Monday, May 16, 2011

A Sikh in Yuba City.

If I didn't know any better, then I'd say that Greenwich is, indeed, the "Mayberry" of London.

For those of you under 30, "Mayberry" is the fictitious town in which all the wonderfully friendly characters of  "The Andy Griffith Show" resided in.  There was Opie (Richie Cunningham/director of "Cocoon"and so on...), Aunt Bee, the dopey Don Knotts character,  Barney Fife, and, of course, Andy himself in the title role as the sheriff.  When on the job, Andy always seemed to have time to stop for a chat at the barber's place, visit with the gas station attendants*, and shoot the breeze with deputy Fife.  Like Andy, most people in Mayberry always seemed game for a friendly tete-a-tete where ever they went.  Amazing.  -not so in NYC.  And, one would have thought, not so in London.  

*aka "Gomer Pyle"
Perhaps things really are different here south of the river.  I had always heard from folk living in No. London that So. London was really "not where it's at".  "You know, it's so 'South London'", they'd tell me. That last bit is always said as if it were actually enough to clue me in to what was meant and what was really going on down here.  Apparently, nothing is supposed to be going on down here, so, if you like that sort of thing, then fine.

Well, I like being chatted to by Bill the plumber about his almost taking a motorbike ride through Arizona,  and where one could go in town for a good draught beer as he's checking that the boiler in our new home works correctly.  I also like David the framer chatting about the local history of Greenwich, and his trip over to Manhattan with his wife years ago as he helps me choose an appropriate frame for my painting.  These transactions really should have taken less time, but with the lovely added bits of small talk my interactions took on more of a hue of friendly banter.

My last unexpectedly friendly and chatty interaction happened yesterday at the local post office/sundry store.  This joint is run by a Sikh family and watched over by a tired yet, I'm sure, still feisty shar-pei called, "Molly".  I'd gone in to the shop intending to finally buy postcards to send folk back home in California.  What I got, in addition to postcards of the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory, was very nice small talk from the man at the front of the store minding the sundries till, and, really interestingly, inquisitive yet nice chit-chat from another man at the back postal counter.  I mean, come on now, when was the last time you had a really nice interaction with someone at your local post office? 

Postal Sikh made sure to give me choices with regard to what sort of stamps I'd like there to be on my postcards.  He offered me the most "attractive" ones instead, he said, "boring" ones.  Nice job.  He also asked where in the states I was from, then proceeded to tell me that he'd been to San Jose, San Francisco, and, get this, Yuba City.  Now the first two cities mentioned, well, not really SJ, but, anyway, the first two cities I could see his having visited.  San Jose, with 1 million inhabitants, does have an international airport and people from all over the globe living there, so it's conceivable that he has relatives there as well.  San Fran, for fairly obvious reasons,  I could certainly see his having been to.  Yuba City, on the other hand, most people in No. Cal have probably never even heard of let alone visited.  In grade school, Californian pupils are taught our states history, and, with that, we learn about the Gold Rush.  Coupled with that and the fact that my family annually vacationed in this area when I was a child, I know about Yuba City, Ca.  But how, I wondered, had the postal clerk saw fit to make his way there, too?  So, I asked him.
Yuba City Victorian ca. 1899

Factoids about Yuba City and its environs:

Yuba City is approx. 40 miles north of Sacramento, California's capital.

The area in and around Yuba City is part of former "Gold Rush" country, and, as such, began experiencing waves of int'l settlers beginning in the mid-1850s.

Sikhs have been living in NE California for over one hundred years, and Yuba City, in particular, is home to a sizable Sikh community.

The friendly postal clerk's grandfather lives in Yuba City.


  1. Ah, "The Andy Griffith Show"... I know way too much about it, and I totally appreciate that you've found your very own Mayberry in London.

    On an sort of unrelated note, I think that Tim Pawlenty looks a lot like Jim Neighbors.

  2. @Chi-town: yeah, "The Andy Griffith Show" is a gem. I await Pawlenty's musical efforts; he probably won't hold a candle to Jim Nabors. :D


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