Friday, 30 September 2011

In between minds

I've been wondering lately, about things we do and say. And things we don't.

For a change, I've been getting some boating opportunities this trip. Despite the weather. Bad weather's something of an acquired taste, I reckon :). Takes a little getting used to, but if (and that is definitely an if, not a when) you do, it's a hell of a lot more entertaining!

On the one hand, saying everything you feel like can be a harrowing experience. Ex post facto, usually. On the other hand, not saying has its own clogged pressure-cooker effects...

Somehow or other, thanks to accidental memories or aimless browsing, or sometimes through sheer dumb luck, I've been reading a lot of my old posts. The déjà vu is not always instantaneous. Sometimes the momentousness of an occasion just does not age well I guess :).

Looking forward to finishing off the second Artemis Fowl soon. I mean no offense to Colfer, but I think I need something a little heavier (read substantial) to sink into for a change. Despite prior suggestions, I never got around to Amitav Ghosh. I guess this is as good a time as any.

On the plus side, I think I've managed to overcome a moment of weakness in which I almost thought of getting one of those space saving e-book readers. There are enough books to tide me over for now :).

Currently: hanging
Listening to: Nicki Minaj - Super Bass (do not judge! I like it)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Back to the deep

I suppose I have been rather remiss with regards to keeping up with events lately. Well, I've been busy! Sort of :). Actually, now that I look back on it, this was probably the busiest break I've had in a long time. Assuming travelling was the primary scale of reference. For one thing, I managed to clock four beds, three couches, one bare mattress and a floor :D.

The last week was a pretty perfect wind-down. The weather was quite nice, allowing me to actually step out with fair regularity. Something that had definitely not happened the last time I was visiting New Haven :). As always though, it was an awesome food-week :D.

I think I'd somehow managed to forget about the Thunderbolt Kid in my last post! So it turns out, my cousin is a major Bryson buff, only bad thing is, he loves hard backs, i.e. no can borrow :(. I proceeded instead, to finish up the one with the catchiest of starting lines while I was there :). Having not read a word of anything in over a month, I was aching to gobble up the pages! Oh but what pages! Who could have thought half a century ago the world was such a wildly different place?! :)

It's the doses of often startling reality though, the ones Bryson nails dead between the eyes with such aplomb while weaving a superhero story, that got me. I, for one, would love to read his dad's baseball reports, even though I understand next to nothing of that game.

Speaking of books, I finally managed to lay hands on another author I'd been trying to read for a while, Neil Gaiman. My choices were Stardust, yes, the one of the 2007 movie fame, and Neverwhere. I settled for the latter, having never even heard of the TV series, I happily avoided comparisons. No matter which way I turn, there's no escaping fantasy, it would appear :). I wish all things in life worked out as well...

So yeah, between reading and checking out eating places and being generally useless while others cooked.. well, it was pretty awesomely lazy :D. That trend more or less continued on to the last day and a bit in NYC. Except that meant it was pretty much time-up.

I can distinctly remember the last time I had a single flight for a crew change, all the way back in January '06 :). Even that one wasn't a non-stop flight. So flying Newark - Lisbon direct to work was something of a novelty! But the following immigration wait wasn't :|. Eventually, after a couple of days of travelling I did make it back to the boat in the middle of some rather awful weather. Now it's just a matter of trying to settle back down after what's been, on balance, a pretty awesome month...

Turns out it's okay to slip up once in a blue moon. The trick, I suppose, is not to make a habit of it.

Currently: weather-watching
Listening to: The Band Perry - If I die young

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Raindrops and detours

It's almost like the rain was hell bent on chasing me all the way to Ohio. And how! If I say I've never seen it rain that hard, it would probably be over stating things, but not my much. On the other hand, to say that I've never seen it rain that hard for that long over that much distance, that would definitely be understating it!

And of course, there were the consequences. People, it seems, do not have enough respect for the elements, especially water on the highway. I ran into the aftermath of at least four significant road accidents on my way and one of them so severe as to cause the complete shutdown of a huge portion of I-80! Thankfully, I made it to my destination, a bit tired and much later than anticipated, but safe and sound :).

