Window To Man’s Soul

There’s something about windows. In the words of Quentin Blake: You see, I don’t draw from life at all, but I do look out of my window a lot.

A window is alluring as it secures and gives us a view. What we access through it may have varied overtones: a life away from life, the blossoming beyond our reach, frightening us as much, high altitude and back.

Our 4-year-old son – isn’t this a tricky phase – doesn’t listen to us much, but when he’s in an institution he conducts himself well. Thank god. Here, I captured him through the window of his Taekwondo class.

 

Racing upwards at 14 miles per hour in a glass-fronted elevator, it took us 59 seconds to reach the observation deck (116th floor) of CN Tower. If I edit this photo, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada may look like a leaflet. For more CN Tower posts, visit CN Tower defies gravity and CN Tower in Toronto.

 

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From atop the CN Tower, and as the sun peeked through clouds, Billy Bishop Toronto city airport (center-right) looked abandoned.

 

I’ve said this several times and am saying it again that we are lucky to be living in an apartment with this view. For almost a decade now. What you see here: Freedom Tower in downtown Manhattan, the Hudson River, Brooklyn, Marina yacht club in Jersey City. -It was early morning Sunday; the Norwegian Cruise Line ship was returning to Manhattan from Bahamas. We’d taken this ship for our Bahamas and Florida tour some years prior. See Life on board the Norwegian Gem and Great Stirrup Cay in Bahamas.

 

The window that gave us utmost happiness also worsened our fears during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The effects were severe in NJ and NY: businesses lost billions of dollars, half a million homes were destroyed, around 50 people were killed. I took this picture around 9 pm. Storm surge/strong wind pounded Newport, flooding the walkway up to ten feet. Sustained wind speed: 75 mph. We’d taken this advisory from our building management seriously: “…all windows in the apartment are maintained closed, locked and the blinds in the lowered position…that the wind is not permitted any opening, which if allowed, can potentially result in the further opening of window or, worse yet, ripping out the entire window.” Though we lost electricity and the fire alarm beeped all night, we survived unhurt. -Strange that I remember what Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said: Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?

 

We had fun riding this tramway that spanned the East River and connected Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island. Midway to the island and at its highest elevation of 250 feet, we saw another tramway journey back to Manhattan. The window overlooked East River, the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island.

 

As we approached the Toronto-Pearson International airport in Canada, the pilot’s reminder to fasten our seat belts matched these bumpy clouds we saw through the window.

 

At Mount-Pleasant station in Brampton, Ontario, the windows of this moving bus reflected the not-so-clear activities behind me. Billy Wilder had said: An actor entering through the door, you’ve got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you’ve got a situation.

 

Mail trucks don’t use window doors in summer. Here, I see the driver’s seat and the bright ambiguity through it.

Windows to a soul (Photo Challenge). Witty and attitude (Daily Prompt).

All About Downtown Street Fair At Grove Street

I was not keen on attending the Annual All About Downtown Street Fair, but my wife insisted, and we did. It was a good decision. Wife’s always right?

On September 16, 2017 – between 12 noon and 8 pm – the street fair returned for its seventh year.

Featuring over a hundred vendors, the fair sold all kinds of products: handmade jewelry, exclusive art works, specialty cuisines from more than a dozen top food trucks in the tri-state area; there were band performances, and fun rides for children. It was reported that in the year 2015, this event brought over 30,000 into Downtown Jersey City. Hope it has crossed that number this time.

When we entered the fair around the evening, the crowd was beginning to swell. The day was hot and humid, but the energy was electric.
A mural depicting rough waves, the Statue of Liberty unaffected. Murals and graffiti have come to define Grove Street, bringing the urban city back to life.
Stained glass studio stall – they do stained glass installation, custom fabrication, and restoration. A smiling Bob Marley wants you to know this.
Books, and more books. Do you see Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened
Curious eyes scanning the street of stalls. No running out of options or varieties here…
Except for this, and how rare. A banana pudding sold out stall.
Wife’s always right, and son too is (leaning to his) right.
Orale Mexican kitchen where…
I bought a corn with cheese and mayonnaise.
Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan waited to be picked.
White Birch Candle offered products that are hand poured, 100% soy wax, and dye free; they burn clean (no soot), have 150+ burn time, and always burn even. Ta-da!
Face painting for kids stall, hosted by Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry.
Time to pause and experience some Latino beat.
How about a drink each of Puerto Rican Sangria following the Latino beat.
The men in white sang and entertained – everyone watching them was at least tapping their feet on the ground.
The best part of the fair owned the biggest ad.
At the crack of dusk, the crowd size increased.
Highlight of the evening: Guatemalan street dance with heavy costumes, drums, and ropes.

Any fair we attend, a plate of funnel cake is a must.
One of the rides we did: the three of us sat in a tea cup with a wheel in the middle that we could steer 360 degrees, while the tray carrying all of the cups rotated; whirl within a whirl.
This mural invites your interpretation.
As night approached, this band performed soft melodies.
We ended the fair with a banana boat ice cream – with chocolate, strawberry, pineapple, and walnuts.
This was it.

Pamper yourself (Daily Prompt). Layered is the culture (Photo Challenge).

Confessions Of A Social Media Mind

Some taboos thrived in our home in Delhi. Meeting male friends was fine if they didn’t belong to rogue families; females could be friends only from a distance. Our precious lives mirrored pensive sadness.

As a teenager in the mid-90s, I was a victim of my previous generation’s regressive outlook, which had shown no signs of letting up. Their puerile conduct bound and confined me such that my superficial layers had remained unpeeled, pushing me to maintain the status quo of my limited social interactions.

Then came the dial up connection and world wide web, which turned me inside out.

With an email account on Yahoo in the year 2001, it was easy to sign up on Yahoo messenger. Soon I was in several group chat rooms: abusing Pakistanis and Australians because their teams beat India in cricket matches, flirting with (hopefully) women from Bulgaria and Hungary because they pinged me first, becoming a Slovakian woman myself to excite equally curious chatters. A certain resurgence kept me going and I was everywhere, mitigating melancholy too. One deterrent was the eldritch sound the dial-up made in the middle of the night, waking up my parents in the other room. But they got used to it and which prevented my rebellious bubbles from bursting.

