Friday, February 21, 2014

bed count: 36

during my year-and-a-half of research travel, I am tracking each bed I crash on -- pictured below beginning with my most recent digs.  my overall itinerary is:
  • until May 2013 - Chicago
  • June 2013 - Independence, Kansas City (Missouri)
  • July 2013 -  Palo Alto, San Francisco (California)
  • August 2013 - Washington DC, Toronto, Chicago
  • September to March 2013 - New Delhi
  • October 2013 - Karachi
  • November 2013 -  Chandigarh
  • December 2013 - Amritsar, Chennai
  • February 2014 - Dubai (UAE), Saida and Beirut (Lebanon)
  • April 2014 - Chicago (back home!)
April 2014 in Chicago: The research tour has come to a close, and I've ornamented my new flat with memorabilia from my travels -- a face mask of India's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, a conch-shell hanging collected from the Tibetan Market in Delhi, evil-eye truck signs painted on tin sheeting, a plastic toy of Lord Hanuman flying along with a life-sized toy of Hanuman's sceptre, and evil-eye wooden prayer beads from Dubai. The architecture shot is of Chicago, which captures the brutalist-style corn cob towers, the modernist Mies Van Rohe tower, and the contemporary Trump Tower. 
Bed stat: Futon bed in a 1950s brick walk-up -- feels like home :)

February 2013 in the Saida and Beirut of Lebanon: I set aside a week for vacation in Lebanon, visiting a friend. His family resides in the hills of Saida. Aside from gazing at the country's beautiful landscape from mountain and valley to land sand sea, I enjoyed boatloads of homemade preserves fresh pita labneh cream cheese olive oil cucumbers olives mint chickpea stew cheese pies meat pies all pies.
Bed stat: A bit like college, in a home packed with rooms and each stacked with twin-sized beds.
February 2013 in the Jumeirah Park borough of Dubai: For a few nights I stayed with a friend-of-a-friend -- an oil rig engineer -- who resides in this new pocket of villas with his lovely wife and very articulate 5-year-old son.  Each villa is outfitted with identical pools and patio furniture. This is suburbia of the Middle East. The area is so new that taxi drivers do not know how to reach your address, nor how to get out.
Bed stat: Luxury. A giant queen-sized bed with down-filled pillows and duvet.
February 2013 in the Marina City borough of Dubai: My last leg of research interviews brought me to the wildly posh hub of trade, shopping, and finance -- Dubai!  I rented a bedroom via My flat was very high-up, on the 61st floor of Sulafa Tower in Dubai's Marina City modeled after Vancouver's False Creek. My view overlooked the famed and artificial Palm Jumeirah Islands stretching out into the sea. To the left you could see the world's only six-star hotel -- the Burj Al Arab. 
  Bed stat: Two twin-sized beds with polyester bed sheets and cushion covers -- ahh the reality of airbnb. The satellite cable was chokful of Bollywood movie channels -- heaven.

January 2013 in the Green Park borough of New Delhi: Am currently writing a paper and so in an effort to keep myself productive, I tore myself out of my usual surroundings in Gurgaon and headed to my friend's place in Green Park. His flat is on the top floor of a four-story building with epics views of the surrounding greenery and markets.
Bed stat: Soft double-sized mattress outfitted with satin sheets and pillow cases which is surprisingly lovely for winter, but nonetheless obnoxious to have your pillow slide off the bed all night long.
December 2013 in Chennai: Took a short vacation from research work and spent five days in sweet sunny Chennai aka Madras to sip on Madras filter coffees, purchase Tamil goods at T Nagar market, off-road race along the Bay of Bengal, and ring in year 2014.
Bed stat: Hard double-sized foam mattress at an uber basic guest house in Anwarpet district, close to the Raintree Hotel.

December 2013 in Amritsar: Took a short break from research work and spent a day motorcycling through Amritsar's gulleys, dining on kulchas stuffed with paneer and chicken milai tikka.
Bed stat: Super firm foam in a neon-green room --  turn the lights off, please! Home is in Amritsar's Islamabad district, down a lane way with an abandoned mosque and thus dubbed the Masjid Wali Gulley. Muslims once inhabited this colony, prior to population exchange at partition in 1947; hence the Mughlai architecture on the doorway.

December 2013 in Amritsar: I visited here for research interviews at the Attari-Wagah border that divides India from Pakistan, and at the Punjab International Trade Expo aka PITEX
Bed stat: Queen-sized heavenly bed at the Best Western with service available to dry clean your kurta, turban, peticoat, and scandalous nighty.

