fall travel series – boston & delton

14917116_10154035878769117_8335156081100326499_o

8 years ago, when I was 15, I made my first trip to the U.S. The first city I ever saw was Boston. I had the privilege of being introduced to America through this charming community and remember good times. 8 years later, I realize I didn’t remember much about the city as much as I expected, mainly because I was trying to take in the overall vibe of the US. This time, I went back with a purpose. Let’s see the historic city and get some lobster while I’m at it.

Boston
boston_freedomtrail

Boston is probably as historic as it gets with the US, alongside companions like Philadelphia.  One of the best ways to see how “New England”, which was essentially colonized America, broke away and became independent is to follow the Freedom Trail, a 1.5-3 hour walking trail that brings you through not only most of historical Boston, but also major food and cultural attractions as well. I learned so much about the US’s major independence leaders through this trail, starting at the Boston Commons.boston_union

One of my favorite stops was the Union Oyster House. Union is the oldest restaurant still running in the whole of the US and by extension is not only part of the Freedom Trail, it’s also a major US relic. The restaurant is still alive and well, and I had the pleasure of being their first customer of the day and getting a place at their historical Oyster Bar. I didn’t grab oysters this time, but apparently the shuckers here are in the Top 3 for Oyster Shucking nationwide annually.boston_quincy

Another one of my favorite stops on the trail was the Quincy market area. Sam Adams stands adjacent to the area, and invites you to partake in the delectable offerings of the market behind him. From fried oysters to Thai food, the market is quite the sight. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see street performances on the walkways, which are definitely worth stopping a while for.

Continue on the trail and you’ll reach North End, which is essentially the Italian Village in Boston. This was by far one of my favorite parts of Boston because of its rich heritage and affordable food. You feel like you’re immersing yourself in this new world when you pay close attention to people, architecture and mannerisms all around. boston_harbor

And of course, the harbor. Boston is famous for many things, but its port was what made it functional. The view is beautiful from the Waterfront and you feel the same calming vibe of Boston just pronounce itself clearly here.boston_samadams

If you have more time in Boston, there’s definitely neighborhoods you can visit too. Cambridge is a natural choice, and I explored it with my host pretty extensively. South Boston is also increasingly recommended as a site to go to, and if you want something laid back, Jamaica Plains is where you should look. I went to check out the Sam Adams Craft Brewery in JP and it was definitely one of my favorite Brewery tours I had been on. The tour guides are very entertaining and the tours provide  a lot of knowledge on one of the US’s oldest craft breweries.

Now, food. Boston has a lot of great food options. Seafood is definitely on the plate, but so is Italian, and a growing New American scene. It’s an exciting time in the culinary world for Boston.boston_lobsterroll

I was insistent on having one of the best Lobster Rolls in Boston. After all, I could get Lobster imported in Chicago, but if I was in Boston, I only wanted the best. I couldn’t go to Neptune Oyster, which apparently had the very best roll, but James Hook and Co wasn’t far off at all. This small shack by the Waterfront is unassuming and a really good value for money deal, given the amount of lobster meat they put in the roll. I was blissful after this meal.boston_mikes

Another place that was highly recommended was Mike’s Pastry. Mike’s is in North End and it sells a variety of Italian Baked Goods, but primarily Cannolis.boston_cannoli

There’s really not a lot I can say about this place other than that it definitely meets the hype. These are some of the best damn cannolis I’ve had in my life, aside from the ones I ate in Rome, and the variety of flavors really don’t make it easy pickings. I had to eat my one cannoli in two servings because it was well stuffed and full of flavor.boston_chowda

Clam Chowdah is a Bostonian classic, and the Union Oyster House serves bowls up at a regular rate. Creamy, chunky and delicious – I definitely enjoyed this mid-day slurp with my beer. You can probably order other seafood here too, but the chowder is a staple.boston_jplicks

For some reason, almost 70% of the recommendations I was given for Boston were dessert recommendations, so I had to check some of them out. JP Licks was my choice and I wasn’t disappointed by both the rich flavors and wholesome satisfaction of the ice cream. A lot of ice cream these days tend to be empty, but JP Licks definitely gives you your money’s worth.delton_aldenharlow

And finally, in my effort to discover more of New American cuisine, which focuses a lot on farm to table and locally sourced food, Alden & Harlow is in bougie Cambridge and does exactly that. The brunch here was such a delight with new twists on traditional breakfast items. Their famous burger (of which they only make 30 a day!) was the star though, with a unique beef blend and a soft potato bun. I really want to come back here.

