The only time I had the opportunity to visit Hollywood, I didn’t want to. My colleagues and I were in Pasadena for an event and we’d spent the weekend afternoon in a rather unusual way at the Santa Monica beach and pier.
Next stop, my team was all jumpy about it, was to be Hollywood. After all, as one of my friends pointed out, we were so close that it’d be a shame not to stop by. For you see, even in the nation that gave Bollywood to the world, the American version is quite popular.
Except, I didn’t want to go.
However, peer pressure works in weird ways and having spent the first half of my day with the team, I gave in and ended up taking the window seat in the cab. Our destination was the Walk of Fame. I wasn’t sure what incredible experiences awaited us, but my fellow travellers seemed to know what they were doing. And so for the first time in a long time, I just went along with someone else’s plans.
About 20-30 minutes later, our driver pulled up. It was time to get down. Just before the doors opened, I happened to turn to my left. There, nestled amidst the fog and the mountains, was a big fancy sign—Hollywood. We were there.
I pointed it out to my colleagues and in a fleeting second, their dreams shattered. They hadn’t expected to see the sign that way—crouching, peeping through a rather spotted glass window, squinting to get a better view. But that was it. We’d seen the sign.
Our driver seemed to share our disappointment, although for another reason altogether. Hearing frustrated “ahem”s, we realised with a jolt that we should let him go. Thanking and apologising at the same time, we got down looking all sides for the Walk of Fame. We turned this way and that for a while trying to spot directions before I looked down and saw I was standing right on top of it.
The sidewalks on both sides of the street was the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“So what next?” I asked my colleagues. We’d seen the Hollywood sign, we’d walked the Walk of Fame. The only thing left to do—in my opinion—was to go back or go elsewhere. For goodness sake, we’d even seen a statue of Lord Ganesh!
Everywhere I turned, tourists clutching over-priced souvenirs, licking extra-large ice creams, or wearing over-the-top hats. People pointed in random directions, peered at their mobile maps, got on an off tourist buses. A few locals strode in and out of shopping malls, branded bags weighing them down. It was a hot spot, for sure. But boring unless you have a ton of money and the excitement to spend it all right away.
I’d had enough. But my friends had other ideas. They wanted to visit the Madame Tussauds wax museum down the street, and then grab lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen.
Excusing myself, I walked in search of the nearest train station. I caught some interesting attractions along the way, but I’d had enough of Hollywood. I headed, instead, to the Griffith Observatory.