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 5, 22-7-2012 – In my hotel room, Washington DC, Local Time: 2150, Pakistan Time:23 July 2012, 0648 (late updating)
The exhaustion of the entire week and the constant travelling and sightseeing finally took its toll on me yesterday night and thus the lack of updating on my stay in Washington yesterday.
Yesterday in itself was pretty exciting with the responsibility of our tour falling on the wonderful man and genius himself, Mark Kenoyer. The day started off with us first heading towards Union Station. I am finally getting the hang of all the Metro lines and the stations and how to go about around the system.
The first stop on the agenda that day was Union Station, which we were taken to just to fimilarize ourselves not only with the Metro System but also to show us the place which can connect us to the world outside, meaning it is the place from where you can get trains and buses for anywhere in the US (there are plans in the air for taking a trip to NY one of these days).
Right as you step out of the Station, you can see the famous bell – and the only reason I know about it is because of the movie I saw, called National Treasure. The original bell, with the crack, is in Philadelphia and this was a replication of that bell.
The Postal Museum, also the part of the Smithsonian was the next stop on the agenda. The Museum is cited in the most beautiful building ever, and as per the lady on the reception, the beauty of that particular Museum is that it is quite. The beauty of the museum for me was how it traces the entire background of how Mail has been transported through different means and methods and every single one of them was then replicated and bought into the main lobby space of the museum. The other exhibits included the Security that is involved in transporting mail, before ending the entire story of the Museum on the emergence of the American Postal System and how it is working and has evolved over the years.
After the Museum, the next stop was the Building Museum. The history of the Museum was told to us by a Mr. Jeffrey, a friend of Mark who had worked at the Smithsonian for a number of years. The Building Museum was actually the pension office for the victims and the families of the casualties of the Civil War in America of 1812. The number of casualties of that war is still the largest number that America has lost in any war. Therefore the need for a large structure was felt. The lobby of the building is one of the biggest that America has ever seen and the columns in it are the most magnificent columns that I have ever seen. The building now holds various exhibitions and programs related to Building Material and the general Urban concerns.
Mr. Jeffrey had taken an appointment for us at the Tudor Place, which was the residence of George Washington’s step granddaughter. George and Martha never had kids of their own, but Martha had her own kids from her first marriage. Upon the death of Washington, his granddaughter inherited a lot of money as well as furniture, which included decoration pieces as well, from the Washington himself. The house covers an entire block in Georgetown, which is the original historical district of Washington. DC itself is built on a swamp and since Georgetown is located on a hill, it therefore became the perfect place to have the residences of the rich and the elite of that time, and has been one of the main places that I wanted to visit. One of my main questions remains even after my visit is that why would the residents of the house decide to call it the Tudor Place, considering that Tudor is a word which is quite specifically used for the British Monarch. Unfortunately, there is no evidence which leads us to the answer of this discovery.
You are not allowed to take picture inside the house itself, which is a shame. But the museum in itself led to a great discussion between us. The discussion included the differences between this sort of Museum or a House Museum as compared to a Smithsonian Museum. There was also a debate about how they conserve materials. Another interesting debate that was launched was the need to touch things. Mark pointed out to us that in USA, it is taught that you can not touch displays. However, this is the sort of discipline that has yet to be introduced in our society and museums.
We took a walk around Georgetown as we tried to find something to eat for ourselves. And I have to say, that it is as posh a area as I have ever seen before. The place on which we settled upon for food was Paolo’s, and again Mark ordered for us a wide variety of stuff so that we can have a taste of the various flavors which are there. We started off with our Appetizers which included Bread with this delightful Chuntey which had all the flavors of Asia in it, a Watermelon Salad – which of course I didn’t try, then there was a Eggplant Fried – which I thought was absoloutly brilliant, A Green Salad – which was too acidic and lemony for my taste buds and the final wonderful thing was the Calamari – which I was told is a squid and was the most wonderful thing of all.
At night, we randomly decided to step out and thus was fascinated when our random trip turned into a completely discovery of a “Paowo” – the celebration of Native Indian Culture and Customs. It was one of the most amazing things that I have ever heard with the most fascinating music. The music I felt were more or less like animal calls, and it is suppose to uplift your spirit and make it one with that of the universe. It is truly breathtaking.