Chicago - An invasion of Stimuli

3:25 PM



Dear Chicago,

 Planning to travel to America has always been a headache for me. The customs, the procedures, oh so many! I have visited quite some countries in my life and none had the drab dull dragging problems  while getting a visa. Yet, you did, America. You annoy me. But, I got through and gotcha!

When I stepped into the O'Hare, the overwhelming crowd took my excitement and sent it falling into the abyss. Spending a whole year in soft quiet Enschede, I was allergic to crowds. Well, I persisted.

After finally settling down, hours later, I calmed down, waiting for the excitement to take over. T minus 10, T minus 9 .... and then it creeped in. You are massive Chicago. You blew me with your stupendous spires scraping the sky. Huge, Monumental buildings standing upright like tall toothpicks around ants crawling by. Clouds made way for your monumental pegs looking down on the people running to work.

After all, I have been at one of the tallest buildings in Enschede. Supermarkets in Chicago are taller than those poor creatures back home. I suffered from a neckache a few days later.

But, let me first address your love affair, before the touristy things I did. Sugar!!! Oh Amrika, Why do you need so many Dunkin' Donuts? Oh, the tooth decaying sweetness!!!! It draws you in, with its soft sweet spongy bready fragrance and then a bite into its sinful sugary-ness makes you regret buying three donuts!!!! How much sugar do you guys love? Its incredible.

But, I love your food scene otherwise. Hotdogs without ketchup or as you call it; Chicago Dogs! Kudos! And Deep dish pizzas, boy oh boy! And foodies, please check out Dimo's Pizza near the Wringley Field. Fried Chicken toppings for pizza is the best love story I have heard. Period.

There were also moments that made me emotional. Places where I clutched to my seat and did not want to leave. Like a kid. It moved me so much, that a lump in my throat, sat comfortably, as if it owned the place. An Immovable, unseen emotional lump. The TimeLine Theatre's play 'Chimerica'. A couple of people were surprised I picked this play. They did not expect a random tourist to walk in. Well, I was glad I did.

I have loved plays but hadn't been exposed to many. 'Chimerica' was a fictional drama based on the 'Tank Man' photograph. History through entertainment had always plugged my attention. This one, used beautiful contrasts between Chinese and American politics and how they trampled on the little bugs we all are. A splendid portrayal of innocent love amidst blood and rage, made me a tad teary. I walked home, clutching to the sensitive part of me.

An evening later, I caught up with 'Spongebob - The Musical'. This theatre was everything 'Chimerica' was not. The Musical, a grand gesture, was a marriage between an Indian wedding and a Hollywood's massive wonder. I was stunned. Although I could see my soul retching at the juvenile comedy being made and the audience's response to it, I was too awed to care. It was but a slick sweet spectacle. There were actors rollerskating, flying with jet packs, huge contraptions on either side of the stage, beautiful light effects, stage props, and so much creative blood oozing from everyone on and off the stage. It was a spectacle to behold.

And I found love in your bookstores, Chicago. Man, you guys know how to make love to books. Three book heavens I stepped in - Chicago Public Library, Unabridged Bookstore and Myopic. Thrice, I was blown. Especially you Unabridged. You know what true love is. What true bookworms look like. I am in love with you. If I could make a horcrux, I would place a piece of me in you.

For people like me, with shallow wallets, I found the perfect tourist guide 'Free Tours by Foot'. Tourists, behold. This is the best offer you could get in a city. A walking tour that is free of cost. I signed up for three of them. 'Chicago Gangster and Blues Tour', 'Chicago Ghost Tour' and 'Chicago Riverwalk'. Yes, there was also a 'Chicago Movie tour', where they talk about 'The Dark Knight'. I missed it :( Boo Hoo!

A great story needs a Great story teller. These people were bleeding out brilliant stories well worked into the walking plan. It was a well planned drama, where we were led like sheep across your beautiful streets while being told chilling tales about lives lost or talents discovered. Three thumbs up for their perfect choreography of the walking tour. I felt like a kid on a school trip.

One of the evenings, I also visited the Kingston' Mines! A beautiful blues bar, with two stages. One played Chicago Blues and the other Delta Blues. This was recommended by the guide from the walking tour. And this was where the legends who invented Blues used to perform. There was a certain flow of mellow beauty in the halls. An intricate stage where you watch the artists conversing with the music, oh so deeply. However, the acoustics were so loud, four more seconds, and my ear drums would have given up. But, that did not shy the hair on my hands and neck from standing up. And yaayy! Free entry on a student ID.

Well that was most of it Chicago. Yes of course, I spent 5 hours at the Art Institute, but its yet another museum. Nothing much to drool about.

The week was fun, with lectures in the mornings. But you weren't here to read about that. (Cue tongue out smiley) Packing in my evenings with travel and scraping the soul out of my metro pass, I guess I was the perfect 'tourist' my purse strings could allow me to be.

And then, I was home. And life moves on. Thank you for hosting me, Chicago.

Yours lovingly,
Irfan

To Chimerica, Hot dogs and Snazzy bookstores!

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