Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Travel Notes - I

I had wanted to visit the New England area for a very long time. Many years ago,when I studied American literature at University, I realized that most of America's best known, highly influential, and most beloved writers had hailed from the region, and I knew I had to see for myself the region that had produced such great minds. Besides, Harvard University is there. So, finally, one of my long-cherished dreams was going to come true for me. I was hyped up, super- excited, and ready to be overawed by pretty much everything I encountered.

Our first stop was Boston, Massachusetts. As we disembarked from the bus and went into the bus depot, the first conversation I overheard went thus:

Police officer/ Security Guy: [Looking at a Buddhist monk who hurried past] Is that the Delei Lama? (Dalai Lama)
Woman standing nearby: I think so...Yeah, I think so. But I don't think he'd be taking a bus here....

They were both completely serious. So much for first impressions. My friend and I exchanged looks of horror - and burst out laughing.

Anyhow, after a series of subway transfers, we reached the Bed and Breakfast that we were to stay in, run by a gay couple well past their prime but still full of life and drive. I won't digress into the very interesting art work placed strategically all over their beautiful home. Suffice it to say that they had quite a collection of gay art. Bruce, one of the hosts, was a great cook and we had a merry Fourth of July dinner with all of their other guests and some neighbors. This was one of the more harmless pieces in my room (not the most incongruous, though)

Boston decided to put on the Fourth of July celebrations including a concert with The Beach Boys followed by fireworks on the 3rd July because of the impending Hurricane Arthur predicted to hit the next day. So we went and enjoyed the show (sidenote: they must have a huge budget for fireworks) and then got caught in a downpour that took everyone by surprise on that balmy summer evening. I had worn a thin cotton shirt which turned out to be quite see-through when soaking wet. I felt like a Hindi movie heroine of yesteryears when they would stand and sing songs under waterfalls to avoid charges of blatant nudity on screen. But I digress.

Harvard University, which is a short train ride from the heart of Boston, was everything and more that I had imagined it to be. The "more" because it was VERY touristy, complete with tour guides shepherding various groups all across the campus, a Scottish wedding party marching to the tunes of bagpipes, Harvard souvenirs in all imaginable shapes and sizes and forms - you get the picture. Here are some, anyway:

World Cup football (soccer here, arrgh!) fever riding high, we even took a moment to catch a game at a sports bar in Hahvahd. Which was pretty cool.

Of all the information crammed into our heads by the tour guide, the one (probably useless) tidbit that stands out is the fact that the face of Mr. Harvard in the statue above is not actually his, because there are no records to show what he actually looked like. It is said that the statue's face is modelled after a certain Leonard Hoar, who was an ex-President of the University. Most ex-Presidents and other important people are remembered at Harvard by having the residential houses named after them - for example, Lowell House, Adams House, Mather House, and so on. But to have a house named after Hoar was a bit of a problem. So they commemorated him in the face of the great late and faceless Mr. Harvard, who, by the way, was not the founder of the University. Hah.


  1. Quite an adventure you're having. Grateful that we get to read about them as well. Hoar House, ya, that would have been something 😁.. Wish I could also see many of the things you have described so vividly but most of all the Hindu movie heroine. 😁. Keep dreaming Daydream Believer.

    1. Thank you :) @Sanga. The hindi movie heroine - overhyped.