Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So after travelling to London, Leiden/Amsterdam, Bruge, Barcelona, and Florence, our last stop was supposed to be Rome for 4 days. But we decided to cop it (to cop = to ditch, change, etc.). After much deliberation we chose this lovely island called Ischia, off the coast of Naples.

Simply brilliant idea.

We stayed in an area called Forio in a super lovely hostel. The hostel was charming and when we arrived there was a note on the desk saying "We're at the beach, please call us." Sigh!

Ischia is famous for it's thermal springs (which were a surprise) and lovely beaches. We went to the one near Panza for a midnight dip and it was perfect. The 1000 steps, the cliff, the wine, the hot water, the stars, the company. Perfect.

We also climbed to the top of Mount Epemo for a stunning view, and the rest of the time, we just bummed on the beaches. The crowd at Ring Hostel was good fun, with our three other roommates being two theater actresses and one urban-planner-traveller. And there was also Shaun of the dead :), a curious Kiwi character, a bar owner turned Ischia-prenuer. We met quite a few people at the hostel who came for a few days but stayed for over a month. Yeah, the island's that great :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


it's a funny thing this wind
the last time i followed
the wind
she led me to the most beautiful place
with sparkling sunlight
and small yellow flowers hiding within
smaller white flowers

i wo(i)nder what bigger patterns
will evolve as i follow her
and what will evolve in a hundred years
a circular splendor or
will she travel straight to infinity

where will she lead me
this wind

and then i turn to her and ask
have you ever followed the wind?

"How to not say I love you for twenty one days"

wake up
look out
pretend to smile
pretend to care
wait for apocalypse

Friday, August 26, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Simply Put: "I Feel Horrible. She Doesn’t"

I feel horrible. She doesn’t
love me and I wander around
the house like a sewing machine
that’s just finished sewing
a turd to a garbage can lid.
~Richard Brautigan

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I loved Barcelona! I loved it so much that I'm seriously considering living there for six months after I graduate.

We stayed at the UAB campus 30 min away from the beach front by train. There for almost a week, we started our first (second) day visiting the Sagrada Familia. It's an incredible place of worship. The way Gaudi, the architect, used light and nature is inspiring. If you don't know Gaudi's work, it'll be well worth your while to start now. I completely love the concept of Tapas.

Having left Sagrada Familia wanting more, on Day 2 we headed to Park Guell (a park designed by Gaudi). It was incredibly interesting, but greedy Jaya expected more :) At night we headed to Barceloneta in search for a lomo store. It was charming and lovely and I could cry. We had our first full on dinner with delicious paella, orujo and pacharraan (try everything!)

On Day 3, we went to La Rambla and to the beach. The market to the right of La Rambla was muchos flavorfulos. It was really nice to see how a crowded city could have such a clean beach. With blue water even. Blue greedy water that swallowed my glasses. Hazy and blurry eyed we went and actually found a lovely Colombian optician (who looked 100% Indian!) who was kind enough to open his store (it was past 8) and fit me a new pair of specs.

On Day 4, we headed out to see the Dali museum in Figueres, about an hour away from Barcelona. Ahem! Day 5 came, our last lovely day in Barcelona was dedicated to beach bumming. I found these colourfab Maz shoes, which are perfect for grassing and rocking around. The shops on La Rambla are all owned by Pakistanis or Indians. They treated us like their own and usually directly quoted half the price for all those small things you want to memorize into a box and take home :)

Here's to you, Barca:

Designs that Change Lives

It's here!
Please join!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The next stop on our list was Bruges. While travelling in Belgium last year, Bruges came highly recommended. Although the weather was mostly rainy and cold, we managed to catch some of its excellent soft, horizontal light. I really enjoyed the small bars and the 366 steps to the top of Belfry. In Bruges, we met a lovely old postman who told us where to get the best fries (from the cart guys outside Belfry) and the best chocolates (a lovely shop near the lions). He couldn't see much but that didn't stop him from chatting on :) His son moved to England for better work and he misses his grandchildren. We also met a number of lovely Pakistanis. It's strange, but there is so much more brotherhood between Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans abroad than I've ever seen in India.

