This diary post is a part of a 30 day trip that I am taking this month which it also happens to be my first ever International trip. So for the next 30 years I will be posting here all my weird thoughts and commentary.
Day 3, 20-7-2012 – In my hotel room, Washington DC, Local Time: 2312, Pakistan Time:21 July 2012, 0759
Day 4 has some to almost an end but it has been one of the first days when we really got the chance to explore Washington DC. The day started off with Professor Dr Mark Kenoyer arriving in DC and then meeting us at the hotel in which we are staying. After the initial “hi”, “hellos” and checking in (for him of course), we headed out towards the National Mall, where we got our personal tour with Professor Kenoyer. What more can one ask for.
We started off our day with the the S. Dillon Ripley Center, where we were told that to protect views to the Smithsonian Castle, the entire building has been made on underground 3 levels. The most amazing part however remained how all these buildings are then tied to each other. For example, with the single entrance to the Ripley Center we were able to find our way to the African American Museum, The Arthur M. Seekler Gallery, Smithsonian, etc.
The journey then took us past many levels and corridors, but some of the most interesting thing that we were able to see during this time, included of course, “The Names Project – Memorial Quilts for people with AIDS” and the installation based on the Chinese story “Monkeys grasping for the moon”.
The next stop in the trip was the stop over at Smithsonian Castle, where we were showed a bit around as well as taken to the Burial ground of the great man, James
Smithsonian himself. It is really amazing to think about what people’s love and dedication can make them achieve in life.
We then headed off for our class, but not before stopping off at the Smithsonian Canteen, where I had the test of my first Turkey Sandwich, and the truth is that I actually did like the taste of it a lot. The food at the Smithsonian was fresh and lively, with no pomp or show about it. It was healthy food, being served with consideration for the taste appeal of the wider population. One of the amazing thing for me however, was seeing the amount of people that are coming in everyday in the Museum to see its exhibits. The number of people that come to the Smithsonian everyday is more than the number of people that we can get in a Pakistani Museum in an entire year.
The class today was on the understanding of “What is Cultural Heritage?”, a discussion in which we touched many of the concerns that we seem to share with regards to Museum Professionals. These included asking questions and trying to find solutions to “How to make museums less intimidating an experience for the average man”, “How do we deal with the concept of Cultural Identity for those Indigenous Communities whose source of Identity is linked to crafts which don’t seem to be relevant in the Post-Industrial Age”, “How to deal with the idea of the modern world in which everything is digitilized and how that may effect the capability that we have to trace records from letters and other such sources?”, “Is biological tissue linked to the greater idea of Cultural Heritage?”. These were all questions which raised some very interesting points in our minds.
After the class, it was time to head out again, and first we went to the Gallery Station or the China Market Stop to get our Sim Cards, and then we finally headed down to Dupont Circle, where we had the chance to do some real shopping and some window shopping. We stopped at this lovely little shop called “Bedazzled” which is all about these amazing beads from all over the world and at “The Second Story Bookshop” which I just have to visit again no matter what.
The day ended with us taking refuge for dinner at a place called “Bangkok – Thai Dining” and I was able to try a number of things here, again thanks to the wonderful suggestions of our tour guide and the genius man, Professor Mark. The things we tried included Spring Rolls, Minced Chicken with Roasted Rice, Chicken Satay, Raw Papaya and the main entree for me included the “Tilapio in lime Sauce” which is a sort of a fish which was much recommended by Mark. I did try some of the other things that everyone else ordered, but the highlight of the day was I think, food wise, Sticky Rice. It was the most wonderfully new thing that I have ever had in my life.
The day ended with a drive down the rainy roads of DC back to our hotel and now as i lie down with eyes heavy with sleep, i finish my last obligations of the day, by writing down about my day. Oh there was another unusual sight for me today, which I can only expect to see in Washington DC. As we waited outside the At&t for our Sims and all and especially for other people to get free, i caught sight of a bride and a groom all of sudden come up to the Metro and get their wedding photos and shoots being taken. It was one of the most wonderful sights I have ever seen.