Friday, August 18, 2006

Land O' Lakes!!!

The main purpose of the trip was of course, to visit my friend Prashant. Minneapolis, however, is also a very beautiful city all by itself. It all began as follows:-

I woke up ( or rather, got out of my bed after unsuccessfully trying to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a stretch) at 2.15 am, performed my morning duties ( bath, sadhana), finished packing and left for DFW* airport by 3.30 am. After parking my car at Remote North, I arrived in Terminal B by 4.20 am, only to find that security gates opened only at 5 am and the check in counter at 5.15. To think I could have spent half an hour more fidgeting at home!! I had to check in my suitcase, because existing without my tiger balm, rhubarb chapstick, and sunscreen lotion for 2 days seemed impossible. (By now most of you might be aware of the new carry on restrictions...) Luckily there wasn't really a rush at security- I think ours was one of the few flights leaving at that time - and I made it to the boarding gate well before boarding time. I continued reading my insipid novels ( this time I had picked them after determining them to be silly and light reading-unfortunately too much so) even after boarding. I could barely keep awake so I just went to sleep.

Arrived in sunny, cool MSP* at around 9 am and caught the airport shuttle to Prashant's place, which is near the University of Minnesota. The ride was quite pretty; but the highways themselves are nowhere as grand and petrifying as DFW's. Prashant had to get up really early by his weekend standards - 10 am. After a "quick" breakfast ( I took half an hour to eat half a bowl of cereal), we went out to the Mississippi. On the way there, Prashant pointed out to me the defunct flour mills that originally constituted that part of the city. We also crossed a bridge overlooking one of the tributaries of the Mississippi. A log lay fallen across the river, and a white bird was perched on it. There was also a dam of sorts across the main river. After that we went over to the university campus. I had the privilege of visiting the computer lab, where Prashant had a bit of work to finish. After that, we had lunch. And now, my narration is boring even me to death.

So blah blah blah then we walked some more, and visited the Museum of Contemporary Arts. I was initially resistant to the idea of visiting the museum, because I hadn't come so far to see museums, and especially not contemporary ones. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Almost all the works were extremely well conceived and executed. What's more, there was actually beauty, symmetry and meaning in most of them. There was a large painting with shades that reminded of one of Amma's Bengal cotton sarees. There was also another painting, which was very gentle and hinted of a peacock's feathers. My most vivid memory is of a painting where a woman was painting at an easel. There were two shadows of her, one shadow with her finger on her lips and the other gesturing at something. The painting was entirely in sunset shades: intense orange-ish red, tan, black and suede.

As we were walking outside the Museum, we crossed yet another bridge. I loved the idea of actually going down to the river, so that's what we did. Green, pleasant, afternoon. Pretty yellow flowers along the banks of the river. A log fallen across, that reminded Prashant of movies where a boat is almost going to tip over a waterfall, and lo and behold we see a strategically fallen tree. Of course, there wasn't a waterfall here. And the water wasn't flowing all that fast either. We walked by the river for a while. In some areas, the banks actually a pretty close approximation to a beach; the sand is fine and smooth, and the waves of water actually lash upon the shore. Finally I reached a point where I was thirsty enough to contemplate drinking the effluent and engine-fuel rich river water.

So we decided to go back up. After walking around some more, and lounging around in the University courtyards, we went back to Prashant's apartment. He cooked tomato dal and rice. We ate and talked. And then I went to sleep, and Prashant finally got some time to himself.

Sunday Morning. 6.30 am. Birds chirping. Why am I awake so early????? I go back to sleep and wake up at 7.30. After having a bath and getting ready, I decide that it's time to wake up Prashant. First, it was a short stay and if I can wake up at 3 am on two days, he can surely wake up at 8.15 am for one day, right? Second, I needed floor space to do my kriya. Anyways, that being done we ate breakfast. It was raining outside - nice accompaniment to our post-breakfast conversation.