AOL had acquired Instant Messaging Client or ICQ, a simple program that made abusing or flirting user-friendly without pop-ups. My stint with MSN Messenger was brief, using it to fight with a friend who’d only used MSN.

As time passed, I was making friends from as far as Honolulu to as near with a random chatter in Delhi; the fiery virtual world made me poised and assertive; there was nothing to lose. I was meeting my friends in the real world, too, which didn’t appear rosy enough to have the pull of permanence. What then felt permanent were anonymity and ubiquitousness. I chose to leave my aggression for the evenings, post the howl of the dial up.

A friend suggested Orkut, a social networking site that was quietly replacing the few real rendezvous we had. The best of friends were thrilled to be connecting online, sharing their recent profile pictures, which eliminated the need to see one another frequently. The polished stillness of these pictures simply belied the truth of the moment, as what was captured in a flashy edited-version moment was a poor indicator of how a person would appear when in the real world. Instagram deepened this divide.

Skype, which Microsoft acquired for $8.5 billion, brought me closer to family and friends, especially after I’d moved to the US. But Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion and made sure I was addicted to it. I was on Twitter too, but unaware of how I’d publicize my views since everyone was tweeting.  LinkedIn tempted me, but who cared about professional networking: if the quest for freedom from arrested development was the A of the alphabet, professional networking was Z — was a long psychological stretch.

Facebook changed everything, and after it bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in Feb 2014, we knew that the influence of social media was not disappearing any sooner.

I’ve been a member of a school WhatsApp group for two years. The friend who created it remained the admin for long before he – upon consensus or otherwise – democratized it by making every one of the 50+ members a group administrator. Most members are based out of India, the rest spread across the globe. Meetings among friends became rarer. Two guys (including the one who created the group) who were best friends had a financial tiff. One had allegedly owed the other close to half a million Indian rupees.

When their coffee didn’t brew in person, the lender brought up the matter of his roasted ground beans in group chat. He tried brewing it by way of naming and shaming the borrower and his family, not realizing that using profanity wouldn’t separate liquid coffee from the used grounds. The borrower – with not much as a convincing explanation in his defense to the group – was yet to roast his coffee beans.

Now since everyone was group admin, the two barista protagonists deleted each other, one after the other, and they could repeat this feat because they were being added instantly upon deletion by some friendly group members. Hurt not only by the naming and shaming but also by being deleted, the creator of the group, who’s also the alleged borrower removed everyone from the group before adding them (minus the lender) and becoming the sole group admin, like before.

Their coffee hadn’t brewed in person because the edited glory of their online presence had uncharacteristically replaced flesh and blood of their human presence. The lender’s trust of the borrower had died alongside the death of the humans’ valuing one another; the e-intimidation as opposed to a heart to heart talk became the norm. Nobody was surprised. Weren’t we waiting for this?

In contrast with how it was in the mid-90s when the hunt for freedom stocked up its shares on a single window, the year 2017 has forced open many windows without offering a wholesome view. These rusty and creaking windows are blinding us from any possibility to view, witness, and experience the real. Precious lives still mirror pensive sadness.

Waiting for the connect (Photo Challenge). The Sting of Social Media (Daily Prompt)

Build A Door

We see doors everywhere, and I’ve seen some interesting doors in my lifetime so far. For this particular week, I’m uploading door photos that I’ve found in my folder. Going forward, though, I’ll try to capture as many doors as possible. After all, I like what Milton Berle once said If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. And here, I replace ‘build’ with ‘capture.’

Central Park is an oasis in New York City and the Zoo is its integral part. We saw this glass door entrance to a gift shop: the painted image of a penguin, reflections on the door, and patches of shade on the ground.

 

This black door of Rev. Dr. Ercel F. Webb School in Jersey City has an arch with designs on top. Wide concrete steps, a weary window on the left with tied curtains, and a message on the wall from Tupac Shakur: “The rose that grew from concrete – did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete – proving nature’s law is wrong – it learned to walk without having feet.”

 

The blue majestic door with waffle designs – on 23rd Street/6th Avenue, New York City – appeared to be permanent-shut. The sunlight spared most of the door, and the little man – my son – totally owned the facade.

Want to see more doors or to join in on the challenge, click here where Manja Mexi Movie is hosting for Norm 2.0.

Bowlmor Friday Fun At Chelsea Piers

First off, bowling has always been popular. Millions of people have played it for thousands of years, believe it or not.

Way back in 5,200 B.C., bowling balls and pins were found in the tomb of an Egyptian king. In fourth century Germany, where bowling was part of a religious ceremony, those who could knock down the pins were believed to be of good character and those who couldn’t had to do penance.

Popular in America since Colonial days, bowling started the American Bowling Congress in 1895, which is now called the United States Bowling Congress. Martin Luther was a bowler.

Located at Pier 60 – just off the West Side Highway – and with 40 bowling lanes, laneside video walls, the flashing lights and sounds of arcade games, Bowlmor gave us the outing we’d long sought: a ride into a zone that settled us into getting our focus back, decimating the days of distraction.

The entrance is a mix of dark hues, symbolic of a thick colorful interior.

To the right of the entrance is this Golf Club: Manhattan’s only four-tiered, outdoor driving range. Practice putting, take lessons from professional golfers, feel free to hit full shots.

Entering the building, the first thing you see are ropes and harness, which Bowlmar claims is NYC’s only indoor ropes course.

Stacked in the shelves behind the front desk are bowling shoes. These shoes have a sole which allows a bowler to slide before releasing the ball.

Our reserved lane. Private is cool, but expensive.

The length from the foul line to the head pin is 60 feet. On either side of the lane are gutters.

All set to bowl with Agastya, who’s super thrilled.

Rolling the ball at the pins

Warmth of bonding

Thick bright lounge area

Here, in the brief clip, it’s my second roll at the pins. I knock them down – it’s a spare.

We got a few strikes. See the X in the small square.

With reservation comes food. Chicken tenders, french fries, cheese pizza – also, fruit punch and sauces.

At the arcade, he loved Air Hockey. His takeaway.

His first attempt at an advanced racing game…

…guess what, he did really well…

I don’t know how he managed it, but he came first. He thanked me – I kissed him on his cheeks.

On our way back home, we stopped by this majestic blue door, on 23rd/6th.

Though our fingers, elbows, and legs are sore, we are all smiles.