Nightlife in Boston is actually pretty huge, mainly because Boston has the most amount of students per residents in the US and probably the world. It’s unique because a lot of the hot spots also happen to be old taverns that are attempting to rebrand, which provides a very unique proposition to your night plans. Irish bars are definitely worth visiting too, because Boston just has so many of them.boston_derrick

Derrick was my host in Boston and I loved just being able to spend all this time seeing my bro fall in love with his passion here at MIT, and see a part of his life here. Thank you for hosting me and making me so comfortable.

Thank you Boston, for never stopping to be special to me.

____

Delton, Michigan

For Thanksgiving, one of my best friends, Jacob invited me to visit his hometown and see a new part of the U.S. When he said that, I definitely wasn’t expecting what Delton was – rural and beautiful. I haven’t been to a lot of countryside towns in my life, and Delton isn’t necessarily one of them, but it certainly an adventure to get to.

delton_forest

First of all, you must be prepared to drive through dirt tracks and forests to get to your friend’s or family’s place . Second of all, you must get used to the fact that hunting rifles and crossbows are common household appliances, and that it’s just a way of life here. I honestly wanted to participate in some mock hunting myself, but we couldn’t find the time. Lastly, you must love nature and the ability to create out of what you have in front of you. I always saw that in Jacob in college, but coming here, I definitely saw how that evolved.delton_trail

I think my time traveling has always been biased to cities, mainly because I love culture, history and good food and they tend to centralize there. But coming to Delton just blew my mind on what I had been missing out on if I don’t aspire to see more parts of the world outside my comfort zone and immediate peripheral vision. 15235397_10154127493854117_4056201537452086465_o

I must give so much thanks to Jacob and his family for taking me in and making me one of them. I got a lot of mom and grandma hugs, which can never makeup from embraces from my own folks, but definitely made me feel better after the tough quarter. I had good food, a great experience and a more nuanced perspective on the US and the world from this.

Thanks Delton.

hooah.

Advertisements

living from a suitcase – a story

“Are you sure it’s here?”

“I’m pretty sure, I came back here a week ago just to check it out”

“Alright, just that it’s getting pretty dark ”

“You don’t have campfires in the day, Rovik”

The four guys emerged into a clearing , surrounded by elk trees and moist air.

“Do you see it now?” Francis said as he walked towards the log around the smothered campfire,

“Alright, alright , I’m sorry I doubted you. It’s just been too long” Drew replied , placing the backpack on the bed of leaves collected in the clearing.

“Way too long. I’m glad we did this” said Prince. He reached his arms over the shoulders of the other guys and pulled them in for a huddle.

The guys held each tightly and just let the sound of the forest moderate their own breaths.

“Nobody can take this from us” Rovik said finally, breaking the silence. “Alright , let’s start the mix. Prince, why don’t you get the ingredients and whip us up the special stew , the rest of us will start the fire. ”

” You know I got it . I’ve been wanting to cook this up again for a long time” Prince replied.

The tall muscular figure walked over to the backpacks and rummaged through for the food.

“It feels so good to be out of the office. People get so irritating sometimes” Drew said over the crackle of the fire that had just formed.

“Isn’t that why you ran for office? To serve the people?” Rovik said, warming his hands now.

“People don’t know what they want. All they care about are themselves” Drew said

“Amen to that. Fuck People… except you guys, I love you guys. But fuck you all too.” Francis said, breaking into laughter.

Rovik smiled and walked over to Francis, and gave him a friendly slap on his shoulders.

“How have you been man? Last I heard you had quit the P.D. What have you been up to?” he asked .

“Probably screwing around with his girlfriends” Prince said cheekily. “Food’s almost done guys”

“Well yes. I couldn’t take the hypocrisy. Memorandums and proceedings… it was just too much for me. I’m not a political creature , I can’t navigate that jungle.” Francis replied, ending his statement with a sigh.

“Come on, you’re a born leader. I remember people would wait for your word when you walked into the room. Even I couldn’t make a decision without consulting you.” Rovik commented.

