Friday, April 01, 2005

Dispatch from Berkeley

I didnt complete reading the book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs but I am slowly begininning to get her idea of what makes a city great. New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC are at the top of her list. I have lived very close to DC(Northern Virginia to be precise) but never got the pulse of the city's character (The ones I have recorded in my memory were the shady ones).

Driving around Northern California gives me a completely different feel of this region's character. It is almost like you live in a different country, more like Mexico. The vegetation here is more varied than on the coast I came from. Whats more, these guys actually have flowers that not only bloom but also diffuse their perfumes around the neighborhood. That struck me as a very odd thing about my last residential place. I could hardly smell any flowers on the street or even see them. The vegetation seems to be monotonously green. Of course there are bunch of mountains around here which challenge your driving skills as opposed to the straight line driving I am used to in Northern Virginia.

Walking around UC Berkeley made me feel nostalgic about roaming in the IISc campus in Bangalore. This is the same campus where The Free Speech Movement started in the 1960's. You get some real good Gourmet Coffee in Berkeley.Driving up North, you'll get to see the Wine Country and the beautiful vineyards. Some real good wines could be savored at the Napa Valley.A little down to the SouthWest, you'll end up with a most colorful welcome to the city of San Fransisco (SFO, San Fran, Frisco and other varied nicknames are used by the locals). I have been here for sabatticals before but somehow I came to reckon that this place is my new home. Its Exhilirating to breathe in the saline pacific air around the 17 mile drive.

Silicon Valley's seems to have a more European character than the rest of the country. I mean, you'll find some open air cafes a la paris, political views which are left to the centre, liberalism that sometimes tending towards anarchy, and things like that. You have to be here sense what I see.

Finally I always like to visit places that are recounted in some fictional accounts like novels, movies, etc.My initial residence in The US was at Elysian Fields in New Orleans ( Tennesse Williams' A Street Car Named Desire). Now finally, I got to walk down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley which plays such a prominent role in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying Of Lot 49.


Geetanjali said...

:-) Made for wonderful's wonderful to read abt USA described such, instead of just descriptions of it's huge malls - you know the commercial aspect of it...

Paddy said...

[Gee] Glad to know you like that. I am sure you'll like to enjoy a vacation out here on the west coast.

A. Diddy said...

aah Berkeley...making a trip out there on April 16th weekend as my little bro is participating in the UC Berkeley annual Indian culture show...just love that place!!

Paddy said...

[Adi] I see that I have been blessed with your comment :)

I concur that Northern Berkeley is a fab place(Southern Berkeleys is a different matter). I didnt know about the culture show at ucb though..