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The last of my California 2015 Posts

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The guidebook informed us that SoMa (South of Market Street) was the bohemian, artistic precinct of San Francisco, so it seemed a reasonable choice for a special dinner.

The guidebook did not inform us that just footsteps from Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and the opulent mall, or from the touristy cable car turntable at the end of Powell, the corner of Market and Sixth heralds the start of a different San Francisco- the homeless version. Guys dressed in cheap sneakers, tattered jeans and checked shirts, baseball caps, unkempt, unshaven, queuing at the refuge or trading whatever they could on the streets for whatever they needed or craved- warmth or food or distraction.

The guidebook also did not inform us that this was the location of Twitter HQ, whilst we also passed the Yahoo office on the way to our restaurant, 25 Lusk. The clientele at dinner were mainly Twitter and Yahoo boys and girls, the boys with that hobo-chic look- expensive sneakers, designer tattered jeans, checked shirts, unkempt, unshaven, wearing their baseball caps inside; the girls looking like …. girls. Did the Yahoo/Twitter kids even know what the sides of burnished foie gras and truffle on offer were? Of course they did. They would have googled them, their digital world authenticating their reality. Did they realise that they were interlopers in a different San Francisco, one unaffected by computer coding, social media or SEO, the hard parallel reality of poverty and hopelessness?

After a beautiful meal, in a vibrant restaurant with great ambience and superlative service, we taxied home, the number of homeless persons seemingly swollen during the evening, until we crossed Market, back to the safe and familiar streets of exclusive boutiques and fine art galleries. We had come to San Francisco following the path of beat and hippy culture, only to be confronted with two very different cultures.