The American Museum of Natural History

This Summer was my first visit to New York and one of the things near everyone said I HAD to check out was the Museum of Natural History – a recommendation not without merit. I ended up spending hours upon hours checking out a rather impressive collection of varied and almost disturbingly lifelike exhibits (including the newly acquired and famous Titanosaurus and the legendary Blue Whale).

It was an exhausting and enriching experience trolling the halls of the Museum with my trusty SLR and while I was impressed with the state and volume of the AMNH’s collection, I was a little disappointed to see that some of their literature/signage was desperately in need of updating and/or fact-checking (I even tweeted one such image at them at the time but it seems they took no notice). I’m sure in the larger scheme of the cultural and educational service institutions like the AMNH discharge, such errors or oversights are negligible. At the same time however, I wondered how many of the kids running around that Museum that day, or indeed any other, would go home having learnt something somewhat ignorant, and mildly insensitive, through someone else’s goof. Still – not to make a mountain out of a mole hill – such minors slips aside, I left that day feeling richer for the experience.

If you’re going to go I’d chalk out at least 3-4 hours to really appreciate the collection they have. And it’ll be worth going online in advance and checking if any of the exhibits are closed (like the Butterfly House – which is seasonal and was sadly closed when I made my visit).

Advertisements

New Sights, New Sounds, New York

This summer I finally broke my US-curse and made it to New York. That’s right, after many near-misses and false-starts I flew the 16-something hours to New York City, New York – the city so nice they named it twice!

I couldn’t even begin to describe the amazing time I had there. Suffice to say between meeting new people, catching up with old friends and family, taking in some “real New York” culture, it was a brilliant 10 days of couch-surfing and urban trekking.

Here’s one of many blog posts showing off some (out of the hundreds) of pics that I took while I made my way around the city that never sleeps.

And if you’re looking for some travel trips here are a few to help you out:

  1. THE UNLIMITED PASS: It’s great to walk around New York, but the City is quite big, and if you’re bouncing back and forth between the Boroughs like I was, you’ll do well to get the unlimited travel pass on a Metrocard – hop on and off the Subway and busses as much as you’d like for a whole week and take in the sights.
  2. THE LOCAL FARE: I always make it a point to try the local flavours. Two things that I took away and I’d recommend for sure – Bulleit Bourbon and Artichoke Pizza (oh man my mouth is watering just thinking of the latter!)
  3. ROOF TOP BARS AND BASEMENT COMEDY: Two things I thoroughly enjoyed, and I’d recommend you try out – a nice cocktail on one of many Roof-top Bars (there’s nothing quite like an amazing skyline view while sipping a Mojito) and of course a show at one of half a dozen comedy venues (the most well-known of which is probably The Comedy Cellar – we tried to get in but unfortunately were thwarted by the fact that Pete Holmes’ show ‘Crashing’ was shooting there that night – still, I did meet a legend of comedy – Artie Lange – muchos coolio!).
  4. STEAK: Oh my god New York is a place to get a good steak – and so many places to choose from how do I even begin! I’d have to say the most mind-blowing were certainly at Peter Luger (where they start you off with a giant slab of thick cut bacon – *drools like Homer Simpson*) and Tavern on the Green (where they have a Tomahawk Steak that’ll make you cry!)
  5. MUSEUMS AND SPECIAL SHOWS: Like any big city New York is absolutely flooded with Museums, many of which feature limited time shows that are usually worth the extra price of admission. I devoted a day each to the American Museum of Natural History (with some astoundingly life-like exhibits) and the Cloisters (where The Met was hosting a show called ‘Heavenly Bodies’ – combining the imagination of the modern fashion world with Medieval Catholic art and architecture – on till October 2018).
  6. WALK: Finally, you’ll see so much more of the City if you take the time to walk around. There were so many little sights and experiences I stumbled onto just because I decided I was going to pick a point and then just explore. If you have the time and the proclivity do so – It’s a pedestrian friendly City and one where sometimes you’ll see so much more when you don’t know where you’re going : )

PS – A special thanks to my friend Kate for letting me use pictures of her from our visit to the Heavenly Bodies Met exhibit at the Cloisters.