Amma's friend picked us up at 11.30 to take her to her place for lunch. A couple of her friends, and Amma's cousin were also invited. It was great meeting Amma's cousin and friend, whom I hadn't seen in several years.
It was refreshing to interact with nice people over a leisurely, tasty lunch. Great food(dum aloo, chapatis, pulao, rice sambhar, raita, curd, pickles) and delicious dessert(chocolate brownies)! Someone told us that maaza is made in Holland these days. It is actually true! Check out if you don't believe me. Or even if you do. It was 3.30 by the time we left.

Amma's friend and her husband drove us around a really pretty lake and also showed us the expensive homes that overlook it. It was also raining slightly, which added to the ethereal quality of the impression it left on my mind. Then, they dropped us off downtown.

Downtown Minneapolis is actually a rather desolate place on Sundays, especially when I compare it to Chicago downtown. We found an artificial waterfall at the entrance of one of the malls. Water was falling from a great height and being sucked into a brown-toned granite pool. At certain angles in looked like copper-coloured water was streaming into the bottom. Prashant thought that the universe was converging and being sucked into (something) right there in Minneapolis. It was mesmerizing. We even came back an hour later for a second look( that lasted a good half an hour at least)

Downtown Minneapolis, like I said, isn't particularly entertaining . We just aimlessly wandered around the malls. Prashant got me a Scarlatti CD(my Birthday present). These really grow on you. Scarlatti's piano sonatas are really quite simple to learn, but can be surprisingly rich and satisfying if you learn to interpret them correctly. In the only Scarlatti sonata I have learnt to date ( 2 more on the agenda), there are actually sections where you have to imagine a horn playing for a few bars, and clarinet responding a few bars later...and these little things make all the difference between boring even yourself with your own playing, and reliving the seventeenth century in your own living room.

We also roamed around seaching for drinking water fountains-surprisingly quite a challenge to find. We could've shopped for clothes/shoes but I really wasn't in the mood, not even to torture Prashant. We finally went back to his apartment for a bit. Amma's friend picked me up from there and I had a light dinner at her place.

I couldn't sleep much because I had an early flight to catch. I was also generally pained by the idea of going back to work in Plano. Anyways, I woke up at 3 to get ready. Amma's friend very kindly dropped me off at the tram station, where I caught a ride to the airport. She had thoughtfully packed a tasty jam sandwich that I ate before boarding the flight. I fell asleep the instant I sat down. I didn't even notice when the plane took off! I woke up briefly for a drink of water and went back to sleep.

Finally. Back in the DFW metroplex .Took me a while to wake up to the idea. But it definitely helped that on my way out of the remote parking lot, I find myself on an unfamiliar road. A couple of miles later, I'm like, wait a minute! I don't want Freeport Parkway...where is TX-121? Or even I-635? Luckily I eventually stumbled onto TX-114 E...and even more luckily I happen to know it hits soon I am on a familiar road back home. And the mental exercise catapulted me from the dream in Minneapolis to the reality of my life in DFW. I spend the whole day at work totally dazed...after all, 2 hours of disjointed sleep is hardly enough for a baby who's used to her daily 8!!

* DFW and MSP are airport codes for Dallas - Forth Worth and Minneapolis - St. Paul, just in case you didn't already know.


Anonymous said...

Your blog -"Land O'Lakes" is amazing!!!!!!!! Your way of describing tiny things is so comical at times but you seem to give a true picture of places you see. Keep blogging- to inspire me.

We know each other...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog and wish we could go down the Missisippi river sometime...with lots of french bread and unsalted Land O' Lakes to go with!
........your fan.

Songbird said...

Hey Preets,
You paint pictures with your words so much so its feels like an painting is being gently revealed on a pleasant evenining :)
One feels so relaxed while reading what you write that the painting slowly comes to life like the sunset. Lovely as always :)

Akshay Rajagopalan said...

Nice narration. I generally don't have the fortitude to read long posts, but this one was a very pleasant read. By the way, was this Prashant Emani?

Googoo Baby said...


Delighted I could entice you to read the whole thing :-)
And yes, it is Mr. (soon to be Prof.) Prashant S Emani himself!