Shades Of Words


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Goodbye St. Louis

Note: Kapil and I moved out of STL after having lived there for almost 3 years. Since I had been clamoring for the big city life for so long I had not anticipated the wave of loss to hit me as I got ready to “leave on a jet plane”. Putting my thoughts to paper, I had planned to publish this post sometime ago, but the craziness of the shifting, packing and unpacking got in the way.  Now I am glad for the delay because living in different place has given me more perspective and makes my goodbye even more meaningful

As I turned my car into the parking spot in front of my house one last time, I could not help getting a little misty eyed. Today is my last day in St. Louis before we shift to Los Angeles, and it seemed not so long ago that I moved here from India and made this city my home. Even though I had traveled to the US before, St. Louis will always remain my first American experience. And out in here in the Midwest, it’s as authentic as it can get.

Sitting in the parking lot, staring at my cozy suburban apartment, my mind wandered to the things that I will remember the most.

I know that when I will face the infamous LA traffic, I will dearly miss the five-minute drive to work at the lovely campus of Maritz, from where hubby and I would often take a detour to the Krispy Kreme nearby and indulge in “Hot Now” donuts. And I will miss heading out to the smaller parks that surrounded our neighbourhood in Ballwin for long walks or bird-watching. My particular favourite is Queenie Park which has nice trails into the wilderness where the sounds of the traffic are all but muffled and it is easy to spot owls, robins, yellow finches, mountain jays and blue birds. Sometimes the longer drive to Lake Creve Couer were rewarding simply for the shimmering view of the lake in the sunset.

I will miss waiting for the weekly Riverfront Times edition that kept me updated about the small but active theatre scene in St. Louis. I remember catching some excellent performances in UMSL. I will miss watching really good productions of Shakespeare in the Park. There is something very gratifying to watch these dramas the way they were meant to be performed, in the open for the general population. Sitting in the green grass of Forest Park, sipping wine in the twilight, as fireflies circled above you – these memories already seem like a different time.

I will also miss the cute little town of Kirkwood and the many, many weekends that we spent there. I know that the Loop is the more popular hangout area in St. Louis but I personally prefer Kirkwood – it’s just so quaint and pretty. During the daytime there is the little farmer’s market to browse through and in the evenings you can just walk around, or walk into the dozens of restaurant that line its streets. I have eaten some great food here, including Mediterranean at Ranoush, gourmet pizza at Dewey’s and fancy Italian at Amicis. A great place to drink down a few beers is Bar Louie. If you ever drop in at Bar Louie’s you must sample their loaded fries. Speaking of fries, I am going to miss dirt cheap booze and spicy fries at our neighbourhood bar, Fandango’s, where we went when we had nothing else to do and getting drunk was fun enough. Aah those aimless summer evenings!

I will miss lusting after the European styled lavish houses in Kirkwood and Clayton. I love the apartment life, but it’s hard to resist the beauty of a French Villa.

I will also miss the change of seasons. I may not miss the freak thunderstorms, tornadoes and six-inch snowfall, but I will miss the glorious colors of autumn and the new born beauty of spring which is made more meaningful after months of grey.

So dear St. Louis, I might have sulked and complained about your small town life, about never having anything to do, but for what it’s worth, I am never going to forget the time I spent there and I am going to miss you.

Goodbye.

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Grand Boulevard, St. Louis

St. Louis is a town of considerable historical importance, especially as it was the frontier for the western exploration of America. Somehow it has never reached the size and buzz of the bigger metropolises of the United States. It does have its own unique charm and there are some neighbourhoods that provide opportunity for walking, shopping, eating and people-watching.

Grand Boulevard near SLU is a great place to spend your evening. You can start by taking a leisurely stroll in Tower Grove Park. If you want to sweat it out, you can join other joggers and bicyclists that you will dot the park.

After the stroll, head over for a coffee at the Indie coffee shop MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse.  A poster on the entry door proudly claims – “We support the other 99%” and you have to just look over your shoulder to the neighboring brownstone to realize that you are next to the local “Occupy Wall Street” movement!

