Thursday, December 27, 2007

On My Way

In about eight hours, I will be on my way to Bangladesh by way of Dubai. This is exciting (if I ignore everything else, that is.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Finnegan in Indonesia

Two weeks ago, at a Lang on the Hudson lecture, Bill Finnegan, Rob's friend, spoke to the class about the Hudson and East River waterfront and its ties to New York and New Jersey mobsters. Finnegan is a writer for the New Yorker and an avid surfer (which, in New York City, is kind of hard).

I looked Finnegan up before he came to the class because his name was familiar. (We read him in Rob's Introduction to Non-Fiction class.) What caught my eye was the preface to many-a-biography statement describing his reportage of South Africa and apartheid: He went to Africa to fund his Asian trips. Now, since I'm interested in traveling around that part of the world, I wanted to hear what he had to say about it.

After talking to Finnegan about New York's waters and the such, I made my way towards Asia. I mentioned how I looked him up and read that he'd been to Asia. We started talking about Indonesia. He said that no one there really knows the language (Indonesian) which makes sense because the country is wholly made up of many, many different groups of people. This, in addition to the lack of conjugations (everything is spoken, or was spoken, according to Finnegan, in one tense--no pesky past perfect or indicative tenses to worry about) made the language pretty easy to pick up. He mentioned how he felt the Muslims were friendlier than other groups.

Granted, he was there in (I might be remembering this incorrectly) the 1960s, during Sukarno's dictatorship, but Finnegan made it seem just that more real to me.

There is more I can say about what I talked to Finnegan about, but I'll save that for next time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Berger's New York: A Frozen Hudson

Remember in The Day After Tomorrow where people walked on the Hudson and through the mouth of the harbor in search of someplace warmer? Yeah, and how you also thought that couldn't happen in real life because of the salinity of the Hudson? According to Meyer Berger's column, the Hudson used to freeze over all the time:


January 19, 1955

A group of middle-aged gentlemen in town got talking about the weather the other day and how modern winters are sissy periods compared with those they passed through in youth.

One stubborn fellow insisted that in 1918, when World War I was on, he and a whole group of small-fry from Ninetieth Street walked across the frozen Hudson to a point on the New Jersey shore--Fort Lee he thought it was.

The talk swelled to uproar at the bar, one faction holding that there has been no bank-to-bank freeze below Yonkers in modern times, though such a phenomenon was common in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Newspaper files show that a munitions worker named Fred Gabay crossed on the ice from Hastings in Westchester to a point on the New Jersey side in a free-up on Jan. 2, 1918. The same file indicated a Hudson River freeze-up just five years earlier but didn't say how far down it came.

The files also showed a photograph, published Jan. 13, 1918, showing Dr. Lee de Forest, the inventor, and Miss Nancy Mayo crossing the Hudson opposite 230th Street, New York City.

Edward Rindwood Hewitt of Gramercy Square, son of Abram Hewitt, who was Mayor of New York in 1887, remembers that the Hudson froze almost every year around that period, mostly about February.

It sticks in his mind, he says, because he and the other silk-stocking kids used to sail-skate from somewhere around Yonkers down to Manhattan's upper reaches. They did it year after year.

Mr. Hewitt, pushing 90 down, recalls clearly that one winter day in 1875 it was the East River that froze, and probably both rivers. That freeze is fixed in his memory because the cash boy for his grandfather, Peter Cooper, due at the office in Water Street that morning, didn't show up until mid-afternoon.

It turned out that ice had stopped the East Twenty-third Street-Greenpoint ferry, so the cash boy had come down the hard way. He had walked from Cooper's Bushwick glue factory to Greenpoint, then to the Manhattan shore and all the way downtown without wetting his feet.

The last ice-up anyone could remember was during the record cold of February, 1934, a bitter depression year when the thermometer only once struggled above freezing. By that time, though, river traffic was so heavy that there was no shore-to-shore ice bridge, only heavy floe accumulation.


That would've been so amazing to see. I need to get over to the Hudson when it snows, because I've never seen it like that before.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

With Bag, Must Go

In a hilarious op-ed about traveling overpacked, rollin' grannies, Seth Stevenson had this to add:

The swashbuckling adventurer hoists a leather rucksack, or a battered canvas duffel. He doesn't tug his bag behind him on a leash like a stubborn and especially boring pet.

Let's hope I look badass when I travel.

