To go, or not to go? That is always the question on the mind of someone who commutes to and from work, when they don't have to get out on Interstate 5 on their holiday. Still, life awaits the willing traveler, and I have a nicer car than I have ever had, heated seats, and an iPod with an endless play list thanks to my music major daughter. The sun was shining, even at 8:30 a.m. Go! You must! Those were the words that won out, that and the fact that I had already purchased my ticket online for the Seattle Art Museum special exhibition of contemporary Indian Art, that I had been wanting to see for two months.
Good karma was with me in many ways. First, I-5 was free from traffic jams, and I made it to Seattle in an hour and fifteen minutes. I found parking at SAM, the acronym for the museum, and before I knew it I was in the exhibit. At first I was taken aback by the bright red Gandhi listening to an iPod. That image niggled away in my mind for most of the day. There are mixed thoughts for sure with that life sized sculpture. In the end though, I thought Gandhi would have been fascinated by the rising India for Indians and the connection of modern India to the high tech world. His intellectual curiosity would no doubt have led to the iPod experience. I am also sure that after a short time, that iPod would have belonged to someone else, someone who needed it.
The best karma? I looked up and saw a woman taking a brochure. Ah ha! I Need a brochure. I did a double take, and the woman was Mrs. Van Alstyne, surrounded by the entire family, including one of my favorite former and first AP World History class students Winona, who is just finishing her Oboe performance undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin. What a wonderful hug and brief reunion. How perfect to meet in a South Asian Art exhibit.
Anyway, as I walked through the exhibit, I felt this wonderful sense of familiarity. I did not expect that sensation. Nehru, Gandhi, Tagore, Krishna, Lakshmi, ..... Clearly my Fulbright 2013 experience had deeply steeped me in the culture of modern India. The exhibit was alive for me, and for an hour I was back in India. My favorite work was a piece by Vilek Vilasini, an artist from Bangalore who altered an image of a gopura, an ornate, deity filled entrance to a tower of a South Asian Hindu Temple. He removed the deities, demons and devotees and replaced them with everyday modern Indians, and even tourists, from the lightly clothed Jain, to the Tuk Tuk driver to "The King of the Mountain". This wonderful photograph captured the India I know, and the Indian people whose lives touched mine. I wish I could have taken a photograph of it, or bought a poster, to share with all of my friends who love India. I did try to capture a bit of it from the brochure, but it requires imagination. It is a fantastic work of art, titled Include Me Out II.
Next, out into the sun and the 35 degree weather. A cup of tea was calling out to me. I decided to try The Crumpet Shop, perhaps that is a result of enjoying the company at home of a resident Brit. I have looked in the window and watched the crumpet making many times, but had never gone in. Today was the day. The line was long. It was crowded. Soon though my freshly steeped Darjeeling tea and warm crumpet dripping in butter and honey was ready, and at the same time a stool opened up. Yes, I enjoyed every mouthful. I also wondered why I never took the time to brew a cup of tea with loose leaves.
When Mary was young, we enjoyed reading a book about a girl whose head was full of colors. An Indian Art exhibit definitely has those colors, and so does the Pike Place Market on a cold and sunny day. I meandered back and forth through the stalls and alley ways, numerous times in fact, an advantage of being on my own. The fish markets are always fun, the shouting out and throwing of fish exciting. Why do people want to catch Octopus though? Those creatures are too spectacular to eat.
More colors at the produce vendors, and the craft stalls. Long lines of tourists at the original Starbucks coffee shop that opened in 1971 and at the clam chowder stalls. Lots of photo snapping local and foreign tourists too down at the waterfront, where Mt. Rainier in its snow covered glory stood out on this clear day to the Southwest and the Olympic Mountains provided a Northwest back drop to the Puget Sound. I sat awhile in the glorious sun, just breathing and being in the moment. Then I wandered one last time through the market, enjoying the ambiance, and the mingling of garlic, ginger, lavender and yes....the subtle hint of marijuana on the air. A perfect day. A day that will stay with me over the next few months when I get back to school, a memory of a free day full of color and wonder.
Karma --still amazing. I decided to get a cup of tea for the road, the first had been so good. I went back to The Crumpet Shop to buy one. The woman at the counter greeted me with "Hello again Miss". I smiled, and told her the tea had been so good I was there for another cup. She gave me a paper to go cup and said the cups are bottomless, refillable all day long. I had the tea. Got my car quickly, and made it home in an hour and fifteen minutes enjoying Stevie Wonder's Superstition. It was really lucky I didn't have traffic jams since I had that cup of tea.