In The New America People Get Slapped For Doing This

Earlier this year, I was feeling groggy from Cyclobenzaprine and Naproxen that I’d taken to treat my neck spasm. The muscle-relaxant and anti-inflammatory pills often helped, but for the drowsiness that accompanied them. Although my wife had suggested that I avoid grocery shopping, fearing the weariness might get too overwhelming, I followed on with my decision for there won’t be time rest of the week. I knew I’d be somnolent only if my body went on inactive mode, having learned how I responded after taking those pills previously. So, for the entire duration – to the grocery store, shopping, and pushing the cart back to the train station – I was super active.

I’d found a seat near the door – with my cart full of grocery in front of me – when the Path train left Journal Square. Two of the dozen Mexican tomatoes in a plastic bag that I’d kept right at the top peeped out at me. My destination was Newport with Grove Street, the only station, in between; the total travel time not exceeding ten minutes. Though my eyes were involuntarily closed from the drowsiness, I heard both sounds of door slamming shut and footsteps of people as they moved between train cars, the crispy sound when an old man flipped the pages of his book, the constant clickety-clack of the train wheels. I coughed softly a few times, I was aware.

Though I was too dozy to cover my mouth, I was certain that my mouth wasn’t open when coughing. (Wish I was alert enough to use my hands.)

At Grove Street station, a group of people boarded the train, followed by a middle-aged man. The train wasn’t crowded, but all of the seats were taken; the man was left standing. He was wearing a green shirt and black trousers. I closed my eyes; let out a couple soft coughs, my mouth still closed. Within seconds, I heard a sound barreling toward me from my right where the man was standing. “This is sick. You should cover your mouth when coughing.”

angry man

I turned my head to glance at him. He was a short man whose face turned a tinge of red that I thought meant intense dislike for me. I told him, as my eyes were closing again, that my mouth wasn’t open and that I was drowsy from a muscle relaxant. This explanation – that I hadn’t needed to give – didn’t satisfy him, and he came at me more aggressively. “This is America. You’ve no idea what you’re doing.”

None of the people who were sitting across from me uttered a word, which sort of vindicated me because they had the visual that my mouth wasn’t open. I politely told him again that my mouth was closed throughout.

He said, “I’m so sick myself – don’t want any sickness from you.”

Now: he looked sick.

I was not sick.

My unexpected coughs (more like discreet coughs) were perhaps from a can of chilled coconut water I’d drunk at the grocery.

I asserted this time that I was fine, and, “I should be more concerned about catching something from you.”

“In the new America, people get slapped for coughing like that on a public transport,” he said.

I grinned at him – my eyes won’t close for a while now – as I stood up to exit at Newport. My 6’1 frame, as I walked by him, probably forced his mouth shut. Only silence thereon. Glad tomatoes crowned the cart and therefore not crushed.

What I figured out later was that he was livid that even a grocery cart had found a space near the seat. He wanted to take his anger out at someone, and I happened to be the non-white guy he found a punching bag in? If he’d asked me, I would’ve given him my seat (I always do like I always cover my mouth.)

In last more than a decade of our life in the US, this was the first experience of its kind.

I am apolitical, but was as much against Hillary Clinton’s alleged deleting of thousands of emails as I’ve been against President Trump’s fear-mongering rhetoric. The day James Comey testified before the Senate that the President had asked for his loyalty, the following happened in Union Square on 14th Street in Manhattan.

The blocks of dry ice emitted fog that drifted away.

I was a mere witness, didn’t know what to make of this. For some, it meant Trump’s ephemeral longevity; for others, it was a protest against his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. But, let’s not forget that Donald Trump became a president because he had the required electoral votes, although FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in America’s election is ongoing.

In the new America – yes – anything can happen. Since the new president took office, we’ve heard a few incidents where non-whites, especially Indians, were targeted, resulting in deaths, too. So, I decided to go back to my kickboxing routine. For self-defense. And if the man walked the talk next time, I must be ready.

But, my punching bag will remain a punching bag. I’m non-violence personified.

 

Central Park Zoo

On Sunday, we visited the Central Park Zoo in New York City.

This was our second visit in last one year and the tickets were “paid for.” Reason: Last year, during our first visit, the zoo was unexpectedly closed due to an explosion nearby. It was very unfortunate that a teenager tourist lost his foot in the blast. The visitors who’d purchased the tickets were given complimentary one-year-valid tickets since most of us couldn’t see all of the attractions. I remember we were on our way to watch a 4D movie when the accidental blast led the zoo authorities to initiate an early shutdown.

Since the complimentary tickets were to expire in July this year, the last Sunday had to be the day.

The Central Park Zoo began as a menagerie in the post mid-19th century; the place has since seen several modifications, making it the modern zoological garden, now home to an indoor rain-forest.

You enter the zoo walking with a sizable crowd, and disappear down the trellised walkway. It may look like a conflict zone if you believed the fear-mongering some, but multiculturalism thrives and works toward a peaceful co-existence. The vine-clad purity, breath of fresh green; the brick trimmed with granite.

Since we missed the 4D movie last time, we began this tour with a movie: Ice Age – No time for Nuts.

How a saber-toothed squirrel on a chase after his acorn, which a time machine dispatches into different time periods, makes for a fun viewing experience.

Ready with our 4D glasses – our son thoroughly enjoyed the film.

We avoid fast food but have to make do with it when options are scarce. The monopoly of a lone restaurant in the zoo can quietly drain your wallet: $14 for a cheeseburger. I ate half of my burger in disapproval. The street vendor right outside the zoo would charge more or less the same, charging $3 for a 700 ml water bottle, for example; in other places, the same bottle costs $1.50. Uniformity in food prices kicks competition out. But, french fries tasted better after a while.

Right outside Tisch Children’s Zoo which was to be our next stop, this brilliant musician played Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round on his saxophone.

At Children’s Zoo, waiting to feed the goats

Alpaca, which resembles Llama, is a domesticated species of South American camelid.

Feeding the Alpaca. (Look out – Alpacas can spit.)

Spider web play area

White-naped Crane – needs shallow wetlands and grassy marshes to forage, nest, and raise their chicks. 70% of these cranes breed in Mongolia which provides perfect habitats.

Ducks’ feeding time

Baby Tortoise with egg as shell

Cavies come from the same family as guinea pigs. A family of rodents native to South America.

