The University of Berkeley has a campus that seems perfectly designed for studying and reflection. The university is surrounded by mature trees overlooking your every move. If the campus doesn’t inspire students nothing will!
A couple of days ago before I visited Berkeley, when I was walking along the San Francisco coast, I met a fellow hiker. We walked the remaining kilometre together to the bus stop at Golden Gate Bridge.
The person’s name was Ajeet and he turned out to be a retired senior professor of electronics who lived in Berkeley. We got on reasonably well and exchanged details.
When I found myself drawn to Berkeley, I emailed Ajeet, letting him know that I would be in Berkeley and, on the off chance he was free, we could meet for a coffee. Ajeet replied and, to my surprise, invited me to his house.
I received a warm welcome at the front door. For the rest of the afternoon, we spoke about our pasts, the history of San Francisco and Berkeley, the state of American politics, photography, music, Indian art, religion, work and many other topics I’ve now forgotten.
When I looked at Ajeet’s bookshelf, I saw many books that I have at home too. Two authors who come to mind are Joseph Campbell and Krishnamurti, both of whom I’ve not read in ages, which I’ll remedy when I return.
It was wonderful meeting Ajeet – a real kindred spirit. I felt we could have talked for the rest of the day!
That’s one of the real pleasures of travelling: that you can connect with someone with a completely different background, from another country and who’s a different generation.