In Great Need of Something Far Away

This what I need right now, among other things.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What Awaits Me in Asia

I hope I run into elephants in Bangladesh and monkeys in India. Hell, and maybe even Shakira. At least she's better than Paris Hilton.

And this is the craziness that would've greeted me if we were making that stopover in Dubai. Oh well, there's always 2009 with Hannah during our proposed Middle East/Central Asia trip.

New York City From Above

I took this during my flight to Florida a year ago.

Despite all of my grumbling about being stuck in New York, there still is a certain charm to it that even a New Yorker can find every now and then. Just looking at the city from afar (meaning Brooklyn or Queens really) is something amazing--I can't think of any other skyline that remains (almost, just ignore all of the new, stupid development) classically magnificent without being gaudy.

While I want to get away from New York now, I know eventually, I will come back. Because you can't really escape New York.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bits: Majoring in Facebook, Russian Muslims & Traveling Online


"About Facebook! Forward March!" by Monica Hesse, from the Washington Post

Leaving the silly headline aside, this article is about schools, specifically the Rochester Istitue of Technology, Cornell and University of Michigan, expanding and developing their computer sciences program into the new frontier: online social networking. Or, as Hesse puts it: "You can now major in MySpace, sort of." There is even a scholar in the field: danah boyd (intentional lower-case), a graduate student who is an expert in all things Facebook, MySpace, Friendster (oh, 2003) and whatever else is out there. Hesse also delves into the voyeuristic characteristics (poetic, I know) of these sites, because you outrightly present yourself to people without having to physically do so, and say things to people that you know others will read (the Facebook wall).


"An overflowing of Muslim pilgrims from Russia for the hajj" by Michael Schwirtz, from the International Herald Tribune

Considering how the Russians (or Soviets at that point--my history is kind of rusty in that respect, I need to read up more on it) were courting Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries for arms and ammunitions sales, it's weird that Russian Muslims wouldn't be allowed to perform hajj, (one of the five pillars of Islam--you undergo a religious journey to the birthplace of Islam in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. My father was going to go in March and take me with him, but alas, it was too expensive. It would've been great because you can't enter Saudi Arabia legally as a tourist, only religious, work or family reasons. My dad's brother also lives there, and my father used to live there too.). Practicing Islam in Russia used to be forbidden too, but now, it flourishes, with mosques and head scarves everywhere.


"Travel guidebooks expand online presence" by Eric Pfanner, from the International Herald Tribune

My problem with online expansion in this case is, why would you want a guidebook online? If you're traveling, you don't want to be glued to your computer (this says a lot coming from me), you want to be out there, in the country, experiencing everything there is to experience. Having more online materials, therefore, would be detrimental to that experience. I love having an actual guidebook with me because I can whip it out whenever I need it. And Pfanner brings up the point of short trips to a region where you don't necessarily need the entire country guidebook, but I say that it's an investment. But this is probably just my love with print talking.

Monday, December 17, 2007

the great advantage of being alive

For you:

[by E.E. Cummings]

the great advantage of being alive
(instead of undying)is not so much
that mind no more can disprove than prove
what heart may feel and soul may touch
—the great(my darling)happens to be
that love are in we,that love are in we

and here is a secret they never will share
for whom create is less than have
or one times one than when times where—
that we are in love,that we are in love:
with us they've nothing times nothing to do
(for love are in we am i are in you)

this world(as timorous itsters all
to call their cowardice quite agree)
shall never discover our touch and feel
—for love are in we are in love are in we;
for you are and i am and we are(above
and under all possible worlds)in love

a billion brains may coax undeath
from fancied fact and spaceful time—
no heart can leap,no soul can breathe
but by the sizeless truth of a dream
whose sleep is the sky and the earth and the sea
For love are in you am in i are in we

[I love that Cummings used emdashes in his poems.]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Odyssey

I told him Afghanistan was the missing section of my walk, the place in between the desert and the Himalayas, between Persian, Hellenic and Hindu culture, between Islam and Buddhism, between mystical and militant Islam. I wanted to see where these cultures merged into one another or touched the global world.

I talked about how I had been walking one afternoon in Scotland and thought: Why don't I just keep going? There was, I said, a magic in leaving a line of footprints stretching behind me across Asia.

—Rory Stewart, The Places In Between


In May, the prospect of graduating scared me. I didn't want to let go of everything I'd come to learn so well—the newspaper, my classes and just the school itself.

