Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too much to work, too much time

It was Thanksgiving here the past weekend. Even though it's my favorite American holiday, I'm rarely around to enjoy it. The four day weekend is normally an irresistible opportunity to travel, often to Canada, occasionally to Europe, and even India a few times. So I usually miss out on a festival that is all about gathering with friends and family, and cooking and enjoying good food. It is day on which it is all about making something (perhaps many things) and being together, rather than buying things (although that starts on day after Thanksgiving, the infamous Black Friday).

This time I decided to stay put, which necessitated the further decision of whether to stay in Boston or New York. New York was appealing, with more than one friend's Thanksgiving dinner to choose from and after all it is New York. But after a lot of road trips recently and more travel on the way, staying put after the work week seemed like the nicest possible thing. So stay put I did. A colleague invited me over, a colleague who I like, who had invited other colleagues who I like. It turns out they cook well, but I had taken the precaution of bringing a really nice cheese plate with me. And it's the one occasion when no one looks askance if you try three different kinds of cake and pie and then return for seconds. And then a friend was visiting from New York, and then another, so all in all it was really nice.

The only problem was that I had too much time on my hands. No, really I mean it. It's not that I don't enjoy a good holiday. I got up on Thursday and was mentally running around the house imagining the thrill of a day without work, while physically I stayed in bed an extra hour (or two -- it's a great combination). Then I did the same again on Friday, And on Saturday. By Saturday evening I had had so much of doing nothing that I was desperately trying to find the Netflix movies I knew were lurking somewhere in the house (The Mirror, where are you when I need you?)

On Sunday I woke early, but while I was engaged in my now habitual early morning laze the thought of all the work I had postponed popped into my mind. I realized that I had so much work to do that if I worked non-stop for the next 10 days I might just make it through to my next trip. It did take another 12 hours for me to succumb to that thought, but by evening I was working flat out, with one thought rankling me: if I had just worked two or three hours each day over Thanksgiving then that would be have one less episode of Hurling Pumpkins and a few less days of hair-pulling over the next few days.

Perhaps true, but nonetheless those four days of nothing everything were fantastic.

I leave you with some snaps of the last week.

A fantastically vertiginous room at the ICA, Boston

Do you spot the moon?

Follow the birdie, SoHo. NYC

Crossing boundaries, SoHo, NYC


Monday, November 15, 2010

Before it's too late (or is it too late already?)

I have posted and confessed before about my unusual musical tastes. I often tell people that the 1980s were my lost decade, but the truth is so were the 1970s, at least musically (although at the age I was then not everyone has intense musical memories, but some do...)

I'm not blaming anyone; indeed in many ways I am grateful, because the music I listened to growing up is still the core of my listening: mostly European classical music, with some veins of North Indian classical as well. My brother was the real music lover in the family, and he quickly took to European classical music, and I enjoyed drafting off his passion. My parents were very supportive of our interest. You might think it's an easy habit to encourage in your children, but revisit that thought after listening to Richard Strauss's Salomé blasting at full volume while you try to go about your business. My parents were also very generous in letting us travel on our own at an age when you might decide to lock your children in the house for their own good. That travel led me to good places, including Toronto, New York, Vienna, and Salzburg, and was my first exposure to Europe.

I truly came to appreciate this upbringing a few years later, when living on my own I began to revisit all the music I had listened to as a child and teen. And with some transformation that is perhaps maturity or experience everything that I had enjoyed culturally I began to enjoy personally, emotionally, viscerally. A few years later I added jazz into my listen repertoire.

The one byproduct of this path, though, is that my knowledge of anything other than classical music (or jazz to some extent) is random and in some sense tasteless. When I say tasteless, I mean just that I have no coherent taste. I also have gaps in my knowledge that people my age find truly bizarre.

Sometimes I come to music so much later than everyone else that it almost bizarrely retro-cool by the time I get to it. Other times, people shake their heads in mystification when some Robyn makes it into my iPod playlist at parties. Until recently my only real salvation has come through some intense cramming sessions with Mia whenever I am in Venice. The last few months or so I have been doing more than my share of road trips, so the car radio has been keeping my knowledge updated, while doing no good to my taste though.

This brings me at last to Phoenix. I've been reading about them on the blogs (Lola, Jane). I have heard them on the radio. And I've really begun to like them. Perhaps, for once, I might be on the right side of cool to declare my allegiances? But then as I was channel surfing a few nights ago, I heard them in the background to a club/dance scene on a cop drama on network television. Then I began to think, perhaps it's too late.

Oh well, I'll always have Boulez. He's sort of trendy in a Gallic-cuddly-old-man sort of way, isn't he?



You can deal with this or you can deal with that*

One of my favorite features over at Jane's blog is "You can deal with this or you can deal with that". It points up the essential fact: there are some things you can't avoid. And so in that spirit.

You can deal with this:

(David, the Power of Beauty, in Florence -- temporarily reinstalling a replica of David where it was originally intended to be displayed.)

Or you an deal with that:

Event Horizon by Antony Gormely, which I had seen in London in 2007 and was recently displayed here in New York.

Or come to think of it, this:
The Miracle of the Slave by Tintoretto, which hangs in Accademia in Venice.



* Had a great time with Jane in Montréal over the weekend. Let's just say there were three people, one bottle of prosecco, and only two drinkers....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You decide (8) or On the street where I live

Ugly or futuristic? Impressive or monstrous? ( I am referring to the tower with terraces and stacked levels.) You decide.

After you've decided, you can follow this link, and if you do let me know whether you changed your mind!


P.S. It's the street where I live in Mumbai...

Monday, November 1, 2010

You decide (7)

Cute urbanites, annoying overachievers, or just another New York couple?

Kenneth Dickerman for The New York Times

For the full details, you can read the article here. But the gist (liberally drawn from the NYT article) is as follows:

Emily Nemens, the communications director for the Center for Architecture/AIA NY:
  • Age 27,
  • Was writer-in-residence at the Kerouac Project in Orlando, Fla., where she completed a short-story collection called “Scrub.”
  • She contributed to a graphic novel version of Studs Terkel’s “Working,”
  • Played the baritone saxophone at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, twice
  • She paints, she sews, she plays soccer and she is a virtuoso cook.

Benjamin Shuldiner.
  • Age 33,
  • Became the state’s youngest high school principal seven years ago at age 26 when he co-founded the Crown Heights High School for Public Service.
  • Ran for Congress in a district north of New York City, where his family lives, coming in third in the Democratic primary.
  • Was a junior state chess champion.
  • As a student at Harvard, the host of his own hip-hop radio show.
  • He’s also an ace marksman with a light rifle.

Emily and Benjamin decided to live together, but preferred to rent two apartments right across the hall from each other, "spaces so close that the two of them can dart back and forth in their underwear with little fear of being seen by the neighbors". Their apartments are in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, right near the trendy Bedford Avenue L-train stop. They spend most weekends at Benjamin's three-bedroom house in Mohegan Colony in northern Westchester County.


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