Missing California

Child to Adult
Cartoon by @lianafinck

I’ve been reading and watching a lot of the things I used to grow up with. And it has made me really think about how much I miss the simplicity I grew up with in California. A lot of the things here at Swarthmore (and the East Coast) are very high pressure and it kind of made me forgot what life was like back home. Even when I’m back home during breaks, I’m still always thinking about school, I’m talking with my girlfriend whose back on the East Coast. And today I realized how it’s been making me forget about what I grew up with.

I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve watched/read recently that reminded me of home

Quest Crew – I remember back when I was growing up I was captivated by watching these guys dance. They are a group of Asian dancers (shout out to Poreotics too) in California that would go make stupid and funny vlogs about their dance practices and give me a chance to get to know them.

Burmese Food – Recently I’ve been reading the cookbook by Desmond Tan “Burma Superstar”, one of the OG Burmese restaurants in San Francisco. It’s kind of crazy how growing up I would eat all of these dishes but I didn’t really understand the history of the dishes. The book gives me the geopolitical influences and forces that shaped the popular Burmese dishes today. And studying Asian Studies has given me a deeper understanding of the way people (and recipes!) transform as they move across boundaries. For example, Myanmar is sandwiched between India and China – then bringing Burmese cuisine to San Francisco, Tan worked had to work with the American/Chinese palettes and ingredients of SF. The youtube link I linked above links to somebody who pretty much is the only YouTuber posting Burmese cooking and recipe videos; and I actually wanted to contribute to that by making some Burmese cooking/recipe videos myself.

I’m not sure if it’s the distance from home that’s making me miss it so much, but I really miss the times going out on a sunny day to practice some handstands / flips I saw on Youtube, watching airplanes take off and land by the airport, and growing up in a monastery with a bunch of other Burmese kids.

I do know that as I grow older though, I want to hold on to what I grew up with.

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Exploring New York’s Waffle

For almost all of today I was adventuring in New York: I rode the subway, walked for several miles, and ended up on a ferry to another island. I normally never travel alone (I’m notorious for my shitty navigation). But I guess the stars had perfectly aligned today, and today would be the day I figure out maps for real. Also New York couldn’t be too hard to navigate, it’s just a grid, like a giant waffle! The waffle’s pockets are stacked high with tall buildings, lined with a grid of sidewalks. And within those walls was a sweet pocket on 72nd street where I had lunch at Sushi Yasaka!

Sashimicentral-park-view

After lunch, I walked a couple blocks over to Central Park. Central park is huge, and I could’ve easily spent a whole day walking through all its trails and listening to street musicians play. I also got to finish some of the book I’m currently reading (Being Mortal) under the sunlight with a beautiful view (above). Overall, I feel that Central Park would be a really nice date spot, where you could also take a boat and row around in its lake. Afterwards, I hopped on the subway, which was cool and surreal to ride. These were the famous New York subways everybody rode in, and also after reading the book The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell), it was crazy to think that I was sitting on the exact NYC Subwaysubways the Broken Window experiments were conducted on. It was also on the subway where I noticed some differences between subway riders in New York and public transportation riders in California.

  • There are a lot less people on their phones (maybe due to the fact there is no signal).
  • Everybody moves fast, the train doors only stay open for about 3 seconds if nobody gets off (as opposed to ~10 seconds on California’s BART)
  • People talk more about law and Wall Street (as opposed to tech on Caltrain)
  • Many more people read the newspaper

I wanted to cover the whole span of the subway, so I took the 1 Train to its last stop – South Ferry. It’s nice how a free ferry is offered to take people from South Ferry to Staten Island and back every 30 or so minutes. When I arrived on the island, I wasn’t sure where to go, so I followed a man with a faded-black coat onto some sort of express train. It wasn’t until about 15 minutes into the train ride when I realized how deep I was going into Staten Island. It was over 15 minutes, and the train has still not had a stop yet! Finally when the train stopped, there was nobody else on the train platform, and the creaking of the train made for a creepy ambiance. I walked around for a while, and everywhere I looked there were big warehouses surrounded by barbed wire fences. My phone battery started to get low and I was starting to get a bit creeped out, so I headed back to a train station. I waited the same 20 minutes to get off the train, but I must’ve taken a different train back since I ended up getting off at a wrong stop (LOL). I thought this was pretty hilarious, and had to wait about another 20 minutes for the next train. Overall, I was pretty bummed out since I didn’t really see anything interesting in the chunk of time I spent on Staten Island. But if I hadn’t stayed that long, I wouldn’t have been able to see this:

manhattan-night-ferry-ride-back
Manhattan on the ferry ride back

Closing thoughts

This reminded me a lot of the time I hiked across Japan with my friends, but it was different this time since I chose to go alone. I’m pretty confident now though in my navigation skills, and I will certainly go out exploring again soon. What really helped me was having a funny analogy of Manhattan’s map in my head (the waffle). Riding the subway was like sliding down a syrup trail from uptown to downtown, and that definitely played a huge role in helping me map out Manhattan into a memory palace.

new-york-waffle        waffle-syrup