“Thanks Rovik. But I’ve moved on. I’m much happier now, running a steelworks place down on Smith. ”

“And it’s the best steelworks place around, isn’t it? These are the hard workers that deserve our country’s appreciation.” Drew shouted across the fire, smirking.

Francis stared at Drew for a while and smiled. “Thanks Senator , you’ve got my vote… buddy”

“Alright, enough with the love story. Food’s ready to be devoured by you fiends. This may be my best stuff yet.”

The men grabbed their bowls and walked to the pot over the fire. As the night grew darker, and the wind blew colder, the men poured the hot stew into the bowls, admiring the glossy surface as it settled.

“Prince, my man. You seem to have outdone yourself again.” Drew said. He took a spoon of the stew , blew on it slowly to cool it down, and placed it  in his mouth. “I’ve never felt more like a man. Beef Stew, out in the forest, here with my men. All we need is a bear to wrestle”

“Don’t prophesy now. The night is still young.” Rovik said, laughing .

“You’re a great person, Prince. I’m sorry about what happened between you and…” Francis began.

“Don’t say her name. I haven’t completely moved on” he said, staring at his bowl.

The campfire went silent for a while. “I’m sorry I brought it up” Francis said, breaking the silence.

“No, it’s fine. If there’s anyone I’d want to to talk about this to, it’s you guys.

She broke my heart. I gave her all I could. I gave her a house, I loved her every night, I even told her every day how beautiful she was. But she just wanted something else and she decided to fuck her colleague instead. I asked her why she did it and she said that she can’t let her happiness be inhibited.

Didn’t she realise that she wasn’t thinking about how I felt? Did she really not care for me at all? ”

Prince continued staring at his bowl. He placed it on the log he was sitting on, got up and looked at the group . “Give me a minute , guys.” he said and walked into the forest.

“I never thought she was such a bitch” Francis said.

“I saw it. You tend to meet certain people in life who want to be destructive rather than constructive. The people who want to break things as they move through life, rather than heal the brokenness. ” Rovik chimed in.

“Well it’s a lot harder than you think to keep wanting to heal. Thinking about yourself only keeps the world a lot easier to understand.”  Drew said.

“I’m surprised you’re saying that Mr Senator. Isn’t it your job to serve your people? That’s what you ran on …” Rovik said, and then stood on the log, getting into pose. “I am You are Me. If I didn’t care about you, I can’t say I care about me” he bellowed, impersonating Drew.

“Fark off , and get your ass down from that log” Drew shouted, clearly angry.

“Hey, chill… I didn’t know you really felt so different now” Rovik said, slowly stepping down.

“Well, get off your high horse Rovik. Just because you travel all around the world, get yourself into all these romantic misadventures and make stories around yourself doesn’t mean you get to expect the same of us. We live real lives, lives that are defined by the hurt and reality of this world.” Francis said, pointing his finger at him.

“Woah woah, those are some sharp jabs. My life isn’t all roses as well. I’ve been living out of a suitcase the past few years.” Rovik said, defensively placing his hands on his hips.

“And what about all these sweet little things you seem to always have on your hips. It’s a different girl in every country, a different fuck every time. Tell me you don’t think you have a better life than any of  us.” Drew chimed in.

Rovik stared at Drew, and then stared at Francis. His eyes started to burn. They had seen this side of him before. It was a cold burn, a flash and then a shade. And it would hurt.

“I’m a romantic, I draw stories about love and life and all that jazz. But I am not a hedonist… I’m not in this for the carnal pleasures a much as I am for the pleasures of the soul. What do you think I desire more? Lips on my dick every other night , or a soul to bond with. If you even think you know me, you’d know it’s the latter.” Rovik said, his voice almost chill.

The campfire went silent for a while. The three men sat , looking into the campfire.

“Maybe this was a bad idea… We’ve all grown up way too much apparently” Drew said.

“Nonsense. This is exactly  why we need to meet. If we can’t open up to anyone else, it’s to each other”

The three men turned around. Prince was back.

“Listen, brothers. We’ve been through tough times. We’ve seen each other through hell and heaven. We can’t be afraid of each other now. ” he continued.

“You’re right” Drew said. “I have a confession to make”

He picked up a twig from the floor and started twirling it around his fingers. His eyes were glued to it, intense.

