10

Travelogue : Weekend-ing at Baltimore-Washinton DC

I had a tryst with a different part of America over the last weekend.

I was over to visit my bestie AH over at Baltimore who is in US for 3 weeks on some training session through his work. It was a trip that I had to take because I am going to miss his wedding in January which is such a bummer. All in all, it turned out great because I even got to meet my very special friends! Murat, his wife and his brand new baby girl Damla! He isn’t big on Facebook but he was scrolling through the feed to read about what was going on in Ankara. He came across my picture and he noticed it was tagged in Maryland. He asked Becca if he was seeing it right. He texted me right away and we made plans within the next 15 min and AH and I drove off to Murat’s about an hour outside Baltimore. I was under the impression that he was far away! Haha! They are my buddies who got married in Turkey in September! Boy, Murat did a great job timingwise. 😛 We were teasing him about his, ahem, strong swimmers. Baby Damla is beyond cute. She is a sweetheart and she wouldn’t stop staring at me with her big gray eyes and smiling with her tongue poking out! It was a great drive with lush greens on both sides of the road and it was a great evening with friends.

In Baltimore, the location of AH’s hotel was at the harbor and it was so picture perfect with graffiti, cobbled streets, street-side cafes. I have heard a lot about the issues plaguing Baltimore currently and how it can be a rough neighborhood, and from what people told me, the downtown is a much nicer area. I did not go to the highly recommended Aquarium because I have been to Sea World 3 times and I am perhaps done with fishes for a loooooong time.

 

We took a day trip to Washington DC and saw most of the iconic buildings and monuments. We spent a lot of time at the Smithsonian and I cannot recommend enough the Air and Space museum and Natural History museum. Please do not miss the Smithsonian! Here are some pictures.

Travel tip:

  1. Perhaps the most important tip would be to factor in atleast $15 parking charges a day into your budget. We did a lot of car moving here and there and saved some dough. It’s a horrible situation with very expensive parking rates in both Baltimore and Washington DC. In hindsight, do check ZipCar availabilities around your place of stay.
  2. Wear your best walking shoes possible.

 


This trip was a particularly special one. We had always wanted to take some sort of vacation together since college days. But with me here and the boys and girls in India, it was obviously very hard. The boys do go on way more trips than my girl friends though and I feel jealous that I miss all those. Moo and I managed to travel together to Turkey, meet up in US and all that, and that ways, we are quite satisfied. With AH, we had never thought that we’ll meet up in America like this! I would have loved to have him come home and see California but financially it wasn’t possible for him and so I flew out to meet him. It was worthwhile also because of meeting Murat and ticking off DC from my list.

I cant help it, but this trip was also bittersweet. He was visibly upset when I left and he said this. ‘PB things are going to change now’. His words could not have been truer, however much in denial I am. Things are changing and they will continue to change. I am trying to hold on to those days but they are like sand between my fingers. The more I forcefully hold on, the more they escape.

Maybe I just need to let go. Everything.

12

N-N-1 Picture Challenge

After the last picture challenge that we had, Mr. Norm Houseman contacted me with this amazing thought that I could be trusted with the responsibility to host the next challenge. Oh, bless him! I took up the task promptly, super-excited, because it was the first time I was doing something like this on my blog. I emailed a lot of people from Norm’s and my contacts and I got a good number of people to respond! Trust me, I was beaming with pride when I was compiling all the pictures in the blog post! Everyone has done a great task and got my ‘Evening Vision’ to life in different time zones. As the host, I had the liberty to chose the time and date and I decided that it should be 7 pm on 2nd July. I don’t know why, but I feel the world looks the best in the evenings when it’s a little dark, but also a little shiny. 🙂 Also, it being a long weekend, I knew I would be out. 😉 Sneaky, I know. Perks of being a lead.

So, here are the shots of the evening we all had, that fabulous Saturday.


Princess Butter

The 4th of July long weekend brought along a lot of interesting moments.

