Friday, September 26, 2008

Postcards from Chicago

Here are some photographs salvaged from one half of the trip. The best views were on the architecture cruise, but getting those online is a subsequent project.


The Tribune Tower


View of the Magnificent Mile from the Hancock Tower


View of Lake Michigan


Never had coffee served like this


Hancock Tower



The Crown Fountain in Millennium Park


Chicago Skyline visible through the Cloud Gate


Another view from the side


Vortex of images from underneath the bean


Lesson in politeness on the corner of a sidewalk

Monday, September 22, 2008

Windless in Chicago

Winding down after winding up a weekend in the Windy City! I made my first trip to Chicago this weekend with the missus. Aided by fabulous weather and absolutely no wind (thus the title), I spent a couple of days in the downtown area on what was a low-key relaxing tourist sojourn. We stayed at the Westin River North which was very close to the Magnificent Mile area and it turned out to be a very good thing. Being so close to the riverwalk and other spots in the downtown made our job easier.

Art Dekho

We ruled out the museums in the interests of time (I know they are a big highlight), but without doubt, walking around the city gave me more than my fill of art that I needed to see. Sprawled around the river, the buildings in the downtown, constructed after the great fire are a testament to great architecture. Numerous instances of buildings styled in art deco as well as postmodernism abound. To the untrained eye (mine) too, the subtleties aren't obvious to grasp. What helped though was an architecture cruise that we took that snaked through the river highlighting in great detail, excessive at times, the history behind the different buildings and the varied styles in which they were constructed. Walking around the downtown in the evenings was also a rewarding experience, especially along the RiverWalk. The buildings however weren’t the only art highlights. The Millennium Park was a treat as well. From the “Cloud Gate” to the “Jay Pritzker Pavilion”, it was great to see a public space with such emphasis on art and architecture.

Khana Khazana

While in Chicago, eat the deep dish pizza. At least that is what I had been told. So we headed off to Giordano’s, known for its world famous stuffed pizzas. We ordered a small, which claimed to fill in 1-2 people. I am not sure what appetites they had in mind while prescribing that. Between the two of us, we made it around 80% of the supposedly small pizza. That a human being can single-handedly eat that delicious offering beats me. While on the food, I also liked some of the offerings at India House.


Besides the tour and the Millennium Park, I did due diligence to my duties as a tourist and made a trip to Hancock Tower. The only difference is that instead of going all the way to the observatory, I hopped over to the Lounge on the 95th floor per a friend’s recommendation and enjoyed the view sipping an impossibly expensive cup of coffee (alcohol might have been cheaper). The view of the shoreline was amazing. Walking along the Magnificent Mile was fun; what with the expensive shops all along and us skipping by for want of time. Navy Pier was another hop along the way and having been to the Santa Monica Pier in California, this one definitely came across as a place with more substance. Finally, we also caught the play Wicked at the Oriental Theater in The Loop.


Yes, shouldn’t the post actually have some on here? The momentous event on the trip was not getting a great picture atop the architecture cruise. The momentous event was getting none, especially with my digital camera. My Canon s-50 finally died. After 5 ½ years of diligent service through thick and thin, it finally coughed its way to a tragic end. The shutter was stuck halfway, like Trishanku; unable to go in or fully come out. While I have photos from some part of my trip, I am going to have make arrangements to offload them, so this will have to wait. For the architecture cruise, I had to go low-tech and buy a disposable camera. I have no idea if and how those pictures will turn out. I guess I should look for a new camera now. With technology having developed so much since the time I last bought a camera, lots of research and a better product await me.

That’s about it. Enjoyable trip and I’d definitely recommended it. If some good pictures are salvaged, I shall share them with you. Final tip: Do stay in the downtown. That’s where all the action is.The train service from the O’Hare airport is well set for anyone to just get off and get there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jo Dikhta Hai Woh Bikta Hai?

I’d like to start off with thanking those who wrote in asking me to post a post soon. To my great satisfaction, this was one absence from the blog that wasn’t caused because I ran out of ideas. It wasn’t the case of a Writer’s Block … simply a Blocked Writer. I was reading an article online where they commented on how a good blog is one that is updated daily. Which makes mine occasionally good I suppose. I see some logic in that argument. Blogging is good practice for an aspiring writer. Blogging daily would require rigor and discipline and a commitment that is hard to estimate upfront. My blog is the longest writing exercise I have certainly indulged in. If I keep at this, some day there would be enough material to cram into a book (notice how I avoid mentioning that the book actually needs to sell). Not a radical idea though. Others have done it. I saw a debate on NDTV; a program called ‘We the people’ where Barkha Dutt moderates discussion on a topic which on most occasions involve raucous adults in serious need of being taught manners in letting others talk. The topic of the debate was the state of blogging in India. One of the participants was a young girl who has a personal blog called The Compulsive Confessor. She’s single and writes on topics ranging from drinking to dating to sex and offers what can has been termed as a mild (or heavy, depending on what other blogs you have seen do this) dose of voyeuristic pleasure into the life of an urban Indian woman. There’s more to her blog but there’s a reason nothing else catches the eye. A lot of discussion went on about whether the blog was read because of the nature of the content or the quality of it. In the absence of other blogs in the same genre from the same gender and nationality, her blog definitely is its own USP. I looked up her blog online and thought it was alright. I have read several other blogs that are much higher quality in their choice of topics and execution. But the reason I bring this up here is that recently I read about her in Outlook India. She has her own book coming through. My first reaction is cynical. Would she have gotten the offer were commenting on non-controversial things? I am not so sure. I haven’t read the book obviously and I don’t think I’ll get my hands on it either. I am not shooting for a book contract so I can avoid from pouring out details of my personal life on this blog to entertain and titillate. But if that's a short cut for going onto greener pastures, isn't something amiss somewhere? It makes me wonder if Rakhi Sawant’s famous dictum: “Jo dikhta hai who bikta hai” is true. Is modern India so wrapped up with things that are bright and shallow that quality is a function of visibility? How many girls from ‘Chak De India’ went on to bigger better movies? To my knowledge, only the ones who had the glamour quotient. My commentary might be a tad too caustic and judgmental based on limited examples and I’d love to be proven otherwise. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Rukawat Ke Liye Khed Hai

Famous Doordarshan Message Translated: "Sorry for the interruption." Wanted to drop in a line about the ongoing break from blogging. Life happened. Will resume transmission shortly.