The National Museum of Natural History is located on the National Mall at Washington DC and is administered by the Smithsonian Institution. It hosts the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history in the world. I was stunned every five minutes with so much to see and absorb all in a day! The hall of paleobiology was my favorite section in the entire museum. Never in my life I’d thought that I’ll get to look at the fossils of dinosaurs and other reptiles! This was when I started giving thought to evolution and have started reading more about it now.
Jurassic Park was the first movie I saw when I was 3 or something. I’ve also had dinosaur winding toys when I was a kid, and hardbound large size books about these extinct marvels. It was funny how I’d forgotten about all of this. It all came back to me that day – at the hall of paleobiology. I stood in front of the real life size fossils of different dinosaurs, trying to get their names right and learn about them. The following are some of the photographs of this section of the museum.
Their Fossil Lab was very impressive too. It was a huge room open to public viewing from the outside -with sound proof glasses – and was situated at the corner of the main dinosaur hall. We could see scientists working (without getting distracted by people gazing through the glass) and pieces of bones/stones/what not stacked everywhere waiting to be assembled.
Washington DC was the last city that we visited on our summer road trip in July. It is one of the cleanest cities that I’ve seen so far – with relevance to politics and administration at every few blocks on the streets. Do not miss to visit this museum (along with the other ones of course) if you’re there. Plus, the entry to all the Smithsonian museums at DC is free! I wish I’d seen something like this when I was a kid – I would have probably developed an interest in science & biology earlier and got some kickass ideas too. Other parts of the museum that I really liked were the Ocean Hall, the Hall of Gems & Minerals and the Hall of Bones where I got to see their Forensic Anthropology lab! It was all too much to handle in one day.
After one year and one month, the members of B’lore Photo Walk got together for a photoshoot at Avenue Road. I had seen a lot of photographs everywhere and heard a lot of stories about it’s relationship with shutterbugs in the city (as a matter of fact, I could recognize the various shops and locations on the street today just by recalling the photographs!). Even though I had seen some initial parts of the road before to buy books, I had never gone further inside to explore/shoot. Every time I see pictures of Avenue Road, there has got to be people’s portraits, colorful doors & windows, MAD rush, vehicles, more people, wires hanging all over the place, name boards, all kinds of stores dealing with stationery to sarees to jewelry and what not. In short, “absolute chaos”. However, today, we all mat at the old famous ‘coffee-wallah’ at the Mysore Bank circle at ~ 7:30 and started from there. Being a sunday and a little too early, all the shops were closed and the street was less of a hustle. This gave us an opportunity to explore the place in a completely different environment. Newspaper stands were being busy as old men discussed news with chai cups in their hands. In other places, young boys arranged books on the footpath. What is interesting is how these boys know every book they own with precision and can tell which academic course requires which book by which author (including different editions!) without even having received basic education themselves.
We walked into the crossroads along side (which were VERY small and had like a hundred protrusions from everywhere). How do families live here?! The garbage filled gutters would become a menace during rainfalls. Children walked barefoot to school on these streets. Cows, dogs and mice must have made a mutual agreement to live in harmony- just like everyone else. Experiencing a place like this in a city as big as Bangalore is like having a reality check. However advanced this city may be, there lives some parts of it as old as the 80′s. Some parts which may sell and deal with today’s items, but whose lifestyle and ‘feel’ remain the same for years. It’s a good thing in a way. It’s like a connection between retro and new. People may move in/out and the shops may get reinvented, but the street leads the exact same life for years.
Today’s walk wasn’t about clicking intensive cliched photographs of streets and people. It was about meeting the people with whom I started this journey around 2 years back. It was nostalgic to walk with the same bunch of folks with whom I began learning about my city and it’s different faces. It was also about meeting new interesting people! Even though we ended up shooting a lot (duh!), we got an opportunity to talk about our experiences and findings. I can just sit for hours together and listen to how this dude walked for eight hours in the rain atop a hill to get back to his home in Dargeeling or how this another guy got caught up at the Delhi railway station not knowing where to go, and ended up in a cab to Jaipur! In the end, if there is a plate of Idlis and Vada to go with the stories, even better!
From 40 C to 25 C (plus rain!) was a pleasant change, especially after 22 hours of sitting in an upright position in artificial atmosphere. I woke up to the sounds of dogs barking, scooters accelerating, yelling vegetable vendors, steel vessels and dad’s daily dose of vishnu sahasranama after catching sleep for only a couple of hours in the morning. Images from the last 2 days below:
I left with a single bag 50 days back and returned with 2 bags yesterday. It surprised me how all the luggage could be unpacked and sorted within minutes. The real cleaning and sorting begins tomorrow, with a newfound love & respect for personal possessions.
What has been another wonderful vacation has come to an end. I have one day more here and then it’s St.Louis to New York to Paris to Bangalore! I hope getting back to college will be different (and better) this time. I should probably stop thinking about it and just let things happen by itself. The last 50 days were a blast (more than what I’d expected). Some usual and unusual memories (in no particular order):
- Thai, Peruvian, Italian, Chinese, Indian fusion, Mexican, French cuisine.
- MacBook Pro!! With free 100$ to use on the app store + free HP wireless printer….STOKED!
