Don’t Haight, Appreciate [Cutie], San Francisco

{In which we rescued Cutie from car jail and celebrated with photo adventures in SF’s iconic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood}

Imagine our surprise when Shiv, Vasundhara and I returned from some delicious post-dinner ice-cream at Smitten’s to discover that my beloved yellow Mini Cooper, “Cutie” was not where we left it in the Mission District….

Midnight had very much turned my carriage into a [missing] pumpkin.

With no way to get back from San Francisco to the ‘burbs, my wonderful cousins Vasu and Shiv let me have the honor of being their apartment’s inaugural (female) couch-crasher. Verdict: v. comfy couch for those who were curious. After some wine and Bollywood movie therapy — shoutout to Anushka Sharma’s gujju accent in “When Harry met Sejal” — it was easy to forget that Cutie was totally M.I.A. somewhere on the dark, foggy streets of SF.

Little victories: finding legal parking in SF

When daylight broke and the reality of Cutie’s disappearance hit full force, Vasu and I made our way to the city’s depot for jailed cars. As our Uber turned the corner and drove away into the hills, Vasu and l felt compelled to double-check the Googled address.

“Well, this is the address on the website,” confirmed Vasu. Tall grey walls lined with coiled barbed wire stood menacingly before us, and a guard’s voice barked through a narrow window pane to let us in. Inside, a single booth in a row of shutters led us to the bail officer. I won’t drag you into the details of our heated discussion, but trust me when I say that we needed a solid drink after settling Cutie’s liberation.

However, one glimpse of my ray of sunshine Mini in that rough crowd of battered jailed vehicles was enough to convince me to sign on the dotted line and race Cutie out of there. With a loud groan of metal, the guards opened the depot’s gates. Seizing the open roads before us, Vasu and I set our GPS to the best plan of action to decompress from the depot: we launched into an Insta adventure on San Francisco’s iconic streets, Haight & Ashbury.

Rainbow mural in HaightSF
One of the many murals in Haight-Ashbury! There’s a lot of detail work in the rainbow wall if you look closer 🙂

As the historic center of the Hippie Counterculture Movement, we could not have selected a more symbolic location to celebrate our renewed freedom of transportation. The graffitied sights of the intersecting streets of Haight and Ashbury include murals ranging from musicians like Jimi Hendrix, to LSD-vision-interpretations of Ganesh deities, and even to entire walls of rainbows. Our strolls led us past Hippie Hill, accurately named for “Hashbury” residents – who continue to rock dreadlocked hair and 1960s’ bohemian fashion – smoking enough pot to fill the surrounding streets with the strong smell and billowing clouds of (now legal!) marijuana.

shroom hut Haight
Things you don’t see everyday: a parking attendant’s shroom hut 🙂

When you see the uniqueness of expression of the people hanging out in Haight-Ashbury, it’s easy to imagine how this artistic and quirky neighborhood inspired art, music, and socio-political movements ranging from government-suspecting anarchists to flower-crowned pacifists. Internationally, the Haight cemented its position as hippie headquarters with the 1967 Summer of Love, when 100,000 hippies gathered for a rock festival the Haight-Ashbury’s local newspaper announced as “a new concept of celebration beneath the human underground [will] emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.” Anyone else want to time-travel to RSVP?

Haight Ashbury
As one of the few SF neighborhoods that didn’t burn in the fire, there are some super cool old Victorian houses in the area!

I dug around on all-knowing Google and recently learnt Haight-Ashbury gave rise to musicians like the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and famous comedians, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams. Pretty cool crowd!

Quick afternoon candids on Haight Street, SF. Other notable stores include Rasputin’s Records (there’s one in Berkeley too, I think?)

Vasu and I rounded up our afternoon with pizza and well-deserved day-drinking. Our recommendations: Zam Zam, for an Arabian nights kinda vibe and Club De Luxe, if you’re leaning towards more of a laid-back Southern jazz bar scene. Like everything in Haight-Ashbury, every hole-in-the-wall store and eatery has its own unique feel to it. The wallpaper in the pizza parlor even granted us some awesome polaroids (see this blog’s cover pic!)

Even if the hippie scene isn’t for you, I’d recommend checking out Haight-Ashbury at least once to see the hype behind this iconic San Francisco neighborhood. Until next post, keep exploring! xoxo #nikitalyfe

Zam Zam Haight
“Come, fill the cup, and in the fires of spring, the winter garments of repentance fling” – Zam Zam



Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

One thought

  1. I have been to Haight & Ashbury several times and I found this visit (reading the blog) a very vivid refresher and I learnt a few things that I didn’t know about H&A!!

    Liked by 1 person

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