Back to Whipsnade (June, 2018)

It won’t be a terrible surprise to any followers that yet again, following a hiatus post the April poetry-writing flurry, the thing that brings me back to posting is an urge to share more photographs from yet another Zoo visit : )

This post features shots from a visit to the Whipsnade Zoo which I first visited back in 2015. There were wonderfully familiar sights, but also some new experiences with the Zoo having finished renovations and extensions that were still coming up in 2015. Not to mention the acquisition of a few new animals – such as the beautiful new Amur Tigress (unfortunately not pictured here as she spent a majority of the time having a nice little nap in the corner of the enclosure).

It was a wonderful day… for many a reason. A gloriously sunny day. Some fun sightings. Fresh air and (relative) peace and quiet… Though I hope these humble offerings help highlight at least one, the most important one even – these glorious and gorgeous and amazing creatures!

GloPoWriMo 2018: Day XXX: The Forever, Captain

Ah here we are dear readers. The last day, the last poem. It has, as always, been a bitter-sweet journey, pushing oneself to write and create every day of this month – with results of… varying levels of success : D

For the final prompt, NaPoWriMo offers the chance to finish on a fun and quirky note – a chance I happily welcome.

PS – While I have gone with just one random bit of trivia to inspire my poem today, you may enjoy reading some of the other “Super Obscure Facts” that NaPoWriMo linked.

And now, without further ado, and to bid you adieu…

The Forever, Captain

Oh Captain, my Captain
With your glorious ‘stash
With your magic floating eyebrows
And your golden berried cache

I’ve ne’er had the pleasure
Of dining at your table
But your smile invites me to feel
I’d enjoy it if I was able

You’ve been the face of many a campaign
Your salute standing firm
And though you’ve never been promoted
You’ve steadfastly served your term

It matters not how early or late
How charged with hunger the soul
You are the master of the morning plate
You are the captain of your bowl

You’re there for your men and women
Whether breakfast, dinner or lunch
And on behalf of them I salute you
Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch

GloPoWriMo 2018: Day XXIX: Unscented

Coming in right under the wire and off prompt today for the second last poem of Glo/NaPoWriMo 2018. It was a jam-packed day, full of work and gaming – not the lazy Sunday I’d normally prefer (and rarely get anyway). So keeping and short, but not so sweet for today’s poem with…

A flower without a scent
This beautiful thing
Less that what it was meant

A rose by any other call
Smelt as sweet
Or not at all

A flower without a scent
This deceitful thing
Less than what it was meant

A bloom without its power
Like ivory sunshine
Trapped in ebony tower

A flower without a scent
This hollow thing
Less than what it was meant

A flower without a scent
And a fool
Who thought there was more

GloPoWriMo 2018: Day XXVIII: Wish You Were Here

Okay I really like today’s NaPoWriMo prompt! It’s short and sweet and I knew immediately what I wanted to write. So take a minute, picture your favourite holiday destination, possibly play some Incubus and read on…

Greeting from here
How is it back there
It’s so nice to be away
Almost heaven I swear

Having a swell time
Not the same without you
The air is so sweet
The sky is so blue

I’m lying in the sun
Watching my troubles disappear
Like I said, almost heaven
Wish you were here

PS – Yes I know the prompt today was to write a “prose poem”, but I tried a few drafts and it just didn’t work for me – so I went will a good old-fashioned standard ABCB : P

PPS – Go through the vintage postcards from the NaPoWriMo prompt – Some of them are so idyllic!

GloPoWriMo 2018: Day XXVII: The Mighty Chariot

Today NaPoWriMo asks us to look for inspiration in The Tarot. Now most of us have seen some manifestation of this – in a movie or TV show – but I have to admit I certainly did not actually know much about it. So I spent some time looking through the resource linked by NaPoWriMo – Arthur Edward Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot. While learning more about it has had no impact on the extent to which I believe in say, divination or mysticism, it certainly is interesting to see the philosophy behind this school of thought.

