New York in May 2014

6 months late is better than never, right? I took these photos back in May. Let’s travel back in time!

I have been going to New York every May for the last 3 years. First, I travelled over to attend Chithra’s graduation. The second year, I came purely to hang out. This year, aside from my normal activities, I went to the Columbia Lambda Phi Epsilon installs banquet (also the 15 year celebration). It’s an event that I’ve blogged about before 1 that sees the formal welcome of new brothers into the fraternity and the goodbyes to graduating seniors. 2014 was my first year attending as an alumnus.

Joining my fraternity has been one of the best decisions in my life. The people I can call my brothers are some of the smartest, most caring and most passionate people that I have ever met. Every time that I go back to New York, Lambdas make me feel at home.

This time, I was staying with Ethan and Andy, where many of us alumni met up before the banquet. Here we are taking the subway after failing to hail cabs or Ubers from Ethan and Andy’s place.

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This was the fourth installs banquet that Caroline accompanied me to. She has always been the best date I could ask for.

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The sheer number of people at the event was staggering. Soon after I crossed in my sophomore year, the house had 27 brothers. The house has almost doubled since then, leading to massive parties of 100+ people like this year’s banquet.

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Fortunately, I was still able to hang out with the people closest to me

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and reconnect with people in my line.

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Events like these really prove that the connections you make in college can be life-long.

Hide-Chan Ramen

If you are reading this, you know that my favorite past time in New York is eating and ramen is often the food of choice.

In the last decade, competition among New York ramen joints has become fierce. All the while, New Yorkers have worked up a sophisticated and discerning appetite for the popular Japanese noodle dish. As a result, ramen restaurants, each with their own signature dishes and quirks have been opening up all over New York. Hide-Chan is just one of those places.

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Hide-Chan is all about choices. You get to choose between no less than 7 different broths, 3 levels of richness in the broth and 5 different levels of noodle firmness. All those choices point to the focus of the food, noodles and broth. Hence, toppings are pretty minimal.

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The best part of dinner wasn’t the food, but the company. Daily, I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have friends who share the same interests as me and take me to all the best places in town.

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A Day Out With Caroline

Caroline and I take turns planning out days out every time we see each other. This time was my turn. We started the morning at Essex Street Market. We bought a slice of spanakopita and olive oil pear cake from Boubouki to eat for brunch. Learn more about the pear cake in the video below.

We sat down at a table in a pretty sketchy park. Caroline took pictures of the food while I took pictures of her.

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Afterwards, we Ubered over to the west side, where we played mini golf at Pier 25 and walked around a park. It’s not one of those classic mini golf places with the windmill and other themed holes. It’s pretty plain, but still worth the visit, considering the admission price and the fact that it isn’t a commercial operation.

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I’ve noticed that my camera tends to trigger smiles in peoples’ faces. However, it seems to have the opposite effect on Caroline. She may be smiling one second, but once the camera is up to my face, that smile is immediately replaced by a blank stare.

This picture was taken at La Frite. Their fries are good, but I still prefer Pommes Frites since they have Poutine.

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Random Other Food

I ate a lot of things in New York. I’ll leave you with a few notable ones.

Bacon and egg mazemen at YUJI Ramen (now closed) inside Whole Foods.

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Montanara pizza with a deep fried crust at Forcella

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Olive oil and crème fraîche gelato at il laboratorio del gelato

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Ramen burger at Smorgasburg

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Until next time!

Excerpts From March 2014

Hi all. This is just another installment of excerpts, little photos and stories that weren’t long enough to deserve their own separate posts.

One side note before the post: I am in New York until October 15th! Let’s hang out.

Akiva’s Going Away Bar Crawl

Earlier in the year, Akiva quit his job at that search company and joined that ephemeral chat company. He brought all of us together for a bar crawl to celebrate one last time before he left. It was a blast and gave me a chance to reconnect with classmates and meet some new friends.

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Julia’s and My Birthday

Julia, Chris and I have birthdays within days of each other. We first celebrated Julia’s and mine with dinner.

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There was delicious food.

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And happy people.

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I haven’t thanked you all enough. I’ve known some of you since freshman year and some of you since I moved here, but you all feel like lifelong friends. I feel safe being myself around you and that’s not something I can say about many people.

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After dinner, we headed to Rebecca and Xiao’s place to roast marshmallows around a fire. Campfires are the best part of camping. Why should they be limited to the great outdoors?

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Roaming SF With Jackie

I had been thinking about buying a suit for a while. The only one I had with me in California was a cheap off the shelf suit that isn’t that comfortable and doesn’t fit that well. Once I got the invite to Brian and Eda’s wedding, I stopped thinking and got a reservation for Indochino’s traveling tailor in San Francisco. I roped in Eric and Dustin, both of whom were looking for suits of their own. With 4 tickets in hand for the Nils Frahm concert later that evening, we invited Jackie to round out the team for our adventure.