Intelligence garden (in the Temperate zone) is an idea borrowed from a Chinese emperor who believed that the best way to develop intelligence was to observe animals in their natural state. 

Where next?

Walking toward the Tropic zone. Glass-roofed pergolas add to the beauty.

A grizzly bear stands 3 to 4 feet tall on all fours, but can reach 6 to 7 feet tall when standing up straight.

The bear’s private pool

California Sea Lion can dive hundreds of feet deep and stay underwater for up to 10 minutes.

Flora that lends beauty…

It was zero degree Fahrenheit…descending from the pass were the marks of the Snow Leopard; they can venture as high as 19,000 feet. Watch its eyes at your own risk.

Red panda – found in the Himalayan foothills, this flame-colored animal shares both territory and a name with the giant panda, but not genetics. Red panda is actually related to Raccoon.

The Victoria-crowned pigeon is a large, bluish-grey pigeon; has elegant blue lace-like crests, maroon breast, and red irises.

Blue-headed Macaw Parrot. Pointed tail, large bill.

Amazon Tree Boa is non-venomous, found in South America.

Banded Mongoose – females give birth within a few days of each other and everyone cares for the babies.

Texas Tortoise – thrives in exposed dry scrub and grasslands; forages on cactuses.

Slender-tail Cloud Rat – one of the largest rats in the world. Guess its weight when fully grown? Around five pounds. Its penetrating look – as if it knows what we’re thinking.

Penguins in the Polar zone. Just chill.

The Mob Is Ready, And Blind

image0051

In mid-1998, I made my first solo train trip to Kerala in South India from Delhi. I was in a reserved sleeper class, the train had pulled up in Pune, and it was late evening. I’d just finished my dinner and was preparing my bed on the upper berth when we heard a loud trumpet of bum bum bole, followed by the clatter of footsteps of people boarding the train. It was a mob of Shiv Sena, a far-right regional political party, who, in their saffron attires, and with some carrying trishuls, emboldened one another to grab not only the empty seats but also the ones that were occupied.

A mob can infuse dread in anyone: their terror is synonymous with terrorism, only that their ideology isn’t firmer or clearer yet to push them into taking their own lives, as happens in terrorist killings; plus, the fear of the law softens some of their fury. I was lucky that no sainik wanted a share of my seat, but not everyone was as fortunate. The passengers who happened to be in the toilet then, lost a good percentage of their seat space when they returned; and those who protested, received some choicest local Marathi abuse. Shiv Sena was running the state of Maharashtra in an alliance with BJP, which is the ruling party of the Indian government now.

It was a mob of RSS – a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization – and VHP, its outfit, that demolished Babri Masjid five years earlier in Uttar Pradesh, and it was the same mob that was active during Gujarat riots three years later. These fiendish events, etched into our collective memories, had resulted in deaths then and in the aftermath, when sorrow and revulsion were the feelings shared by both communities. A mob pattern was emerging which – with the tacit approval of the states, BJP-ruled in the above two cases – attempted to assert that India is a Hindu nation (almost 80% are Hindus) and the minorities, especially Muslims (14% follow Islam), should know this.

It’s been almost 18 months since the BJP came to power. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been travelling the world, talking of investments, and talking Mann ki Baat on radio. He was given a grand welcome by several Heads of States, NRIs, and the media overseas, until a journalist in London asked him about the climate of intolerance in India. His response was confident that India is a land of Buddha and Gandhi and that her culture wouldn’t accept anything that is against the basic social values. Two months prior, a Muslim man was wrongly suspected of having beef in his fridge. A mob barged into his house and lynched him to death. This was amidst the frenzy of beef ban the BJP-ruled states were imposing, the monitoring and implementation of which was leased to the religious zealots who became the mob on the ground.

Cow-reverence being a practice in Hinduism, has a political history to it. In the book “The Hindus: An Alternative History,” the author writes: “The first agitation over cow slaughter in the Raj took place in the Sikh state of the Punjab where cow slaughter had been a capital offense right up to the moment when the British took over…In 1888, a British court in Allahabad ruled that a cow was not a sacred object, that Muslims who slaughtered cows could not be held to have insulted the religion of the Hindus, and that police were to protect Muslims who wanted to slaughter cows…At the Bakr-Id festival of 1893, riots broke out involving the entire Hindu population of villages, and thousands of people attacked Muslims…Cows continued to provide a lightning rod for communal violence from then until the present day.”

Modi’s condemnation of the lynching wasn’t specific, as he appeared to restrain himself. Agreed, this happened in Uttar Pradesh where SP, a regional party, was ruling, but a local BJP senior justified the mob’s action. Besides, the Prime Minister hasn’t reprimanded the likes of Yogi Adityanath and Sangeet Som, the party hardliners. His limited reaction to their polarizing statements has been vague; and his party unleashed fingers at other parties’ hardliners, including a Muslim political party that threatened to unleash bloodbath against Hindus.

The truth is, if the PM – who has the people’s mandate – doesn’t nip the Hindu fringe in the bud, the impression he leaves is that he’s in agreement with them and that this is part of a conspiracy theory.

Since India’s independence from the British, the Congress party has ruled the country for six decades. The 42nd amendment of the Constitution of India, enacted in 1976, asserted India’s secular identity. The state has to enforce religious laws instead of parliamentary laws, and respect pluralism; whereas in the West, the concept of Secularism envisions a separation of religion and state. Congress has long shown a contrived secularism mindset, which their opposition contests can best be construed as minority appeasement. Six decades is a long period for generation after generation of Indians to have faith, though shaky at times, in the secular fabric of the country.

There were communal riots under Congress’ rule and though, the party has had no alliances with religious fundamentalist groups, it failed to prevent the riots or maintain peace. What perhaps worked for them was that if a communal fire was lit somewhere, the top leader of the party, more often than not, would address the nation condemning the riots, appearing to do the right thing. In retrospect, this looked more like the appeasement of both sides for political survival than an effort to bridge the religious divide.

In my growing up years, I have heard not only Hindi-Chini bhai bhai, but also Hindu-Muslim bhai bhai. Congress’ minority appeasement politics, the BJP has long said, took the majority for granted. The vengeful BJP is now reversing the trend: appease the majority and take the minority for granted. The danger of doing this, which the BJP ignores, is that majority of Hindus don’t want to take their religion seriously: at least not serious enough to consider other religions inferior. The recent BJP debacle in Bihar elections was an eye-opener for the party.

