Monday, January 02, 2006


I spent the afternoon with a childhood friend, who was in town for Christmas. It was my first day out in 1 week. I met him at Port Authority, which is our usual rendezvous point since he travels to the city via bus from New Jersey. From the bus terminal, we found and ate at a nearby Italian restaurant. After our meal, we strolled through the bustling streets of Times Square, where crowds and crowds of holiday shoppers and tourists walked. By this time it was dark and the multicolored lights of the Crossroads of the World were alight fully and dazzling to both natives and visitors alike. The energy and excitement of the season was evident amongst this sea of humanity. We stopped by the Virgin Megastore in Times Square, where we scanned the great discounts that were being offered. Although the day after Christmas is an excellent day for bargains, we didn't buy anything. We just perused and talked. From the Virgin Megastore, we walked to the Diamond District at 47th Street and 6th Avenue in order to look at wedding and engagement rings. I don't remember ever visiting the Diamond District before. Of course, I had no need to do so. My friend, however, wanted to get a better understanding of the prices and styles of engagement and wedding rings. He is saving money now with the intention of proposing to his girlfriend in the near future. So since we were very close to 47th Street and he had some time to burn before he had to catch the bus back to New Jersey, we decided to peruse the wedding-engagment sets in the Diamond District. Most of the jewelry stores in the area had closed by this time, but we were fortunate to find one that hadn't closed its doors yet. So after maybe 15 minutes in the store, we left and made our way back to the loud and luminous streets of Times Square, where we parted and went our seperate ways.

Earlier in the day before I met up with my friend at the Port Authority, I visited The New York Historical Society. Situated across the street in the shadow of its behemoth neighbor, The American Museum of Natural History, The New York Historical Society is a gem of a place. I was last there in October when I saw the exhibit, Slavery in New York: A Landmark Exhibition. This time, however, I went there to check out Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society. As I mentioned in a recent post, I am a mega fan of landscape art (paintings and photography) and in particular, that of the Hudson River School. Unfortunately, I spent no more than about 35 minutes in this exhibit because I feared that I'd be late to meet my friend at Port Authority. It was my fault totally. Had I woken up and visited the museum earlier, time wouldn't have been an issue and so I would not have felt rushed. I like to take my time as I walk through exhibits. I like to read the labels and study the art meticulously. However, during this visit I took my time analyzing perhaps half of the works present and then, I made a broad sweep around the remaining works before I left to meet my friend. What a bummer! I was so excited and inspired by this impressive exhibition. It closes on February 19th. My aim is to see it again this week. I fear that if I don't see it before my transplant begins, I'll miss it by the time I'm out of the hospital.

I mentioned above how excited I was about this exhibit. There's something about this kind of art that transports me to a different place. I forget about the problems I'm facing now and instead, I dream about doing the one thing which had sustained my hope and will to fight on during my moments of doubt: traveling. Looking at the paintings in the museum, I was reminded of my travels, particularly during my year abroad in 2002-2003, and my strong yearning to strap on a knapsack and travel the world again. I was reminded of the awe and humility that I felt as I hiked and rested in the midst of scenic valleys, beaches, trails, and small mountain-top villages. I was reminded too of the many friendships that were forged in these distant places.

Below are works of some of the artists, whose paintings are included in Nature and the American Vision as well as a hodgepodge of some other landscape images, which when needed help to transport me to different and exciting places.


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