November 2013 in Chandigarh: I was connected to a research centre here, the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, which has a cluster of scholars whose interests touch on my own area of Indo-Pakistani trade. I thus visited for some interviews and was subsequently invited to deliver a lecture.  And in between these scholarly activities I found plenty of time to roam around their epic gardens and rooftops.
Bed stat: double-bed with lofty ceilings across from the private suite of India's current Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh -- fab! 

October 2013 in Karachi, Pakistan: With my Bhai Jaan, his wife, and three really lovely children, my mummy and I played tons of cricket, Ludo, and ate at marvelous restaurants like Kolachi which appears to float on the Arabian Sea.  I also enjoyed about nine visits to the dessert parlor for Peshawari ice-cream – holy creamy milky yum.
Bed stat: single-bed next to my mom -- the best mother in the world for nursing me while I got over a horrible viral flu which I caught during my train ride from Delhi to Amritsar.

October 2013 in Gurgaon,  in the state of Haryana and satellite city of New Delhi: After a long night of dinner, partying, and post-party dining, we finally crashed -- thank goodness. Pictured here is the flat of an old-time friend I met when I lived in India during 2007 to 2009. The home is decorated with gorgeous oil paintings by his charming mom who prepared fluffy aromatic poha -- a grain of pressed rice, popular in western India.
Bed stat: double-bed, next to my friend, waking up to an epic view of Gurgaon's wide and open jungle fields -- soon to be checkered by high-rise condominiums.

October 2013 in the Rajouri Garden colony of New Delhi: Spent the weekend at my cousin's home in this Punjabi borough of West Delhi. We dined on homemade South Indian dosas and uttapam, then a punjabi spread of masala chicken with tandoori rotis for dinner, followed by saffron and cashew kulfi ice cream. The following day was South Indian rice cakes named idlis with sambar, and later Marathi style pav bhaji -- oh my gawd. The entire weekend was chokful of jokes with my handsome nephew and gorgeous niece with echoes of Narendra Modi's speech flooding the streets in this BJP stronghold.
Bed stat: Next to my brother-in-law and nephew, and the women in their own communal room (my cousin, niece, and mom).

September 2013 in the Kotla Mubarakpur colony of New Delhi: Crashed at a my Manipuri friends' flat in this predominantly Bihari borough of south Delhi.  Saturday night partying was followed by a blissfully lazy recovery on Sunday chokful of rooftop sun tanning among water tanks.     
Bed stat: Queen-sized bed in Delhi's heavy humidity with the clamor of brass bells and chants from a Hindu temple celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi.
September 2013 in the Sardarjung Enclave colony of New Delhi: Crashed at a friend's flat in this cosmopolitan and transnational borough, located in Delhi's posh southern wing.  While I lined up at the local grocer to buy a toothbrush, a scarfed Malay woman paid for her eggs, two Nigerian men stocked their basket with chips biscuits milk, and a Chinese man perused the magazine rack.  Spicy fragrances wafted in from the Nepalese momo-stand next door, and prayers emanating from the speakers of one of the colony's three Sikh gurudwaras (a.k.a. a Sikh temple) decorated the evening's humid air. 
Bed stat: Soft cushion on a queen-sized wood-carved bed purchased in Ludhiana, Punjab. Prior to crashing, I rinsed out the city's noisy grime from my t-shirt and hung it out to kiss the morning's sunrise.

September 2013 in the DLF Phase 4 colony of Gurgaon: This is my base in India, the first floor of a four-storey marble home in Gurgaon, which is a satellite city of New Delhi which hosts India's famed industrial investors and multinational firms.  Along with Noida (another satellite city of New Delhi), Gurgaon's glossy skyscrapers, acres-sized shopping malls, and ivory-colored residential condominiums are the physical manifestation of 'India rising'.
Bed stat: Double-sized thin foam cushion atop soft hardwood floors with the most luxurious view -- a backyard clad with tropical greenery, an absolute luxury in a city where property and indeed space is incredibly scarce.

September 2013 in C-Block of the Janak Puri colony in New Delhi: Stayed at my aunt's home which I've been visiting since I was seven years young.  Three generations reside here, down to my bright and handsome twin nephews who are preparing for exams and soon their college applications.  Janak Puri is reportedly the largest borough colony in Asia, and it is nestled within the predominantly Punjabi western wing of Delhi -- hence very loud intense aggressive.  Buttery paranthas prepared by my aunt and sister-in-law soften the blow of West Delhi's excitement.
Bed stat: Double-sized thin foam cushion next to my mom, with a fan and air conditioner running to beat Delhi's heavy humid dusty heat.

