Keep guessing

Chicago riverwalk

Chicago riverwalk

Only time will tell—

shoving blame on the unknown

one unsure of self



Sunrise in Chicago

Sunrise in Chicago

Tiny ray of hope

visible sun, only just

a high-rise city

Tribute to the Tribune

Tribune Tower, Chicago

Although it’s been around for ages, media wasn’t always as aggressive as it is today. At least that’s what I thought before I arrived at the Tribune Tower, home of the Chicago Tribune.

Erected in 1925, the tower is a living testament to thousands of targeted publishing and outreach activities through the years. The frame of the building itself holds historical stones and rocks—relics from correspondents’ time abroad researching and reporting what’s what.

It was a novel idea, and until I looked it up once I got back home, I didn’t realise that the remains of global constructions came upon the Tribune as a natural progression of events—I’d assumed architects thought it through first and then found the stones as decor. How naive of me, when in fact they had incorporated those stones just because they had a story to tell.

Still a living, working entity, the insides of the building is even more marvellous, if that’s possible. Beyond the lobby area is also off-limits to tourists.

The lobby, though.

Words of wisdom, words of courage, words of wonderment, and even debarment and endearment lined those walls. Each quote revealed painful precision—according to the receptionist, the architects wrote them all by hand. Hard to believe there was a time when humans wrote on walls, words we’d read generations later. And how assuring that that’s not in the time of Facebook.

The Tribune Tower was just that—a massive building with impressive exterior and interiors. But it’s also a lot more than that. Even though there’s not much to observe in the building and only Tribune employees have access to its interior, the tower remains a reminder of what true journalism is all about. In this time of skewed media and sensationalisation, it’s quite amazing that the journalism of the past still survives and attracts people.

The concerts

For the first time in my life I was at a live concert. I had no idea what to expect as I treaded my way on the grass that led to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the Millennium Park—heck I wasn’t even sure I could walk on the grass.

But it was the middle of summer, and every night the city of Chicago lit up as people gathered around the iconic open pavilion to enjoy free concerts. And there I was looking around, a lone traveller, stumbling upon a music extravaganza of a lifetime.

Saying it was the greatest show on earth takes an extraneous effort to lie. However, it was a good concert that showed me a new lifestyle altogether.

We don’t have free city-organised concerts where I’m from. Not only was the music new, but so was the idea of gathering people together for such a social evening.

It was unfamiliar, but unlike most unfamiliar experiences, this one didn’t leave an uncomfortable aftertaste in my mouth. Instead, it left me at peace. I felt so calm and relaxed as I listened to the expert player caressing the strings of her violin.

All around me couples and families had set up picnics. They’d brought dinner, candles and wine, beer and snacks, and desert with kombucha. It was as they’d come for a day at the beach. I sensed a hum of satisfaction hovering in the air—as if everyone there knew they’d spent an entire day on hard work, and so deserved the complementary break time the state offered them. They kicked back, laughing away, sipping a glass of their favourite drink, happy.

It was nice being a part of that atmosphere—where nothing was wrong with the world, where utopia was achievable. Of course, when the concert ended and I exited the ground the entire reality of life came down on me, but the calm during the concert was one to always cherish.

I loved Chicago for that.

Although I later understood a lot of western cities have similar public events, Chicago holds a special place in my heart.

Busy Beaver Buttons

I’ve never understood the hoopla around buttons. When I say buttons, I don’t mean the essential ones that hold shirts and pants in place. I mean the ones that pop up in unnecessary places and situations just because they’re a cool thing—places like school bags, caps, hats, and scarves.

Students and adults alike share this affliction with buttons, I realised when I was in Chicago for a work-related event. It’s now the most popular swag corporates can give away at trade shows. People grab these fancy, custom-designed buttons, endorsing companies they’d never even heard of before.

And so it seemed pretty ordinary to have a museum of buttons. Or so I thought until I visited the place.

The Busy Beaver Button Museum (go o, click the link—it’s an online museum too) in Chicago hosts buttons dating back to the 70s and 80s. They have about 1200 buttons on display, all categorised, awaiting appreciation and well-deserved jaw drops. Oh, and they had another 3200 buttons in crates still unopened.

How do they get all these buttons?

They buy from various people and organisations—it was obvious that they’d been doing this for years.

As I browsed through the many witty buttons, I realised that the trend wasn’t new or specific to modern corporate culture. There were buttons about beer, parenting, wine (of course!), social causes, awareness, politics, and so many other topics the world’s cared about for years.

Buttons have helped people express their emotions for years. And this trend won’t go away anytime soon.

Oh, and if you’re interested in getting yourself some buttons, the folks who maintain the non-profitable museum, also have a for-profit business of making buttons. The factory consists of a few people and you can hear the machines while you walk along the wall of exhibits. It’s one of those little things in a city that not a lot of tourists know of. But it’s so worth the 20-minute train ride. Well, if you’re ever in town…