There is natural beauty in Los Angeles that will drive your attention away from its traffic-infested streets. Instead, you will be transported into a world of beach, desert, and mountain that live side-by-side.
I usually pick my beach for the day—Manhattan, Venice, Malibu and drive in a new direction each evening to see the setting sun. There is plenty of time for all of that here. To sit with a cool glass of beer, to watch the ebb and flow of water, to soak in idleness.
I haven’t felt like this in a long while. After-all I am from New York. And Los Angeles is not New York.
Far from it.
It looks different, feels different, behaves different. Comparison just isn’t fair. One has natural beauty, the other architectural splendor. One has the onslaught of motor vehicle, the other motor feet. One is heaven for the East coast, the other for the West.
There is one thing though—people walking on the streets of L.A. don’t always meet your gaze. They don’t stop to make small talk. Not like they do in Manhattan.
Is it because Los Angeles is not a walking city?
The more I travel to cities like Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, and Bombay—the more I realize that only walking cities really talk. When strangers are forced to meet the gaze of other strangers, they are tempted to break out of the bubble in their head, to connect with another human being.
Even if it is to check them out.
Here in Los Angeles people I cross paths with everyday look glassy-eyed. Their attention drifts away while talking to you. May be toward a beautiful face in the crowd.
There are many of those here—gorgeous men and women. On most occasions though, they are tuned into a radio show, sealed off by noise cancelling headphones, or stuck in traffic that moves at glacial speed.
One stranger separated by another by windshield.
It is on days like these that I miss the subway—those awful yellow and orange plastic seats, trying to finish off a book before the next stop, looking up in intervals to see a mishmash of humanity staring back at me.
But, who am I to judge? In New York time is money. People don’t have it for you unless you are somebody. It’s a constant game of snakes and ladders where ambition is creed.
However, there are a few parallels I can see. In two cities that couldn’t be alike, glass and steel divides humanity in similar ways. The gap between the rich and the poor is stark in both. In New York it’s hidden, in L.A. it’s not.
And so, I try not to analyze where I am and just walk sun-kissed Los Angeles leisurely. At least no one here rolls their eyes when I stop midway to take photographs of people-less streets.