And now for today’s poem, inspired by the major arcana symbol of The Chariot (a nicer version of the pic here)

I am gold and silver shining
I am the light cutting through the dark
Mine is victory over all planes
I bring forth the vision and the spark

On my shoulders the divine
Upon my head eternal crown
Champion over manifest destinies
Answered the riddle of renown

The infernal beasts pull my way
For none can halt my path
I am master of mind and body
None without may stand my wrath

Behold my golden visage
Awe in shining light
I am the prince of princes
I am mind and I am the might

GloPoWriMo 2018: Day XXVI: Medium Rare

Today the NaPoWriMo prompt challenges us to evoke all the senses… So I immediately jumped to an experience I’m looking to replicate again very soon – one that has the potential, if done right, to bring all 5 to life…

WARNING: MAY CAUSE SOME MOUTHS TO WATER ;

Can you see it
Upon its ivory steed
A mix of brown and red and black
Do you see it
Does your heart begin to speed
Your lips quiver and droop and smack

Can you smell it
That intoxicating perfume
A mix of ash and meat and spice
Do you smell it
Do you nostrils begin to bloom
Does it enthrall and bewitch and entice

Can you hear it
The sizzle on your plate
A mix of singe and crackle and hiss
Can you hear it
As you receive it with all haste
Does your palate crave and reminisce

Can you feel it
As you penetrate its skin
A mix of fleshy and tender and firm
Can you feel it
Are you eager to begin
Does your mouth water and your tongue squirm

Can you taste it
As you take it in at last
A mix of fat and blood and ash
Can you taste it
This most perfect repast
With sides of gravy and chips and mash

Because I can

And it’s driving me insane

GloPoWriMo 2018: Day XXV: Warning: Contains Nuts

Product may be harmful
If consumed in immoderate quantities
Retailer not responsible
No provided warranties

May encounter difficulties
In extreme moisture or heat
Kindly moderate intake
Of brown liquids and red meat

Shelf life may fluctuate
Depending on care of use
Kindly maintain well
Kindly avoid abuse

Limited edition product
Entirely one of a kind
Poor substitutes available in market
Identical goods you will not find

If damaged, DIY recommended
Product designed to self sustain
If owner shows good will
The product can be maintained

These guidelines are key
No ifs, ands, or buts
Enjoy your Old Model Z
Warning: Contains nuts

GloPoWriMo 2018: Day XXIV: On the Death of Lazarus

Today NaPoWriMo challenges us to write an Elegy – a poem typically in remembrance of someone who has left this mortal veil, except with a tone of hopefulness. That’s an innately beautiful thought, and one that might even be hardcoded into the human animal – the thought of bright lights, of a place beyond the darkness. And whether its real or not, it’s a nice thought. And there are fewer of those in the world than there should be.

As for my poem today… well, there are many kinds of death… and many kind of hope…

Goodnight sweet prince
You wonderfully naive soul
Farewell to your brave heart
That once made mine whole

I can fondly remember
The stupid smile on your silly face
I’ll never forget
What you’ve tried so to erase

They say fools rush in
And you were never any exception
Deceit and subterfuge and betrayal
Were always beyond your perception

You lived a dozen lifetimes
So often died and resurrected
But this too did pass
And in the end each is bested

I feel you less and less now
With each passing day and year
Not gone, not entirely
But not as quite here

Your trials taught me well
And though I am not man you were
I will try to honour your lives
Your lessons I will not spur

Forgive me if I falter
If I cannot open my heart as you did
I am scared where you were not
My spring not undiluted

Lazarus you were the best of us
And now gone you are missed
Your shadow hangs over me
Your spirit not yet dismissed

Goodbye is not forever
Though I do not know, I have faith
One day we’ll see each other again
Whether mortal flesh or ethereal wraith

Goodnight sweet prince
Farewell my friend
And may we never say goodbye
If you ever rise again