USA Diaries – Day 30 of 30 – Everything must come to an End!

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 days I will be posting here all my weird thoughts and commentary.

PS: I haven’t kept my promise.. I didn’t post each and every day and now I am trying my best to update all the remaining days from the sanctuary of my Home Sweet Home. 

I am not going to lie, but by this time, we were so tired that we were more or less ready for it to be the End! I mean I loved it, I enjoyed every minute, I had the best time of my life, but ask me to do it again in a month and I will, but at the point, I think I just wanted to sleep and get back home!

The last day was full of things to do! It was all abuzz with running from one place to the other. In the morning, we headed off to the Beloit college where we not only got a chance to see the Museum (another Museum, Yah! ) but we also had a great time meeting the staff and the people who work there and get an idea about the curriculum that they have designed.

This is the first Museum which we have seen which had the Storage display approach to it, in which they put everything in their storage on display. The Main room is called the Box, and it is quite literally a Box with items and artifacts on display from the floor to the ceiling.

 

They have so much material from so many places, that it is insane, and seeing all those material right there, out there on display for us to see, was a marvel. Although it was pointed out that this is a wrong approach, artifact and collection wise, I have to say that for some reason I really enjoyed it. I actually loved the display.

Another interesting thing was the displays that they have done within drawers.. Yes you read it right, in drawers. Now I don’t know why they have done it the way they have done it, but it is truly a wonderful approach.

 

 

We even saw a Samurai Sword!

We headed off towards Madison at around 12, when we first made a stop at the hotel just in case we want to have a bite or something, before we finally made our way to the department and give our presentation. It was nice to have this ending and listen to the plans that people had for what they will be doing for when they head back. It was also nice to see that this is what we have learnt and just has that feeling in the pit of our stomach that maybe just maybe we can do something that will have an impact.

After the presentations were over, we all got out certificates….And I am not uploading that picture, since it came out really bad!

And after that, we were all out of the door, since it was already 5:30 and we were supposed to leave for dinner at 6:30 ….. not much time at all people, since I had vowed that at least on this last day, I am going to freaking get dressed even it is the last thing that I do.

But I still managed to make a stop at this event that was happening right next to my hotel, but sigh, I only had enough time to take a picture of it!

But before we could go or dinner, we made another stop and that at the famous house of Dr Mark Kenoyer.. Now I had rumours about the fact that his house is more of a museum! But I never could have guessed that it would be that much of a Museum. Every single thing in his house is a piece of art.. every drawer, cabinet, object, sculpture, even the bathroom is an antique piece! And the number of books, I mean it is amazing how he makes sense of it all. But well, I have always believed that even in chaos there is order, so I sort of appreciated the craziness, which may be made me feel good about my own desk at work (you don’t want to see it).

Dinner was at a restaurant called Swagat.. and as soon as we were about to enter the restaurant, it started to rain. The dinner was a lovely affair, with lot of chat and gossips and reliving of certain moments! The food was amazing, but there was still a feel of good bye to it. And then there was the final goodbye.. we said bye to all the new friends that we had made, we said good bye to Madison and then we started to worry about packing…… that would pretty much take the entire night.. that and gathering up of pictures from each other.

We made another stop at around 10 pm.. to the department.. and OMG! It was so weird being in a university department at that time.. I mean it was cool weird, everything being all dark and you being the only one who is wandering the halls. We actually came back to check up on the beads and the pots that we had made. We took our time cleaning them and putting them in small packets for everyone.

The rest of the night was all about packing and making sure the luggage was under the weight limit, and boy, was that a juggling act or what! You measure one and it is 57 lbs, so you measure the other one and it is 47 lbs, and so you return to the first one and reduce the weight and then you return to the second one and check it. Then you try to find space in your hand carry…. I mean OMG! That was just plain insanity!

