Showing posts with label Airplanes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Airplanes. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the aspect of landing, or, the aspect of leaving

stomach knows as soon as plane
lifts off
            not grounded
            not touching earth

        in vehicle
            that somehow flies
        a mystery
            of science

dizzying landing
extending to my stomach

humans don't fly &
        we are not
to anything at that moment

& under flat rows
of clouds that look
like tissues
flat & rumpled, white
dim subdued lights
of the city glow through
hints of the bustle

everything is clearer
above the world

I am closer to
the starts than I've
ever been before

I want to be the leaver, not get left behind

see where the water ends and
the sky begins (at night it
all meshes together
like one
mess) & ships look like
they're flying



make the first move
before anything
can be

get away first
get away far
get away close
to change my way of mind
setting of my mind
being of my mind
being molded
infiltrated with settings of
these different settings while
sunsets stay golden they
have different tints different
angles different shading

clouds leave shadows
on the world I fly
to Florida and I see
all of New York displayed
to my right each skyscraper
ready to be picked up by my
hand and
those clouds above leave
gray spots all over New York
darkening those streets for
those few seconds as the
clouds slowly roll away
darkening everything in its path
but I fly ahead and
beat the clouds

Monday, January 14, 2008

Flying Back Home

I took this picture while flying over Iran, sometime between December 27 and 28. Tomorrow night, I get to fly back the same way all the way to New York. It's going to be weird coming back after spending a month here, but I'll survive. And, anyway, I'm coming back in May.

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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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.

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.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Air

[This was an assignment I had for my Advanced Journalism class. We just read John D'Agata's "Martha Graham, Audio Description Of" where instead of scribbling out a regular dance review, he divides his essay into compartments and focuses on different perspectives and backgrounds, like Graham's background and choice of costumes. From that, we had to write our own piece inspired by this style. This essay was the starting point of my final for the class, "On Travel."]


Eyes closed. Not humming, but whirring. Engines. Pushing plane through air. No one is talking—it is midnight, New York time—everyone is trying to sleep. Snore. Occasional snore.

Constant whirring.

On thought process:
Because I am confined to this one seat for twenty minutes/four hours/eight hours (pick and choose depending on trip/destination), I need to do something. Magazines and books, while interesting, cannot capture my attention. Preset words are too still for me. I fidget, with papers, pens, chapstick, water mind fidgets too. I think about: being on the plane, homework, my hair is too frizzy I should do something about it, I wonder if he likes me, my God look at that mountain, I am going to eat gelato and pasta in Italy I hope it's delicious, I hope I get there soon.

Down below:
I don't hear much about looking through airplane windows, except for musings on clouds. (This is because clouds are up there and we're usually down here so clouds are majestical and when we fly, we are up there with those wondrous, permeable clouds and we somehow become majestical as well.)

Bird's eye view: boxy patches of nondescript land that are various shades of green and brown, winding swirly highways and thinner roads and it is impossible to see any cars, mountaints that look so tiny but you know once you step down there, they are huger than anything you could ever imagine.

I take many pictures.

Don't get me wrong—I love clouds. I love their shape and how they look when the sun hits them at just the right angle and the sky is that perfect shade of sunset-orange and their shadows darken green, green ground.

But this isn't about that.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Welcome to New Yo—oh, Newark?


My dad first came to the U.S. when he was 24 years old in 1975. My grandfather always wanted his son to study in U.S., just as long as he came back to Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia. Though my dad was accepted to Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science for their Master's program, the family couldn't afford it. Instead, he was to attend New York's PCI College. Because of the enormous amount of corruption in Bangladesh and his friend worked for the visa office, my dad was able to obtain a student visa to New York City.

Anticipation built up inside every time my father and the other two Bengali passengers he managed to find on the flight (of which there is an entirely other story to be told later) heard "New York City."

Once they landed, however, they couldn't find the New York City they envisioned. Where were the skyscrapers? Where were the bustling crowds? Where were the hot dog vendors? Everything was low and dull. Disappointed, they left for their hotels as previously arranged by car. The next day, they were given a tour of the Big Apple and they knew they truly in New York City.

What my dad came to realize now was that they landed at JFK, which is located in Queens, and looks nothing like Manhattan.


The last time my sister went to Bangladesh was in 2001 with my father. They left on a summer evening. Used to JFK since it was only fifteen minutes away from our home and the tickets said they were departing from New York, my dad told the taxi driver to head there. Once there, however, they realized they were in the wrong airport.

My dad realized the tickets didn't say "New York," but instead "Newark," that lovely, international airport of New Jersey. Luckily, they didn't miss their flight.

