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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My City - Millbrae, California

As I started writing on my city, Millbrae, my mind instantly flew to Lahore (of pre-partition India) with which I have the sweetest memories of my first 15 years of life. Lahore lives for ever in my heart and it is hard to believe that I can never return to the city of my birth, my childhood, my school days and my best friends, because it is now a part of another country, Pakistan. Delhi, the heart of India, is another charming city which I will cherish for ever. This is the city where I grew up from adolescence to adulthood, went to India's most prestigious Delhi University for arts and professional degrees, had a great career in leading companies of the corporate world, and married to the love of my life, the most wonderful woman in the world. Even El Granada, the first city I settled in after moving to USA in the early 1990s, I can never forget for the unforgettable love and affection of our most loving neighbors on the left, right and front, for many houses in a row. Each of these cities deserve a detailed round up which I hope to post soonest possible. For the present their brief mention was a must , as without that my conscience would not have allowed me to write about any city, including Millbrae where I moved from El Granada in 1997.

El Granada to Millbrae, it is like moving from Mars to Earth, from the rough rocky terrain to a smooth neat city. Though part of the same San Mateo solar system, the two cities are so far apart in their planning and upkeep. The conditions of roads in El Granada made you mad; like they have never been relaid or repaired. In comparison, Millbrae's systematic development of streets is so delightful and they are so clean and well kept. It is heavenly to take a walk on the sidewalks, where well trimmed trees and front gardens of spanish homes are a beauty in themselves. And what a civilized community, so quiet and yet so caring. We are specially lucky to live between two most beautiful neighbors one can dream of.

From the 1860's, when financier Darius Ogden Mills purchased land from the Sanchez family to build his country estate, Mills' "brae" or "rolling hills" has enjoyed a colorful history. Children swam in three lakes situated on the estate and sold acacias to tourists before the Mills family began to sell the land for development. The estate's spectacular mansion burned down in 1954, leaving behind a growing community. Today, Millbrae boasts over 21,000 residents of diverse ethnic, national, and cultural backgrounds, with the median income for a family as $82,000, as against the national median income of $43,000. The City's senior citizen community, with the eager generosity of the City's many service clubs and private donations, recently dedicated an attractive new senior wing within the Millbrae community center. My wife enjoys the senior center with her weekly watercolor painting class. Millbrae has a reputation for having some of the best schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mills High School is considered to be one of the top high schools in all of San Mateo County.

Downtown Broadway is the dream-street of culinary arts. No matter what your tastes are harking for, you will find something to satisfy that craving at the best of eateries – American, Asian, Bar & Grill, Barbecue, Bistros, Breakfast & Brunch, Burger, Cafes, Chinese, French, Italian, Mexican, Pizza, Seafood, Steak and Vegetarian. Broadway is amongst the distinguished downtowns where Starbucks competes with Peets, Safeway with Trader Jo's, Baskin and Robbins with Yubi, Marvyns with Dress Barn, and where you have 24 hours Walgreen and Fitness. It makes Millbrae so opposite of the neighboring Hillsborough where “zoning law” forbids any kind of commercial activity, including banks and postal services. Even with all these businesses to boast of, Broadway is all the time having major makeovers going on:

* Installation of numerous streets-cape improvements, including street trees, street plantings, banners, decorative paving, street lighting, street furniture, holiday decorations, and installation of community benches;
* Regular, intensive Downtown clean-up and landscape maintenance;
* Addition of several new businesses, including Office Depot, Jamba Juice, Bagel Cafe, Kinko’s, Affiche, Broadway Produce, Shoppe Ten, Vineyard Gate, Seafood Harbor, McAdams Sporting Goods, Leather Express, Cheung Heung, and Halogen Lighting Store;
* Renovation of Safeway and expansion of the 16 Mile House Restaurant;

Huh? A farmer's market on Broadway? That's right folks. This is held on Saturdays in the early morning till about 1 p.m. or so. The man at the largest fruit stand is the sweetest man on earth. The peaches are delicious in the summertime, and the grapes, navel oranges and all the rest are just as scrumptious. There are also a good amount of flower stands and veggie stands. The veggie stands sell their veggies for SUPER cheap. Two huge daikons (those white crunchy radishes) cost only $1. There is also a man who sells delicious breads. He's a sweet man, like all of the people there.

Summer may be winding down but festival season is just starting to hit its stride with many of the best events ahead. For some sun-splashed, Mardi Gras-style fun this Labor Day weekend, head over to lively downtown Millbrae for the big Art & Wine Festival coming up August 30-31. Every year, the last unofficial weekend of summer brings large crowds to Millbrae for one of the Bay Area’s biggest Labor Day weekend events, transforming its delightful downtown streets into a resplendent sea of people and colorful tents. Stroll, browse, relax and enjoy a friendly and vibrant street fair with two days of stellar live music, gorgeous handcrafted work by 250 talented artists, fabulous food and wine, and the best family entertainment value around.

Together Millbrae residents meet the challenges and enjoy the benefits presented by the City's unique position adjacent to an international airport. The airport continues to expand and Millbrae's economy remains inextricably linked to the airport and the tourism it engenders. Millbrae retains its "small town" feel, while undergoing a major downtown revitalization. Hilltop to bay-shore, residents and visitors revel in the City's spirit of community and scenic splendor.



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