Now: if the seed of conspiracy has been sown at all by RSS/BJP, it’s not working — because as I said above, Congress’ rule has prepared a comfortable secular mattress to sleep on for the majority of us, and our genetic code is peace-personified to begin with. However, if the theory blooms, it’ll take decades for the majority of Hindus to have an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder about Hinduism, and the OCD once diagnosed may only be to countervail Muslims’ obsession with Islam. How secular or communal we will then be, only time can tell.

Intolerance has been the darling word of the media for some time now, often used against the Hindus in matters of religion to favor the Muslims. However, if a Muslim family refuses to stand up while the rest of the crowd does when the national anthem is being played in a theater in Mumbai, it calls attention to their strange conduct. The government guidelines say that one must stand up when the national anthem is played or sung; the crowd that stood up in the theater might also have Muslims among them. The crowd’s jingoistic bullying of the family to ensure they leave the theater, wasn’t perhaps as harsh as the family’s intolerance to the anthem. Media may want to coin the use of intolerance both ways to bring balance and depth to debates.

Recently, Aamir Khan, a famous Indian actor, expressed his views that there was intolerance in India and that his wife was scared to live in the country. There was an immediate backlash and people reviled him. Several reactions flooded the internet including that he became a superstar because majority of Hindus had paid money to watch his films, and that he’d played a “Hindu” good guy killing a “Muslim” bad guy in a movie.

Let’s look at this in the right perspective: Aamir Khan was born a Muslim. He’s free to follow his religion and verbalize his thoughts. He became the fall guy, however, going from the one who beat up the Muslim bad man to the beaten one himself. Was the problem with Aamir Khan or with people who’d adored his films? Had they expected Aamir to extend his reel characters on to his real life? Was there an implicit agreement between the ticket paying majority and him that they’d watch his movies only if he never spoke his mind? His speaking his mind doesn’t make him a Pakistani. And the loud cry now to boycott his future films? Well, the majority will still flock to the theaters to watch him; the fringe minority will continue to burn his effigies outside.

We are in a democracy, not theocracy.

The Prime Minister was on the cover of Time with paragraphs chronicling how he’s the dynamic leader of a vibrant democracy. I have personally experienced a transformation here as people look at Indians with a lot more respect. Though India’s economic growth was talked about in the West under Manmohan Singh’s government, Modi is touring the talk, and his broader objective is development indeed. His vision appears to be that of an India where each citizen is strong and self-reliant; also, where Hindutva’s representation of cultural nationalism is understood not as an attempt to get a Hindu nationhood, but rather to attract all of the communities under one mainstream fold. But, could the development agenda mask for now, or eradicate for ever, the communal agenda? As things stand now, he only knows his Mann ki Baat.

When the train departed Pune that night, I wasn’t looking forward to a sound sleep, as loud lullabies of bum bum bole reverberated through the compartment. A Shiv Sainik who seemed comfortable under a white sheet, grinned at me from the opposite upper berth. When I asked him if he really was a Shiv-bhakth, his response was abrupt: “You pay me Rs. 50 and I’ll become Krishna-bhakth, Ram-bhakth or any bhakth.’ He smirked, then continued, “We make more money as sainiks than as laborers, you see, and we don’t have to carry weights.”

Sugar’s The Target

Girls-Pretend-Play-Aisle

Target, the retailer, announced that it would remove signage that has long communicated separate aisles for boys and girls. Boys’ aisle had toys and action figures, girls’ had dolls and costumes.

Reactions came pouring in post the announcement and were divided among the shoppers. Some complained that the removal of signage was preposterous: that boys and girls would always be boys and girls. I too thought the signage was necessary as it carried forward a long-held tradition, also saving shoppers their time. But, when some shoppers welcomed the announcement and I understood why they did, I scrapped my deep-seated rationale and appreciated Target’s move wholeheartedly.

The belief that boys can’t wear pink or girls can’t play with action figures is a fundamental mistake. If a boy wants to play with a barbie doll or a girl wishes to imitate a superman figure, let them. Let us not decide what they should have or which aisle they must avoid. When we make these decisions we apparently are limiting their evolving worldviews. What let-them-be will do is that when they grow up, they may be far more schooled about gender diversity and complexity.

If a girl loves action figures, her inclination to take up a sport or join the military in the future may be natural. Similarly, a boy’s fascination for dolls may, in later years, put him at ease when caring for a baby as a father. Being natural is effective.

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Sugared drink manufacturers will go to any length to make consumers sip Coke, Pepsi and other sodas. They were covertly funding some scientists to come up with findings that a good exercise could offset a bad diet.

There hasn’t been a single evidence to prove that if we exercise every day, we can eat anything. When food enters our system, it causes metabolic and hormonal changes, and exercise can only do so much. Science says that the more sugar we consume the more pressure we put on the insulin to process it; insulin will gradually lose its power and make way for diabetes and other diseases.

Isn’t this shocking enough that a can of sugared drink has 15-18 teaspoons of sugar?

People drink their coffees and teas without sugar, leading by example of how much they value their health, only to drink a can of sugared soda.

Spiritual Dessert At Santo Domingo And Amsterdam

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A calming, bluish dusk at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Labeling a quiet place serene is one thing, the one who’s labeling it is miles away from serenity is quite another. The moment we’re out of a serene location that certainly pumped us up, our psychological dominance, if you will, may crush under the enormous weight of life’s routine chaos.

It’s a given that all of us can’t inhabit serene areas all the time: At best once a year. Knowing this, we’re left with a dish of find-serenity-wherever-you-are spiritual dessert.

But this dessert may taste bitter, the task is uphill, clock’s ticking.

Therefore: either develop the will and bludgeon the issues or, seek peace while issues bludgeon you. Playing a victim is weakness and dumb, given life will come at you hard, every time.

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As time approached sunset, Vondel Park in Amsterdam was quieter

 

Breathing Halloween Skeletons

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We met this bunch of suave guitar-holding skeletons at a Halloween party for children, which my toddler son thoroughly enjoyed.

My first reaction looking at them was, though they were barren their presence was paramount, shrouding the rest of us in the hall. Setting the mood for the occasion, they sent vibes of joy and were unlike other blood-curdling or spine-tingling skeletons.