Oh but well! It was the last night! The last time I will ever sleep in this bed, the last night that I will spend in US … For the time being! And the last night that I will be away from home .. that is if you don’t count the weird day and night transition that you go through when you are flying back and have no idea, when there is day or night!

I seriously had the most amazing time. I did things I had never imagined I would be able to do, and I saw things that I could not have thought about seeing in my wildest dreams. My entire perspective has changed about things and what can be done and made possible. It was like an opening, through which I can see how the other side worked, and take back with me all that I can and try to make it work in my own context.

I don’t think that despite writing all that I have written I can truly ever describe what this trip meant to me and what I have felt in those 30 days. But I realize the fact that it was a once in a life time thing and I am never going to forget it!

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USA Diaries – Day 29– Approaching the End!

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 days I will be posting here all my weird thoughts and commentary.

PS: I haven’t kept my promise.. I didn’t post each and every day and now I am trying my best to update all the remaining days from the sanctuary of my Home Sweet Home. 

Nothing could have symbolized the end of the tour more than Day 29… it just felt like things were coming to an end, and the first hint was the lack of activities planned for that day.. we finally get a break.

We had an early morning session with my new friend Katie Lindstrom, who talked about this software that she has developed for keeping a database for her research and the archaeological objects, but since it was not my field, therefore I hope people would forgive me for the lack of interest that I took in it!

Later on, we made a stop in the Experimental Lab of the Department and we had a chance to take a look at the pots that we had made the previous day. The pots were still not baked but were dry enough for us to put weird paint and art work on it, much to the embarrassment of any soul of Harappa that may have survived or was looking down upon us. But hey, this is how you learn right?

 

Dr Kenoyer then took us to show his outdoor experimental lab, which I have to say was one hell of a cool thing. They had made on that site the same sort of material that was being used at that time by the Harappans, for example, you have a kiln that is made in the same way and used the same technology. And all over the site, you can find material that has been made by the students – from seals to pottery and all of it is lying around the site. I mean for a person coming from Pakistan, this was truly an amazing thing to see. I mean I would love to be taught like this and be in that sort of classroom.

 

We got an early off so that we can prepare our presentations for the next day – our last day that is – and write the paper that we were suppose to regarding what we have learnt and how we plan to apply this back when we get home. So on the walk back, I see a CUPCAKE SHOP! I love cupcakes, I don’t think I can emphasize that enough! And OMG ! Were those things amazingly delicious or what! I mean, they were AMAZING!

The rest of the day was limited to being stuck in the room and working on our presentations. I don’t think we could have been more laid back than that!

DISCLAIMER: We really didn’t do anything that day! The lack of activities doesn’t mean that I am forgetting details, which will be proven by my last post regarding this trip!

 

USA Diaries – Day 28– Is it safe to say that Cahokia was overrated?

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 days I will be posting here all my weird thoughts and commentary.

PS: I haven’t kept my promise.. I didn’t post each and every day and now I am trying my best to update all the remaining days from the sanctuary of my Home Sweet Home. 

I am sorry.. you need to forgive me… I am not an archaeologist and you can not expect me to feel the same way about a pile of earth the way the rest of the group might have felt. But I am skipping ahead.. and therefore let me start the details of the day from the very beginning. By this time, it is a granted fact that day just has to start early and there is just no getting around to it. But since I am not a breakfast person, I headed off to the Arc, which I was unable to see the night before. Now, I was a bit scared since the affairs of last night were more or less very much alive in my memory. But the park and the overall area was so breath taking that all my concerns went out of the window. The Arc is a splendid structure, but since I didn’t know the concept behind it … which is very important for me to have any feelings for anything ….. I lacked that connection with it, which I was able to establish with, lets say, the Vietnam Memorial.

By the time I got back to the hotel, people were more or less there and just waiting for a signal from Mark to start loading the van. And within 15 minutes or so we are all ready and heading towards Cahokia. Now I didn’t google Cahokia or anything, because I like to keep this element of surprise and be completely taken away by the very first sight… And in this case too, it was very much true, but just not in the way I had hoped.

