I left my heart in San Francisco

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.
By Maramis

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

Some of you know I spent a short vacation in California for the sole purpose of visiting both my sister and my son. They live within an acceptable driving distance from each other.
I flew into the San Francisco Airport, which was less than a 2-hour flight, so naturally, they didn’t serve their usual sumptuous airline meals along with those amazing mind-boggling cocktails to soothe even the most weary frequent traveler.
Usually I push back my roomy, well-padded seat all the way to enjoy a little restful nap on my way headed east but this flight was short enough to allow me to start up a chat with my fellow seat passengers.
They were both Mongolian (born and raised there and still living there), and one was here (in the United States and Las Vegas in particular) for the first time. He barely spoke a word of English, but since he was traveling with his well-seasoned traveling companion, that was not a problem. The English-speaking one, Danzka, was a traveling salesman… for yurts. I had a quick course in what living in Mongolia was like. I guess I never gave it a thought, not ever having any reason to, but just as I discovered that the nomadic life is still alive and well in parts of Kuwait — which I saw with my own eyes when I was living there — that is the standard in Mongolia.
Apparently, there is a big demand for yurts in this country, and his were rather… well… elegant, for such a product. Many of you know what a yurt is, yet I’ll bet at least some of you don’t. So I will tell you that I slept in one when I took that trip to Yosemite National Park several years ago. It made my camping trip all the more comfortable and allowed me to sleep with several of my friends. (Yes, I’m aware of how that reads.)
While we had a very pleasant chat on the way to San Francisco, I caught myself sounding like I was interviewing Danzka. I learned the predominant (and more or less official) language is Mongolian, not Chinese or Russian. And English may well be more likely to be their second language, as it was for Danzka. Overall it is a nomadic lifestyle, and therefore their diet is traditionally meat, milk, and fat. And you can only imagine how popular yurts are there! No worry
about “the neighbors upstairs!” There aren’t any. Mongolia has only one city, their capital of UlaanBaatar, which has
roughly one million people, but none other that even come close. Their other areas of living — not big enough to be called cities, and some that might not even qualify to be called towns — are more or less closer to the size of Pahrump or Amargosa. But all in all, it attracts visitors to see their lovely temples and landscapes.
The reason for my unexpected visit was because neither of them would be able to visit me in October, for my birthday, so they decided to bring the soon-to-be birthday girl to them at a time when they both had time to visit with me. And it worked out fine. Temperatures in sunny California were fabulous— and I loved the cool breezy evenings out on the patio. But in spite of the beauty of the area and the temperatures — so far removed from 110 and even 120 degrees in Pahrump — I still was happy to return home.
While with them, we watched a video that another son had made years ago of my mother. It was more or less like an interview— they (my son Frank and his wife, Laura) were asking my mother all kinds of questions to learn as much as they could about her life. It was good to watch that again. We all had a good laugh at some of the ways my mother answered questions.
Then, also while there, my sister brought out a video of when my four children were little. My youngest was still considered a baby and my oldest was not even school-aged yet. Unlike in today’s world, where practically everything is videoed and sent around to not only family and friends, but to the whole world on Facebook or YouTube, back in my
day we were fortunate to have “Grandpa” come to visit with his movie camera and no real experience in making those home movies; but he was filled with the desire to record some of the cute things my children did while just playing in the back yard or on vacation with Grandma and Grandpa, and sometimes with Uncle Richie and his family as well.
While the quality of the movies is questionable, there’s no doubt that they’re priceless.
My daughter has always been of the notion that she was a happy child, and this video showed her always smiling and looking happy — with the exception of one little moment. My sister said, “Oh, look, she’s not smiling there,” at which moment my daughter in the movie turned to the camera and gave us all her biggest smile yet! It was such a joy to
watch my three little sons playing in their natural way, not putting on a show for the man with the camera. While there was not an awful lot of footage and none of it was edited or made “better” with special effects, it was a treat for me beyond words, as any mother who has re-seen movies (or videos) of her little children again, after they were all grown up and older than she was, can testify to.
My son, who is a chiropractor by education and a “health practitioner” by choice, meaning he cares about the health of everyone and, unlike the doctors who just prescribe pharmaceuticals, surgery and/or radiation, he is educating people through his teaching. The world is a better place because he is in it.
And so went my visit, all too short but totally delightful. And then on my flight home, my seatmates were a new mother and father and their 7-week-old baby, who was incredibly quiet under the circumstances, just like my little girl. The baby reminded me of my own daughter at that age. She had lots and lots of dark hair. I enjoyed that baby, even through her two or three bouts of exercising her lungs, reminding me of my only daughter.
Ah, memories and family visits. Life is good!
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramis@lasvegastribune.com.

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