Chicago

A walk past the historic lanes

Last month I visited Chicago – my old home. The gold coast neighborhood, the barnes and noble on State street, oak street beach, treasure island on Clark, the big bowl (now closed) – where I always ended up whenever I wanted to eat out, Ra sushi ( whose veg tempura tasted like sea food), the yogurt land and myriad number of spots invoked many memories. I enjoyed a coffee in the Starbucks lounge, where I spent countless evenings, listened to multi ethnic music, and made acquaintance with the baristas who knew what two drinks I order. The $7 movies in AMC on Michigan st. were something to look forward to. The limonata of eatley, miller’s pub on wabash, the two lions in front of Art Institute of Chicago, the numerous rides in L, my meditation classes with Andrew in Montrose, origami meeting in Garfield park, and the biting wind of Chicago in winters stir up many pictures in my brain. It was my last week in Chicago and I was strolling around downtown and my neighborhood in the rainy night and was taking photos; It started pouring down so I decided to go into this McCormick and Schmick on Rush St. Only one old woman was in the bar and I sat couple of high chair next to her, after a while we started talking and she learned my plans to move out of the city to NYC. She scolded me for roaming around in Chicago at night alone as it’s not the safest city. I told her that I do it all the time, it’s no big deal. We spoke for couple of hours before parting our ways. I wonder how and where she is now.

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I, for sure, miss the view and the enormous red and orange sunsets from my window facing west.

 

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I don’t have any topic sentence for this blog ! – Wait it is “To pay or not to pay” .

Once upon a time there was a boy and there was a girl.

Nah !

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It’s so cliched way to start a story.

So, let’s chose another way.

I met her in the flight from London to New York and we started talking. It was my first visit to NY and I asked her about where to find apartments, library facilities etc. She seemed a helpful person and was quite nice to talk to. We exchanged email Ids and resumed our cyber communication after I got settled. We decided to go for drinks at P J Carneys on 7th avenue near Carnegie hall.We talked a lot about job, movies, life etc . We did have few similarities for both of us liked cats, friends(TV show), Manhattan and we did order same drink. It was a short and sweet meeting. We decided to meet again after few days and so did we. Again, same place, same time. We talked and after an hour or so we decided to call it a night. Now, at this point something happened which still baffles me. The bartender gave us the bills and I decided to pay for both of us. It wasn’t anything major – only $30 . There is no harm in showing a little chivalry.

But I think this act of mine lead things south and she never responded back to my emails, texts again.

I have given it a thought few times and the plausible reason is , she was a strong independent woman who took the payment of drinks offensive. But in my defense I would say ” In India, whenever we go out for food or drinks then one person pays generally and others pay at some other occasion”. And if the amount is high then we split it into appropriate parts. But what I didn’t know that it can be taken offensively. I have talked about this “to pay or not to pay” dilemma with many of my friends and most of them had the thought that its fine thing to do.

Nevertheless, let’s get back to the story. After few more months I was transferred to Chiberia(Chicago) and I spent one year there. This year in February, my team asked me to operate from New York office again. It was tough to find an apartment here and finding a decent studio is an uphill task here esp. in winter when its snowing all the time. I made walking records on my pedometer everyday. Eventually, I found a decent studio on upper east side.

Days,weeks,months passed by in the play called life when I saw her again near cafe Jax on 84th street. I went to her and said Hi ! She was stunning than ever.After talking for a while I asked whether she would like to go for lunch sometimes. Answer was affirmative.

Later that week I met her for lunch; we ordered food.I noticed that she had a book in her hand and there wasn’t any cover on it. I started talking about books and the best places in Manhattan for books and other book bars.

I asked her what was she reading and was she liking it.

She opened her book, took out a small leaflet type book and slid it across the table towards me and while she was doing so she said to me “we all should have strong relation with Jesus Christ and should commit our lives in his service”

That was the eureka moment for me, the moment of truth that it wasn’t a date, It was her attempt to “save me”.  🙂 🙂

Chicago – Queen of Bad Weather and King Linus

Few days ago I posted on Facebook  “I secretly love Chicago’s weather.Despite everyone cribbing about it every day, I go out every single time when they say weather is bad. I love it when snow hits my face directly and blocks my vision.Even though my face swells temporarily and the frozen jaws render me speechless.I don’t mind putting my feet in the puddle while crossing the streets and taking my gloves off every now and then to feel the wind despite its numbing coldness.I don’t know why the bells of the cathedrals chime every single time I pass through either rush street or state street . Serendipity ,eh?? I like to put my feet in spine chilling water of lake Michigan ,which trust me can give head on competition to any sea.Its great to see snowflakes on your window every single morning and think of fractals. It zones me out .”

