Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Watts Towers of India...Nek Chand

I'm big on folk art sites like the Watts Towers in Los Angeles, Bottle Village in Simi Valley, or Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, so I was excited to check out Nek Chand's Rock Garden when we were at Chandigarh, India. Genius...this was my favorite place in India, even topping the Taj Majal.

Visiting the Rock Garden is like looking through a kaleidoscope for the first time. You know, the way light plays with color and prisms turn the stomach a little but in a good way. Watts Towers can cause the same reaction but Nek Chand's use of urban waste material into ingenious modern art sculpture and buildings left me shaken. Beauty formed from refuse is the ultimate recycling. Believe me, it left me almost teary.

Someone said that Mr. Chand could be found walking around the garden. I live in Los Angeles so it's inevitable that I stumble upon movie stars and such but I never had the cojones or the drive to get their autograph. But at the mention of Chand twiddling around the garden, I was determined to get his John Hancock. Too bad I didn't bump into the octogenarian artist because I would've cherished anything from him.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I'm finally feeling better after bringing back an unfortunate souvenir from India. Campylobacter. You supposedly get it from eating undercooked chicken, but I've been chicken-free since 1998, so who knows what happened...

One of the more interesting cities we visited was Chandigarh, which was planned out by Le Corbusier in the '50s after the Punjab's historic capital was partitioned over to Pakistan.

To check out the High Court, Assembly, and Secretariat buildings, we had to wait an hour for a signature from the Department of Tourism and another hour for permission from the Chief of Protocol. Funny...the electricity went out while we were sitting in a government office. The workers passed the time by suggesting KFC as a lunch spot and observing that Mexicanos look like Indians. "You have the Red Indians, do you not?"

The verdict...I like Le Corbusier's architecture as stand-alone modernist designs, but his master plan gave rise to a harsh, disconnected city that's tough on the pedestrian. Why are the major government buildings waaayyy to the north rather than a central location? Where are the sidewalks? Why must the neighborhoods have such wonderfully mechanical names like Sector 18 and Sector 22?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Delhi Metro

Back from a memorable trip to India! We love our October vacations...nice weather, less crowds, no whiny kids on the plane.

Our stops...and the first word that pops in my head for each city...


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

don't bong me around

As I was walking home down 3rd Street from dropping off some specimens from Quest Diagnostics near Little Tokyo (it was regarding my recent India trip), I noticed that the shops I used to frequent during my Ebay days were gone. Instead of Japanimation toys and video games, most of the storefronts showcased bongs of every sizes and in different incarnation of the human anatomy. I love toys and marijuana does terrible things to me - like cause me not to have fun. The explosion of medical marijuana butted its way to the front of the popularity competition. I don't begrudge it, only the unbelievable amount of chemicals and lead found in dispensed spliff. I vote that the Toy District be renamed Bong Village. It'd be more appropriate and will attract more business. The face of L.A. could change to something huge. Amsterdaic paraphernalia galore.