“I’m stepping down from office next week. I’ve decided I can’t be Senator anymore.”

“What??” Rovik said, immediately. “But why? And what are you going to do ?”

“He’ll be joining the property business with me” Francis chipped in. “We’re going to re-develop our town and bring back the wealth that’s rightfully ours”

Prince walked over and sat next to Francis.

“That’s funny, brother. I actually did hear you were going into the  property business. But I heard something else too” he said, looking at Francis.

Rovik looked at the pair, intently. “What was going on? ”  he thought to himself.

“You see, Rovik.There’s a reason why I tried to get everyone here. I know you’d be able to talk to these guys.” Prince said, pointing to both Francis and Drew.

“Francis quit the  police force and formed his own mob crew. He’s been running rackets around the city, impoverishing the hard workers and keeping things under his belt. Drew here, has been supporting it”

“How do you know all of this Prince?” Rovik asked, calling him out.

“Because after my wife left me, I wanted to come back and make a life back home. And that’s when I found out someone was destroying its very essence. It killed me to find out it was these guys” Prince replied.

“Is this true?” Rovik asked the pair.

Francis stood up from his log and walked over to where Drew was sitting.

“Yes.”

He sat down next to Drew and pulled out a cigar, which he started to light up.

“I told you this world was going to the shits , Rovik. You inspire me a lot, but this  is not one of those times. It’s time we tell  you about the reality of this cold miserable world.  And maybe then, you and Prince will join us. Who else to share the wealth with than our brothers?” Drew said, a smile now appearing on his face.

“I don’t want any part of this. Have we all let our losses affect us so badly?” Rovik appealed to the group.

“It was never a loss. It’s just the way things are. Our elevations were the inconsistencies, they were random occurrences that happened but could never be sustained. This form of living, selfish and cold , is the kind that will keep us breathing at the end of the day. It’s survival.” Francis said, and then offered the cigar to Rovik.

Rovik stood up and walked over to where Francis was sitting. They were now sitting across each other : Francis and Drew on one side, Prince and Rovik on the other.

“Tell us a story, Rovik. Tell us one of your beautiful stories.” Prince said, putting his arm over Rovik’s shoulder.

Rovik stared at the fire, letting it warm his soul up again. He felt the heat, and his nerves tingle with excitement.

“Alright, I’ll tell a story.

Milan has a beautiful history. There’s so much to see and do in the city, but the one thing that captured me most about this city was this girl. We’ll call her Sofia. I met Sofia on the steps of the Duomo, a large Gothic church near the centre. She was feeding the pigeons and I asked to join her. She then invited me to get some gelato, and I convinced her to spend the day with me. I took her to dinner, and then took her back to my place and we made love.

The next morning, I was ready for her to say good bye, but she decided to stay. She played with my hair, and stared into my eyes. What are you doing, I asked her. Falling in love with you, she said. I laughed back, and asked her if that was too fast.

We’re Italian , she said. Life’s too short to not want to fall in love. I stared back into her eyes, and then kissed her deeply. We spent the whole day in, making love multiple times and watching Italian soap operas. I had a flight booked for the night to Barcelona and hadn’t decided whether I wanted to leave or not.

I told her about it, and she kissed me. Stay, she said. I will, I lied. I couldn’t believe I had reached here. Was I falling in love? I wanted to find out what was wrong with what I was seeing. I started trying to find flaws in her, to ask her about her history and her background. Who are your parents? What’s your job?

She started getting annoyed, and by the end of the night she asked me to go catch my flight. This was silly, she said. This was stupid, I said. I walked out, got onto my flight, and then felt the weight of my arrogance settle. I ruined the moment, by refusing to believe in the good. I was looking for what was wrong so much I forgot to factor in the beautiful.

It’s been a while since the incident. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find Sofia again… I hope I do. But I know what was possible. I knew it was real, I knew I was a force of action and that I was doing something. I was living. I could never deny that.

So I keep believing. I keep hoping. I don’t lose hope on the good. And you shouldn’t too. This world needs more believers like you guys once were. We need to heal this world. We just need to.”

The campfire was silent. The brothers stared into the fire once again. Every moment crept back on them … the stories their lives had been built on. They had done great things, they had build legacies. They had truly lived.

