Reached LA yesterday after a very boring drive. There are 2 ways to drive from San Francisco to LA - either the Pacific coast highway which is a beautiful, scenic drive along the Pacific but about 12 hrs long or the Interstate 5 which is a flat, boring highway like any other interstate in the country but takes about 6 hours. I've been up and down from LA to SF 2-3 times and each time it's been the flat, fast route. Unfortunately, even this time it was the flat boring route and we covered it in less than 6 hours. The car didn't have any airconditioning and within 20 minutes of heading out of Berkeley, it was quite an energy sapping drive because of the heat. I got a ride from one of the conference participants who was driving down to Caltech and it was hard to talk about anything except number theory and math rumours and gossip.
Since Pasadena and LA (where my brother lives) aren't too close it seemed like a nice idea to get dropped off at the Pasadena metro station and ask my brother to pick me up from the station closest to his house. In hindsight, it was a stupid idea. I've taken the LA-Pasadena metro once and had forgotten how long it can take. The LA metro is possibly the most underused, slow and forgotten subway system in the world. In a city where distances are huge (a 20 min drive = close by) the metro is quite useless. At the Pasadena station there were 4 other people waiting with me - a slightly scared looking elderly couple and 2 black kids talking loudly. With my huge backpack it was hard to fit on the only remaining space on the bench so I just kept standing. It took almost 20 mins for the next train to arrive and I couldn't see a single white person on the train. The crowd seemed like a mix of fairly down-and-out tired looking people and a few young kids talking loudly. Halfway through, a completely drunk, white guy walked in with an 80s style mullet and a bottle of vodka in one hand. He sat right opposite me and kept dozing off and waking up, shouting "nigger" and "bitch" to himself. The stench of cheap vodka almost filled the whole coach. Finally reached Union station after about 30 mins and then had to wait another 20 mins for the next line which I had to take.
Not having a cellphone meant I couldn't call up my brother and tell him to not be at the station for another 20 mins. By the time I reached the station, he'd been waiting for almost an hour and finding parking on a Saturday night near Koreatown wasn't easy. Keeping busy for an hour after parking couldn't have been too much fun with no cafes or bookshops closeby. Reached home around 1030 at night and realised it would have been easier and faster for him to drive to Pasadena and pick me up. Anyway, after more than 2 weeks of shared accomodation and dorm-type food, having homecooked food and my own room and bathroom feels great.