Though their smile was endearing their eyeballs cautioned that they’d long been dead: Stare at the “balls-eye” and you’ll know.

How different are we from them? Dead and insensitive we too are? In flesh and blood we certainly are breathing. We are worse shadows.

The Spirit House At Royal Ontario

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I captured this image of the Spirit House, which was a hall of intrigue and in it were myriad story possibilities, at Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Daniel Libeskind – the architect of Freedom Tower in New York City – designed Lee-Chin Crystal, also designing some of the chairs in the House.

The stainless steel chairs held a glossy rhythm with the crystalline surrounding. From the center of the house one could see in the arch above an interwoven pattern of concrete, which linked exhibit spaces with elevators, speaking of conflicts and order in stories.

Kailash Satyarthi, The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Is My Ex-Boss: A Brief Tribute

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I first met him in the fall of 1996 when he, in an ironed kurta-pajama, passed by me, and whooshed the door open to his small office. I was lazing at my desk, waiting for the Director, who I’d been hired to assist. The morning was overcast and light barely filtered through the window at the entrance, but the pure white of his cotton made the day appear brighter. I was young, and it was my first job.

It took a few months before the Director recommended that I work for Kailash Satyarthi – the Chairperson of Bachpan Bachao Andolan/Save The Childhood Movement (BBA) – whom we fondly call “Bhaisahab.”

His costume though it was bright, had an air of intimidation, because we’d witnessed all our lives in India, the white-adorned politicians who would often vanish after they’d won the elections, not delivering on their promises. Though I knew Mr. Satyarthi wasn’t a politician, I’d still braved through, with raised brows and wet palms, the jitteriness of my first formal meeting with him. When a 6-foot man, bespectacled, with black beard and hair neatly parted and slicked to the side, breezed into the room and glanced at me, I stood up, holding out my hand when he did his, to shake, and poor man, he had to wipe his hand with a kerchief, as he advised, “You don’t have to worry at all.”

The softness of his voice belied his domineering posture, and the nicety of his demeanor made it easy for me to want to work with him for next several years. He was a presence of immense hope. If we look at his graph – until the moment he won the Nobel Peace Prize – he had given thousands of voiceless children a smile, touching their hearts and enlightening them with his never-say-die attitude.

In my 9 year stint with him, being responsible for his schedule and travel as well, I’d spent most of my time in the office than at home with my family. And the only reason I could pull that off was that I worked for a man, who I rarely saw in a state of exhaustion. He traveled domestic and international, extensively, with the mission of eliminating child labor; and the success of Global March Against Child Labor, under his leadership, proved that, with partnerships and collaborations, groups and teams, we were cruising along to end the menace.

Way to go. His travel continued for days on end, and yet, one fine morning only a couple of hours after he’d arrived from a trip to the US, he was in the office – fighting jet lag – to meet with a local organization, which had come to him for guidance. He’d welcomed them, and stressed how if everyone involved in the movement displayed the passion the mission demanded, the endeavors would yield results. And he’d also warned that the path to mission’s success faced stiff opposition from more quarters than we could imagine — but so long as we didn’t devalue the power of our collective conscience for the sake of the cause, we were right on course. His philosophy and pragmatism kindled each other in the design of his thoughts, where children became the only focus.

He was running high fever one day, but still wanted to lead a team to raid a factory in North Delhi, where some details earlier had suggested that the brick kiln owner was employing forced child labor. All of us had requested he let somebody else lead the raid so he could recover, but his stubbornness was nonpareil, and he wished to go. I remember I’d handed him some pills of paracetamol for fever. A day later, when he’d returned with his team in a foggy evening, he looked fresh, with dozens of rescued children following him into the conference hall — where he stood in a corner, unattached, smiling at the children, who cheered and celebrated their new-found freedom. His detachment, I thought, was a moment during which he pondered upon the day gone by, when he and his team had conducted another riskier raid, converting its success into the laughter that reverberated in the building. His fever pills were intact, and his fever only worse, and he tossed the first one into his mouth, and informed us that he’d better get rest, and stepped out, into his car and disappeared in the fog.

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I remember he had a couple of meetings in Germany and an important one in London, but his UK visa had expired, and he had to leave within two days. We were not scheduling anything in the UK because we knew we had to renew the visa. I remembered a get-together that BBA had, the previous week, and a senior visa official from the British High Commission had been in attendance, and I remember how he’d admired Mr. Satyarthi and the organization, and had left his visiting card. I called him around 3 pm to check if renewal of the visa was possible at such short notice, and he asked me to meet him in the embassy with Mr. Satyarthi’s passport, and by late evening the same day, his visa was renewed. The next day, I’d written to BBC HARDtalk, a popular show where global leaders are grilled, sending them Mr. Satyarthi and organization’s profile, asking if he could be interviewed – since he had a day to spare in London – and by next morning, I received their confirmation that they’d be pleased to have him.

Later, when I updated Mr. Satyarthi about these two developments, he patted on my back and said that he was proud of me – to which I said that I hadn’t done much, and that he was a known figure fighting for a just cause, and somebody only had to contact the right person at the right time.

Years passed, and his hair and beard turned grey and he began to look weary. One weekend, the entire office went to Bal Ashram, a rehabilitation center for rescued child laborers in Jaipur, to spend time with the children. And I remember we were playing volleyball, during a recreational period, and Mr. Satyarthi looked washed-out, but when somebody lifted the ball for him to smash, his strike had so much power that I had to duck my head on the other side. He has always been too mentally strong to allow fatigue to weaken him, and I know that his commitment for child rights will stay alive till his last breath.

Behind the glitter and glamour of the Nobel Prize are his incredible patience in handling complexities, live-in-the-present motto, taking risks to life, seeking truth, and delivering on the promises – the qualities he was born with, and which made his actions for the children languishing in slavery, be counted.

I left the organization in 2004, but I followed its activities online, and I’m so thrilled that 10 years later, Mr. Satyarthi won the prize after being in the running for it for several years, as per the Nobel Committee. But for me he had won it much earlier, when I’d realized that his passion and mission were noble enough.

Endurance On The Venice Beach

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He strummed tune after tune on the Venice beach boardwalk in Los Angeles.

His shabby attire belied the soulful melodies of his performance. He endured, plucking the strings, reaching the broken hearts with “Careless Whispers” and the confused minds with “Make me Pure.”