Friday, November 9, 2007

imperfect balance

New York City winter is a muted black & mellow
            & the sky becomes orange
            & the snow becomes orange
            & my skin
            under three-starless skies



he said the city of lost dreams was kinda cute & kinda hopeful and i said it was too desperate too overwhelming but he didn’t care, he was too open & relaxed to give a damn.

we became too much for each other
in New York.


i sit alone in a basement
room heated in the depths of November.
outside it was warm like sun
in May & i am
sweltering in this


summer edges into spring
driving beads of sweat down
bare backs & grimy heels
            (the city soot that dirties
            snow is always embedded in the
            cracks of my rough black
            heels; only thin rubber separates
            me from pavement; never ever sit on
            sidewalks—trekked with shit &
            abandoned dreams)


            jet started my desire for escape for
                anything / everything beyond
                tightly drawn borders in this
                cluster of city     lights &
                city     lives

give me
a new kind of new
            i need in my twenties



glacial caps are melting for longer springs
the north pole is drowning
            so i can be


a window is the weakest mirror
you see the world outside &
slight hints of yourself
            faint & distorted
                my skin looks different
                & i
                become part of what’s out there


New York is a city of islands & bigger
islands (but the Bronx is connected to mainland
America) what if we
drifted         away
            somewhere towards the


seat 24a:
i cram against smeared plastic paned port
window looking down the dirty white
wing that somehow lifts me up into
the air along waves of
heat that strike
New York &

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bits: Sarkozy on Palestine, Media in Burma and Indians Pretend to Fly


"Sarkozy Reaches Out to America, and to Its Jews" by Nicholas Wapshott, from the New York Sun

During his recent U.S. visit, French President Sarkozy was awarded the Light Unto the Nations Award by the American Jewish Committee. While calling for the existence of a Jewish state and assuring Americans that the French aren't anti-Semitic, he had this to say:

"...Mr. Sarkozy said France is ready to defend the existence of Israel, but the existence of a Palestinian Arab "nation state" is essential to end the Jewish state's differences with the Palestinians."

"The issue of Israel's security is very close to my heart," Mr. Sarkozy said. "I do not always agree with Israel's government, but their security is non-negotiable. But I also wish a viable Palestinian state. Rather than two states, you should have two nations. That may seem a semantic difference."

Thank you, Sarkozy.


"Myanmar's junta prevails in the age of information" by Richard Bernstein, from the International Herald Tribune

By comparing established media responses to the recent/current protests in Burma and the protests in Vietnam in the early 1960s, Bernstein hardly mentions citizen journalism like the images Ko Htike posted earlier or from other first-person accounts from those who flee the country. This is what he has to say about it:

"There has been, as far as we know, no self-immolation [referring to AP photographer Malcolm Browne's Pulitzer winning photo of a monk immersed in flames while meditating] in Myanmar during the recent round of protests there, but what if there had been? Maybe there would have been photos of it, as there were of some other events, notably the killing by the army of the Japanese photographer Kenji Nagai, which was flashed around the world on the Internet."

"Moreover, after a few days, during which amateur photographers were able to put images of the Buddhist protest on the Web, the junta simply turned off the internet. And since then there have been no more photos, and very little news.

"In other words, Myanmar's dictators quickly learned the lessons of the hazards of openness, and it's a lesson whose importance is demonstrated over and over again."


"India's flight of the imagination" by Simon Robinson, from Time

Touching, but sad.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On Travel

[This was my final assignment for Advanced Journalism: Covering the Arts. We were basically allowed to write whatever we wanted, as long it was 10 pages (double spaced) long and that there was some aspect of culture and/or the arts. I of course chose travel since it was easier for me. I based a lot of this on Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel, which was recommended to me by a friend.]

De Botton said:

“What, then, is a traveling mind-set? Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. Receptive, we approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting. We irritate locals because we stand in traffic islands and narrow streets and admire what they take to be unremarkable small details. We risk getting run over because we are intrigued by the roof of a government building or an inscription on a wall…We are alive to the layers of history beneath the present and take notes and photographs.”

On Transit & Transportation

The bookends of a trip:

To get somewhere and back, there is the actual action of travel, covering the miles or steps to your destination and then re-covering those miles or steps back home or your original starting point, or somewhere entirely new.

When I was little:

Transportation: cars, bikes, subway rides accompanied by parents and my own two feet.

Motion of Subways:

I sit, I wait, I tap my feet, I lean over platform, I wait, I sigh, I see light, I see train, train passes by and slowly rolls to a stop. Doors open, I step aside, let people off, step inside, doors close, beeline to empty corner seat (best in train car), I sit, I put bag on my lap, I lean back, train moves and I am on my way. This is my everyday travel.

Bus trips to D.C.:

I take buses to D.C. because northwestern travel is cheaper that way (I’ll save airplanes for more grandeur adventures.)