I seem to time my visits to Bowling Green rather well when it comes to local events. This time it was the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival! Something of a high point in these parts. There's live bands, playing a fairly wide variety of music. There are numerous stalls selling strangely named and sometimes innovatively created food (the cheesecake, dipped in chocolate, on a stick, for example). There are also stalls set up all down the length of Main Street selling all kinds of things. Clothes, furniture, decorative items of all shapes and sizes. But everything has a touch of local colour.

A by-product of visiting my cousin has always been unusual spikes in sporting activity :). This time it was volleyball, and when those courts were unavailable, wallyball. In a week I had played more of those two sports than in the rest of my life! Given that the weather situation was tenuous at best, it was probably a good thing we left other outdoor activities more or less alone.

I suppose the tennis is better left alone. It is a difficult thing to watch your heroes being dismantled. Sooner than I would have thought, it was time to leave. It was on the way back that I actually got to see Pennsylvania in its green, mountainous glory. It was a beautiful bright day, thank heavens :). So, despite the weather scare, my driving expeditions around the country ended on a high.

Currently: in Connecticut, without snow :)
Listening to: Citizen King - Better days (and the bottom drops out)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Indios en México

Given sufficient time, one might actually be able to do justice to the gloriously confused riot of contradictions that is Mexico City. All we had were three and a half days, so we did what we could. And even though I say so myself, I don't think we did too badly :).

The first thing that struck me, as soon as the cab had made its way out of the airport was how familiar things looked! It was almost as if India had been crossed with California. But in most ways it resembled the former more than the latter.

What was left of the first day after travelling was spent catching up with friends, some old, some not. But while we were at it, we also managed a fairly informative and very intriguing trip through a selection of what the city had to offer in food, drink and music. On each count, there was enough to thrill!

I suppose if I tried to do justice to our trip in its entirety, I would have to make do without too many details. It's rather like how I went about exploring the bits of Mexico City that we did explore anyway. I decided to forget about all the minute details and just immerse myself in the sea of experiences to maybe obtain some sense of this world, sometimes so strange, and at other times intensely familiar.

The Centro Historico is definitely a place worth a visit. But the sheer number of people you might see on any given weekend might be intimidating for those not used to a literal experience with masses of humanity :). And all that, with an absolutely minimal contribution from foreign tourists!

We spent one whole day crisscrossing back and forth the several square miles that comprise the historical center and managed to go through the Templo Mayor complex, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, several restaurants and bars and one supremely novel experience of eating at a Mexico City food market at the Mercado San Juan :).

In comparison, the Sunday was most relaxed! We were staying rather close to the Castillo Chapultepec complex, so we simply ambled into the park and decided to walk up the hill for a better look around. While we were at it, we also toured the Museum of National History, which was a little difficult to ingest due to the lack of English. The views were quite nice though.

It was the afternoon spent at the Anthropological Museum that was really the high point! The entire time we spent in Mexico City was overcast and peppered with drizzling rain, but that one afternoon the skies really broke down upon us. So you see, we really didn't have much of a choice but to pick our way through some several thousand years of history of Mesoamerica and its peoples. It was an enlightening experience indeed!

The section on Teotihuacan was especially of interest seeing how the very next morning we were headed for those very ruins! The weather, quite miraculously, held up for the whole day, making the trip a most exhilarating experience!

We decided to climb both the Moon and the Sun temples. Or rather what was left of them. We of course, also learned that these are not in fact pyramids, but merely elevating bases for temples. On the way back, our guide even took us on a tour of that holiest of Mexican shrines, the cathedral of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

With that, it was time to pretty much wrap up a fairly whirlwind trip! There was just enough time for one more relaxed dinner made up entirely of local specialties :). Then it was off to catch our red-eye back to New York.

I suppose I should add while I'm at it that my one day in NYC coincided with TS Lee, so I was quite content to stay indoors. It wasn't the most sentient day I've had, but oh well :). It was good to take a day off before attempting my next big road trip! I guess I'll leave the interesting bits from that drive for later.

Currently: catching up!
Listening to: Eliza Doolittle - Rollerblades