I saw a liplocked couple standing by a restroom, never wanting to unlock; and a marijuana addict who smoked another joint with teary eyes.

The performer was a homeless marijuana addict himself and he, after hours of non-stop plucking, hollered, “I haven’t eaten for days,” and went back to strumming.

 

Humanity Outside The Museum Of Royal Houses

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Outside the Museum of Royal Houses in Santo Domingo, though this ice cream vendor was eating his lunch, he was ready to sell his cones and bars as he stood up at the sight of the oncoming steps. He was taking another bite when he heard the click of my camera snapping this photo. He scanned my body language hoping that my steps would lead to him, which they did. I bought a vanilla cone.

Since his food depended on those sales, I asked him if he’d ever eaten his meals in peace. He said, “Sales give peace. One cone, more? please.”

The National Pantheon Contrasts

This shot was captured from the inside of the National Pantheon of the Dominican Republic. The National Pantheon was originally a church; today it serves as the final resting place for the nation’s honored citizens.

The guards and the flags were in the resting place; colors dim, painfully quiet. The heat of the summer outside painted the walls white; it was loud.

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The Caribbean Sea Conundrum

In the fading twilight, as the Caribbean Sea lends quietude to a noisy park in Malecon, these musicians showcase their skills; their objective is to earn some Dominican Peso so they buy dinner for their family in this poverty-stricken Caribbean nation.

Three ladies, a gentleman, and a child appear to be a family. Though the ladies may love some music, spending pesos is hard given their expenses and there’s a child, too. So the gentleman on the left initiates a look-elsewhere strategy triggering a look-elsewhere response from the rest.

The performer wearing the brim hat looks elsewhere too; he’s begun to understand the futility of their collective tune.

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Sinterklaas In Amsterdam

We were out in the evening and I saw people swarm a corner circling a god-like figure. The figure had white hair and beard, wore a red chasuble and a red miter.

He was Sinterklaas. This was in Amsterdam more than a decade ago.

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Though Sinterklaas looks like Santa Claus, he’s Saint Nicholas: a Dutch character. Legend has it that Sinterklaas originally hailed from Turkey and was a well respected and loved man. The feast of Sinterklaas is on December 6, but the evening of December 5 is when loved ones get their gifts.

 

Twists In MIT

It’s odd if there’s no oddity from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): a producer of great minds.

The Intellectuals’ Circle. 16 people can sit here. Half facing in, half facing out. Whose brains will seal the first deal?  

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Pivoting Garden Bench. Who will pivot here? Someone with nothing better to do? Then don’t wait. Image

Backless bench. For minds and spines. No old professors, with due respect. Image

 

Sister Oracle At Quincy Market

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She became a work of art herself standing there hours on end, which required a lot of strength and resoluteness. This was in the summer of 2011 in Boston.

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She moved only when she had to give chits.

Place a dollar in the column and receive a fortune. Though we didn’t place the bill, the ones who did were given chits. She kept her expression intact as she picked the chit from her funnel bag, her movement graceful.

She’s Sister Oracle. Oracles are like the portals of heaven through which gods communicate directly with people.

 

Corning Museum Of Glass In New York

Founded in 1951, Corning Museum of Glass is the world’s largest glass museum in Corning, New York. We visited the museum on our way to Niagara Falls.

If you’re keen to learn the art, science and history of glass, this is the place to be. It has on display 35 centuries of glass artistry, from the Roman and Islamic periods up to modern art glass; has live demonstrations for glassblowing, glass breaking, lamp working; has exhibits showing commercial uses of glass like fiber optics, telescope lens; has thousands of glass artworks by renowned artists.

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Bronze Threshold In Battery Park

We know that the immigrants built this country, suffering years and years of toil and struggle. This bronze sculpture in Battery Park celebrates the diversity of New York City.

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The figures with their dramatic poses include a freed African slave, a worker, a priest and an Eastern European Jew. Indeed this was a threshold before the freedom beckoned guaranteeing our rights and responsibilities.

 

 

The Breakers At Rhode Island

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We visited The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, more than a year ago. We were two of the 300,000 visitors that year, which is roughly the number of visitors every year.

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The Breakers – a Vanderbilt mansion, a national historic landmark, the most luxuriant house in a summer resort, the top Gilded Age gem, considered the social capital of America – was constructed in 1895.

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Since interior photography wasn’t allowed we couldn’t take pictures, but from what we saw and learned: Italian and African marbles, and mosaics and rare woods from several countries were used to design the interior. Interestingly, the gold room in the mansion was constructed in France before disassembling and shipping the parts in airtight cases to Newport, Rhode Island, where it was re-assembled.

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View from the mansion – oasis of green and blue.

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Steel trusses were used to make the structure fireproof.

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Manneken Pis In Brussels

Though not a great picture, my rendezvous with the legend of Manneken Pis – a 61 cm tall bronze statue – happened a decade ago in Brussels, Belgium. Since the visit to Brussels was around Christmas, you could see him in a Santa Claus costume, peeing into fountain’s basin.

Among the several stories about Manneken Pis, my favorite is, When a fire awoke a young boy, he put out the fire with his urine and therefore could stop the king’s castle from burning down.

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Street Life Inequality

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about street is crowd, and how people in the crowd are either active or inactive. Other things that become part of street may lie in the periphery, adding layers and colors.

People in these pictures are impersonators from two different locations: one, from posh-yet-punishing Los Angeles in the US, and the other, buzzing-yet-backward Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic.

Los Angeles punishes strugglers. Legend has it that Brad Pitt was once an impersonator before he became what he became. Here in the picture, an impersonator has become Robert Pattinson, who looked fit and might not be a hungry man. People were paying him for a picture.313056_10150380572860625_4919311_n

Santo Domingo has a lot of hungry people. The impersonator in the picture, who looked stoned, stood in that position for a long time; the street was empty. But he performed ‘Dangerous’ moves later in the evening as people swarmed the El Conde Street. Michael Jackson later told me that he’d moonwalk all day to eat one meal at night. When I offered him Presidente beer he drank it with his meal, following which he asked me if I wanted to smoke weed.1071355_10151822514175625_2008872921_o

 

 

Character Buildings In New York City

In continuing the series on New York City, this is my third post (firstsecond).

This will take you to the clusters of glass, steel and concrete. The tall buildings of NYC. Capturing them on camera was easy.