Today in the blizzard named ” Linus ” with approx 40 MPH wind speed in place, I went to Michigan lake’s beach. It was as usual numbing cold and frigid. The first look reminded me of any polar region. Last year Chicago was colder than Antarctica and the polar bears at Lincoln park zoo had to be taken inside as it was too cold for them 😀  . The waves were huge and I for a second thought a tsunami is coming.

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The wind was intense and the snow was arduous. it was just too difficult to see anything and there was a great chance that the needle like snowflakes scratch the retina. My hands were totally numb and a little clot was formed on index finger of left hand. Though I was not in the best of health given the injured knee ,injured back and a very bad ankle, the 20 minute trip to the beach was very rewarding. Sitting inside your home and seeing the snow is comfortable choice but feeling that gusty wind on your face, feeling that cold air on your scalp gives you a feeling that earth and nature can be unforgiving.

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While I was standing there and admiring the vast expanse of Lake Michigan and was getting slapped persistently by the wind, rain and snow I had another realization . I realized that the trench coat that I purchased 2 years ago from Macy’s in New York  was the best investment I have made till now.I generally get train of thoughts and the next thing that struck me was that in different circumstances different things, different people take precedence . Right now this coat is so dear to me and the moment I will be in my room the same coat will not be at the top of the totem pole of priorities. The same is the case with people. Sometimes you are very important to someone and sometimes you are just someone. This cycle of everything to something to nothing can be painful but it teaches you few things in life.The important thing is to cherish the present and forget the rest. I know its easier said than done but one has to try at least. For your own sake, for the sanity of your brain and for striking the balance.

Chicago taught a lot of things to me and surely if bad weather were an empire then Chicago would be the queen.

Its the city which shows me such views from my apartment window and even in frigid winters helps me meditate.

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CHAOS

Chicago Area Origami Society (CHAOS) was the group that I joined last year and came in contact with many folders there. I also instructed there to the young folders and exchanged ideas with the peers.
The class is held every Second Saturday of every month at the Garfield observatory . what a wonderful place it is. So many flowers and such a lovely greenhouse. I saw the pitcher plant for the first time here which I had only read about in 6th grade .I hope I will see chlamydomonas and volvox some day.
I am a firm believer of minimalism . I have only a bed, a mattress (which I gave away recently) and a lamp in my room and that’s it ! Usually when I used to fold something I used to take it with me and add it to my collection but now I am giving it all away. I wanted to give it to a school but I had no contacts to any schools and my present condition doesn’t allows me to go out and scour the resources that will accept my models. So, I am giving them away to a nearby book store . I hope they can adorn that small book store that houses all the used books. All my origami that was assembled in Chicago should remain in Chicago . One last time , all the models at one place together .

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Chagall’s windows

Few days ago I had the opportunity to visit “The Art institute of Chicago”.The so called number one museum in US. I didn’t find it the best as I have seen better or may be I have been to too many of them that I feel the antiques and displayed articles redundant. But anyway, this is not the topic of my post.

It was snowing in Chicago and I was pedaling my bike on the snow covered roads and reached the museum in 15 minute time. I docked my city bike and entered the grand labyrinth of the institute. I purchased the ticket for $23 and checked my coat in. Check in policy is odd $1 for every item. I had only a backpack so I had to give $1 but I didn’t have any change so I gave a $20 bill and he gave me the change. I should have counted the money then and there itself. The guy returned only $17 and I was duped of $2 by the coat check in guy. Well, I didn’t get to know this until I reached home and counted money . Its really unfair and I am very annoyed . People are not really trustworthy especially in terms of money.Anyway, I will come to it in some other post.

So, let me enter the museum. After checking few galleries on the ground floor I turned the map over and checked what else is left to see on the ground floor as I was tired of the same Greek heads, Indian, American Indian folk arts. I saw Chagall’s windows as the featured display. The print of the visitor guide and map was not vivid so I just decided to walk to this gallery where these majestic windows are on display. Before that, I had never heard of Marc Chagall and any of the stained glass art of any artist. For glasses I would say Tiffany glass itself was quite a revelation to me and I was astounded when I first saw the mosaic pattern at Driehaus museum Chicago.

I reached the gallery and I was dumbstruck and couldn’t really believe my eyes that I am seeing something like this.I was stupefied and dumbstruck. At first I thought its some light effect at play here and then I went at the back of the building to check if some light tricks are done or not. There were none. I sat in front of the windows and kept looking at them. The color intensity was impeccable . The varying shades were giving it a unique touch and every color seemed to complement the other.

Chagall's Windows

                                                 Chagall’s Windows

Just look at the masterpiece. Isn’t it wonderfully brilliant ? It left me dazed for days for what kind of artist creates such masterpieces. Of course I read the short biography of Chagall- French-Russian artist. While I was sitting in front of it ,an old woman who was examining the art work closely had tears in her eyes while she was clicking photos of the same. I didn’t ask her as I didn’t want to disturb her zoning moments.But I am taking that an art work can be moving to a great extent.