The time after graduation is, as David Brooks so eloquently put it in his column, "odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood." He goes on to describe it as a period of trying and delaying: with so many different options, there's no rush to settle.

I am in the middle of my odyssey. Soon enough, I'll be in the real world dealing with real things, like salaries and rent and insurance.

I always had vague ideas about what I wanted to do in life—something involving writing, something not typical. In college, I came to realize that I wanted to do journalism—reproting on the unseen and unnoticed, like exploring the rivers of Bangladesh like the BBC did or how the television blackout affected Pakistanis during martial law, those are the articles I want to write.

New York is too familiar to me. This idea haunted me throughout my last year of college—I needed to get away.

At the time, I was finishing up my senior work, a collection of poetry and essays about traveling presented in a nicely-designed booklet. Reading about my previous trips mad me realize how much I missed traveling. I thought about my friend Jon and how he planned to move back to China, which he did. Then I thought about my professor, Peter Godwin, and how, after he graduated, he and his friends bought two former-military British cars and drove from England to South Africa, while writing and submitting articles to publications.

I needed something like that, something epic, where I could and actually be abroad. I needed an adventure to look forward to, a time where I knew I would be gone. I wasn't going to school, I didn't have a permanent job, I didn't have any obligations. I could be gone for as long as I wanted.

With this idea stuck in my head, my only question became, where?


I'm not sure how I came to decide on South and Southeast Asia. It was between that area and South America, but I was pulled more towards the former. Once I had that thought in my head, it was set: I would spend at least four months on the other side of the world.

I told my advisor, Rob, about this and asked what he thought about it. He said it sounded fine, but I needed a mission, a reason for going. Considering he's a freelance writer, it made sense he'd say that. If you're going to do something, you need a purpose, no?

I needed a purpose.

I learned as much as I could about the area. I kept up with the news, from both local and established papers. I read books, some recommended and others that I stumbled upon. I read Richard Lloyd Parry's In the Time of Madness, where he saw Indonesia fall apart in the late '90s amidst a corrupt dictatorship and vicious ethnic battles between the Dayaks and the Madurese. More than just simple reporting, Parry describes actually being there and witnessing pure savagery: decapitated bodies being dragged by motorcycles, heads displayed prominently along the road and cannibalism, while dealing with his reactions (fear) and his own life (broken heart).

I read Robert Byron's The Road to Oxiana. While he doesn't travel to the areas I planned on (instead he stirred a new obsession with Central Asia, anyone want to go to Iran with me?), he trekked across Afghanistan and Iran and wrote about his experiences, which is exactly what I want to do.

Next on my list was Rory Stewart's The Places In Between, an updated version of Byron's traverse. When I finished reading, I realized what my mission was.

This idea of interaction of cultures is why I picked Asia. I already have my own identity: a Bengali Muslim (though I'm not really much of a true Muslim, but that's besides the point). In South and Southeast Asia, there is a whole array of cultures and religions: Muslim, Hindi, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, Indian, Bengali, Pakistani, Indonesian, Madurese, Javanese, Thai, Dayak, Chinese, Catholic, Confucian and more that I'm not even aware of. Indonesia's official motto is even "Unity in Diversity."

Observing these exchanges and writing about them is what I want to do. There are so many different places to start. In Malaysia, Indians are protesting because they feel marginalized. After the Burmese protests in September, Bangladesh housed refugee monks. I read an article in the International Herald Tribune about Indians who pretended they were vegetarians so they could stay in their apartments and just imagine the lengths they went to hide their meat-consuming ways. Imagine having to do that in New York. You really can't.

Being South Asian, I wonder how that will play into my interactions, but I'll never know until I'm there.


Originally, I planned on going to Bangladesh first to reacquaint myself with my extended family and country. I read an article about the Moitree Express, an old train that used to run between Calcutta, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Being obsessed with transportation in between countries, I had my heart set on taking that train into India.

That idea has been scrapped, though, because I'm going to Bangladesh this winter with my family.

Now, my journey will begin in Calcutta, India. Taking the train, I'll stop in major and random cities—I've yet to set a solid plan—but I know I'd want to stop by Mumbai and Agra for the Taj Mahal. If possible, I'd like to make a short trip into Pakistan, or, at least, witness the border ritual.

After spending a month or so doing that, I'd fly out of New Delhi and land in Jakarta, Indonesia. Since it's the world's largest archipelago country, I would stick to the island of Jakarta and maybe hop on over to Sumatra.

