He was in his sixties, South Asian, and wearing one of those embroidered tunic-like garments that comes down to the knees. He was either a foreigner or someone who was practicing a more traditional Indian life here in California.
He greeted me with "Hello. Do you know, could you tell me, where is New Britain?"
For a moment I froze. What the hell? Was he somehow trying to find some new Raj of Anglo-Indians, an enclave of 1908 here in suburbia? Or was he asking me a trick geographical question about a remote island? Seconds passed.
He looked at me quizzically and smiled. "It is a street."
Oh! I had no idea where New Britain street was in HB. I pointed him to the clerk.
Now I have this image in my head of a little Simla hidden somewhere between the beach and the freeweay.