So while my Archaeologist friends were all taken away by the sight of the site, for me it was nothing more than a pile of sand. I am sorry… I am really sorry for hurting anyone’s feeling this way.. but that’s what it was .. for me! When they said to us, that lets move along to the next site, I really thought that maybe the next one will be much grander town like say Mohen-jo-Daro – which after this, feels like a real beauty! But the next one was just more of a mound!

Although you do get a pretty good view of the city from the top!

However, the Museum was quite another story! I think I was simply in love with the Museum display and the way everything was organized. My friends comment was also justified.. She said that there were not so many archaeological artifacts retrieved from the site as she had expected to be here.. but the Museum Director in his defense did say that it was because most of those artifacts were displayed in the State Museum.

The Museum was so amazing. The tour of the Museum starts with an Orientation Film, which tells the story of the site and how people lived and how the mounds got developed. At the end of the movie, the backdrop is suppose to rise up to the Cahokia Village display, which I should say would have been quite dramatic, but unfortunately the backdrop wasn’t working and thus we were deprived of this privelage.

 

But the entire museum is a must see, yes there are not many artifacts from the site and therefore, thank god I am not an archaeologist, because I didn’t once think about this. I just thought that the info being given was nicely divided up under different headings. And the display and dioramas were simply to die for. I loved it!

And then how can I forget the village scene display! Amazing!

On the way back, we stopped at an Antiques Mall, and I could have gotten lost in that place, it was so huge and amazing. I mean it had everything in it that I could have every thought possible! But there was so much to see that you need an entire day to go through it. I mean for heaven’s sake, one of us actually found archaeological artifacts and stone tools from this place. I however found these really amazing sign boards and all!

The rest of the way was just another drive lasting around another 6 hours. Dinner was a Chinese affair, and I liked what I had, although I cant recall the names of the dishes which I had.

I got nominated for an award which has cupcakes as its symbol!

I could not possibly be more happy than this, because not only have I been nominated by a person who just happened to bump her way on to my blog, but she actually liked a post that had a picture of a window… I mean, you would think that winning an award would be about something big and significant, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that it would be due to a window in a land where I could not even dream of going!

Okay, so the thing is that I have been nominated for an award which is called the “Super Sweet Blogger Award”….

Cupcakes…. 🙂

…..and the award has an important place in my heart, since the award is symbolized by cupcakes, which are like the most awesomely wonderful thing in the entire world….and I think I am addicted to them… or at least prone to be addicted to them.

So I am not sure what I am suppose to do, so I am just going to follow the lead of the person who has nominated me! So here goes nothing!

Rules

1. Give credit to the wonderful person who chose to nominate you.

Thank you so very much Denise for nominating me for this award. I cant even begin to tell you how wonderful this has been for me and how flattered I feel. I am glad you found my blog, and that we were able to share some of our interest. I seriously loved the brief discussion that we had, and it was just so nice to know that some one would pay such attention to a picture I posted about which I wasn’t even sure.

I haven’t been a regular blogger, but this award has really made me feel so good. So thank you so very much. Here is the link to her blog post where she talks about these windows, just in case some of you are also interested.

http://speakingabouttravel2.wordpress.com/about/

2. Answer the “Super Sweet” questions.

      Super Sweet Questions

1.  Cookies or Cake?  

Answer: Of course, CAKE! I don’t know what has happened but since a few years, I am all into cakes. I don’t like any other sort of desserts, except for cakes. I just loooovvveeeeeeeee them! I can’t live without them!

2Chocolate or Vanilla?

Answer:   Chocolate or maybe Vanilla…… It all depends on the weather!

 3. What is your favorite sweet treat?

Answer: Cup Cakes…. of all and any sorts. I especially liked Tiramisu… I mean it was just so heavenly!

4. When do you crave sweet things the most?

Answer:  Afternoon. right after lunch and then again right after dinner, but I don’t think I would mind having them for breakfast even.

