Brandon writes the Intro:
On September 15 Donna and I met each other at the airport, our flights from separate hemispheres landing only an hour apart. I arrived from Chile to SF after nearly 24 hours of travel on 3 separate flights smelly and disheveled. Donna arrived from Shanghai after a luxurious 12-hour jaunt in Global First class on United Airlines. With her well refreshed and myself a smelly wreck, clearly things were the way they should be!
The reason we were scheduled to return to SF mid-September was to attend the epic Indian wedding of Donna’s friend, Jess Sawhney. We got back to SF on a Tuesday and the wedding would consist of a serious of parties and ceremonies occupying all of the coming weekend. Besides the wedding, several of my family members, sister, mom and dad, all planned to visit me in SF and I also wanted to spend some time working on my 30-foot sailboat, Joyous, in preparation for future adventures and her eventual sale. During the time Donna planned to visit her family on the east coast and begin preparing for our eventual move to France. Overall we both looked forward to spending almost a month in SF doing things that we never found the time to do when we actually lived here; it would be a refreshing pitstop before another 6 weeks of travel to China, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
Donna writes about the Indian wedding:
Two days after Brandon and I returned to San Francisco, we drove down to the Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose for my good college friend, Jess Sawhney’s wedding. This would be our first Indian wedding and we were very much looking forward to it. My friend would be marrying her best friend, Ganesh Subramanian! Weddings are always filled with a reunion of good friends, good food and overall good fun so we were excited to have 3 days of celebrations ahead. The first night of celebrating would be the Mehndi party where the girls would have their palms painted in henna followed by folk dances lead by Jess’ Sikh family members. Their wedding would have almost 300 friends and family flying in from all over the world. The second night would be similar to a rehearsal dinner though it had more than twice the guests than any other wedding I attended to date! The dinner was followed by more dancing and singing performances, which was lively and fun to watch.
The third day, Saturday, was the main event. Because Jess’ family is Sikh and Ganesh’s family is Hindu, the wedding had two ceremonies. Jess’ Sikh ceremony started at 9am at the Sikh temple where the tradition was to have all guests cover their head and shoulders. Even Brandon sported a red scarf on his head! The Hindu ceremony was held in the front lawn at the Dolce Hayes mansion. It was a beautiful setting for a wedding. The reception kicked off immediately following the Hindu ceremony with endless amounts of delicious Indian food and all the drinks you can imagine. I was in heaven. For those who know me well, you know how much I love to put back Indian food! Overall it was an amazing wedding and it was so great to see so many friends from Emory, many of whom I haven’t seen in years!
Brandon writes about family visits:
With the impending international move, my family thought it was a good chance to come to SF for final visits before we left for who-knows-how-long.
First came my sister. She was in SF on business for a marketing conference but took an extra day off to hang out with Donna and I. First Donna, myself and Jannika had dinner at my favorite Indonesian restaurant, Borubadur, on Wednesday evening. The next day Jannika wrapped up her business and we had brunch at Brenda’s, which served excellent southern style comfort food. The food was filling and I didn’t need to eat anything except this one meal the entire rest of the day! Afterwards Donna left and Jannika and I went to the Metreon to catch an IMAX 3D showing of a childhood throwback, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We were the only ones in the theatre which was great because I could be as loud and obnoxious as I wanted during the film, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 style. I took Jannika to the airport that evening and figured I’d probably see her next in Florida for Christmas. She was doing well in life and work and it was great to catch up with her for a day!