Then, because of my love of boats and a need to vary my travel methods, I would take a boat into Malaysia. After exploring the country and visiting Kuala Lumpar, I would cross into Thailand by bridge, either taking a bus or train, or even walking if possible.

In Thailand, I'd judge their beaches in the south (which are supposed to be the best in the world) and work my way north to Bangkok, where I'd get a taste of the urban bustle.

My dad doesn't know about my plans, though he knows that I wanted to go to Bangladesh sometime in the spring/summer. He thought it suspicious and probably has an idea as to what I'm up to. When I tell my parents, though, I won't be asking permission; I'm merely telling them.

I already have contacts in those areas of the world, thanks to friends and editors, but there is more I need to do. I need to have more concrete ideas about what I want to do and see. I have all my travel guides (I swear by them) and I'm constantly on the look-out for anyone who can guide me, whether from experience or knowledge.

This all feeds into my larger life goals: writing and traveling. Being there, I know I I will constantly stumble over stories that I will be itching to share.


The idea of wandering alone resonated with me. I've done it in spurts—my first solo trip to San Francisco two summers ago comes to mind. Before that, I was too used to being with other people. Now, I can be alone, and sometimes, it's just better.

I want to do, as Robert Byron said, "wonder at a forgotten world." Though mine isn't as forgotten as his world of ancient mosques and villages lost within the barren deserts of Iran and Afghanistan, I will be in worlds that aren't often thought about.

Another book from my travel reading list was Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia, where I found this quote:

We talked late into the night, arguing whether or not we, too, have journeys mapped out in our central nervous systems; it seemed the only way to account for our insane restlessness.
—Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia
That insane restlessness brought Chatwin to Patagonia from England. That same restlessness drove Stewart all across Asia. The same, exact insane restlessness will take me to wherever I end up, hopefully.

There are many reasons driving my need to get away, some of which I just can't out it out there in actual words, with others including my fears of being stuck in a job I don't love.

I hope my fears and unidentifiable feelings go away once I buy that ticket and know for sure I will be gone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

San Francisco from the Air

That Powell's post made me think about that Portland trip, so I went through my pictures. I didn't take that much, but I found that picture up there. Although that day was a disaster (We missed our connecting flight because we didn't know which airlines it was under--our tickets didn't say, and, come on, whoever heard of Horizon Air? And there was a fiasco with Peter's expired passport, so we had to run through SFO many, many times.), I did come out with that almost perfect picture, if it weren't for window smudges, glare and maybe if I used a camera with a better resolution. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge connecting greater San Francisco to Marin County, the wonderfully blue San Francisco Bay and the expansive Pacific Ocean.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bits: Linking Westchester and SF to NYC via Path & Ferries, Dining Over Graves, Magdalen Island, Broken Elevator Woes & Israeli Operations


"Inwood-Westchester Greenway Link Planned" from Inwoodite

This pathway would connect upper Manhattan to my definition of upstate New York (or Westchester, same thing) and allow for access across the Henry Hudson Bridge, a bridge I've had the pleasure of rowing under twice. And they're improving/creating more bridges over the Harlem River


"Cross a Continent by Water to Another City by the Bay" by Patrick McGeehan, from the New York Times

With the impending contract closure with Circle Line Downtown, California-based Hornblower Yachts is joining the mess of traffic along New York Harbor. These different boats will or already have journeyed to New York from varied distances: New Orleans, random places in New England and most notably, San Francisco.

That lucky boat, the Freedom, left San Francisco Bay last month and has yet to travel through the Panama Canal to its eastern goal.

Both McGeehan and the chief executive of Hornblower, Terry MacRae, had wonderful, water-related (anyone know a better word for that?) quotes that I just have to put here:

MacRae: [Referring to the scheduled arrival] In the ocean, anything can happen.


This is not the Freedom's first oceangoing tour. Before its stint taking visitors to Alcatraz, it ferried summer-vacation crowds to and from Nantucket. It made the long haul from Nantucket to San Francisco Bay in April 2006, Mr. MacRae said, so it has proven its seaworthiness. "It's been in the ocean its whole life," he said.


"Indian Eatery Features Graveside Seating for 'Good Luck'" by Sam Dolnick, AP by way of the New York Sun

What's interesting about this restaurant in western Indian isn't its food or even its service; instead it is the location, more specifically, where it is built over, which, in this case, is on a Muslim cemetary. Customers sit right next to scattered gravestones throughout the restaurant.

