An Austin State of Mind

View of Austin from South Congress Avenue

Earlier this year, my wife and I visited America for the first time. The first pit stop was to meet family and friends in Chicago. Some of my initial impressions were as expected - big roads, bigger cars, even bigger skyscrapers and you get the big picture. No puns there! 

And then, we landed in Austin. As soon as stepped into Bergstorm Airport, the first sight that greeted me was the "Keep Austin Weird" t-shirts. Cities often try to project a polished or aspirational side to themselves, and here was a city unabashedly celebrating it's quirkiness. Then, there was the country music blaring in the airport, not some manufactured pop. Austin is known as the 'live music' capital of the world, there are  several live shows daily. I was already warming up to the city. Who says first impressions don't count.

Over the next few days, we stayed with family near Round Rock. As we drove around the city and suburbs, we got a feel for more of it's character. South Congress Avenue is definitely a place to visit. Shops like 'Monkey See Monkey Do' and 'Hey Cupcakes' were unique. Of course, one cannot mention Austin and not talk about the technology ecosystem developing there. I missed SXSW just by a week, perhaps that's for another visit.

Most people say that Austin (despite being the capital) is very different from the rest of Texas. In some sense, I guess that's true. It has a younger demographic, liberal views and very quirky side to it. But, to me Austin in it's own way embodies the same independent spirit as the rest of Texas. Texas couldn't have a better city to represent it. Family there has a habit of catching up with neighbours once or twice a  week. It was nice to meet their friends. It reminded of a time when neighbours mixed with each other a lot more than we do today. 

After I came back to the UK, that Easter weekend was wet and windy. I would have normally loved to just sit inside, but went out for a walk, feeling the wind and the rain on my face. Why? Let's say I came back with a bit of the quirkiness of Austin. Perhaps, the world will be a more interesting place if we were all a little weird. Or as they say in Scotland, have a bit of character!

Comments

  1. Ausin is a great place to live. Peole are friendly,warm and bond with each other well.Unlike big cities which have no "heart" Austin has it's head and heart in the right place and in correct proportion.A city which lives on music every night is by force celebrating life!Citizens of Austin are blessed. S.Manickavasagam.

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