A week and a half later my Mom came to visit. Exactly one year prior she visited SF to spend time with me and her good friend Liz Lawhead and all of us had a great time going to the Bluegrass Festival. This visit would be a repeat of that trip, except with Joyous now in excellent sailing condition we also planned on to get out on the Bay. She arrived and Liz, Donna, myself and Mom all went out for a meal at Delancy Street on the Embarcadero. The next day the surf was good and there was a late afternoon Giants playoff game to watch, so I didn’t join Mom and Liz at the Bluegrass Festival and instead got some waves and relaxed at the house enjoying awesome Indian Summer weather. The Giants game ended up being an epic 18 inning affair that kept me busy until it was time to head to Zazie in Cole Valley for a repeat dinner with Liz and Mom. Up to this point I had only been to Zazie for brunch, but I highly recommend the dinners there too! While at dinner I kept sneaking out of the restaurant to check up on the baseball game and I was stoked when Brandon Belt hit a homer to take the lead in the top of the 18th and the Cardinals were unable to answer.
The next day was the highlight of Mom’s visit. I had been working on Joyous in Tiburon for the past 2 weeks and she was finally ready to be moved back to her normal berth at Pier 39. Donna, Mom and myself concocted an epic bike-sail-bike plan. First we would ride from Ocean Beach across the Golden Gate Bridge and through Marin to Paradise Cay in Tiburon. Once there we would load the bikes onto the boat and sail back to Pier 39, passing right by Angel Island, and then from Pier 39 we would ride back to Ocean Beach. The weather was amazing and my Mom was a huge trooper, handling the 25+ miles of biking like a champion. We left at about 11am and didn’t get back to the Sunset until after 7! It was an amazing experience and I was glad to show Mom all my work on the boat and that everything went smoothly with the adventure. That night we all slept like champions and the next morning I took Mom to the airport, but our goodbye didn’t need to be that serious because she’d be joining Donna and me in China in just 2 short weeks!
The last weekend before we would leave for China was Fleet Week, which meant the Blue Angels would be in town. Ever since I was young my father and I have loved going to Air Shows. Growing up in Orange County we’d go to El Toro every year and this was certainly the reason that for so many years growing up I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. Now that I had my boat working and the free time, it was the perfect opportunity to convince Dad to fly from Florida to SF for the Fleet Week weekend. We spent the entire time together and even slept on Joyous on Saturday night. He was impressed with my work installing the diesel and was glad to see Joyous in good sailing shape. We both took a ton of pictures of the Blue Angels with our high powered telephoto lenses and generally “nerded out” talking about planes, politics, and computers — the way it’s always been between Pops and I. I was also glad that he got to meet a bunch of my friends while we were sailing. Good times!
Donna writes about visiting her family on the East Coast
Knowing that next year will be extremely busy with school, I wanted to give myself a chance to hang out with my sister and grandparents in Florida while I had some time in the US. So my sister, Arlana, flew down to Palm Beach from New York while I flew out to meet her there from SF. Brandon would spend most of his time in SF working on Joyous’ epic makeover.
My grandparents had recently moved from the Breaker West Community in West Palm Beach to a new house in Palm Beach Gardens to be closer to my Aunt, Rorrie, and her husband, Robert, who are building a house in the same Palm Beach Gardens Community. Their house had just finished construction when I arrived, so we were able to see it before they planned to move in the following week.
It was a very nice trip to see my grandparents. My grandfather is turning 90 next February, a birthday I will unfortunately have to miss so it was important for me to see them now. Even at 89.75 years old, albeit slow, my grandfather doesn’t walk with a cane or need any other help. I hope to be in the same shoes when I reach his age! My grandmother is also doing very well. She made her famous sicilian style pizza for Arlana and me one night – always a delicious treat that brings back memories of our childhood visits to their house in Old Brookville (Long Island). We also went to Rocco’s Taco’s on Thursday night for a round of Margarita’s and guac and tacos. Needless to say, we were spoiled with good food on this visit.
On the last night before Arlana and I were flying back to SF and NY, respectively, we drove down to Fort Lauderdale to have dinner with Sartaj, my friend and future INSEAD classmate. Sartaj and I met at an INSEAD forum in SF back in April and immediately hit it off as friends. When I knew Arlana and I were visiting South Florida, we made plans to meet up at a sushi restaurant – between Argentina and China, there were very few opportunities to have sushi so I was stoked! Even with his busy days helping to run his family company, he found the time to give Arlana and me a tour of Fort Lauderdale. It was great to see him in his home town.
