Monday, May 21, 2007

Leaving Los Angeles

'Surf & Turf' ! There are not many places in the world where the above phrase would make sense, and even if it did, it probably can never be implemented. Surf & Turf refers to hitting the turf (on your snowboard) in the morning in the mountains where it is snowing and then surfing by the ocean in the evening where it is 70F and sunny !! And this incredible gradient in temperature could be seen in a mere stretch of 60-70 miles all within the limits of Greater Los Angeles. If you had more time in the day, you could even fit in a dirt bike or ATV run through the vast desertland a mere 60 miles from downtown. This diveristy is best signified by TV stations as they give 5 different weather forecasts for LA - Beaches, Metro, Valleys, Mountains & Deserts with about 25F difference between the deserts and beaches.

There is a reason why Hollywood exists where it is - the skies are clear, the ocean is blue, the mountains rise high above the basin and most importantly the weather stays 70-75F all year around. Hollywood might have made LA famous, but the common man in the city is probably as detatched from it as any other person in the country. The city is filled with self made and inherited millionaries who are not afraid to flaunt their wealth via cool cars and palatial houses in prime ocean locality.

But it's not just the weather, scenic beauty and riches which attract people to the city. It is literally a melting pot of a myriad cultures from across the world. You can find settlements from every country as you visit Little Tokyo, China Town, Little India, Little Armenia, Little Saigon etc. These places abound with rich heritage and great food. My culinary palate was widely expanded and I definitely felt more learned with a 2 year stint exploring these small neighbourhoods in the city. The greater Los Angeles consists of 88 smaller cities and each one of them has something different to offer. From the bungalow heavens of Pasadena to the bohemanian lifestyle of Venice to the high rollers of Palos Verdes to the great food of East LA, each part has a different personality.

West Los Angeles definitely seems like the second most liberal part of the country after SFO. Los Angeles kind of eschews the chain corporate culture in some ways as the city is filled with mom and pop restaurants instead of those monotonous chains, save the fast food places. Most parts have also successfully staved Wal Mart's efforts to tap into SoCal market. Hybrid cars are more welcome here than any other part of the country as they get special privileges to ride in the car pool lanes. California is definitely the most progressive state in the country as it is in the forefront of the eco preservation and pro climate choices.

But like any other city, Los Angeles has its own problems. On most days the traffic can be very frustrating, the smog reduces the visibility and blocks view of the great San Gabriel mountains. There are high crime neighbourhoods nestled right in the heart of the city and most importantly it is one of the costliest neighbourhoods in the world. But given the scenic beauty of the place and great quality of life California has to offer, I still feel it is worthwile to put up with all the above.

Over the past 4 years, I have travelled intensely within the country visiting more than 26 states and as many cities. San Francisco might probably be the most scenic city in the country, but add weather to the equation and LA wins hands down. As my dream stay at LA comes to end with my moved to Houston, I can only hope that someday I can afford to go back and live in California !!


Totti said...

Please clear the smugness dripping after you are done posting this nuanced version of bitchfest

Sud said...