Introduction to Chicago

Views on the Cruise

There are two ways of touring a city. One is to view it and the other is to know it through its history. I went for the latter. One can either go for a guided tour through land or by river. I woke up to a beautiful clear morning. After a hearty breakfast, I decided to walk till Shoreline Sightseeing stop. This was my first trail, the Lakefront trail. Its a beautiful walk along the lake. One gets to see different kinds of boats, yatchs, etc. By the time I reached there it was 10:45 am. I went to the ticket counter and requested a ticket for the 11:15 Architecture tour. The person at counter said, the 10:45 tour has a few minutes to start. So I was booked for the 10:45 Architecture tour. It was an brilliant experience. We got to see all the landmarks of the city.

Sights at the trail

The guide started with the history of Chicago and then went on to describe each landmark. It was as if we were getting introduced to Chicago. For the first time, there were restaurants with not only car parking but also boat parking. We came accross many bridges. There were buildings with European Architecture as well as Modern glass buildings. People sitting on restaurants, bridges and steps waved at us as we passed them. I was so engrossed that I did not even realize how 75 minutes passed. Then I went to Navy Pier. It was a children’s world. There were rides, food, toys, museum, everything. The next time you visit Chicago, try meeting the city through the cruise.

Navy Pier

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Chicago Traveler

Buckingham Fountain

There are certain stories which are so motivating that they become promises. The story of Swami Vivekananda addressing the Chicago religious conference of 1893 holds a special position in my heart. I was 9 or 10 years old, going through a stage fright when mother told me this story. That was the first lesson in public speaking. I was so inspired that I made a promise to myself, I would visit that stage one day. Years passed, I completed my education and started working. There were many times I passed through Chicago, once my flight got cancelled and I spent a night in Chicago. I began to wonder why I always have long stop overs in Chicago. It took me a while to realize, it was the promise of that 9 year old me.

Downtown

Garden

Finally last Friday, I visited Chicago. That auditorium is part of The Art Institute of Chicago. By the time I checked in to the Hotel, it was almost time for the Museum to close, so I wandered around. The downtown presents an amazing combination of History as well as modernization. The heat of the summer is cooled by the Buckingham Fountain. It is surrounded by sprawling gardens. One can easily spend hours roaming around it. There are ice cream and juice shops nearby to sit and talk. But I started walking towards the cloud gate. Although it was Friday, the streets were crowded with tourists. I passed through the Art Institute which was about to close. The Cloud Gate was another beautiful sight, everyone wanted to see their reflection. It is very entertaining to see people coming up with unique poses for their photos. A walk in Gardens, Cloud Gate and Buckingham Fountain. That was my first day as Chicago traveler.

Cloud Gate

An event for Readers

Have you ever felt an event was organized for your hobby. I enjoy reading. Every summer book exhibitions are conducted but this year I had the fortune to enjoy an event for Reading. The Summer Reading Extravaganza was held on 9th July 2019 at the Carnegie Mellon Library. There were different events like voting for favorite author, chess competition, library tour, food trucks, etc. The best was the puppet show which had 5 stories each with a unique message. Although there were chairs in the room, the kids were overjoyed when it was announced that they can sit on the carpet just in front of the stage. One cannot miss the excitement in their eyes. It was so infectious that it brought out the child in me.

We used to spend the afternoons at home during summer vacations. I would end up with sun stroke every time I went out during afternoons. So I would spend hours reading different kinds of books and children magazines. The library also organized a Summer Reading 2019, where one can register and enter the books they read. There are targets and prizes for readers. I too registered for this activity. Personally I felt as if my hobby had become a person and was inviting me to pursue it. Incase I slow down there are reminders on buses, library walls, etc. Many of my friends enjoy reading but were not aware of this event. These are the events where the kids should be taken as they meet books in a different way. I thank the library and the city for organizing such an extraordinary event.

Independence Day Celebrations

The results of the recent elections in India, show that leadership is based on hard work, effort and vision. It is not based on heredity. I have always considered it a blessing that we have a constitution, which gives us the freedom to dream and achieve. Independence day is the time to show our gratitude for this freedom. I always attend the 4th July parade in Monroeville. The participants are different institutions like the church, schools, local bands, fire brigade, etc. They throw candies and chocolates at the waving crowd. Its so nice to see families standing on both sides of the road and cheering them. The best part is the kids, who come with their bags, baskets or buckets to collect the sweets.