Brilliant architecture and lovely designs have infused life into these buildings, giving them character.

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Chrysler Building177675_10151289585395625_999917920_o

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Some magnificent structuresIMG_3728

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From atop the Empire State: the downtown viewIMG_3046

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Bergdorf Goodman 52769_10151316772390625_508349399_o

Time Warner Center415740_10151316766140625_1119920250_o

The Plaza Hotel665979_10151316765520625_1439334392_o

United Nations132815_10151289586985625_179817469_o

Gorgeous skyscrapers172755_10151289584115625_2029968795_o

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Metlife Building176963_10151289584585625_1355493259_o

Rockefeller Plaza398143_10150620599720625_610141746_n

Washington Square Arch200943_10150229688495625_8185752_o

St. Patrick’s Cathedral402441_10150620598770625_1378830332_n

The Empire State11146_216692215624_2278989_n

New York Stock Exchange35331_453780580624_5642733_n

New York Public Library176164_10151289581685625_942165916_o

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The National Museum of the American Indian 461815_10151193686415625_910738829_o

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Downtown Manhattan skyline (view from the apartment)IMG_6004

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Each contributes in New York City

This is in continuation to my post about New York City. It’s a brief list: I’m sharing what my camera chose to capture.

There are several fountains in the city. Each unique and beautiful. Sit nearby, sip coffee, and watch the flow.622774_10151289577975625_1830168443_o

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There are lane signs galore. This one caught my attention: manages the traffic well.56295_10151316754980625_2082077326_o

It’s the city of pigeons, too. When they’re bored on the ground, they have a vantage point.55405_10151316766690625_132147015_o

Drinking fountain – drink and hydrate yourself.177327_10151316755425625_1871769200_o

Though drivers adhere to the speed limit, there are exceptions and fines.334426_10151289590740625_1888029463_o

No free parking that is615409_10151289592615625_1137667108_o

This is important considering how buildings come up thick and fast.334463_10151289576390625_382414106_o

Where heavy trucks seek rejuvenation56487_10151289594425625_1422531215_o

Free and paid. Upgrade yourself.77777_10151289594605625_1918897414_o

Paid and timed. Or fined.622017_10151289589905625_2022720298_o

There’s no dearth of parking garages; supply meets demand.615953_10151289591200625_1747003207_o

See red, and streets and avenues pause.131693_10151289591630625_1672860108_o

Underpass and tunnel ease traffic congestion.456142_10151289587790625_1316764048_o

Quenching the thirst415752_10151316763690625_887944791_o

This is everywhere, keeping the city healthy.54915_10151289594890625_1903161895_o (1)

When art gets public space and attention

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Plenty of chairs. Can’t be tired for long.134036_10151316754635625_19978666_o

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A bus stop waits for engines and hearts.200935_10151289591855625_1225518007_o

Subway entry. Tranquil stairs now.413297_10151289591430625_532724696_o

Wanna call? Have the coins?337165_10151289580085625_1804629126_o

Go round and round, child.175206_10151289589560625_1230927842_o

Time’s everything.415679_10151316773120625_1116823728_o

 

 

 

Great Stirrup Cay In Bahamas

We had a wonderful time at Great Stirrup Cay, which is a private, 250-acre island in Bahamas owned by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).

The cay has crystal clear water and soft white sand beaches. Swim, snorkel, sunbathe; there’s a mini Straw Market for shopping; midday beach-side BBQ for lunch; Hippo water slide: world’s largest inflatable water slide – 40 feet high, 175 feet long.

Lucayan Indians first inhabited the island, followed by Spanish explorers, and the British. Slave traders were active in the 19th century. The cay was used during the American Civil War; then as an American base to fight German submarines active in the Caribbean during World War II. And before NCL bought the island from an oil company, the US Air Force used it as a satellite tracking station.

Swim or snorkel beside a school of tropical fish; or get a photo taken with a waiter-in-water.

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Beach chairs may outdo the blue of the sky.204

A lifeguard’s best rock-seat

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New arrivals

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Approaching the cay

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Coconut palm – the common treeaa

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Soft white sand beaches

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The mini Straw Market

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Calm ocean breeze

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Hammock-ing relaxes

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Hippo Water Slide

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Dusk’s approaching the island224

What’s New York City without them

There are things without which this city cannot survive: NYPD, FDNY, yellow cab, street vendors, to name a few. And there are things with which the city continues to thrive: street performers, among others.

A revisit:

New York City Police Department:  There’s a fine line between their alertness and friendliness.174996_10151289560360625_112948555_o

Fire Department of the city of New York: All of us know what their contribution has been (before, on, after 9/11). Don’t (therefore) hate the sound their trucks make.329351_10150392331585625_996432770_o

Blue Boat: I see one of these every day from my apartment. Their reach is far and wide.337459_10150392342150625_1065411757_o

Yellow Cab: Ubiquitous, and the need of the minute.413176_10151289590500625_1986082458_o

School Bus: Safe and sound, and in shape.171941_10151289581240625_125984412_o

United States Postal Service: They do deliver.617041_10151289590285625_68339071_o

Deli: Coffee, croissant, muffin, and more.339788_10151289592250625_252827647_o

Street Food: Devour it.53854_10151289596590625_64169138_o

Laborers: The most ignored are the most hardworking.665054_10151316757600625_1890988838_o

Citi Bikes: Ride them.1043854_10151770789410625_1175918212_n

Horse carriage ride: Harsh?665344_10151316762490625_1720755098_o

Solo ride is light ride622616_10151316764330625_1317395301_o

Scare the brave201156_10151316768525625_2053913873_o

Hug the loving394091_10150620600735625_227385326_n

Street Performers: Talented, and though they do this for money, they won’t ask you for a cent.

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My Statue Of Liberty Moment In Santo Domingo

Was when I met Montesinos.

This 150-foot stone and bronze statue of Fray Antón de Montesinos, donated by the Mexican government, is half the size of Statue of Liberty (305 feet). It faces the Caribbean sea on Santo Domingo Harbor.

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Montesinosa was a Dominican priest who protested the way the Spanish treated the New World native Indians, and in a famous sermon in 1511, he courageously spoke against this ill-treatment.

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His sermon triggered a fierce debate over the natives’ rights and their identity.

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He died around 1545.