This has been a long term project of mine for several years. Ever since one of my Swiss friends who I had first met at a homestay in Buenos Aires had reacted “there are mountains in California!?” when I had told her I loved where I lived because of the mountain biking, snowboarding and the cycling opportunities that abound.
Let’s face it, the United States’ reputation is greatly at risk. As a global leader, as a model for other nations, and as a model of social justice for its own.
It was sad to hear from a new European acquaintance a few years ago a comment such as “The United States is the last country I would ever visit”.
The United States is an incredible country. Some things it does get right and to degrade the entire nation with falsehoods is not right. For example, I came to this country as an immigrant from Bangladesh with very little resources. With hard work and dedication I was able to complete my degrees in Electrical Engineering financed mainly by scholarships, grants and research assistantships. Excuse the cliché but this is “the land of opportunity”.
I always liked sports and athletics as a child. I played soccer for my school teams wherever I lived. I grew up in London and Rome so my love of soccer was inevitable. And in Mumbai I got into track and field mainly because my best friend at the time Mahesh Pai, was India’s fastest 100m sprinter for his age group.
In the United States, as an engineering student all this was about to change. At the engineering student orientation at the University of Texas at Austin we were told “you can party in Sixth Street or you can get an engineering degree, but you can’t do both”.
So I decided to get an engineering degree, or two.
Riding up Mount Diablo, California
Many years later with the opportunities that this country had provided me, and after having landed a job in a fortune 100 Silicon Valley company, and then having moved on to a job as a community college instructor….. wait for it……I can safely say that there are mountains in California.
One of my favorite places on earth is Yosemite National Park – with towering walls of granite, lined with trees like velvet and waterfalls to rival anywhere else in terms of beauty. The aroma of pine trees and pine cones and the crisp clean air rejuvenate me every time I am there. I am not particularly religious, but I still call Yosemite God’s Cathedral. No matter what you believe in – Yosemite will remind you that there is a higher power out there, who had sculpted this beauty in our planet.
A drive up to the Redwood National Forest is also awe inspiring. Some of the most lush landscape and towering trees left me smiling. It rained on me on my hike, but the canopy protected me from getting soaked and I relished the little bit of dampness created.
I sensed that everything was alive. That is the best way to describe California. A state that is alive – full of life really. From the mountains to the ocean – I love this amazing state.
In closing I tell my Swiss friend – yeah we got mountains – but guess what – we got a whole lot more!
Mission Peak, Fremont California, so lucky to call it my backyard!
And off course how can I not mention San Francisco itself – the ultimate hilly city. You can forget a gym membership – you will get your workout just simply walking around The City!
The Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge and an unforgettable sunset in San Francisco
Whenever I am blue, whenever I am happy, whenever I feel like a little bit of meditation on two wheels or a simple hike – the mountain beckons. The mountain cures all. The mountain reminds me I am alive and that I yearn for more…
Riding up Palomares Road, Fremont, California