Starburst, Swimming, Sushi & Sufi coffee

My colleague Casey has a jar of leftover Halloween candy in his cube. I’ve been scarfing down the Starburst from it: it’s so terrifyingly addictive (except for the watermelon-flavored ones, which are disgusting.) Starburst are the American equivalent of Sugus, which my grandmother used to give us. Unlike the Danish butter cookies (which often got recycled), we all loved Sugus.

My Tuesday-night-cafe-writing partner is in San Diego for Thanksgiving this week. So tonight, I went swimming instead. It’s great to be able to swim on a November night in an outdoor swimming pool, where the lights cast a weird spacey glow about you…only in California. I haven’t gone swimming in a while; and had forgotten how good it feels. Not just from the exercise-induced adrenaline rush, but swimming in water is very sensual, like dancing in silk. Remember the scene in “The Last Emperor” where Pu Yi is rolling around with his consorts in silk sheets? The only drawback to swimming in pools is the smell of chlorine that clings to your skin, even after showering.

We went out to dinner at our favourite Japanese/sushi restaurant, Sushi-Tei in Mountain View. It’s more low-key than the other Japanese restaurants on the other side of El Camino Real, but they also serve more than just the regular tempura-teriyaki range of Japanese dishes, like grilled yellowtail collar, monkfish liver (it’s like a seafood pate), and potato salad.

We had noticed bottles with name tags on prior visits and asked what they were. It turns out they were selling personal bottles of soju, which are kept there. You can pour from your own bottle each time you dine there. (Like the members’ bottles of whiskey in clubs in Japan or Thailand.) We decided to get a bottle. The waitress asked us if we wanted it hot or cold. Having it cold means she brings a bucket of ice, a carafe of water, lemon slices, and you can mix it to your liking. Next time we’ll try it hot and see what it’s like.

After dinner, we walked around and looked for the new Sufi coffee shop, for which I had seen a flyer in downtown Mountain View. We found it on El Camino Real, lights on, door locked. I looked for a sign posting the hours, but instead the proprietor came to the door. “I don’t have regular hours yet,” he explained. But he had very good coffee (each cup is made from beans ground to order, drip style, at around $3 a large cup) and lots of Sufi reading material. I don’t know anything about Sufi, except through Pico Iyer’s novel “Abandon.” The cafe is very small and cosy, and reflects the individuality of the proprietor, combining his fondness for, well, Sufi and coffee.


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