Central Station

The Bay Area's Newest Destination

Thursday, October 22, 2009

WHO LIVES HERE? Tara Viriyapunt

I was greeted at Tara's grove loft not only by Tara's radiant warmth but also by her dog Cocoa, who had a stuffed giraffe in her mouth and a tail that wouldn't be still. I was already laughing! We just couldn't decide where to sit first, as inside and outside were both beckoning us. We decided to stay inside as I started asking about the eclectic art collection on the wall, including a piece painted by an elephant in Thailand (yes, a real elephant). Tara collects art from around the world and displays her colorful collection on her spacious loft walls. A world traveler and native of Thailand, her family moved to the US for educational opportunities when she was 16 years old, settling in Hawaii. Tara knew no English upon her arrival and when I asked her what the transition was like, she said it was like being thrown into deep water....."you just have to learn to swim!" Spending four hours a day in ESL classes she excelled in the classes that are more universal like mathematics and art. She went on to major in Math in college....because it was the "easiest choice".....I was laughing again....holy cow! Tara now works in Burlingame as a software engineer and is thankful for the quick access to the freeways. Although it may have made more sense for Tara to purchase a home on the Peninsula, she much prefers "urban living and a more colorful community". Tara discovered PCL when a friend who was loft living in Emeryville sent her the link to the Cannery website. Like many of you, she loved the building although a bit wary of the neighborhood, but after spending time walking and driving the streets of West Oakland she was convinced that West Oakland was the place she wanted to be. And of course the dog washing station and close access to Point Isabel dog park clinched the deal. About this time in the conversation I was offered some hot Thai tea and we moved outside to her patio on the Grove. Lush with plants and red geraniums, inspired by her travels to Europe, we continues our exchange with Cocoa at our feet. Gardening has been a passion of Tara's since her childhood in the tropics so having direct access to the gardens and the sun was a must for both Tara and Cocoa. The Grove was a perfect spot for the two of them. It was so lovely sitting outside, chatting and waving to the neighbors as they returned from their busy day. It seems that the new residents living on the grove have all gotten to know each other and their pets and there is talk of shared dinners and cooking. Tara's speciality is Thai cooking and she usually shops at Oakland's Chinatown for the special ingredients she needs. We want to welcome both you and Cocoa to the Central Station Community. Thanks for the tea!

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