After several days of rest and relaxation, Arlana and I flew back home. It was so good to spend time with Arlana and my grandparents. Brandon and I will see them all again in Florida over the Christmas holidays!
Brandon writes about working on Joyous:
I spent a lot of time working on Joyous during our time back in SF. It had always been a priority of mine to work with my friend Jonah on re-rigging Joyous so that she’d be much improved for sailing. Partially this was functional but also a big part was for me to learn from Jonah how to put together rigging on a a sailboat. Jonah is a professional rigger and I would pay Jonah for the job but also work alongside him like an apprentice. So over the course of about 2 weeks we tore off the old clutches, boom, mains’l track and other hardware and replaced it with new and improved stuff. I learned how to cut and fashion alumnimum, how to install deck hardware, and how to paint with epoxy-based paints. I also finished up a few odds and ends from the repower job that I had completed with Jonah just before leaving to South America. I found the process and learning actually pretty fun as I do enjoy working wth my hands and getting to use the finished product of my work; it feels satisfying in a very different way compared to my usual computer work. The end result, sailing with my Mom, Dad and friends, made it all worth the time, money and effort.
Brandon writes about lots of other stuff we did, in no particular order and just for memories sake
- Thanks to Eddie Choi for letting Donna and I stay in his apartment for the first week we were back while he was visiting New York chasing hurricane surf. Famous Donna quote: “if we had a nice apartment like this together, I would be down to live in the Sunset”
- I managed to take Joyous to 2 Giants playoff games, both against the Cardinals, reminiscent of 2010 and 2012 !!
- I got a couple of fun surf sessions as the first swells of the winter season appeared. Two were on big days and I surfed alone on my 9’4” Brewer; it was like longboarding 10 foot faces, so fun. I also surfed with my friend Greg Davis and it was good to get a session with him after so many missed opportunities.
- On our last night before leaving to China, Donna and I had dinner at Marina Sushi with many of Donna’s friends, including Margaux, Natalie, Jess & Ganesh, and Lauren Williams.
- I met with my former Blackrock colleagues. I hung with John Prins at his awesome apartment on the Embarcadero, had lunch with Jon Baker, and got a random Saturday morning call from Pablo, who worked in the London Blackrock office, letting me know he was just around the corner hanging out on Ocean Beach. Donna and myself met up with him for brunch and planned future visits to London. Also I attended a dinner gathering with many of the old GMSG crew hosted by Dave at his epic Lower Haight house. Mad props to Stephanie for creating amazing food, as usual.
- Bruce, Wes Parks, and I attended the SF premier of Jeremy Jones’ epic backcountry snowboarding film Higher. It is inspirational to see the gnarly mountains Jeremy climbs up and skis down.
- Donna, Jonah and myself had an awesome daysail in Joyous with GoPro dude Ruben and his wife Marie. Ruben likes to drive racecars and wouldn’t take his hands of Joyous’ tiller; the guy lives to drive. Jonah and Ruben talked a lot about badass cars, especially Porsches.
- I was getting ready to surf one evening with Haroldo when Kelsey came into the garage still in her wetsuit and with a broken nose! She had been whacked in the face by her board while surfing and so I took her to UCSF; she was amazingly brave and took it all in stride, what a tough chick!
- I made 2 trips to the Chinese Consulate and succesfully obtained a Chinese passport
All in all it was a great few weeks in SF. Donna and I kept talking about how we should be feeling nostalgic while cruising around SF for the past month. However, didn’t feel that the nostalgia had set in yet. The reason must’ve been that we weren’t gone long enough yet. Rest assured, given enough time and change, as friends move away and the character that we perceive of the City morphs due to the passage of time, we will come back and have that nostalgic feeling of just how great our all our time spent in SF was.