I visited my cousin in Chicago over the Memorial day weekend. Megabus agreed to take me there for about 25 dollars. This was good considering that I don't get paid in dollars for being in the US on a business visit and no matter how much I scoff the convert-into-rupees mentality that immigrants have, I am forced to perform that teraflop conversion in my mind. Yeah, I know I am bad at maths - yes, even simple multiplication and addition - so rest assured that I merely calculate with the nearest approximation involving as many zeroes at the end as possible.

Anyway, after an overnight assault on my body, especially my neck, the bus let me out at the union station a full hour before schedule, early morning on Saturday. I shudder to think the crazy driving that must have happened as I contoured and flexed my body to find some posture that wouldn't tear me into parts. Did I mention that it was raining like.. well.. er.. heavy rain? Yes, it was pouring all over the place but fortunately the bus didn't leak - ok, the bus wasn't that bad except I am sure the buses back home, which I avoid at all costs, were better. For 25 bucks (though that's a filthy 900+ rupees, approximate of course), I shouldn't have expected too much.

My cousin insisted that I should do atleast some touristy things. I decided to play along :). Saturday was washed away by the rain. It poured like crazy and so I spent the time playing with my nephew, who has begun mouthing random words. He is a typical hyperactive busybody, running around all the time and turning things over. Seeing a brief let-up in the rain, my cousin drove me to the temple in Aurora. He knows that I am not a "temple-person", but he thought I should atleast see the place. Now this temple is sent in a sprawling campus featuring a small mound. The whole place is grassed and looks like a million-buck mansion. Further proof of the God's - none other than Venkateshwara or Balaji, as he is known - wealth was found in the almonds - yes, almonds - that were served as the prasad.

Sunday, I was on a river boat on an Architecture Foundation cruise. The boat, a large boat, took people through the Chicago river with a guide describing the major buildings that marked Chicago's skyline.

I picked some interesting bits of info about downtown Chicago. It was built over a marsh. The Chicago river was classified as toxic until recently, now it is labelled highly-polluted. Just like our dear old Kooum. Trump, of the bad-hair fame, is busy building a 99 floor structure in downtown. Chicago is called the windy city not because of the uncomfortably windy weather but because of its politicians of yore who could blow more hot air than anyone else. Downtown Chicago was burned down to the ground by the Great Fire of 1871. This was a blessing in disguise because it enabled the building of a new planned city. Some parts of downtown feature two layers both above ground, so you actually have two sets of roads and pathways.

After the cruise, I waited in a 2 hour long queue to get the chance to pee on the 103th floor of what was once the world's tallest building - the Sears Tower. The peeing experience was not as exhilarating as I thought it would be but my disappointment was more than healed by the awesome view from high up there (no not the loo, I meant the skydeck). You can see miles and miles of land stretching below. Skyscrapers around the Sears tower looked like midgets from this mammoth of a building. They didn't have any open windows though. Now that would have been mind-blowing.

Next day it was time to catch the bus back to Minneapolis. With a pretty girl for company, nope I didn't even bother to talk to her:( , I spent another agonizing trip on the bus. It wasn't too bad this time because being an afternoon bus I didn't have to go to sleep. So I spent the time gaping out of the windows. The driver stopped the bus twice on the emergency lane to check on something. I have no idea what it was but the bus didn't breakdown and so I couldn't care less.

10 in the night I treated my stomach to some gobbled up fish-n-chips before crashing into bed to save my tired body.

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  1. Sunita Says:

    Chicago is very photogenic. beautiful pics.

  2. M (tread softly upon) Says:

    Lived for 5 yrs in Chicago and I still think it has the nicest skyline in the US. Miss it inspite of the weather :)

  3. Biju Says:

    @sunita: yes it is.

    @m: chicago does have an awesome skyline. I can't compare it with any other "big" city but I was fascinated by all those different building styles.

  4. Eroteme Says:

    Cool! So did you do enough rounds and collect at least half a kilo of almonds? :-)

  5. Biju Says:

    @erotreme: didn't have the patience to wait for the almonds :D

  6. Chells Says:

    peeing experience? 103th floor???

  7. Biju Says:

    @chells: I guess i should be more elaborate. I meant peeing in the loo in the 103rd floor. :)