Monday, August 15, 2011


London was not at all what I expected it to be. I expected it to be a capital with high buildings and choked with big brands. But to my nice happy gleeful surprise it wasn't. Thanks to our hosts Sunil, Bansi, and Diti, London became a city of some meaning. I especially appreciated their preservation of heritage and public communication and design. London in Black and White (below) was inspired by an exhibition of photographs of London through the decades since the 1800s. London also inspired a new public design blog to be started by me and a few friends to collect bits and pieces of public design concepts from cities, towns, and villages across the world, to perhaps someday be implemented in our own cities.

And the English are right in discussing the weather all the time :) I also understood better why they honed to the northern hill stations of India for their place of recreation.

London's multiculturalism is remarkable. In London I was happy to taste Ghanian food which sent me back twenty years to the spice of Liberia. It was strange, this London. At times, I could swear I was in India. At others, I was as far from home as I could be. It's fitting that this post is on Independence Day. Here's to influence.

"A Week in the Life of the Ethnically Indeterminate"

Sitting in MacDonalds on 103rd & 3rd
I notice a couple staring at me
and hear them say Indian.
They walk towards me.
The woman has white skin,
blond hair, blue eyes.
The man has ebony skin,
black hair, brown eyes.
Excuse me, says the woman,
we were wondering
where you were from.
Yeah, says the man
because you look like
our people.
I look at the whiteness
and the blackness,
wondering who their people are.
We're Puerto Rican, they say
and walk away.

Walking to the store
in Crown Heights I see
an African-American man
sitting behind a table
selling incense and oils
he calls out sister, hey sister,
baby and then makes a noise
like he's calling a cat.
I don't respond.
On the way back
from the store
he calls out, mira, mira,
hey baby,
in any language,
English, Feline or Spanish
I don't respond.

I am buying lunch
at the falafel stand
on 68th and Lex
and the man serving me asks,
you from Morocco?
No, I say, Cyprus.
Where's Cyprus? he asks.
Above Egypt
to the left of Israel
and below Turkey.
Oh, he says looking blank.
How much for the falafel, I ask?
For you three dollars.
For Americans three fifty.
I go to pay and another man
stares hard into my face
and says, Are you a Jewish chick?
No, I say, just leave me alone.
I know who you are, he screams.
I know who you are.
You're just a nigger from Harlem,
passing for white
with a phony accent.
Nigger, he repeats
as I walk away.

My boss calls me up.
I have a funny question
to ask you, he says.
When you fill out forms
what do you write for ethnicity?
I check other, I say.
Well, I have to fill out this form
and it doesn't have other.
We look really bad on paper.
all the positions of power are white
and all the support staff are black.
Could you be Asian?

I am with my Indian immigration lawyer.
Do you mind if I ask you
a personal question, he says.
Go ahead, I say, thinking
he is going to ask me
how I've reached my mid thirties
and have never been married.
But instead he says,
I know you're a Cypriot
from London
but do you have
any Indian blood in you?
There are so many
mixed marriages these days
and you look like the offspring.

I am at a conference
and a European-American woman
looks at me excitedly
as though she's just won a prize.
Oh, I know where you’re from, she says
my daughter-in-law is an Indian
with a British accent too.
I'm not Indian, I say.
She continues to not see me
as she concentrates on
hiding her anger
for not winning the trophy
in her self-imposed
guess the ethnicity competition
and then she walks away.

I go to lunch at the home of a friend
whose family are Africans of the diaspora.
They don't ask me where I'm from.
Later, my friend tells me,
They've decided you’re
a biracial Jamaican.

That evening,
I'm at a poetry reading
and an African-American woman
crosses the room
to ask me this question,
Are you the colonized
or the colonizer?
What do you think, I ask.
You could be both, she responds
and walks away.
~Elena Georgiou

Friday, August 12, 2011


coming soon:
- (photo) stories from uttarkhand, london, bruge, barcelona, florence, and the lovely island of ischia
- best public design practices (things i'd like to see in my city)