
We are in Framingham. According to its official website, Framingham got the status of a city as recently as January 1, 2018. The sky is no longer furious. Our backs crack as we stretch, inhaling the crisp cold air of a new city along with tobacco. A few alcoholic beverages and big fat slices of pizza down, the one-bedroom studio where we are to retire for the night feels like a warm nest. Where’s the fluffy blanket?
Biryani pangs. We head to Paradise Biryani in Westborough, seat ourselves at a table that faces a TV featuring old Telugu songs, slide the menu card to the side, and loudly and clearly order for Avakka Biryani and Thums up. On the drive back, there is more than food coma that we fight. Severe traffic congestion because of an accident.
Quincy Market. We get busy selecting the softest beanies and leggings, and gulping down mugs of hot chocolate. And somewhere between shopping and drinking, like a flash of lightening, like the pinch of static shock, we are reminded of the ground beneath our feet. The cobblestone promenade reeks of history. At some point, we drift away from the thousands of buyers, sellers guarding their small stalls, a lone performer, and look above to see the words: “This building has served the people of Boston as the Central Market of the city since its dedication in August 1826.” As it turns out, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, South and North Market together form Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
At Not your average Joe’s. White Cosmo pairs with Spaghetti squash mushroom bolognese. Several forks wrap the creamy squash strings around them at the same time. A bowl of nachos makes a vanishing act. Conversations punctuate with clink of ice and loud slurps. A spoon-drop silence follows at the appearance of velvety-chocolate-dripping Flourless chocolate torte, and spongy Sticky toffee cake. Then the laughter. Lots of it.
And it doesn’t stop. Not in the car, not when we are out, smoking by the Spy Pond. The wind begins to feel like sharp invisible daggers from the lake. Half-ice-half-water, the 103-acre-wide Arlington water body lays like a drenched carpet, waiting for the sun to defrost it. And let it do what it does best. Reflect. The faces in front of me fade in and out with each drag, like a flashback scene in a movie. With this visual effect still on, I am let on on an intriguing story about the lake. As it turns out, the lake had been a big source of ice slabs in late 1800s. Ice that traveled to Boston city, and some as far as India. Is there any truth in it? ‘I spy with my little eye…’ runs on a loop in my head.
At Bourbon’s Kitchen and Cocktails. Crispy brussels anointed with truffle aioli and parmesan; and buffalo cauliflower with blue cheese dressing decorate the table. I wash it down with Heads or Tales — a heady mix of Barr hill honey gin, Italicus, Dolin Blanc and Citrus Oil. It’s so orange one could paint the sunset with it. It is probably time to call it a night; the pub is almost empty and the kitchen is closed. Our eyes are glassy, and our walks seem forced.
It’s probably the sixth round of Cards against Humanity. The cards must be flattered. They are no longer funny, but even phrases as flat as “a tiny horse” have us in stitches. Somebody spills water on the rug; bits of tissue paper float around, like the aftermath of a pillow fight. A few search for the last bits inside the chips packet and a few others lay bare their emotions for the other. The Bose Triple Black Soundlink Revolve Bluetooth blares Mi Gente and Havana, drowning the laughs, opinions, and narrations in it, like how a turbulent river would drown anything that comes in its path.
Trillium Brewing Company. The logo is a trillium flower. Apparently, the beautiful three-petaled flower smells like rotting meat. Thankfully, a strong whiff of beer helps us forget the trivia, and we walk past a packed crowd of people and their pet dogs, to buy crates of interesting drinks such as Day and Night, which is a blonde barleywine style ale with cold brewed coffee; Pom pom, a milk stout; and Fireplace Bananas, American double/ Imperial stout style beer.
Harvard University. I try to recount scenes from Legally Blonde and The Social Network. What do Barack Obama, Frank O’Hara and Natalie Portman have in common? No prize for guessing. We reach the best known landmark of the university – the John Harvard statue. It is a belief that if you touch his left foot, which is shinier than the rest of him, it brings good luck. I rub some luck on my palm. A few-minutes walk later, we enter a warm building, where many heads are poring over thick books. We walk past them and come face to face with what looks like the computer that Benedict Cumberbatch invents in The Imitation Game. What’s in front of us is Mark 1, the first programmable computer in the United States.
El Jefe’s Taqueria. After a Mexican bowl and a plate of chips and Queso, we head to Mike’s Pastry. Though famous for its Cannoli, we order an Eclair and Tiramisu. They say, a visit to Boston is never complete without stepping in for a dose of sweetness at Mike’s. The 71-year-old shop is compact, with high stools and a single long table. But it’s a rapid floating crowd inside, most are seen just boxing cannolis to go.
You won’t find it if you don’t know about it already. It’s unmarked. Just a small door among the many doors on the streets. A secret bar. Brick and Mortar is inspired from the concept of speakeasies, in other words, illicit establishments that used to sell alcoholic beverages in the prohibition era (1920 to 1933) in the United States. It’s a thrill to imagine that we are guzzling down the White Mercedes Coupe — lemongrass infused citadelle gin with coconut, lemon and absinthe; and a shot of Crush on a stripper, in secret.
Improv Boston. The seats get filled up in no time. The spotlights shine on both the performers and the audience. It’s a performance whipped up on the spot. The actors spin a yarn borrowing words ever so often from members of the audience. When asked for a song title, one of us, still on a sugar rush, shouts, ‘Caramelise this’. And there it is, a full-blown composition, caramelised on the spot for the audience, but more intimately for us.