Marriage and a chance relocation have brought me 10,000 miles from my native India to the sunny climes of western Florida, in Bradenton-Sarasota. While the palm trees lend a familiar tropical flavor to my new surroundings, the challenges of driving on the right-hand side of the road, the expansive shopping plazas, and the manicured and landscaped lawns confirm for me that I am indeed back in the United States of America, right at the time when election fever is mounting and the debate over health care is once again at center stage. The last time I was in the United States was right before Barack Obama was elected, in the summer of 2008; there will be another 9 months of suspense before we know whether Obama is going to make it back into the White House next year. Speculation is rife. But while the election drama unfolds, my husband and I are enjoying our explorations of this coastal nook of Florida. One thing I like about this state is that there are large bodies of water everywhere; even outside our apartment, overlooking the balcony, there is a large pond that ripples gently in the breeze all day long, giving this area a resort-like quality. Living here is like being eternally on holiday.
We’ve been to two beaches so far: Siesta Keys and Lido Beach. Both have vast expanses of white sand and pure, clean waters. The sea gulls and pelicans are very tame here; they fly close to the shoreline and are seemingly unafraid of humans. The sunsets at the beach are spectacular; a few weeks ago we actually watched the sun dip below the horizon at Lido Beach against a reddish-orange backdrop. The beaches were not crowded went we visited them — in fact they were somewhat deserted. But I am sure that the sands will be teeming with vacationers when my first summer in Florida eventually rolls around.
So far, we have visited:
The Dali in St. Petersburg (http://thedali.org/); Orange Groves and Winery (http://www.floridawine.com/); The Pier at St.Petersburg; International Plaza in Tampa; Sarasota beaches; Downtown Sarasota, where we hung out at the 5 O’Clock Club (http://caroline941fl.web.officelive.com/default.aspx) and listened to The Bonesha
kers after downing a shot (only one!) of tequila. We’ve eaten well at Main Street in Lakewood Ranch and have sampled some offerings from the Sarasota Film Society, most notably The Artist and A Separation. We even managed to catch some classical piano music (Chopin’s works, played by Russian pianist Eleonora Lvov).
Next on the agenda: The Everglades.