“What would you think if I sang out of tune?” Prince chimed in.

Francis and Drew looked up. Rovik looked over to Francis, and smiled.

“Would you stand up and walk out on me?” he chimed in, walking over to Drew.

“You’re my brother. No matter what you’ve done, we’re in this forest again. We’re safe here and we can decide to move forward. ” he said to the pair.

“Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key”

Rovik  sang, and then gestured to them.

“You know I can’t resist” Drew said.

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mmm, I get high with a little help from my friends”

Francis and Prince joined in.

Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

And the forest was filled with music, just like it was meant to be. In the darkness, they had found the light that they thought they had lost. And with a little help from their friends, they were back where they were supposed to be.

We all need somebody to lean on.

geronimo.

 

sign language

story below. disclaimer first: i’ve decided to stop publishing the #77breaths on my blog mainly because I feel like I’m double-typing what I post on my instagram. You can follow the challenge on my instagram and facebook and even my snapchat!

___

it was one of those days for him. one of those lazy uneventful days in which all he had to focus on was the feelings in his heart and the tempo of his soul. he was in the University library – just browsing through the multitude of books that just sat around with no one actually going through them.

” the library is now just a destination of quietness , nothing more than the epitome of all things peaceful” the librarian had shared over a casual conversation. it’s ironic though, she had mentioned , because most of these books portray the largest wars of ideas ever seen.

mink was in the non-fiction section; browsing through books on philosophy and psychology ;hoping to find something to explain the irritating itch he felt in his brain. it felt similar to a literal itch and yet the doctors thought he was just imagining things.

his leg all of a sudden, felt something blocking its way. right inbetween of two shelves , on the carpeted floor sat an aged archaic book, calling for mink to open it. he lifted the book up to his chest level and laid it open to the mid-section.

“and when Life had departed him, it had nowhere else to go, and so became its own paradigm” he read out loud.

and there was nothing but a whisper.

___

the surroundings had changed drastically. what used to be a library was now a desolate forest. there were no signs of wildlife and all that mink saw were two stumps across from each other in a clearing . he walked towards them, and in a natural pull took a seat on one of them.

“welcome” the voice said. “don’t bother trying to look for me, i’m seated right across from you”

mink looked across and saw the faintest impression of a body on the stump. “how do i get back?” he asked hurriedly.

“that’s funny – it’s always the same question. you’re brought to this world, somewhere foreign and you talk to something you can’t comprehend; and all you want to do is travel back” the voice retorted.

“alright who are you then”

“you opened my book – so make your wildest guess”

“it said “The Book of Life” – but you can’t be Life…”

“and why not?

___

“so tell me, why am i here?” mink asked, while fiddling with his fingers. he noticed the forest had gotten smaller, almost fitting snugly around them.

“to talk. i do get lonely. tell me, how have you enjoyed your life?” the voice answered back.

“hold on, i don’t get how you can be life. do i become you when i die?”

“you don’t . your soul disappears – and i know not what happens to it. but life, the karmic essence that flows through you – all that energy ; that is what i am. i am an accumulation of the life energies of the world, from the dawn of time till the end of life.”

“and yet you can’t be seen? shouldn’t that much energy be too strong for me to behold?”

“ah that’s where you’re wrong, mr mink. you see, we’re all gifted with life in the form you enjoy right now. but my energy is only truly maximised when people choose to LIVE. to move past their current dreariness and completely exist. till then, i am just this echo. people haven’t truly lived.”

” what does it mean to live then? to have a family and travel, to see the world?”

“you can do that, but it’s not so much the what as much as it is the why and how that’s important. live with purpose, each day as a challenge to truly feel involved with everything around you. write, play music, exercise – but do these to enable all that you’re provided with. love, because that is the heart of living – let your heart be broken many times over, but let them be broken by people and issues that are important. never ever let the mundane be your comfort – give yourself to the whims of the heart.”

“and why are you telling me this? why of people me?” mink asked, overwhelmed at this point.

“because you have an itch in your head. because you think too much and sometimes love too little. and because you’re not the first. we spend too much time learning things that we’ll never use like partial differentiation and organic chemistry – but where do you learn lessons like humanity and empathy. these are the lessons that your world needs”

____

First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire.

And now I am dying…

And suddenly I realize I forgot to live.

 

geronimo