And really, all that matters is:

Customers seem to like the graves, which resemble small cement coffins, and that's enough for him.


"An Island in the Hudson, Plundered in Search of Indian Artifacts" by Anthony DePalma, from the New York Times

I'm pretty sure I've gazed longingly at Magdalen (a.k.a. Goat) Island during MetroNorth trips. And now, after reading this article, I want to go there. Rock shelter? Right on the Hudson? People who go there illegally anymore (I'm all about that--still holding onto my Bannerman's Island dream)? Possible buried goods?


"At Bronx Court, Elevator Woes Slow Justice" by Leslie Kaufman, from the New York Times

Now that's just fucked up.


"Israeli Forces Move Into Gaza" by Steven Erlanger, from the New York Times

What pisses me off about this is that the Israeli troops claim to be performing "routine" operations "to disrupt rocket and mortar assults" along the border. Come on, seriously, am I supposed to believe that?

Underground Travels

[A piece I wrote during my short stint in Advanced Nonfiction]

Step down into this subway station, into this entrance to this submerged world trapped beneath layers of asphalt and concrete of Briarwood, Queens, into this transit hub that connects people to places, and instantly skin is warmed from the stale air entrapped below.

Walk down the first staircase that leads under this small neighborhood. Stroll through the hall lined with proudly displayed large paintings filled with swooping blues, dense greens and spattered reds from students of the local public schools (two of which I attended). Walk down the second staircase that delves deeper underground while cars speed along the massive transit artery that is Queens Boulevard above the station. Stroll through this hall where walls are decorated with water stains and unidentifiable grime.

It takes two minutes to finally arrive at the turnstile and underage (under ten years old, that is) kids slip under the shiny metal bars because the MTA is sometimes friendly. Responsible adults swipe their gold and blue MetroCards through the readers (oh the simple days when the sound of dropped tokens rang through the station). Now on the other side, walk down this final set of stairs and now they get to ride the subway.

Oh wait, step behind the thick, bumped orange line and never, ever lean over the very edge of this gum and liquid-stained platform (don't think about what kinds of liquid) because everyone believes religiously that whoever does is doomed to get hit by that rushing train.

Now at this final level of this subway station the walls are plastered with the name, VAN-WYCK. The black-tiled words are surrounded by a thick border of the same orange from the subway steats, and underneath in tiny letters, Briarwood is identified

Rest against the pale gray-blue-green beams that line the platform, stating the station name again in that sans-serif, white lettering on black background for those passengers looking to get home on the subway as it enters the station from the black, empty tunnels, each pale gray-green beam replacing the previous until the train slowly, gently rolls to a stop that always forces those passengers inside to jerk back a little, no matter how much they brace for it.

In that rushing air brought by the trains, there are vague scents of worn down rails that dingy signs warn to never touch in fears of electrocution, burning rubber, the very faint smell of intermingled people and their personal perfumes and of course, exhaust from the constant stream of trains coming and going to and from Manhattan and the deeper depths of Queens.

Linger for train as people crowd that same platform, waiting for whatever their destination may be: work, school (in New York, students wake up at ungodly hours like 6 a.m. to join the suited rush hour crowd on their way to work while they were on their way to learn) or gatherings. Waiting is always important for this subway system that is never set--sometimes the subway would immediately arrive with another right behind it, and other times, we waited minutes and minutes for that subway.

Sometimes, lean over side (oops, weren't supposed to, but it's thrilling, exciting, the feeling of being bad and dangerous all at once) and look to the left, eyes searching for headlights further down that mysterious tunnel, those yellow-white lights that meant one step closer to wherever the final destination or stop of the day was.

Shiny gray metal outside, inside three shades of orange fill the seats, divided by beige lines that match the hardly noticeable imprinted wallpaper, look out that smudged, scratched Plexiglas windows as the subway lurches forward, and Van Wyck becomes a mess of white, black, orange and pale-gray-blue-green blurs and then the sudden darkness of in-between tunnels and soon, they will arrive at another station, another stop, another world.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Outside World

The combination of watching Stand by Me at Kayley's a while back and taking the train between Cold Spring and Beacon, retracing our walking adventure around Dennings Point made me miss camping. I wish it wasn't so cold outside so we could wander the woods with a hand-drawn map again.

