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!


USA Diaries – Day 26 – Second Free day means a trip to Chicago!

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.

How many times do you get an opportunity to see a new city and you turn it down? The answer in my case will always be never! Anyways, we had this chance to go and see the city of Chicago, now the drive itself is almost 4 hours long and that meant that we were suppose to take an early bus to the city. That also meant that we needed to wake up at 4 am almost and board the bus by 5 am so that we can be in the city by 9 am. And have plenty of time to see some more amazing museums.. I have to say though that at this time I was becoming quite sick of visiting so many museums! I mean ya Cultural Heritage is amazing and all, but then there is always a limit to how much you can actually digest, and I was basically on the verge of having had enough!

Oh and not to mention, it was finally nice to visit a city which has buildings taller than 6 storeys. So we get off at the Bus Station and immediately make our way to the Field Museum of Chicago which is suppose to be a really renowned Museum! Since it is a Private, non-federally funded Museum, therefore there is a charge to enter the Museum, and this was something which was quite shocking to a friend who was accompanying us. I think the shock was immense for her since she belongs to Washington, the home of the free for all Museum, the Smithsonian. Oh well!

At this point, it needs to be stressed again that I have had enough of Natural History and Insects and Bugs, so that is the last thing on display where I will be rushing. I instead decided to make my way to the Genghis Khan Display which is a temporary exhibition being done by the Museum. The exhibition was nice and covered many facets of the life of Genghis Khan and then the overall period and the way people were living at the time. The exhibition was not limited to Genghis Khan, instead it even explored through a Dried out Mummy and Jewels and Clothes, etc about how people were living at that time. Since it was a temporary exhibition, therefore I have not been able to take any pictures of the display, but for me it ranged as an average – not too good and not too bad – but definitely worth a lot of knowledge.

After this display I made my way to the African Display – the display was colorful and very lively and it explored the Cultural Diversity of the African people and how they are different. It dwelled into the history of the Africans – and my topic of interest – Slavery! I think the topic has become a major interest of mine since I read Alex Haley’s wonderful Autobiographical work “Roots”. I have said it many a times and still, I will say it again, that this book defines me and who I am and what I believe and what I follow. I really loved the display in which they have tried to capture the true essence of the problems that were faced by generations of African Americans and how they were treated. The truly amazing part of it was that they have even dug out some of the Ads that were placed in the newspapers and magazines to advertise the coming of the new ships with the slaves. 

I also had the chance to make a round of this Mummy Exhibit that they have. The exhibit entrance is through a Pyramid shape itself and then you go to the basement where you can get to see some real mummies.  The dioramas that they have in the exhibition are truly amazing. They are so realistic and they show the entire process of mummification, from the bandages to the gutting of the human body. It was too cool!


After that, we decided to head off to Lunch and a friend of ours kept screaming that we just had to try the Deep Dish Pizza that is in fact a specialty of Chicago. For lunch, the place selected was Hyde Park, which is located in the heart of University of Chicago. It was nice to see the University and the wonderful Architecture that is the synonymous with Wonderful Architecture.

The place for Pizza which we decided to try was a little restaurant called “Edwardo’s”, a small cafe sort of thing, with a wide variety of options available. We decided to have a cheese pizza, with chicken as an add on. The wait for the food was quite a while, but when it did come, I have to say, that it was worth the wait.


After lunch, I headed off to Robbie House, instead of the Oriental Institute, which was the original plan, but I was pretty sure that if I have gone to another Museum, I would have simply thrown up. Plus I had other plans, and these included a visit to the wonderful Robbie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which reflects it Prarie House Theory. The house is not allowed to be photographed from inside, but the feel of being inside a house which I have heard and read so much about, was truly wonderful. And it goes without saying, that a few books were also bought.

While we were taking a tour of the house, the bells from the Rockfeller Church started to ring as loud as they could, and they just would not stop. It turned out that this is a practice for the Concert that they have every Sunday, therefore I just had to make a stop at this wonderful Church. The building and the interior inside was so wonderful, it simply took your breath away.

I decided to make a short stop at the Oriental Institute as well, which seemed to be completely dedicated to the Art and History of the East. There were so many wonderful artifacts that were on display and having only 15 minutes in hand to see that Museum was hardly Justice in anyway.


On the way back, I was able to get a chance to see the Sears Tower,, but from very very far away!

And that was more or less the end of the day – with a 4 hour journey back to Madison. I was really glad I got this chance to see Chicago.. it was truly so different from Madison and Washington…. It was nice to finally see a real city!




USA Diaries – Day 24 – A Field Day to Milwaukee!

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. 

Since I am late with this update,I am going to cut straight to the chase and give you the main headlines, and considering the fact that it has been more or less raining since the day we have come here, there has been little or no action. The day was dedicated to a field trip to Milwaukee, which is like an hour or so drive away from Madison. This also meant that the day had to start pretty early.. .again early for us, normal for these Advanced Americans… that is at 7:45 am. We were to travel in style that day, that is in our Presidential Limousine.