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I am already a fan of blue color and this art work has made me even a greater admirer of the color of God, the color of healing , color of the heaven, color of Indian God Krishna ,Color of David’s star and the color of Sapphire.

“Few people said “Look out of the window to get a perspective” but then I looked “at” these windows.”

Origami and meditation

It was wonderful to see the fellow origami artists folding the papers fervently at Garfield Park Observatory, Chicago.

Met wonderful people there and learned few new models. Had an erudite conversation with a member whose name I forgot , on difference between meditation and flow . And how origami can be relaxing but she made a point that modular origami can be frustrating as well as it takes hours to assemble few models and you feel like pulling your hair if you are not getting it straight.

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Lunar Eclipse 2014

I hope my Mom doesn’t gets her hands on this posts. There are so many myths associated with lunar eclipse and there is not any basis of those. April 14 morning, I dragged my ass out of bed at 1 am and took it to Adler Planetarium to witness the blood red lunar eclipse. Though the weather is still unforgiving and not kind at all in Chicago, I was able to get few shots when the sky gave us way.

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My Telescope wasn’t powerful enough to see the craters to get beautiful shots. Sigh !!

But it was quite a sight 🙂

I have heard werewolves become active during Lunar eclipses, sadly I didn’t meet any :\

Also, This time we will have 4 lunar eclipses of such type and according to Jews its going to be lucky for them.

EggPlant ??

I am speaking the truth and nothing else when I advocate my hatred towards eggplant . It has never been one of my favorite vegetable. When my mother cooks it I separate eggplant and potatoes and eat eggplant only. Yes , even now I do so. I am 27 and I do it 😀

Last month when I landed in Chicago from New York, I stayed in Marriott for few days. On the north Dearborn street , there is this bar Harry Caray’s on the Kinzie-Dearborn cross section. Now being a veg the options are very limited. The lady sitting next to me was having something of eggplant. I was wondering, why on earth one will eat something like eggplant and that too when they have other options available. The place had only salad, pasta and eggplant Parmesan as the vegetarian options. I didn’t want to have salad and I know how creamy the pasta is, so I avoided that as well.

I am a little experimental in nature , so when the lady sitting next to me was extolling the egg plant parmesan to no bounds, I decided to give it a try and trust me it was one of the best thing that I have ever tasted. Crisp, a little bit of cheese and eggplant. I was in love instantly. Surely a good chef can convert the inedible into finger licking delicacy.

After that night, I went to the same place again and ordered the EPP for myself again . By then this dish had made a permanent spot for itself in my heart.

I am settled in Chicago now, I have a studio room and at least a bed to sleep on, books to read and things are fine. While buying vegetables yesterday from the treasure island , my eyes fell over the eggplants and I thought why not to try it by myself. I instantly bought one medium sized eggplant / brinjal (as its called in India).

Now, I do not have a lot of utensils to cook my food, only a sauce pan, a frying pan and a boiling pan. That’s it ! That’s my kitchen .

If not Parmesan, let’s fry the eggplant and let’s see what happens. I cut the veg in round circles, marinated them with all the spices which I had, which were not many. Salt, black pepper,cumin powder, a little garlic paste. and fried them in 4 table spoon of olive oil.

Garnished it with fried onions and the result was great 🙂

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PS : It was a little bit more oily than I expected, actually eggplant is soft veg and absorbs oil readily and I think I had added 2 spoons of oil later on while cooking as I thought it might burn itself due to insufficient oil.

I have to work on how to reduce the oil, it might come with the experience I hope.

What do I have in my plate today?

To begin with, last two days have been horrible for me in terms of food. Night of day before yesterday, I came home late quite late from office and had no energy to cook anything. I looked up and nothing was there that I could have in next 15-20 min. I drank 2 glasses of milk and slept. next morning I had am office call, had not time for breakfast. Had some cereal and went to office. I came early and cooked lentils and rice for myself and had it till the stomach was gratified. It was an early dinner, so I just had few nuts before going to bed. Now today morning I had to rush again but in the meantime I got a call from office that everyone is working from home so I decided to WFH as well. After taking bath and all, I wanted to have breakfast. I opened the refrigerator and was shell shocked. It was empty. Not even milk, nothing , void, zero !! I thought now I will have to eat that lentil and rice early in the morning, I opened the vessel in which the lentil was kept and  I saw it had gone bad. Man !! I cant leave work to go to jewel or whole foods now? I had an apple that I had bought a month ago, yes a month ago !! but never ate it. I thought how it will be, I cut it in half and tasted a tiny slice , it was still juicy. I was happy, thats the best thing about fruits 🙂 .I had boiled a potato yesterday and I have sun dried tomatoes. Let’s see what can I do here !! 

And the end result was green and healthy and satisfactory.

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