September 2013 aboard an Air India flight operating non-stop from Chicago to New Delhi: Blips of rest punctuated by vodka tonics, Bollywood films, and debates on India-Pakistan with the Sardar seated next to me (he was returning from Iowa to visit his family in Mussoorie, the famed hill station in the Uttrakhand state of India).  As I had predicted, I was prepared to jump flight once we reached the Afghani hinterlands.
Bed stat: Economy class

August 2013 in the Schaumburg borough of greater Chicagoland: Pops, brother and I boarded a train from downtown Chicago at Union Station towards the suburbs to visit relatives. There I crashed at my cousin's home where relatives gathered together for kebabs and chaat, followed by chapatas and masala goat along with board games aplenty; Jenga, Sorry, Carom Board, bean bag toss.
Bed stat: Stow-away twin-sized mattress in the recreation room of my nephews and nieces. 

August 2013 in the Streeterville borough of downtown Chicago: Crashed at my older brother's bachelor pad while I sorted last-minute visa and tax issues (and enjoyed amazing house music at Smart Bar) prior to leaving the Western Hemisphere for my year across Asia.  Brought along our father from Toronto (pictured above) to experience Chicago's jazz scene, blues clubs, and Mexican taquerias -- a.k.a. life beyond Chicago's tourist-infested downtown Loop area.
Bed stat: Designer sectional from Canadian firm EQ3.

August 2013 in the Columbia Heights borough of Washington DC: Stayed with a new friend, an American who spent some time living in Syria for NGO-work where he mandatorily acquired a poster of Bashar al-Assad which is now housed in this gorgeous apartment with classical American furnishings.
Bed stat: A four-poster bed made by my friend with purchases from Home Depot -- bad ass.

August 2013 at the Ivory Tower residence hall of George Washington University in Washington DC: I spent a week with a friend and fellow academic, a political science professor at the George Washington University who is currently polishing his book manuscript.  We stayed in his apartment nestled in the heart of campus and next to the US Department of State.
Bed stat: Air-mattress surrounded by chachkis from Bulgaria and Egypt. 

August 2013 in the Round Hill suburb of Virginia: I spent the weekend with my cousin, sister-in-law, three nieces, and nephew at their home in Roundhill, which weaves together a golf course, country club, beautiful homes with manicured lawns, and an epic sunrise.
Bed stat: Twin-sized hand-me-down bed in my cousin's bachelor-pad'ish-basement adorned with collections of all varieties ranging from coffee mugs to knives (the least lethal of which is a macheti)

August 2013 in the Rockville suburb of Maryland: After hopping from house music at Tropicali to dancehall and reggae at Patty Boom Boom and then late-night brunch at Annie's -- all in Washington DC -- I sought respite from all urban hullabaloo at my friend's condominium in the neighboring state of Maryland. 
Bed stat: Leather couch overlooking shopping malls, a Mormon Temple of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Washington DC National Monument visible in the far far distance.
August 2013 in the Severna Park suburb of Maryland: Spent the weekend with my cousin, brother-in-law, and two nieces.  Visited a hipster patch of Baltimore known as Hampden and rode rollercoasters at Six Flags Amusement Park.  Punctuated by chicken tikka masala on day one, Madhur Jaffrey's roast coriander chicken on day two, and tandoori chicken on day three.
Bed stat: My niece's king-sized bed surrounded by pop culture paraphernalia, including portraits of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe, a reprint of Salvador Dali, and a poster illustration of Clockwork Orange (1971).

July 2013 in the Chinatown borough of Washington DC: Crashed at the condominium of a newly made friend, a graduate student in accounting and avid party-hopper -- an afternoon at the Fringe theater festival to an evening at DC's Jazz in the Garden to a hookah party at his place to a night of house music at Tropicali club on U Street.
Bed stat: Double-bed overlooking an alleyway of the city's remains -- high-rise living.

July 2013 in the Mount Pleasant borough of Washington DC: Crashing at a friend-of-a-friend-turn-friend, a lawyer for a public interest firm.
Bed stat: My first official couch on this couch-surfing tour -- burgundy with great cushioning, a pillow fills the crack which hits my lower back, facing stacks of art painted by my friend's Bubbe.