Highways are always the same, but my eyes widen and my mind jumps at breaks in the scenery—bridges, waters, horses, cows, especially gorgeous sunsets and sunrays hitting that boring, boring highway.

That Friday morning, it rains terribly, but by noon, the sun is out and the air is crisply warm. During the drive to D.C., in New Jersey, I notice a river with white, foam scuds on its surface. It looks so grimy, but I figure it is because of the rains. In Baltimore, we pass by giant cargo ships being loaded with coal for other states and countries. In between forests of trees, I catch sights of expansive farms with tractors and horses.

De Botton said:

“Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than moving plans, ships, or trains. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is before our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, and new thoughts, new places.”

Action of Transit:

Traveling entails waiting.

You are waiting to get from point A to point B. You will wait to get from point B to point A, or from point B to point C and then head on over to point A. Or any of those combinations work (there are, as you know, many, many places to go and come from).

Waiting equals anxiety, for me at least. I worry about point C when I am in point A, or thinking back on point B and what I could have done better while I’m on my way to point C.

Though, waiting allows you to be with yourself.

A pause: could be a short five minute pause passing under the East River or a twelve hour pause spanning time zones and continents. A pregnant pause—filled with anticipation, anxiety, desire, boredom. I need to do something. Magazines and books, while filled with interesting topics, fail to capture my attention. Preset words are too still for me. I fidget, with papers, pens, chapstick, water bottles…my mind fidgets as well. I think: “I’m so happy I’m in a plane again, how do I look from down below? Is someone looking at me right this very second? I should have written that paper before I left, am I even going to write it now? I know I won’t—I can’t concentrate, my hair is too frizzy and I hate it, but I don’t know what to do about it, sometimes I’m really not a girly girl, I kinda miss him, I’m glad I’m going to D.C. next weekend, look at those mountains! They look so small, but really, they aren’t. I want to climb a mountain. Damnit, I can’t believe I’m graduating, I really don’t want to. I need a job. I am going to eat real gelato and pasta tonight, I hope it’s delicious. I hope I get there soon. I wonder what we’re doing tonight.”

Sound of Flying:

Eyes closed. Not humming, but whirring. Constant whirring. Engines. Pushing plane through air. No one is talking—it is midnight, New York time—everyone is trying to sleep. Occasional snore. Open eyes and it is dark.

De Botton said:

“The eye attempts to match what it can see with what the mind knows should be there, like a reader trying to decipher a familiar phrase in a new language.”

He also said: “And to think that all along, hidden from our sight, our lives were that small: the world we live in but almost never see, the way we must appear to the hawk and the gods.”

Down Below:

I don’t hear a lot about actually looking through airplane windows, except for musings on clouds (this is because clouds are up there and we’re usually down here so clouds are majestic and when we fly, we are up there with those wondrous, permeable clouds and we somehow become majestic as well).

Bird’s eye view: boxy patches of nondescript land that are various shades of greens and browns; winding, swirling highways and thinner roads where it is impossible to see any cars; mountains that look so tiny, but you know once you are down there, they are huger than anything you could ever imagine.

I take many pictures.

(Don’t get me wrong—I love clouds. I love their shape and how they look when the sun hits them at just the right angle and the sky becomes that perfectly-desirable-but-nearly-impossible-to-recreate shade of sunset-orange and the clouds’ shadows darken the green, green ground.)

When the landscape down below settles into flat, flat plains and roads, I pretend I am on a road trip in my car and my eye traces my path. I can pretend this because I don’t know how to drive.

Approaching Travel


Anything outside of the familiar, home setting.

De Botton said:

“Sublime places repeat in grand terms a lesson that ordinary life typically introduces viciously: that the universe is mightier than we are, that we are frail and temporary and have no alternative but to accept limitations on our will; that we must bow to necessities greater than ourselves.

“This is the lesson written into the stones of the desert and the ice fields of the poles. So grandly is it written there that we may come away from such places not crushed but inspired by what lies beyond us, privileged to be subject to such majestic necessities. The sense of awe may even shade into a desire to worship.”

How to not be a tourist:

As much as we try to fight it, there are the usual images that arise when we think of certain places, i.e. the Empire State Building to New York, the Eiffel Tower to Paris, the Great Wall to China. When you visit that place, you feel almost required to visit that building or structure or wall, because it represents that city. What will make you different from a regular tourist is your underlying goal—instead of skimming the foreign locale superficially, you must want to learn and absorb your surroundings. You must want to leave a changed person, internally.