- New York City.
- Standing at the bottom of the majestic Niagara falls. The permanent rainbow.
- Sky deck at Willis tower at Chicago 1053ft high. City skyline in the night.
- July 4′th fireworks in New Jersey.
- Getting a feel of the university life at Madison, Wi.
- Biking in Washington DC.
- Smithsonian Air and Space, and the Natural History museums.
- Learning to read the map and navigate. Traveling by subway in NYC and metro in DC.
- Sitting by lake Michigan and dreaming about owning a boat some day.
- HARRY POTTER 7 in 3D! Waiting in the queue for 2 hours wearing a slytherin T-shirt and feeling joyous after getting out of the theatre.
- Watching ZNMD in a house full theatre and repeatedly making fun of Abhay Deol.
- City museum at mid night with torch lights, hanging on ropes, exploring the ‘enchanted caves’ and sliding down from 10 stories. World’s largest pencil.
- Sunset by Creve Coeur lake.
- Shopping! Spending hours at malls.
- Lego store at Times square. MINDBLOWN.
- NYPD officers on horses.
- Ferry ride to statue of liberty and Elis island.
- World Trade Center memorial.
- Baking chocolate fudge with vanilla frosting and peach topping.
- Saint Louis County library.
- Forest park, science center, anheuser busch, zoo, grant’s farm, hobby lobby.
13 days, 12 states, what fun and good experience!
I fell in love with Chicago downtown as soon as I saw the skyline from the interstate highway many miles away. It was a good change from the plain horizontal view of Saint Louis to the populous land of the skyscrapers. My neck was titled upwards all the time as I laid my eyes on the beautiful old and new buildings – all compactly crushed together.
The plan was to explore the city (most parts, if not all) by foot. We started off by visiting the sky deck at Sears towers after crossing the millennium park and cloud gate sculpture – walking past many sidewalk stores and cafés. What a spectacular view of the city from the 103rd floor it was! This was followed by lunch at Giordano’s where we had the famous Chicago deep dish pizza. We then walked on the bridge to the art museum, recalling scenes from the dark knight as visible from different locations!
Walking alongside lake Michigan made me want to own a boat one day (new addition to the #bucketlist!). Went up on a Ferris wheel after ages and also finally got to eat the famous Ben & Jerry’s ‘Americone Dream’ ice-cream at Navy Pier. Finally, we made our way to Devon street which has been settled by many immigrant groups, majority being Pakistanis and Indians (the streets are named as Jinnah street and Gandhi street). All the walking was exhausting, but was worth it (and was really fun). Chicago is a huge city and has it’s own life going (like any other big city of the world). I had missed the crowd and all the hurry staying in SL for a week, so it was a good change. Missed out on a couple of other attractions like the John Hancock center, etc, but it’s not like the last time that I’ll be visiting the place in my life – that’s for sure! Plus, just the view of the city lights at night makes it totally worth it.
There is so much more to say and show about my experience, but I am running out of time with a jam-packed schedule. I other news, this week’s going to be my ‘Monsanto week’. Also, I have finally started to transfer the photographs and upload them on my photoblog slowly here.
It has been six days since I’ve been in St.Louis, MO. The journey was long and a little bit boring – something that I’d expected. The whole time I was either sleeping, eating or watching movies & television series. The flight from Bangalore to Paris was more comfortable and the food was pretty ok too. (The flight crew were younger and looked like movie stars…he he he). The best part about the first leg of the journey was landing in Paris. Though I didn’t get to see the Eiffel tower from air, the green and yellow fields from 10,000 feet high made up for it! After a short bus, a shuttle and a number of security check-ins, I made it to terminal 2E for the next flight departure. An old french man sat next to me in the second flight – all he did was read a fat french book and consume alcohol. Delta airlines has a rather boring old crew. The “special” (read vegetarian) meal tasted like prison food (not like I know how prison food tastes like, but yeah). I watched 3 movies in this flight (Eat, Pray, Love is by far THE most boring movie I have ever seen). Landing in Minneapolis was difficult due to a lot of turbulence (it was like a really bad scary ride).
The best part about the whole journey was the immigration before entering the land of the United States. I was warned beforehand to be prepared with the questions and answers and everything. The computer konked up during my interview so we had to wait for a while till it got fixed. During this time, the officer asked me if arranged marriages still prevailed in India. I was like “WTF, is this really happening?” – in my head. I told him how major part of India had moved on but some parts still stuck on to some traditions, etc and that now it all depended on people, place, etc. Then, after a couple of questions about my purpose of visit, duration of stay, etc and clearing customs, I had to literally run towards the domestic terminal to catch the next short flight to St.Louis (3rd flight of the day, ugh! – TIRING).
My sister’s and BIL’s apartment (where I’m currently staying) is lovely. Lot of birds (especially the beautiful cardinals) and rabbits outside in the gardens. I also really like how long the days are (sunrise at 5am and sunset at 8:30pm). We visited a couple of malls- I loved Barnes and Noble, FOSSIL, found star bucks nice but overrated, played softball and tennis, have taken not many – but a decent number of images (which needs to be uploaded soon – god knows when) and a lot of other little details that needs another post altogether.