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.

 

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

 

 

The Lure Of The J.Paul Getty Museum

When we were in Los Angeles, we didn’t miss the opportunity to visit The Getty Center. The J.Paul Getty Museum turned out to be one of the best museums we ever visited. Everything from sculptures to decorative arts, drawings to pre-20th century European paintings grabbed our attention.

The museum entranceLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 094

The cable-pulled tram took us from the parking garage at the bottom of the hill to the museum at the top of the hill.  The museum has a 7-story deep underground parking garage.

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One of the outdoor sculpturesLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 121

The inner courtyardLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 142

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Los Angeles seen from the top of the Getty Center. 405 San Diego Freeway lines the middle.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 163

Bust of an African woman (in marble) by Henry WeekesLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 175

Bust of Christ (in bronze) by Constantin MeunierLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 212

Head of Saint John the Baptist (in bronze) by Jean-Baptiste ChatignyLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 214

Self-Portrait as Midas (in patinated plaster) by Jean-Joseph Carries. Midas, the mythological king of Phrygia, was known for his foolishness. Apollo, punishing Midas for having favored the satyr Marsyas over himself in a musical contest, gave the king the ears of an ass.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 216

Mischief and Repose (oil on canvas) by John GodwardLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 172

The Ransom (oil on canvas) by John Millais. Millais’ praise of medieval chivalry is at the same time a lament for its absence in contemporary life.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 184

A Young Girl Defending Herself against Eros (oil on canvas) by William Bouguereau. A young girl playfully struggles with Eros (Cupid) to avoid love’s arrow.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 193

The Fright of Astyanax (by pen and brown ink) by Benjamin West. As the Trojan hero Hector bids farewell to his family, his son Astyanax is frightened by his father’s helmet and runs to the nurse.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 202

The Holy Family (oil on canvas) by Joseph Paelinck. Here the Virgin Mary and her mother, Anne, hold the Christ child, while Mary’s husband, Joseph, and her father Joachim, quietly observe.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 229

Herm of a Vestal Virgin (in marble) by Antonio CanovaLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 226

Apollo Crowning Himself (in marble) by Antonio Canova. Apollo’s idealized body and balanced pose recall ancient representations of nude male figures.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 242

Juno (in marble) by Joseph NollekensLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 239

Venus (in marble) by Joseph NollekensLA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 238

The Elements Paying Tribute to Friendship (in marble) by Louis-Simon Boizot. The four elements (Earth, Water, Fire and Air) in the guise of ancient gods pay homage to Friendship who’s standing on the pedestal. (I love this one)LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 234

Dancer (in bronze) by Paolo Troubetzkoy. Countess Tamara performed throughout Europe and the United States.LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 218

More sculptures:LA 25 Aug 2011 UCLA Getty Center 243

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CN Tower In Toronto

It was a day of fun at CN Tower. The view from the Observation Deck was spectacular.

Your Majesty!

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One of the tallest freestanding structures in the world740301_10151422660890625_871648377_o

In a high-speed glass-fronted elevator. Racing upwards at 22 kilometers per hour.343434

This glass floor (1122 feet up) can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos.741157_10151422661485625_1799800368_o

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View from the Observation Deck (116th floor). Billy Bishop city airport (center-right).736008_10151422662130625_1191204972_o

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The night view

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