That Red, Red Bridge:

For me, I linked the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco. I went to northern California by myself last summer, in search of something different. In the hostel where I was staying, there was a flier promoting bike rentals. It seemed like a very Californian thing to do, so I decided to go for it. Then, remembering the bridge, I decided to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Why the Golden Gate Bridge: 1. It is beautiful—the red color compliments the bright blue sky and the one-shade-darker-and-constantly-in-motion blue water. The lines are sleek in a worn sense. 2. I am fascinated by anything near water. And lastly, 3. The Golden Gate Bridge came to represent what I wanted to be capable of doing.

I started in the middle of Fisherman’s Wharf (a mix of New York’s Seaport and Times Square). The bridge was off to the distance to my left. There was no famous San Francisco fog—the skies were blue and clear and I saw the Golden Gate perfectly. It was hard to miss that gorgeous shade of deep, bold red.

Biking to the bridge proved to be more difficult that I imagined. I forgot that San Francisco is hilly. I struggled to bike uphill and sometimes, I wanted to give up, but I knew I couldn’t—I had to reach the Golden Gate Bridge. Who knew when I’d be back again? So I trekked on and I was rewarded by coasting downhill. The wind felt so good.

As I got closer to the Golden Gate, my heart raced faster. That might have been because of the exercise, but I’d like to think it was because I was almost there.

Once I reached the bridge, I paused. I made it. I actually made it. Thought about the effort and thought that went into designing this bridge. Thought about how many men worked on construction this bridge, just to connect San Francisco and Marin County.

Slowly, I biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, taking in every inch of red steel and cable, feeling the pavement that hovered above the San Francisco bay beneath my tires, breathing in the Pacific-misted air, looking at everyone else who decided to walk on this amazing bridge.

When I finished, I looked back on the bridge with a sense of accomplishment. I did it.

On Being Away

De Botton said:

“What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home.”

Chicago versus New York:

My fascination with Chicago started because of a Spoon song, “Chicago at Night.” Britt Daniel sang “She’s never been to Chicago at night before the fall/and it don’t stop, not at all/It falls all around/In the city/Hits the ground.” After listening to that, I needed to go to Chicago. At night.

When I got there, though, I was kind of disappointed.

Chicago is basically the Midwestern New York—the streets seemed cleaner (at least, the streets that I walked on), the Chicago River was this brilliant shade of blue that I knew the Hudson or the East River could never achieve. Even the shiny buildings seemed newer, their edges sharply cut into the sky while their curves fluidly embraced the sky. I appreciated this because it maintained urban aspects while being refreshing at the same time, but it did not fascinate me.

Translating Neighborhoods:

Other cities tend to have correlating neighborhoods: San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury is basically New York’s Lower East Side, where trendy bohemia thrives or the gay-friendly neighborhoods in San Francisco (Castro), Chicago (Lakeview) and New York (Chelsea). (Almost) every city has a Financial District, with their main building—San Francisco’s Transamerica building, Chicago’s Sears Tower.

It is easy to find the familiar wherever you go.

Streets of Rome:

Rome is in another country and continent and is drastically different from New York City.

Sidewalks were narrow and slanted and streets were made of uneven cobblestone. Many areas didn’t have sidewalks—pedestrians (myself included) mingled with scooters, bikes and Smart Cars in the streets. Where I walked, there were barely any pedestrian lights, so I got to run and dart through traffic. I did this anyway in New York. While there were tourists, they weren’t annoying. People are friendly in a not-creepy sense. Even the men who hit on me were sweeter with their “Ciao bellas” subtle winks and broken English.

That was what I was looking for my entire life.

It was my spring break, but Rome was cold and chilly—the days were misty and the nights rainy, and it even hailed. I wore a sweatshirt and blazer (because it was “spring break,” I refused to wear my winter coat).

On The Return

De Botton said:

“We feel assured that we have discovered everything interesting about our neighborhood, primarily by virtue of our having lived there a long time. It seems inconceivable that there could be anything new to find in a place where we have been living for a decade or more. We have become habituated and therefore blind to it…The reason people were not looking was that they had never done so before. They had fallen into the habit of considering their universe to be boring—and their universe had duly fallen into line with their expectations.”


Because of the trees that I noticed in California, Florida and Italy, I have a new-found appreciation of trees. There is a tree at the end of my street, right where 85th Road intersects with 141st Street, in front of the black house right by my old elementary school. Its branches are distinct and shapely—they twist and turn in every which way, but they do not bunch together into one wooden mass, they are spaced perfectly so blue contrasts the brown just right

The tree is regal.

I would have never noticed it if I didn’t notice Roman trees and their dark, dark green branches that hover over the ground and Floridian palm trees mingling with regular oaks.

Returning Home:

Whenever I come back from a trip, I spend one entire day at home, just relaxing and talking to my family.

The next day, I’m itching for another adventure.