The parade starts at 9:00 am. People come with their folding chairs and umbrellas and sit on both sides of the road. The performances by bikers, gymnasts, dancers makes it all the more enjoyable. As the parade proceeds, it feels as if the entire city has become a family. Fireworks are organized in different parts of the city at night. Independence day is the time to show our respect for the freedom we have. Its so nice to see some families make it a tradition to attend the parade. These traditions make the children aware of the constitution and their responsibilities. I just hope these traditions are made in all families everywhere and all of us respect the freedom. Happy Independence Day.

Father’s Magic

My clipboard at the end of college

There are few rituals we used to do before exams like preparing a schedule for studies, questions for last minute revisions, ensuring stationary was up to date, etc. One of them was to pull out the clip board and clean it. I had a brown clipboard. By the time I was in fifth grade, my clip board was so scratched that it had started looking old and worn out, just like the bark of an old tree. A week before the exams, I told my father, its looking so old as if it was older than me (I was 10 years old then). My father smiled and said “Leave it to me”. Two days later, there was a bright yellow clipboard at my study corner. I was surprised because a yellow clipboard was not available in the stationary stores that I knew then. That year everyone asked me about my clipboard in the exams. I was so happy that I wrote my name twice on it. The bright yellow always brought a smile even in the nervousness of exams. I continued to use the clipboard till the last exam of my college.

One might be wondering Papa must have brought a new one but my father was practical. In spite of all the scratches, the clipboard was good enough to continue a few more years. All the doors of our house were being painted at the same time when I mentioned my old clipboard. My father painted it with the left over paint and then nicely quoted it with varnish. It was properly dried and placed at my study corner. These were the moments when the magician in my father came out. There are many instances when our fathers become magicians in addition to being our friend, philosopher, guide, cheerleader and parent. On this occasion of Father’s Day, let us take an opportunity to appreciate the creative genius that we have as our Father. Happy Father’s Day.

An evening with Musical Fountain

Summer is the time to be outdoors. An evening with a cool breeze is the best time to spend with family and friends. Most of us go out for dinner but the dinner becomes memorable when we have it outdoors. On a nice summer day, after cruising on the three rivers of Pittsburgh, me and my friends decided to have dinner at the station square.

The rhythm of the station square fountain with the music has always impressed me. Whenever I went there, it was always soft music. That night the fountain was dancing on rock music. I had never seen it before. The water came out in different colors. It was majestic. The place was full of kids. Each time the water came out, they would clap. We looked for a restaurant with a view of the fountain. Although we were hungry, we waited till a table on the patio was available. Once seated we ordered our food. The best part of eating outdoors is no one bothers about being loud. Dinner with a fountain dancing on rock music along with the cheerful laughter of kids, is simply mesmerizing.

When we look back, the time spent with family and friends brings that warm smile on our faces. We often wonder about special locations to be with our dear ones but its the company which makes the place special. The best place would be a location where one can speak and laugh as loudly as one wants. A simple meal with the loved ones on a moonlit sky or a garden with cool breeze is all one needs to create those special moments which become treasures of memories.

First Bicycle Ride

It is May, the month of summer vacations in India. I am still moved by the Bicycle Museum. I was remembering my 9th birthday when my father gifted me a bicycle. I was expecting a kid’s cycle with training wheels but I got a regular bicycle for grown-ups. I was not even tall enough to ride that bicycle. For the first two days, it was a big challenge to be able to pedal. My father tried to help me for one week. He would never let go the cycle. I was unable to learn. After that he had to leave the city for work.

The day after he left, I tried and tried but was barely able to pedal. Everytime I mounted the seat, the cycle would tilt on one side and I had to get down. Those were summer vacations, we would cycle till late night until our mother would call out for dinner. A few days later, on a late evening, I thought about staying on the seat and trying to balance the cycle instead of stepping down. I put my feet on the pedals, positioned myself on the seat and tried to put my weight on the other side when the cycle began to tilt. The cycle was steady for 2 seconds and then it happened. I fell down and immidiately felt the ache in my knees and elbows. But I didnt have the time to pay attention to it because I had discovered the trick to balance myself on the seat and that after balancing one must continue pedalling to keep the cycle steady. I was so anxious to confirm this discovery that I forgot the pain, again mounted the seat and balanced my weight. I started pedalling as soon as the cycle was steady. My mother was just about to call out for dinner when she heard me shouting “Mom!! Look I can ride a bicycle!!”. She saw an excited me cycle towards the house with bleeding knees, scratched elbows, torn frock and a triumphant smile. She congratulated me and then started tending my wounds.

That day I learnt the first ever lesson of life. Our parents, siblings and near ones would always be there for us. They would support us but to achieve our dreams and aspirations, it is we who have to put in the effort. In the process, even if we fall, they would tend our wounds but to learn if need be we have to fall. One has to leave the fear of fall to achieve their goals.