July 2013 in the South of Market Area (SoMA) of San Francisco, California: Crashed at the City Centre Hotel for a night to hang out with a friend-of-a-friend visiting from Mexico City.
Bed stat: Allegedly an eco-friendly hotel, though nothing was particularly green except for the decor.

July 2013 in Fremont, California: Crashing at my Aunt's mountain-top home nestled in Mission Peak, while I do research work at Stanford University.
Bed stat: Twin-sized bed outfitted with a headboard stocked with my cousin's teen-aged remains -- CliffsNotes to Homer's The Iliad, a bottle of Versace Green Jeans Man, and an elementary school portrait.

July 2013 in the Mission District of San Francisco, California: Crashing with a new friend and local rug designer.
Bed stat: King size bed surrounded by eclectic mix of symbolist, mid-century modern, and mod furnishings.

July 2013 in the Mission District of San Francisco, California: Crashing with a fellow Canadian and Bay Area hypnotherapist.
Bed stat: Foam on a jute rug, facing idolatry of Mother Mary, Saint Francis, a Mexican sugar skull, and Nataraja -- naming a few.
July 2013 in Sacramento, California: Crashing with a former classmate from Oxford University.
Bed stat: Air mattress and a shelf stacked with fiction -- I'll be reading Maximum City: Bombay lost and found by Suketu Mehta 

July 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri: Lofty dreams in the Rivermarket borough of Kay See Em Oh! (i.e. KCMO Kansas City Missouri)
Bed stat: Climb 15 feet towards your destination.  

June 2013 in Independence, Missouri: Christian living. Extended stay at the Higher Ground Hotel in this town of Latter Day Saints while I do research work at the Harry S. Truman Library Institute
Bed stat: Fluffy pillows and duvet intact with nightly prayer card.  Aaauuummmmm~

June 2013 in Chicago, Illinois: One-night stand. After exiting my Chicago apartment, I crashed at my classmate's flat the night before flying out.
Bed stat: Air mattress couched beside a dining table.

June 2013 in Chicago, Illinois: Moving out and moving up! 20 furniture pieces sold in 48 hours, including bedside tables, lamps, mattress.
Bed stat: Air mattress on warm wood floors. living light is the new chic -- I mean that. 

up to May 2013 in Chicago, Illinois: Home is a state of mind, this I remind myself as I exit my apartment of the last three years. Limited edition silk-screen prints of Norval Morriseau's shamanic paintings hang in the far left and a pair of landscapes of oil on canvas painted by Chinese artist Allen adorn the right-hand side of the space. Much of the furniture was purchased from the Brown Elephant shop in the Andersonville borough of Chicago, whose proceeds fund research on HIV/AIDS.
Bed stat: Futon mattress stacked on a Serta mattress and box spring -- heaven.

the last time I pursued extended travel, I totaled 33 beds over six months. "The best bedside view was offered from the window beside my bed in the sleeper class cart aboard a train. The landscape was decorated with patches of neon green mustard fields and, later, an orange sunset that illuminated silhouettes of palm trees" (see ).


Vik Mediratta said...

This is awesome! Care to take an estimate on how many it'll be after its all said and done?

Anonymous said...

You had peshawari ice cream!!! I had it pretty much once a day when I was there in November. Being a contamination-phobe, and returning to motherland after 20 years, I didn't know whether my stomach could handle local street food. One day, while shopping, I walked by a corner shop and gave in to my childhood craving. I ordered a cup for mere $0.50 CAD.

I did not anticipate the personal dilemma that followed. The shop owner scratched his head and wiped his face with the same hand he used to pick up the plastic cup. He put his fingers inside the cup to grip and pull one out from the stack. He then grabbed a spoon from a pitcher of water, the one he had used all day, and began scooping from a tub of frozen cream. He pressed a decent amount of ice cream in my cup covering all the way to the top, including the areas he had touched with his unwashed hands. He then proceeded to pick a plastic spoon, touching the part that's supposed to go in your mouth with the same hand and inserted it all the way to the bottom on ice cream cup.

When he handed it to me, I had a moment of disgust and concern. My aunt standing next me looked at my fearful face and laughed out loud. She knows about my OCD and was curious to see what I would do. I took the cup decided to eat anyways :)

I am still amazed that it's not available anywhere outside of Karachi, and even many Karachittes have never heard of it. I have always felt so frustrated trying to describe the flavour to others. No, it's not like french vanilla!! Argh!

Nida S

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