In Milwaukee, we had to meet and see this wonderful College or Letters and Science, which is one of the oldest institute offering a Certificate in Museum Studies. The place appears to be amazing, and so is the course. the program is 2 years long and offers hand on experience to the student, which is one of the reason why the classes are kept to a minimal. We were given a tour of the facilities and we were able to see first hand, how Institutes and Students who have little or no budget work. It was a nice experience for us, since we were able to get an understanding about how we can do certain things, considering that in our countries Budget is always an issue.

The Museum Studies program is being done in coordination with Milwaukee Museum, and believe me when I say this, that the Museum is one of the most impressive Museums I have seen. The details and the way the exhibition had been conducted was really good.So without ado, here are some wonderful images of the Museum!

PS – Since it was raining the rest of the day was all about being indoors. The only highlight of the evening was that I went out and got pizza for myself… And it was raining and chilly like anything!


USA Diaries – Day 22 – Hello, Madison!

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. 

Day 23, 08-8-2012 – In my hotel room, Madison, WI, Local Time: 2241, Pakistan Time:09 August 2012, 0840

Apparently for a flight at 10 am you need to get up at 6 am… And I say this from experience! And let me add, that so early in the morning I am not a very nice or friendly person! This is simply for information!

Anyways, we wake up early, run with our suitcases out of this wonderful hotel and land at the Ronald Reagan Airport.. where we all await to know the dreadful news… Our luggage (or at least mine for sure) is overweight. When I loaded my luggage 22 days ago from the Karachi Airport, it was a mere 16 kg or 32 pounds approximetly. Today, when I had the same suitcase weighed, it was almost 79 pounds….. and it was all books… Oh well, there is nothing which I didnt already predict! Anyways, I get my luggage in and then I ask this old sweet man about which gate is my flight to be depart from.. I am travelling by Delta.. the old man however tells me to go to United Terminal.. that is located on the other end of the Terminal….. of course this is something that I will only get to know that much later. Not only do I go to the United terminal, I even clear security. I get done with the entire screening process and go inside the lounge and sit at this particular gate and wait.. until…. things start to seem fishy! I check from the counter and my suspicion is cleared! I am in the wrong Terminal. So I walk back to the Correct terminal, which guess what, is on the other end of the terminal!

But hey, you can never expect me to complain about getting lost… I loved the entire experience!

So I am finally at the right terminal and I board the right flight, and then after an hour or so of flight time, we are in Dallas, Texas Airport. Now I have been quite shocked about the Airports that they have in US, and this one was no exception… I mean there is a bloody train which moves inside of the Airport… I mean INSIDE! I mean you can be walking on those escalators, and all of a sudden you can see a train moving from one end of the Airport to the next! And there were around 78 or so gates in that one terminal alone, and I am sure there were other such more terminals!

And from Dallas Airport, we took another flight that took us to Madison! Now the plane in which we were suppose to travel was ridiculously small. I mean it was a matchstick! I don’t even know how we fitted into that plane, but anyways we did, and after another hour or so we had shifted … from our room in DC…

..with out combined Kitchenette …

…. into this..

So, the place is amazing! It is small and petite and tiny, but there is a huge difference between the crowd of DC and Madison. Since Madison is a University town, where you can see these kids getting the ideas of liberalism for the first time, therefore there is a huge difference in the way they dress to even the way they flaunt their cigarettes in public, this being particularly true for women. But the women in DC were much more sophisticated and I think I hardly saw anyone smoke in public like the way I saw in DC.

So as soon as we reached our hotel, we were greeted by Dr Mark Kenoyer – the larger then life personality, who instructed us to put our luggage and come out for lunch with him. We headed to this Indian Pakistani Restaurant called “Mirch Masala” and I tell you, it was God send. I mean after days I had vegetables and desi food, and Achar (pickle) and roti…and Achar! I mean it was heaven! This is not to say I don’t enjoy what I am eating now, but I loved the desi food!


I think I hardly ate anything except this!

So, when the sun had gone done a bit we were given a private tour of the town by Dr Kenoyer and we got to see Madison with all its history and even the minutest of detail.

A sign of protest against the freedom to carry weapons in Public taken up by the various Shopkeepers!

We took a tour around the University Campus where we even had the chance to see the Boating Club in full swing…. yes they have a boating Club!

We finally went up the Anthropology Department and from there we had the chance to see the various classes and rooms, before we finally took our spot in front of the amazing Bell Tower!


I think we sat on that spot for about an hour, or until it was already 7:30 and it was time to head back for dinner, which we had at this amazing Restaurant,

And we had such a variety of food that even I don’t know what we did have last night. I know there was Sushi involved, and there was Raw Fish, and there was a Shrimp Head, Saki and fried Ice-cream. Let me just say for the record, I didn’t like Sushi… the sea weed around it, I just didnt like!

Do you really think there is anything more left to the day when you wake up at 6 am and have had dinner?