Tilak Rishi's weblog

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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.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Burlingame - The City With A Precious Pin-code

I owe this blog on the beautiful City of Burlingame entirely to my daughter-in-law, who sent me this e-mail:

“... It occurs to me that your omissions in blogging on City Round Up are indicative of your relative fondness for the place, e.g., even though you lived in Burlingame for a while, you've not blogged about it – is that you don't find it redeeming enough to write about? Or it's just not worth your while? Or its not as close to your heart as other places? Or it had a transitory sense about it? Something surely....”

I can understand her curiosity and questioning on my omission to blog on Burlingame, because she knows for certain that if there is one city in the U.S. that is nearest to my heart, it has to be Burlingame. This is the first city in USA where we, my wife and I, settled down independently; where I experienced my first service in the States; where I wrote my first book published in USA and where my wife took to watercolor painting and got instant recognition from the local gallery. Indeed, Burlingame has a very sentimental bonding for me which will be there for ever, wherever I may move to. I intentionally wanted to take it last for blogging, because no other city than Burlingame could be the ultimate goal in my blogging of the City Round Ups.

Burlingame, known as the 'City of Trees' due to the number of trees within the city (18,000 public trees), is named after diplomat Anson Burlingame, who purchased approximately 1,000 acres in what is currently Hillsborough & Burlingame. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, Burlingame had a population of 28,158.The median income for a household in the city was $68,526. It is renowned for many surviving examples of Victorian architecture and its high residential quality of life. Burlingame was settled by wealthy San Franciscans looking for a better climate for their second homes, but industrial growth was spurred in the 1960s and 1970s by proximity to the San Francisco International Airport, generating airline support services. With nine major hotels, including Marriott, Hyatt Regency, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza and Embassy Suites, located along its eastern border with the bay and San Francisco International Airport just a few miles to the north, Burlingame is a popular destination for visitors. The city offers quiet stretches to walk amid wetlands dotted with egrets, pelicans and great blue herons, as well as bustling streets lined with stores featuring the latest fashions, designer home furnishings, handcrafted gifts and first-class restaurants.

“Libraries are the litmus test for the cultural temperature of a city's worth” - if it is true then Burlingame has it the best I've ever seen. Gorgeous Spanish architecture lovingly restored to original perfection. I just cannot recommend this library enough, this spectacular example of a civic organization done well! A+. The architecture has won awards and was featured in Library Journal as well as earning a cover story in American Libraries. I am especially attached to the library because it was here, working for hours daily on its computers, I wrote my first novel, and it was here one morning, when I was overjoyed as never before, to receive the most precious email ever : “I am happy to inform you that PublishAmerica has decided to give “Paradise Lost and Found” the chance it deserves. ....Welcome to PublishAmerica and congratulations on what promises to be an exciting time ahead. - Alexandra Windsong, Acquisitions Department.”

Burlingame Avenue is one of the most bustling streets any city can boast of. Browsers, shoppers and lovers of gourmet food travel from far and nearby cities to enjoy its tourist-city feel. When the visitors are done with their shopping at the high-end stores like Banana Republic, Gap, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Pottery Barn etc., or have enjoyed the cuisine of their craving at any of the wide variety of restaurants and bakeries such as Straits, Crepevine, Thai Satay, Roti Indian Bistro, Sapore Italian, Maxicana, The Mediterranean, Hola, Panda, Sushi Bar, Copenhagen Bakery and many more, they relax and enjoy the street scene sitting on the benches placed under the shady trees along the sidewalks. Burlingame Avenue has a special appeal for me. It was here I joined the management team of a reputed retail store and had my first exposure to the working environment in America. A thrilling experience indeed.

Farmers' Market on Sundays during summer months is another great attraction near Burlingame Avenue. Really cool stuff here. Veggies, fruits, breads, cheese and lots of fresh cut flowers. The busiest vendor family from Fresno not only carries Indian vegetables that are rarely found in super markets, but also gives green chillies as bonus, like in India but more generously. The most amazing find at the market is a Sikh vendor selling fresh samosas, parathas, naans etc., as well as chatneys and sauces. All the items are brand-named Sukhi, on his wife's name!

An interesting aspect of Burlingame life is living in close proximity to its rich neighbor, Hillsborough. Thanks to some weird zonal law, the City of Hillsborough, in spite of having the biggest purchasing power any city can boast of, has no place in the city to spend a single penny. The 'Zoning Law' that the city follows, forbids any kind of commercial activity within the city limits. Thus the city has no stores, no restaurants, not even essential services such as banks or a post office. For their everyday needs, the citizens of Hillsborough have to go across the road to Burlingame, thereby boosting its economy, and status of its citizens, for some at least. Our next door neighbor let go a great opportunity in another city, primarily because he did not want to lose the Burlingame pin-code CA 94010 - “You know it is also the pin- code of Hillsborough, the most expensive and prestigious place to live!” - he explains proudly.


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