The Great NCTA Picnic

By Norihito Hamaguchi

Picnics bring out the best in us. Away from our cubes, with family and colleagues-turned-friends, we let our hair down and share treats and stories in a beautiful setting on (if we’re lucky) a beautiful day. Welcome to the Great NCTA Picnic, in which a new member gets a warm welcome in Tilden Parkā€”and then volunteers to write about it!

Hello, is this the Big Leaf Picnic Area?” “Yes, are you here for the NCTA picnic?” “Great! I am Norihito from Morgan Hill.”

Raffaella Buschiazzo and her husband, Marc Weber, gave me a warm welcome. They were busy preparing for the BBQ; soaking hickory pellets in water, wrapping some vegetables in foil, and arranging food on the table. There were a few children, playing in the field and climbing trees. Occasionally some hikers walked by. It was a gorgeous day: perfect weather, a beautiful meadow surrounded by mature trees, and steep hills with no house or cell phone tower in sight.

I joined ATA and NCTA only a month ago and had been looking forward to meeting fellow members for the first time. I rush-ordered my new business cards for this occasion and was ready to give them to anyone I met. Actually, not having lived in Japan since graduating from college, I never participated in the Japanese business card-giving tradition, and failed to give my cards to the first few people I met! When I met Tuomas Kostiainen, the NCTA president, I was determined to share one with him. He politely gave me his, along with a quick rundown of what NCTA does. It is one of the benefits of living in the Bay area.

Tetu Hirai, who has been tirelessly answering my never-ending basic questions about NCTA, could not make the picnic, but he would have been proud to see the fresh fruits I brought for the occasion.

Tuomas said some members like raw vegetables and fruits and this comment invited some heated discussion about cooking, just as the fire was roaring in the grill.

Other members trickled in, some alone, some with family members. It was very nice to meet them all and talk about wide-ranging topics; from why the pony ride in the park was closed, to why healthcare is so expensive.

Thank you, Raffaella and Marc and NCTA!