Sunday, November 28, 2004

Bright Lights, Busy streets

When I first moved to the city I was overwhelmed. One of my first memories is of going to the gym and looking for parking for half an hour. I had no luck so decided to shell out money to park in a garage. The garage was cash only and I had no cash with me. I returned home with tears of frustration in my eyes. My roommate offered to drop me off at the gym and pick me up, but wasn't in a mood to go anymore. I swore that I will only live in the city for 6 months just for the experience, that was 2 years ago and I am still living in the city. I moved back to South Bay for a couple of months, but hated it and had to move back.

I am still outside my comfort zone living here. I had gotten in the habit of paying for everything with plastic money. A couple of times I have ordered lunch only to realize I had no cash and they didn't take card. One time I didn't go back; it was too far from an ATM. Now I always walk past that store with my head down.

Yesterday I got locked out of my apartment. I called the management to let me in and they said they have spare keys but can't let me in because it's against their policy. I argued with them, but they were just rude to me. I had to pay fifty dollars to a locksmith to get back in. In the suburbs the apartment management has emergency service for lockouts and goes out of their way to help out.

In the city, apartment complexes are old and with the hardwood floors the noises travel through the walls. I get scared many times living alone, but when I get woken up in the middle of the night by funny noises coming from the apartment upstairs ( I don't want to guess what they were up to), it's hard for me to get back to sleep.

Still the benefits of living in the city far outweigh the minor hitches. One of my favorite places in the city is the Golden Gate Park where they have free concerts, comedy shows, Opera in the Park. They have free Shakespeare in the Park, which I have yet to go to. I recently went to a free concert during the Stern Grove Festival. The artist was from Bombay and the place was jam-packed. We ate hotdogs and sat up in the trees where people were smoking pot.

Another favorite place is the Union Square. It is always busy and lit up, especially during holiday season. I got really excited when I saw India's flag there once, even if it was above a Victoria's Secret store (couldn't figure that out). Other places I like hanging out are Castro Street which is the hub of the gay community with the rainbow colored flag proudly displayed on the street; Clement Street with its myriad of restaurants; Haight Street where hippie culture originated; and here I am so close to Berkeley.

In the city I can bike from my home up to Ocean Beach. The water is freezing but it's nice to sit at the beach. During summer last year, I biked up to the beach with a friend and on an impulse we jumped into the freezing ocean with our biking clothes on. We didn't have a change of clothes and by the time we were done it became cool. We froze on our way back and incidentally that was another one of those days I had locked myself out and was forced to stand outside till my roommates got back an hour later.

I also like the fact that people actually walk on streets. Union Square, Financial district and other neighborhoods are always teeming with people walking. When I get done from work early, I just sit on the street with my book and watch people walking about.

Driving up to the city is intimidating for people living in the suburbs. Recently while trying to arrange lunch plans with a friend I hadn't talked to in a long time, I was warned him about the parking situation. When I told him I would have to meet him at an inner street because he can't stop on Market Street, he gave up saying:

arre kis musibat mein jaakar tumne job liya hai....park nahi kar sakte, ruk nahi sure, wahan sans le sakte hain.

City life sux. Huhn? I felt the same when myself and my friends to go to Chicago downtown. Parking full everywhere!!!
Actually I was saying that I love living the city despite all that. Not so like-minded after all ;)
Everyone loves city but the harsh realities(crime rate, traffic, parking,...) of city .
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