From Arsenal Street to Humphry Street, Grand Boulevard has some of the most popular restaurants in town. Some of the ones that I have tried and I recommend are:

King and I for Thai Cuisine – Try any of the traditional Thai curries. The quantities are fairly large so be prepared for leftovers. On weekends, you can expect a waiting time of 10-15 minutes, if you do not have a reservation

The Vine Mediterranean Café and Restaurant – This totally unassuming eatery serves some of the best schawarma and hummus that I have eaten in St. Louis.

Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant – It’s not out of ordinary to say “Let’s order a Pizza” or “Lets have Chinese” or “Lets do Indian food” , is it? However, I am sure none of us ever think of “ Oh I feel like eating Ethiopian!” ..Well we should! This is by far the closest I have ever come to eating a cuisine that is so Indian. It’s basically rice pancakes with well cooked vegetables, meat and lentils, a concept very similar to the south Indian food.

If you don’t feel like eating, there are bunch of interesting stores to check out in Grand Boulevard. Now I make it a point to go to all book shops in a city (no, seriously!) and I cannot recommend the Dunaway bookstore enough. The store is massive and in a good non-chain store kind of way. The books are lined up cleanly and the collection has a lot of breadth. It’s quite possible that you may find some obscure titles here.  We had a little chat, with who I assume to be the owner, and he was so friendly and pleasant ant British! He joked about his visits to India and how his Jain friend makes him eat vegetarian food. This is a store that I know I want to go back to.

If you are in the mood for bleeding a little, head over to the tattoo parlor or if you are in the mood for a little fun then head out to “Cheaptrx” – a kinky novelty store. I have never been inside (honest!) but there is some element of poetry in seeing leather and lace clad mannequins amid aspiring-to-be-posh restaurants.

However you chose to spend your time at South Grand Boulevard you can round off your evening with some Gelato at “Gelateria St. Louis. That’s where I plan to start my evening next time !


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The Importance of Being Earnest

 

I have been waiting to catch some really good theatre since I came here – we missed a couple of good shows coz we were either out of town, or the weather was too cold or we did not have a car. Also, as the tickets tend to be on the higher side, one likes to make sure that the play is going to be worth.
 
When I saw that USML was presenting “The Importance of Being Earnst” at the Touhill Art Center I knew I did not want to miss this. This is my all time favorite play and to see it actually being performed would be something that I would always remember. Ofcourse I was a little apprehensive about the quality of the production as it was being presented by  a student company. ( plus side – it cost only 10$ a ticket!)
 
Well, it was an exteremly enjoyable performance! The theater was very small so we were all very close to the stage and it almost felt like a private perforamance.
 
The plot is a comedy of errors – Algernon Montcrieff and Jack Asbury are two close friends. Jack is the guardian of young Cecily Cardew who lives in the country. In order to present a good example to his ward, he creates an alternative identity of himself, Earnest Asbury, a younger more wicked self who is getting into terrible scrapes. Cecily, who has never met Earnest, is obviously infatuated by him.Meanwhile , presenting himself as Earnest, Jack falls in love with Gwendolyn Bracknell and proposes to marry her. Gwen accepts the proposal and is delighted that she is marrying a man named Earnest. Gwen’s mother , Lady Bracknell refuses to allow this union on account of Jack’s unknown origins. What ensues is a comedy of errors and I would be giving away too much if I write any more.
 

My favorite performer was Ben Watts as the as the slightly flamboyant and clever Algernon Montcrieff . I rather liked Sean Green as  Jack but was slightly put off by his hyperventilating nature. He did break a few things on the sets too with his passionate performence. I belive Joanna Brown as Cecily Cardrew was brilliant in the part of the dumb blonde. I laughed at almost all her lines.
 
Though Wilde’s original play was based in London and for the sake of relevance , UMSL’s production is based out of New York. The script has remained almost entirely faithfully but has been snipped in certain places in interest of time. The audience was appreciative and laughed at all the right places. Some of my favorite lines were:
I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.
 
 Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.
 
To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness
 
The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else, if she is plain.
How can one resist Wilde!! If you live in St. Louis then do check out this play which will again run this weekend in the Touhill Performing Arts Center