Posts Tagged 'city'

Autumn harvest photos

“You’re leaving bumble**** for Philly, and you’re going apple picking while you’re there?” One of my coworkers said last week in response to my weekend plans.

It’s true, I did leave a primarily agricultural county to go to a big city and made plans to go apple picking with friends. It’s also true that Perry County itself doesn’t have any pick-your-own apple orchards, and my fall schedule is quite busy so I thought this weekend that I had scheduled to spend with friends would be a good opportunity to enjoy the autumn harvest.

Golden Delicious

Golden Delicious apples

Linvilla Orchards includes apple picking as well as lots of kid-friendly fall activities, like hay rides and an animal area, so the place was swarming with families, young children and pregnant moms. Fortunately, one of my friends who came on the adventure is due to have a baby next month, so we had some prenatal legitimacy for our crew.


Becka found the largest Mutsu apples!

Tim and Kara

Me and AU pal Tim. Doesn’t his beard look great? It’s new!

After paying for our $30-worth of apples, we strolled through the farm market and sat at a picnic table to enjoy some apple cider donuts and apple cider (the beverage). What a perfect October morning!

One thing I didn’t tell my friends at the time was that the donuts were not nearly as good as the hot-off-the-donut-press ones I’d had with my mom a few weekends earlier in Lancaster County. Which goes to show—you can have a country experience just outside the city, but country cooking is best done where it belongs!

Kauffman's Fruit Farm and Market

Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market. Lancaster County, PA

Making cider donuts

A Mennonite woman making cider donuts. Lancaster County, PA

Fresh and delicious

Fresh, warm, and SO delicious!

Fall makes me especially grateful to live in a state with distinct seasons. Do you have fall where you live? What are your favorite autumn activities?

Two Capitals

Something similar about where I live in Harrisburg and where I stayed in Phoenix last month is that an interstate is only 1/4 mile away from either spot. They snake all around Harrisburg, making it necessary to get on the interstate just to go to the grocery store. I’m not used to highways being such a major feature of cities.

A big difference in these automobile-filled urban centers, though, is that Phoenix drivers pay attention to bicyclists. Moreover, if there’s not room on the road, the sidewalks are a reasonable option for biking. Not so in bankrupt Harrisburg, where broken glass bedazzles the cracked and crumbling sidewalks.


Interstate 10, Phoenix Arizona. January 2012

Pittsburgh re-visited

While in Pittsburgh this week, I sat in on the recording of Rustbelt Radio. My friend Jessica, who is one of the co-hosts of the program, said that by working in community radio she has become involved in many things she’d never have heard of otherwise. I understood her comment immediately: being a media-maker offers me a great reason to go to actions and events, to meet people and to learn about what’s going on wherever I’m at. If it’s deep journalism I’m working on, it also enables me to research issues with a focus that’s usually hard to maintain because of my varied interests.

I wrote last week that I was excited to be visiting two places I’d never been before (Erie and State College) to do reporting for Pennsylvania from Below. What I didn’t think too much about was the stop in Pittsburgh, which is easily the PA place I’ve traveled most often with my family. My mom grew up in Penn Hills, and we went every few years. My memories include Kennywood, the science museum, WISE brand potato chips (my mom’s favorite), and of course the Duquesne Incline.

Classic view Pittsburgh

Classic view. Pittsburgh, PA

The inclines in Pittsburgh are like trolleys that go uphill. They were used for freight or passengers, but now they’re just tourist attractions, not actual transit options. Though I didn’t ride it, I went to the Duquesne Incline Monday afternoon to take photos. It’s located on Mt. Washington (formerly “Coal Hill”), which has some of the best views of the city. I’d never really been to Pittsburgh in the fall, and I was quite surprised to discover how beautiful it is with the foliage across the many many hills. I also have a greater appreciation for the aesthetic of cities among mountains after living in Nablus.

Mitch noticed an astounding series of photos posted in the incline building. They showed Pittsburgh in the daytime during the height of industrialism—the air was black. “Pollution is not a new problem,” the aging sign above the photos read.

Unlike many of the small-town occupations, talking to people at OccupyPittsburgh didn’t give me a better sense of the local manifestations of corporate power and income inequality. It seems that it’s easier for big-city occupations to get embroiled in their internal dynamics and thus less grounded in what’s going on in the rest of the city. Nevertheless, re-visiting Pittsburgh for PA from Below did give me a chance to see the city in new ways and spark my curiosity about what else I don’t know there.

My own city of “No”

It ought to be plain / how little you gain / by getting excited / and vexed. / You’ll always be late / for the previous train, / and always in time / for the next. -Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996)

My roommate recently read Maximum City by Suketu Mehta. Although the memoir is about Mumbai she found many of the insights relevant and affirming of the joys and frustrations of life in Hyderabad. One of those insights described Mumbai as the “city of no,” meaning you have to ask/try something at least ten times before the city gives a little and tells you “yes.”

In my five months in Hyderabad and a few days in Mumbai, the “no”s have often manifested in no answer at all, like when auto drivers simply drive away after I tell them where I want to go. Three days ago a newly arrived traveler told me he was going on a temple tour the next day. “How much does that cost?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” he said. Then the hostel manager walked by. “Hey Raj, how much will it cost to go to the temple?”

“It’s not like that. See, I go every Monday.” Raj said. (Don’t mistake that for meaning it’s free.)

“Right, but the money for the gas?” the traveler persisted.

Raj was holding the television remote in mid-air, eyes focused on a horse race on the screen. A minute later he glanced back at the traveler and said, “Just let me see the rest of the race, then we’ll talk.”

I laughed mutely. The traveler settled back to his reclined position on the couch, reading his Lonely Planet guide. Needless to say, when the race ended Raj went off to fulfill some other task.

None of these non-responses were hostile, just…Indian. Yesterday when the traveler was checking out he finally got an answer. “The temple trip cost 400 rupees,” Raj said as he added up the traveler’s bill.

I have my own mental city of “no,” whose contours are mostly visible when I’m walking through the obstacle course streets of Hyderabad or Mumbai:

“No I will certainly not reply to your heey, young-man-who-just-emerged-from-the-liquor-store,” I say in indignant conversation with myself.

“No, I won’t look your way, man-who’s-surreptitiously-hissing-at-me-from-behind-a-Vodafone-display.”

“No, vendor, if I’m not already looking at your goods, saying, Yes, ma’am? in rising intonation will not entice me to buy your watermelon/cricket bat/cell phone cover/Michael Jackson t-shirt.”

And so on.

Occasionally my “no”s are verbal and slightly cheerful “no thank you”s to the taxi drivers who ask me where I want to go, but most of the time in my solitary perambulations I veil myself in a city of silent “no”s.

More on Hyderabad

I haven’t written much about Hyderabad so far. It’s quite a shift from the West Bank…they’re both intense in their own ways. Hyderabad is not a huge city but so much looks the same–from the omnipresent Bollywood billboards with unattractive middle-aged men surrounded by sexy younger women, to  red-and-white-striped booths in the middle of roads proclaiming that “Speed thrills but also kills,”  to the endless rows of stands selling fried snacks to eat for chaat. The seeming sameness amidst the city’s dizzying diversity of religions, dress, architecture, wealth, and modes of transportation makes it difficult to create a mental map for myself. Little by little, a few things start to feel familiar. Establishing a routine helps. I just wrapped my first full week of teaching, and my students are delightful and incredibly eager. I can’t think of more to write at the moment but if you want to read about some of the daily adventures that have made up my life over the last two weeks, you should definitely check out my roommate/co-fellow’s blog, Ilana in India. She’s a talented creative writer and has already become a valued friend.


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