From a chance Anuroop date, to depressing hypothetical questions.
From chatty sleepovers with friends, to a fun 9 year old showing me her favorite videos.
From long drives thanks to traffic, to quick stopovers for bagels.
From Kayaking in still bay waters , to being tumbled like in a washing machine by high tides of the Pacific.
From sacrificing our sun glasses to the sea Gods, to dumping truckloads of sand in the bathtub.
From late night pizzas, to even later in the night mangoes.
From having a bachelorette life over weekdays, to having a full happy home over the weekend.
From cool Cucumber coolers, to mad Bollywood dancing to Whiskey shots.
From piping hot Maggi noodles with spicy ketchup, to a super refreshing Trader Joes’ Sangria.
From leaving upset from a previously loved Indian restaurant, to finding an even better place for Indian food.
From loving ‘Muricaaa to missing Indiaaaa.
From glowy sunsets at this gorgeous Lighthouse Café at Newport Beach, to stunning fireworks right by my apartments.
Life is good, my friends. *Touchwood*

PB-1


Moo

What makes for a perfect evening?

Rains. Not the feeble drizzle that’s been going on for the last few days, but a wholehearted downpour. Just the way i like it. And about time too. Weeeeeee.

Hot momos and schezwan chutney.

And a dear friend of 21 years. Aalu and i have spent many evenings fighting over who was taller and whose hibiscus and mud chutney looked more appetizing. Today, we strategize ways to stay ahead of workplace politics and argue about who has hotter boobs, Ros or Melisandre. Obviously it’s Ros, but she just doesn’t agree! Hmph.

(She won the who-is-taller contest. I’ve lost that game to all my friends, except Nish and Shengs. Its very rare for me to be the tallest in any group. So meeting those 2 will always make me grin ear to ear. See, see, im taller than you. Na n na naa na).

Moo


Bhakti

I wish I had come up with a better picture,but this is all that I am doing these days. My GRE exam is less than a month away and all my waking moments are either spent in planning the topics that I have to practice or actually doing them. The majority of my day goes in attending college and by the time I am home,I get at the most 5 hours to study. And it is not enough. So,the weekends are spent with my books sprawled all over the place. I prefer to sit on the floor or my bed to study rather than the desk only because I can spread all my books and stationery and sit comfortably.
I have only 3 weekends to go until the D-day and the stress is killing me. So,this challenge was a great way for me to think about something other than the GRE !! Hopefully,the next N-N-1 Picture Challenge will have a more interesting picture from me 😀

Bhakti.jpg


Anju Lavina

We’re not the ‘go out and party on Saturday’ night sort of people, but living in an exciting city like Bangkok means we’re either at some new pop up night market or away at some beach in Thailand. As luck would have it, at the time of this N-N-1, we were confined to the house because my partner had a bad case of the ‘cooties’ (he’s a teacher and has to deal with bugs every now and then). I’m not complaining. Our flat is beautiful and has a great view out into town. It also has these huge glass windows and when either of us want to slow time down, we turn off the lights, open up the curtains and just watch the world go by. This Saturday, our ‘wrap yourself in a blanket cloud’ moment was delightfully interrupted by torrential rain. There’s nothing more comforting than watching rain pass. It makes a boring concrete skyline (and passing sky-train in the background) look that much more magical.

Anju Lavina.jpg


Norm Houseman

There is a saying here in the U.S.A. that there is nothing more American than baseball, hot dogs, and Mom’s apple pie. You used to here that a lot around the Fourth of July. If you don’t know the history of the U.S.A., July 4th is our Independence Day; the day we commemorate our Declaration of Independence from the cruel, despotic rule of England’s King George III. I’m pretty sure that history books in Great Britain describe it somewhat differently. Since the 4th falls on a Monday this year, we have turned the holiday into a long weekend celebration. I went in search of a baseball game for my picture, figuring that I would find either a baseball or softball game being played at a local park. No such luck! The fields were deserted. No one was selling hot dogs at the empty concession stands. Homemade apple pie? Are you kidding? Cindy did make me a sugar-free butterscotch cream pie. YUM!

Luckily I had gone to the park early, and when I found it deserted I left and drove around town. When 7 p.m. rolled around I was rolling down a quiet side street in Lafayette. This house caught my attention. While there is not a baseball or hot dog or an apple pie (not even a mom) to be seen. There is an American flag on the porch and, for me, a lazy summer vibe about the place. It works for me.

