I've always felt compelled towards San Francisco. It might have started with the drive through during my first visit in 2007 with my two best friends on a 3 week road trip, after a bear broke into our car and it was towed to an impound lot, windowless and snackless we taped up the gaping hole with plastic and spent the night in the car, sentences run on, and so did we to Oakland, CA. We had just completed a 4 day semicircular trek around the Halfdome Peak in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park.
At one of the lookouts we met a British grandmother named Claire who upon hearing our tails of roadtripping thought we were take-in-able and she offered beds and hot meals for us if we were to be in the bay area. The days spent at her house perched on a hill looking out over the bay were extraordinary as she provided full bedrooms for each of us and served delicious english breakfasts among other great meals. Perhaps all of the good cooks have left England.
It might have been this first defining experience of the Pacific coast or my underlying fascination with technology and entrepreneurship. Either way, I've moved to San Francisco and the vibe here is inspiring. I've moved into a communal tech house with 50 other people. The place itself is story enough for an entire blog. The things that happen when you put 50 twenty somethings in a tiny building are noteworthy.
The house is located in the heart of the booming web 2.0 district in the South of Market neighborhood where many of the new web companies are buying up old warehouses and renovating them into offices. Meanwhile, the area is juxtaposed with the side effects of gentrification, homelessness, expensive condominiums and trendy cocktail bars adjacent to old graffitied buildings, methadone clinics, and porn shops. It's a cultural experience.
The house is more like a long term hostel for tech entrepreneurs supporting tenants from the States, Austria, Germany, Chile, Spain, Ecuador, India, Russia, Australia, and England. The age ranges from 18 year old programmers to a 40 year old Indian guy working on his 12th startup who just wants to be around the vibe. Weekly events range from tech talks, programming sessions, biweekly parties, Sunday family dinners, Game of Thrones sessions and a morning gym routine. It has me seriously thinking on how to integrate communcal living into the future. One of these roommates is Kumarovski, an Americanized Indian born to an Indian family in Africa, with a charming personality and a knack for driving traffic to peoples websites. He plays African and Middle Eastern drums at weddings and leaves the drums in the common area. This is a bad idea when other roommates such as myself and a friend, Sam, get to talking.
We started the night at a club down the road where one of the roommates was DJ'ing. It turned out to be a gay club and after being hit on by one too many men in thongs (there was only one), we left to have a drink at the house. Thirty minutes later we were shoeless playing bongos on the street corner with a solo cup sat out for donations. People would walk around the corner hearing some poorly played drums and either ignore us, try to dance along until they realized we lacked rhythm, or offer something offhand. About an hour in and we had earned $1.75, 3 chicken tenders, some waffle fries, and a dance/rap with a local homeless man. My stay in San Francisco was off to a good start.
Since then, I've found an office space, gotten involved with the local sailing club, found some kiteboarding spots, won a hackathon (a weekend business/programming challenge to create innovative ideas around a specific topic) and started on two projects that are leading towards business. Things move fast here.