We started with brunch and mimosas at Hops and Hominy.

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We saw this monstrosity while walking near union square. If you ever wonder how to make the Aston Martin Rapide worse, then look no further. Simply chrome wrap it and you have the worst car in the world.

However ugly and overpriced it may be, this car gets a lot of attention. Three separate Facebook friends have posted a picture of it since I first saw it.

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Next, we headed to Maven for drinks and food. We sat at the bar and watched our food being cooked while having stimulating conversation. I always love sitting at bars when I get the chance. Watching chefs covert raw materials and ingredients into delicious masterpieces is just as magical and enthralling as watching an artist transform a canvas.

I had a similarly great experience at Aldea in New York. I highly recommend it as a date spot (get the duck rice if you go).

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The cocktails were very balanced and the food was mouth-wateringly good.

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We finished the night with a Nils Frahm concert. We first heard him when he opened the Olafur Arnalds concert last fall and jumped on the chance to see him again. This space was much smaller and more intimate, giving us a better chance to appreciate the work he puts into his concerts.

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If you are interested in his music, listen to this track and watch the video below. I also highly recommend checking out his album called “Spaces”.

Nils Frahm – Toilet Brushes – More (Live in London) from Erased Tapes on Vimeo.

Timelapse of Windshield Replacement

Last year while we were on the way to San Francisco for the weekend, a rock hit my car’s windshield on the highway, creating a large crater full of crushed glass. My car insurance paid for it to be repaired, preventing cracks from forming. However, the unsightly spot remained. Fast forward a year and I called up my insurance again to get the whole windshield replaced. I want to sell my car soon and having a fully intact windshield will make things better.

The great thing about these glass repair places is that they will come to you and replace your car’s glass at work or at home. If you know me, you know that I can’t just sit there while the guy does his work. I have to document it!

So, while waiting for the technician to finish the replacement in front of my house, I set up a tripod with my new Sony a7 camera and started a timelapse using the built in timelapse app. I know the framing is a little weird, but I hope you still enjoy the video.

Excerpts From December 2013

These are more snippets of my life, a continuation of this post. All photos were taken on the Fujifilm X100 with minimal processing.

2013 Columbians / Mecha Bananas Holiday Party

The end of December not only marked the end of the holiday season and the beginning of a new year, but also marked an exciting event, the annual holiday party thrown by us Columbia alums and friends!

Like usual, it was potluck style and there was plenty of food and drink to go around.

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Some of it was even made fresh right before dinner! Here’s Julia making guacamole.

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The party brings together people from Norcal, Socal, New York and DC and gives the East Coasters a chance to escape the cold weather and do a bit of sightseeing.

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Unfortunately, Phil and Lynn couldn’t make it back to the Bay Area in time for the party, but Google Hangouts came to the rescue! They remotely participated in our White Elephant exchange, shipping gifts beforehand and picking their gifts via webcam.

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It’s the little things like our annual get together that remind me how much I love my friends. Here’s to many more years of holiday parties!

Santa Cruz With Family

The day after the party, I woke up bright and early and drove over to my uncle Sekar’s house. My cousin Ananth and his wife Kirthika were in town from Atlanta and we took a trip south of the bay to Santa Cruz and Carmel.

We started out with an attraction that I first visited as a child, the Mystery Spot. If you spend any time in the Bay Area, I guarantee that you will see cars adorned with bright yellow Mystery Spot bumper stickers. You might also occasionally spot similar orange Mercer Caverns bumper stickers, but the Mystery Spot ones are far more common.

What is the Mystery Spot? It’s a gravity hill, a place where physics and gravity supposedly don’t apply.

Initially, it might seem like a tourist trap, and if you take it at face value, it is. However, if you consider its history, the humorous high school students that lead tours, the paltry $6 admission fee and the free bumper stickers you receive at the end, it’s actually not too bad.

As long as you’re not allergic to thinly veiled pseudoscience, go visit sometime. At the very least you will find out how all those minivan drivers on Highway 101 all ended up with the same ugly bumper sticker.

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An added plus is the forest surrounding the Mystery Spot. It’s dense, yet airy and catches the sunlight so beautifully. There is even a hiking trail the runs through it, but given the limited amount of time we had, we didn’t venture too far.

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Afterwards, we had lunch at Ambrosia India Bistro in Monterey. We obviously also had to make a visit to the beach.

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Some of us even took an unplanned dip in the water and had to dry ourselves off. ^^

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Later, we walked through Carmel-by-the-Sea, visited yet another beach and had dinner at Aachi Aappakadai. As often happens, I got so absorbed in conversation with my family that I forgot to take photos. So, you will just have to image them.

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