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 25 – Poetry Dreams becomes a Reality!

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.

Hello! The last week or let’s say the last stretch of this journey is really turning out to be exhausting. Not only are we losing our mind, trying to get everything done, but even the timetable that we have is making us feel like we are trying to just pack in everything… and let me say that such a thing tends to takes its toll. Plus I miss home! One month is long enough to stay in a place which is the complete opposite of what your home used to be.

So Day 25 (5 more days to go) started off yet again at 9 am in the morning, but today we were supposed to start off our day at the Chazen Museum of Art and meet the director, Russell Panczenko. We were to understand the main purpose of the Museum and how it relates to the University as a whole. But my interest remained in understanding that in contrast to Washington DC, which is a big tourist destination, how a town like Madison attracts crowds and people towards it. Well the answer given by the Director was the most simple and brilliant answer that I could have expected. They simply make and organize shows which would be a big attraction for the local crowd. And it is here and at this very moment, that I got to know the FLW (Frank Lloyd Wright) is owned by the whole of Wisconsin as their hero. And more importantly, Taliesin – which was his studio – is only a short distance away.

During this trip we also got a chance to see their Storage Units, which have been installed with State of the Art Equipment and also all that goes on Behind the Scenes – which included the Loading Deck, their underground additional Storage.

The building which we visited is the new wing of the Museum and an extension to the original building which had many of its own issues. The new building is one of the few extensions that I have ever seen which gives respect to the old structure. The extension carries on to the new interior the same feeling which is there in the old building. The most important feature for me of the overall complex is how even the bridge that has been made between the two buildings to link the old to the new, is not only to conserve the Pedestrian Mall, but also takes use of the bridge as the Gallery Space as well.

The end discussion of course with the Director himself was one which was one of the most interesting aspects of the day.

After the visit to the Museum we had the chance to grab lunch and today we decided to enjoy the many kiosks that seem to appear automatically on State Street during lunch hour. We were told to try the Jamaican Food, but I went to this other vendor which had Teriyaki Chicken, and sadly I have to say that the choice was not a very good one.

The second session of the day was dedicated to Dr Mark and his wonderfully amazing Experimental Archaeological Techniques. We started off first with understanding how the Faience Beads were made by the Harappans. We were told about the Stone that they use, the way they used to roll it in to form, the way they used to give it the signature and the art work that they did.

 

I made the cylindrical beads which can be centred by two circular beads!

Afterwards, while half the group – who in my opinion are completely crazy – decided to head off to the Stone Making Class, I opted for Pottery. Now this is something that I have always desired to do… in fact there was a time when I asked my mother to let me get admission in this Institute so I can actually learn it. But well… I finally got my chance on Day 25.

I have to say it is not as easy as it seems – but well then that seems to be truth about more or less everything in the world. On my very first try I shifted the clay off its centre on the wheel, and Dr Mark at this point had to come to my rescue. I then started again to get in shape my Matki – which is more or less a small cup which is used to have drinks or water or something. Anyways, it was really hard and half the time I was just praying that Mark doesn’t lose his patience with me. But he is truly a wonderful teacher; he kept saying “This is the way you learn”!

The class ended, and we decided to head off to the hotel, but not without a few stops first. The first stop of the day was at this lady who was selling handmade antique jewellery. Afterwards we even called in a friend of my roommate – Katie. Now Katie has been working in Harappa Sites for more or less a considerable period. And it was with her that we headed off to Macy’s.

 

Dinner was a Nepalese affair…. That’s right.. We headed off to the Nepalese Restaurant on State Street. And I have to say that their menu had a lot of variety. I got myself a Nepalese Dish – I can’t recall the name – but the oddest part for me was that they served the Dal or lintel as an actual soup item. But it wasn’t so bad!

The rest of the evening consisted of a lot of Facebooking and Email Checking!

 

 

 

Day 3 of 30

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, 19-7-2012 – In my hotel room, Washington DC, Local Time: 2248, Pakistan Time:20th July 2012, 0747

Today was the first day of our course, which is taking place with the coordination of the Smithsonian. The day started off for me at 6: 30 am when I woke up after a 12 hour sleep – which was enough to cure any jet lag that I may have had. After that, we had a complimentary breakfast, before our in-charge took us to a local pharmacy to get our metro cards made, and then after that, we had our first metro ride. We took the metro from the Eastern Market stop all the way to the Smithsonian and then explored the National Mall a bit, before calling it a day. Afterwards ofcourse, we decided to take a walk around the block to find a place where we can have dinner. The place we stopped was a Thai Food place and I had duck – my first ever duck.

Here are some of my pictures from the day