Josh and I went back to Selkirk a couple of weekends ago. For the sake of adventures, we decided to go visit Kaaterskill Falls, after deciding not to hike the Catskills for our lack of ice gear as Rob suggested we bring. After getting lost and being misdirected quite a bit, we finally found the stream from Kaaterskill Falls, but no actual waterfall. We parked the car in a little offset from the road, climbed over the railing and and slid our way towards the water. What fascinated me were the icicles. I wished it were summer because I know the water would've felt nice. We jumped from rock to rock, trying to get as far up as we could. Then we went back and warmed up in the car. Despite the cold, it was fun and something I needed.

Recently, I looked through my rowing pictures and I realized how much I missed it. Once spring rolls around, I plan to fully utilize the warm weather and everything I learned from the past year: camping, hiking, rowing, just about everything.

I want to explore Bannerman's Island, however illegal it might be. Rob and I talked about this during dinner at his house last weekend and he said that we couldn't use a Whitehall; we'd have to take a smaller boat, like a kayak, but that doesn't allow for many people. I need to think of something else. Or some way to work around that...

In the meantime, I'll dream of faraway tropical places and New York in the spring.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Berger's New York: Bunnies on 11th Street

The First Presbyterian Church on 5th Avenue and 12th Street.

While exploring Portland during a newspaper conference last year, Hannah, Peter, Brandon and I made sure to visit Powell's Bookstore, this amazing independent/used bookstore that blows Strand out of the water. As we explored the different floors and colored sections, I found myself drawn to the history section, more specifically, New York City history. There, I found Meyer Berger's New York. After flipping through it quickly, it intrigued me (and hey, the price was right, $5 for a hardcover? Hells yeah) so I bought it. Stashing it in my bag, I soon forgot about it until recently.

Meyer Berger was a New York Times reporter, with a short stint at the New Yorker under his belt. His column, About New York, explored the many stories New York has to offer, the kind of stuff I'm interested in. His column most likely gave way to blogs today like Gothamist.

So I want to share some stories from the book, which I will do as I continue to read the book.

One of the first stories I read as I went through the book was the following (if you know me, then you know why I chose this article):


February 26, 1954

Residents in lower Fifth Avenue who tip a companionable cup now and then have been bothered by the notion that they have been bothered by the notion that they have seen white rabbits hopping along the pavement, or down side streets.

Well it wasn't just a notion, but it's nothing to be concerned about. White rabbits do appear in Fifth Avenue and sometimes in Eleventh Street, just west of the avenue. They belong to the nursery school of the staid First Presbyterian Church in the neighborhood.

A gentleman called this newspaper the other night to report that he had caught up with a white rabbit in the avenue near the church, learned that its hutch was on the church grounds and put it back inside the church fence.

Michael Kennedy, a sturdy fellow who works around the grounds, says there's just one rabbit in the hutch right now, an all-white one that is the pet of the kindergarten class. Someoneno one's ever found out wholeft him on the lawn one night two years ago and the children adopted him. He has the run of the lawn sometimes and rarely strays.

Three weeks ago another unidentified benefactor left a second white rabbit on the lawn. Mr. Kennedy, after a talk with the kindergarten teacher, put him into the hutch with the first one.

They didn't get along, it seems, so Mr. Kennedy put the newcomer out on the lawn, and he's the one who keeps hopping through the fence to sample dangerous living. A Chinese laundryman brought him back after he'd gone almost as far as the Avenue of Americas in Eleventh Street.

The other day he was gone again, but Mr. Kennedy didn't know where and didn't seem to care much. "That second one was too quarrelsome for a rabbit, if you ask me," was his comment.


I also like this story because it's where Eugene Lang College is (11th Street) and that's the same church where we had our divisional graduation.

And there's something special about reading older articles. I remember researching articles from the 1968 Columbia University strikes for Inprint, and a reporter used the phrase "Bogarty" to describe someone and it made me giggle.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Back to Bangladesh

I'm going to Bangladesh this winter (December 27 to January 17—I'd be keeping in line with my newly imposed resolution as of last year to spend New Year's away from New York) with my family. God knows when we'd be able to do it again since we're already so involved in our own separate affairs. And anyway, it makes sense to experience Bangladesh with my family instead of on my own (to be explained later).

This time, rather than just shuttling back and forth between my parents' homes in Dhaka, we're actually going to explore the country: visiting Rangamati, Chittagong, Cox's Bazaar (home to the longest beach in the world, where my mom and dad had their honeymoon, and where you can see the sun rise and set along the same horizon—my dad is really happy about this) and hopefully hit up southern Bangladesh and see the Ganges Delta, the confluence of the Ganges, Jamuna and Meghna Rivers. My dad told me we're going on some boat trips too, for me.

