Saturday, May 21, 2005

Diversity in California

Yesterday, during a most excellent trauma conference put on by a local university hospital, my friend Rakesh related a story about a coworker of his who came to California from India. This story, I think, is a perfect compliment to my previous entry on diversity and cultural acceptance.

The coworker in question had just been hired by our company, and had entered the country on an H1-B work visa. He had landed on the Saturday, having never been outside India, and having never experienced the American culture. That Monday, he reported for his first day at work.

This was back in the time where technology companies were much more generous with subsidizing meals and other such perks of the now-defunct 'dot-com' boom. Every Monday, the department brought in lunch for its employees, rotating between a large variety of cultural favorites, such as Indian, Chinese, Mexican, American and so on. This particular Monday just happened to be Indian food week.

While heading towards the breakroom, the new employee overheard his coworkers, of all different racial backgrounds, talking about the food choice for the week. They were saying "I really hope they brought in the palak paneer this week." "I could just die for some chicken masala." And so on.

The transplanted coworker looked at them in awe. He asked, in absolute amazement, how it was possible that they knew just as much about Indian food as he, a native, did. One of the coworkers responded,

"Welcome to California, dude."

How cool is that ?

This state, and especially the high-tech Bay Area, is teeming with people of all different backgrounds, faiths and orientations, from countries all around the world. Drive down the streets of San Jose and San Francisco, and you will see more ethnic food selections than the traditional American - with a rainbow of clientele in each. Not only is the Bay Area truly multicultural, its residents habitually interact and intermingle with each other. The tendency of various cultures to keep to themselves is not nearly as prevalent here as in Toronto. I like that.

What are my favorite foods ? Meat tortellini (with a GOOD tomato sauce), chicken teriyaki, various flavors of sushi, chicken masala, thin crust pizza, and a nice, spicy Thai basil chicken. Plus of course, San Francisco's Ghirardelli, and Canadian Cadbury chocolate. Aw yeah.

My name is Andrea, and I am Californian. Dude.


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