I remember when I flew to San Francisco from Iowa City the first time in September 2002 — my eyes and mouth remained open the whole time I toured the city. For someone coming from a town where the tallest building is eight stories high and scenery is defined by corn fields spotted with pigs, it was a whole new world. I couldn’t wait to move here. Eight years later, I can’t imagine living anyplace else.
- You can’t beat the weather: An average yearly temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit, occasional rainbows, no risk of sunburn, a splash of fall colors, and snow at a comfortable distance on the foothills — it doesn’t get any better.
- It’s a window to the world: Everywhere you look diversity stares you back. I walk five minutes to the Safeway across the street from work and hear five different languages. Starkly different from the Midwest; and so remindful of the regional diversity I grew up around in India.
- Your tastebuds remain tickled: Afghani, Korean, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Mexican, Persian, Greek, German, French, Singaporean, Italian … restaurants serving these cuisines are within a two-mile radius from my office. That I find myself at Subway for lunch most days is such a waste.
- Snow, sea, forest, wineries: Within a couple of hours you can ski, laze on the beach, go speedboating in a lake, hike through the redwoods, and sip fine wine admiring sunset in a vineyard. It’s a little bit of heaven every which way you look.
- Incredible little India: When I landed at SFO that September eight years ago I squealed in delight upon seeing a sardar ji (a Sikh person wearing a turban). The only Indians I had encountered in Iowa City were students in the engineering or medical departments. Here I saw an Indian driving a cab. And another in the bus. And then a whole family in a restaurant. And Indian grocery stores every five miles! The first apartment I lived in here had more work-visa-holding Indians than Caucasians! A quick Wikipedia search shows that as of 2008, one-third of the engineers in Silicon Valley are of Indian descent — and that’s only engineers. “My people” are everywhere. And it feels good to be able to converse with them in my native tongue, reminisce, and celebrate festivals. As much as I’ve made my home in the Bay Area, the little India I experience here, takes me home.
Sure it’s expensive, yes we don’t experience the four seasons, and I know we’re living atop a fault raring to burst anytime — it isn’t a perfect world, but it sure comes close.
What do you love about where you live?