5.   If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?

Answer:  I never really had a nickname ever, somehow we were never that family who would give each other nicknames. So I don’t know… I am just clueless about this.

6. Nominate a “Baker’s Dozen” of 13 blogs.

So this is the really scary part.. I follow a lot of these sort of blogs and a lot of them are about food, and some about designing. And some are just plain about families and their stories, but I will try to do it.

First up is,

http://annies-eats.com/

Okay so you lady have the most wonderful food blog, but what is truly wonderful about you – and your blog – are the CUPCAKES! I mean my goodness, you can whip up a cupcake out of almost anything and they all look – and some of them even taste – so wonderful! I love you and your blog…..I actually stalk all your cupcakes recipes like a mad maniac! I only wish my frosting would stick as superbly as yours! 😦 The one I tried and I just lovvveee is this one! 

http://cookclicknshare.wordpress.com

Okay so your blog has been a recent discovery but I simply love your recipes, they are simple, hassle free and on a budget. And I am a big fan of your food photography… I am dying to try out your this recipe! 

http://taza-and-husband.blogspot.com/

This blog is something that reaffirms my belief in “you can still have it all”. The blog is about this sweet, lovely family, and they seem to make it work. It really is something just touches you in the deepest corner of your heart, and hey, the pictures are not so bad either. I really think that they are one hell of a cute family and I really enjoy reading about them and their adventures.

http://crabbyoldfart.wordpress.com

Despite your hatred against my generation, I am simply in love with you and your blog. You have some of the most outrageous things to say at time and despite everything, they actually seem to make sense about some of the most obnoxious ones of our generations. In fact, at times I am forced to agree with you! Oh well, you are my most favorite Crabby old Man!

http://www.yellowtrace.com.au/

This blog has given me some of the most wonderful ideas and tons of inspiration. Whenever I am stuck, I go and open this blog up and just look at the many of its post. And always there is something or the other which takes my attention and makes me all energetic and hyper in the midst of these wonderful ideas!

http://www.thedaybookblog.com/

This is again one of those blogs which has me going all “AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW”… Its a blog about family and fashion, but my favorite part has always been the “Awkward and Awesome” Section”.

http://fifteenspatulas.com/

A food blog again, this has some wonderfully simply recipes, and I have actually tried a few of them. She clearly puts a lot of effort in this blog and it is quite visible by just looking at the pictures.

http://myspicetrail.com/

A food blog… yet again… but this mostly covers Indian and Pakistani dishes, and therefore is one to which I refer to quite a lot for some ideas and recipes, and just to compare how she does thing and then steal away some ideas.

http://peasandcougars.com/

You are funny! I like you! but you are my kind of funny, the sarcastic funny… the dark side funny… I like you… Did I say that already? I don’t care.. I still like you!

http://themiddlestsister.com/

You remind me of my sister and the things we did when we were kids.. obviously it wasn’t that much of a party since I only have one sibling, but I still enjoy your work.. Not to mention, I am always amazed by the amount of work you put into each image.

http://cerealwithafork.wordpress.com/

Simple one liners, that I sometimes understand, but more than usual, I scratch my head. But still, I look forward to finding an update from you in my inbox.

http://thebackgroundstory.com/

One image and a simple quote, and somehow you seem to pull some strings inside me! The quotes are always so touching and makes me wonder and ponder deep. I really enjoy your work!

http://www.pagesfrommymoleskine.com/

Again a place where I go to for my ideas and design inspiration. They are always very unique and always interesting and I cant thank them enough for doing what they do.

 

I hope that you people will accept it.. I have nominated you because you each contribute in some small way to my day, either by making me laugh, or go all puppy face, or all gaga, or hyped up with ideas, or something else along those lines. I hope you would accept these nominations and then pass it on.. if you want! No pressure…!

Thank you once again Denise! I really really appreciate it and I don’t think I can thank you enough for it!