Norm.JPG


Pin n Ashes

These came my way today. To say I’m thrilled will be an understatement. I’m over the clouds, sitting at the tip of the crescent moon, with an open jar nearly finishing my rainbow cake and brownies.. Somebody just sent me some of my favourite things from my favourite place.

Floored! Absolutely!

Pins n Ashes.jpg


Jatin Haibat

Welcome to Central Pennsylvania! It is warm and sunny here right now, but don’t let that fool you. In winters, all this will be covered in up to 6 inches of snow, and the temperature would drop down to less than -10°C. Until next summer…

State College, PA is a college town. Almost 50% of its residents are students at the Pennsylvania State University, and so am I. Of the remaining population, a large majority of the people are involved in supporting roles for the university. So the demographics tilt heavily in favor of the university. So much, that during college-breaks, even the public transport buses operate on a reduced schedule.

Right now, the summer vacations are on and most of the students have gone back home. The town has taken a very quaint and peaceful appearance. But before long, the students will be back, the paths will be crowded with people walking between classes, and there would be long lines outside the bars and pubs. The place will be buzzing with activity again, until Thanksgiving; when suddenly for a week, the town will be on mute-mode again.

This picture was taken at the university arboretum. In the background, you can see the edge of the campus, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. The sprawling campus is spread over 5,448 acres, and it is a very pretty sight indeed.

Jatin Haibat.JPG

14

Do lives matter?

It has been a while since I have broken down while watching a TV show. Sure, Ned Stark’s death and the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones did that for me, but the way I have been feeling since yesterday, I have not yet felt like that in some time. All the news coverage, Facebook posts could not do what the pre-finale of Season 4 of Orange is the New Black did for me.

With GOT, I could convince myself that it’s just a story, and fantasy, and the kingdoms were used to such barbaric acts and dishonor. But with OITNB, I can’t even tell myself that it’s all fantasy. Are you going to tell me that everything is hunky dory in prison? That some prison guards aren’t there to suck on the blood of helpless inmates? I have absolute respect for police and veterans and I salute them for the job they are doing. But what is to tell that some cruel nerve in a person’s head hasn’t turned on to commit vicious acts of making a young woman gulp down a baby rat? Or turning an already racial charged environment into a fight ring for his own sick pleasure? Watching Crazy Eyes lose all her control, and her backstory of how she got into prison, made me lose it. I could not stop crying while she punched on, getting egged on by the sick Guard. If this is the prison situation in USA, I dare not think of the developing countries. It is no secret that Human Rights is a joke.

From all the spoilers and story lines that I had read, I knew what was coming next. But nothing had prepared me for how the situation will unfold. A psycho authoritarian, a potentially PTSD-diagnosed bunch of veterans working as guards with one openly admitting to killing and raping ‘people’ in Afghanistan, a young man who became a guard just as a job and has a life altering accident, a sleep deprived Russian mother-figure, and the extremely divided inmate group who come together for a peaceful protest after bearing all the atrocities. Sweet, Poussey Washington, with her hooch making skills, lopsided grin, dreaming of a future with SoSo, thrown in the jail with hardcore murderers and drug lords for the pettiest reason possible(was her race a reason?). The flashback they show of her in NYC made it even more heart-wrenching because she was just a sweet girl, enjoying her teens. I wept helplessly even after the show was done.

Poussey on Love. 🙂


Is that just TV? Are there no innocent colored men or women being killed? No one getting harmed by the suffocating chokeholds? No traffic stoplight cop encounters? There is no end to the debate about gun violence, although I don’t see how free availability of assault rifles is so important, even for self defense. Who are they defending themselves against? An army? But issues like LGBT rights, ending racism, shouldn’t even be talking points. And then there are the cops shot in the line of duty. Good people, decent guys. But that doesn’t take away the fact that something is definitely lacking and some people are being treated worse than others. What Jon Stewart says here, resonates. 

I don’t know what to say further. Nothing will be enough. It’s a sick world we live in.