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Thursday, September 06, 2007

City of Brotherly Love

The last weekend saw us travelling through Philadelphia (phil-adelpho::love-brother). My plan was to show my wife and kids the city, through the eyes of someone who lived there for almost three years!

Everytime I used to come back after some trip in those days, seeing the Philadelphia skyline, used to make me feel "I am home". It was in effect a home away from home. I visited the city after 9 years! We got into the city at 9AM on Labor day and the streets were deserted. Just as we got near the 30th street station, San said "stop somewhere soon. I need hot water to mix with the baby food and I said "I know this place like the back of my hand!".

For some reason, the human mind thinks that the world it considers rosy and safe is always frozen in time and place. At least mine does and when I have spoken to a few close friends, they agree that they too have been duped by their imaginations in the same way!

Here are a few examples:

On our recent India trip, I went through the Mandaveli area to show Jr. where I played hide and seek! Duh! The entire street was full of apartments and I could not even recognize the area.

This inspite of a previous experience in 1998 when going home after three years, I went to meet my cousin. Expecting a little boy in his baniyan and a little shorts, I was surprised to see someone who had grown to be my shoulder height! My aunt told me "Just because you go to America, kids here dont stop growing, you know!".

That pretty much sums it up. The Madras I left has changed so much, even by name.
The Philadelphia I left has changed so much! Where food trucks used to stand between two buildings on 32nd street has now been converted into a private university garden of sorts! There are high rise shopping complexes everywhere. 30th Street station has a multi story parking garage and a food court that is just plain amazing!

All the houses, apartments I lived in are still there! Took pictures of them, but the high rises are encroaching and it is only a question of time before they also become a memory.

Why does the mind so something like that? Tuck in your happy places in a "freeze frame" section of your head?

Is this the same reason my mom sees me as a kid? I must have been a good kid at 10 or 12 or whatever it was!

We did have a great trip though. Here is to memories..

The second window on the 3rd floor.. a dark room.. a huge spectrometer..sleepless graduate student..

The little ones get to see the main entrance of Drexel University..

The parking structure that was not there 9 years ago. Today a building like this gets raised in a years time!

Inside the 30th Street station. This main area has not changed one bit!

Chestnut Arms! Initially I thought this was also demolished to convert into a shopping complex. The old dude who sells incense sticks on the pavement on 40th near market was still there!

The liberty bell. I have given the guided tour to so many friends who visited me in Philadelphia. Now they have a brand new display center with extra security checks. Hell, they moved the bell from where it used to be. I walked the wife, kids, MIL and cousin around the old historic area and a guy tells me "They moved the bell now! You go through security to see it". It is not just Philadelphia that has changed!

Got this shot from the moving horse carriage ride(we went on the horsie around the historic area) just to see the new contrasting and dwarfing the old! The buidling on the foreground is close to 150 years old and the highrise is new.

If taking the wife and kids to Philadelphia can give me such a wonderful experience, what will taking them to Banaras do?

We may have to send notice to all professors of goosebumpology to witness new scientific evidence that might be uncovered when Sundar goes back to Banaras!

Have a great week!


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I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 6:38 AM, Blogger Swatantra wrote...

Nice Pictures!! Specially the 30th street station!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 7:22 PM, Blogger Shobha wrote...

Really nice! the post and the pics .. you must've been drunk with nostalgia ... how wonderful.

You know something, my folks live in Mandaveli :)

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 4:31 AM, Blogger Balaji S Rajan wrote...

Good one! Sundar I have also felt the same. Have you not heard someone seeing us after long time saying " Last time you were not this fat/thin. This time you have changed a lot". I read somewhere, that the image gets stored in their brain and the moment they see us it brings the old frozen image within a flash, and allows the human beings to compare. It is one of those wonders of human.

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:40 PM, Blogger Unknown wrote...

swatantra , thanks

ss, yes. it was fantastic and emotional. It is a small world!

Balaji Sir, I didnt know that. It is very interesting! no wonder I get freeze frames in my head all the time!



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