My cousin is a photographer so I'll (hopefully) go on adventures with him. My uncle used to work for a newspaper and I plan on contacting English-based newspapers myself. I want to visit their offices, see how they work and maybe even write something. International clips never hurt, no? Ted already introduced me to his political activist friend who is there already, and the situtaion is crazy in Bangladesh so it will make for amazing stories). I also plan on writing something for the Brooklyn Rail when I get back, in addition to finishing up my waterfront development story.

My family and I will familiarize ourselves with this country that has become largely foreign to us together. My dad worked it out so we'll never need visas to enter Bangladesh, because my parents were born there. Now, we can go whenever we want. This visa is a nice addition to my barely-there Italy stamp and the very-clear Homeland Security imprint.

And hey, it's a nice excuse to buy travel gear I've been meaning to get (nice big travler's backpack, SLR, good shoes).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Suspension in Midair

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

Bridges of all types are usually above bodies of water. During the act of crossing a bridge, you (usually) cannot fall into the water. You are not on solid ground, you are in transit. You are up in the air, like an airplane, except, you immediately experience your temporary suspension.

Bridges: conform to nature and necessity, are suspended through air and, most importantly, bring you from point A to point B.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Tampa Bay, Florida.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Siesta Beach, Florida

I stepped into the Gulf
looking westard and pretended I could
see Mexico beneath
pinkpink skies and orange tinted
clouds crashing into coconut trees.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bits: Viagra for Votes, Majestic Pink, Border Games, Indo-Bengali Relations and AP 2.0


"Thailand fights vote buying with black magic, jail" by Nopporn Wong-Anan, from Reuters

In efforts to get rid of corruption in the face of the upcoming election, Reuters gives examples of how candidates buy votes, as Sayan Nopkham describes:

"He [unnamed candidate] hands out one or two Viagra pills to middle-aged men when he is campaigning. Another trick is to hand out bags of rice."


"Thai King sparks pink shirt craze" from BBC

When Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej came home from the hospital wearing a pale pink blazer with matching shirt, he jumpstarted Thailand's latest pink obsession so much so that

"Civil servant Rose Tarin, 56, recently camped outside a clothing store from 4 a.m. to ensure she was able to buy one of the latest shipments of pink shirts."


"Ritual Combat at the India Pakistan Border" by John Soltes, from Time

After all the wars (1947 Partition War, bloody disputes over Kashmir that still continue), India and Pakistan play nice with this nightly event across the highly-guarded border, complete with lowered flags, elaborate soldierly gestures and to end exchange, a friendly handshake.


"India says lifts ban on rice export to cyclone-hit Bangladesh" from AFP

It's interesting that India would have a ban on rice with Bangladesh in the first place, considering their proximity and the fact that India backed Bangladesh during its 1971 Independence War. The article attributes this to illegal immigration from Bangladesh to India across the border. That's why India's trying to build a fence along that border. It also shows the difference between Indo-Bengali and Indo-Pakistani relations.


"A.P. to Reorganize Work and Accent Multimedia" by Cate Doty, from the New York Times

Another news service refigures for the new media era.

Early Morning New York Harbor

I don't really feel like writing today, but I just wanted to share this gorgeous photo I stumbled upon by way of Gothamist (who also featured some of my photos, woohoo):

[Photo by Matt Semel, via flickr]

The little island to the left is Liberty Island. New Jersey is in the foreground, with Brooklyn on the left and Staten Island on the right. That bridge right there is the Verrazano Bridge. Here, the Hudson River feeds into the Atlantic Ocean, which stretches on and on in this picture. All those little black spots on the water are boats and barges. How wonderful.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Picture Perfect

Come Wednesday, I will be the proud owner of this beautiful baby.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Taking the Science out of Bronx Science

So besides being Bronx Science alumni, E.L. Doctorow and I have more in common:

In fact, at Bronx High School of Science [1944-1948], Doctorow fled as fast as he could from algebra and chemistry and all the rest of it—all the subjects for which that legendary public high school, cradle of Noble Prize winners, was famous—and straight into the offices of the literary magazine, titled Dynamo.

I didn't realize Dynamo was that old. While I wasn't involved in Dynamo (I stuck to the Observatory, the yearbook), I was published in it several times. And, to my credit, I did really enjoy forensics biology.