How to Navigate the DC Metro

How to Navigate the DC Metro Older metro stations feature a beautiful, high-ceilinged brutalist design.Despite a cold and wet start, spring has arrived. Soon we’ll have an inpouring of visitors arriving to attend annual, can’t-miss festivals the the District is known for. Who’s excited for the Cherry Blossom Festival? How about Passport DC? Food & Wine Festival at the National Harbor? Or DC101’s Chili Cookoff?

While these festivals and events might be great for the local economy, for long-time District residents, this is just one more thing to worry about. In addition to putting up with peak-of-peak fares, delayed trains, endless track work and out-of-service elevators, they’ll have to brace themselves for confused visitors, unsure of how to navigate the DC Metro stations, impeding the fast-paced, weekday (even weekends) commuter traffic flow.  Continue reading

According to Who? An Ai Weiwei Retrospective at Hirshhorn Museum

Ai Wei Wei: According To What?

Chinese dissident artist, Ai Wei Wei made his mark in the District again. (Previously, it was with Fragments.) Last October, the Hirshhorn Museum debuted a retrospective exhibit of Ai’s work, which included sculptures, photographs and installations. I was just in time to catch the final day of this exhibit last Sunday. See more pictures of the exhibit on my Flickr pageContinue reading

Chinese Groceries from Meixin Supermarket

Meixin Supermarket

The Chinese Lunar New Year starts tomorrow and you might be wondering where to find the right ingredients to make some of your favourite Chinese delicacies. Look no further when you get off the Red Line at Rockville, because there’s a Meixin Supermarket within walking distance that will fill all your Chinese New Year (and other grocery) needs.

I’m told that this store has been around since the 1980s, and up until last month, was called Maxim. The name change happened when the current owners (Malaysians, like me!) decided to give up the store, retire and had someone else take over operations. Continue reading

A Love-Hate Relationship with Snow


Every warm climate-originating expat that I’ve ever known recounts their first snow experience with much excitement (usually involves dashing outside to make snowmen or snow angels.) Everyone, except yours truly. I was in bed, sick as a dog in my freshman dorm room. Looking out the window to see the landscape washed in an icy white only made my teeth chatter all the more as I pulled blankets over my head. Fast forward to post-college days, I’d loathe the mornings after a night of heavy snowfall, shoveling knee or waist high snow out of the way and chipping layers of ice off my car windscreen.

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Stop for the Yellow School Busses


Without any snow days, the winter break ended has ended for D.C. area school kids, so you may have witnessed this scene a little earlier than usual: A yellow school bus parked on a neighbourhood street; its’ octagonal red-and-white STOP signs robotically swinging outward from both sides of the bus, to the tune of high-pitched beep–beep–beeps. Then comes a clatter of sneaker-clad footsteps as schoolchildren tumble out, laughing and chattering, glad to be done with school for the day. Cars rolling up behind the bus come to a halt, as do vehicles coming from the opposite direction. Continue reading

Musings on Thanksgiving & Black Friday Traditions

In a three-bedroom apartment in State College Pa., a pan of creamy green bean casserole and a plate of pumpkin pie sat on the faux marble breakfast bar, both dishes still untouched. The aroma of couscous simmering in a spicy, tomato-based broth rose from the saucepan and wafted through the kitchen. Past the oven — in which a large, spice rubbed turkey was roasting — and into the living room, where a Christmas-themed movie played on HBO. Thirteen-year-old Semi sat crossed-legged on the carpet, eyes glued to the set as she recited movie lines from memory. Ade, shook her head endearingly, then bustled back into the kitchen to check on the turkey while fending off her little brother, Aziz, who declared he was hungry; when could he eat Thanksgiving dinner? Continue reading

Mario and Binders Full of Women Make Merry on Halloween


Picture by Mok Yi.

Night has fallen and you’re out on the town for a fun evening. All around you are witches, vampires and zombie nurses. As the evening progresses, the Ron Burgundys, policewomen in unnecessarily short skirts, pirates and flavour-of-the-year Korean pop sensation Psy, abound. If it was a regular weekend in the District, you should be worried, but the run-up to October 31st, Halloween, is the weekend to dress up in any costume you can create or buy, and if you don’t, then risk being called a square. Continue reading

Evening Interrupted by the President’s Motorcade On H Street

The president’s motorcade whizzing by. They were gone in a flash.

My poor friend Qursum. Friday should have been a fun evening out with friends for her birthday. Instead, it was filled with confusion and delayed guests not being able to get to Granville Moores, the birthday restaurant on H Street. The reason? President Obama was in the neighbourhood, having dinner at Smith & Commons, another restaurant on the same block. Police and Secret Service were stationed all around, preventing access to the entire twelfth block.

“They might let you through, as long as you’re good with the police giving you a pat down,” one bystander told me when I first joined the crowds of people milling around the block. Eh. No thanks. I tried to see if there was some other way to get through, but had no luck, as they had shut the entire twelfth block down. Continue reading

The 12th Annual Book Festival at the National Mall

2012 National Book Festival Washington DC

Under a white, high-peaked frame tent, a large crowd huddled close to the stage, where celebrated Dominican-American author Junot Diaz was reading from his latest work, “This Is How You Lose Her.” From the energetic and appreciative applause that Diaz got for his reading, a passer-by who only heard the sounds could’ve been forgiven for thinking that Justin Bieber was making an appearance for his fans. The turnout for the 12th Annual Book Festival on the National Mall clearly proved that reading isn’t obsolete in the D.C. area.

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Ai Weiwei’s “Fragments” on Display at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The structure in the lobby of the Arthur M. Sackler gallery, is a piece known as “Fragments”. It’s the work of China’s dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, created in 2005. Old and dark pieces of wood — most of them elevated — are connected together to form a haphazard structure. In the middle is a tall pole that rises out and towers high above the structure. A pair of conjoined stools sit uncomfortably on one side of the structure.

In the eyes of the uninitiated, “Fragments” may not seem to have any rhyme or reason. Visually, it’s not terribly appealing. Overall, the structure looks rather grim.

“Fragments” isn’t meant to be pretty. To really appreciate Ai’s vision, you have to know the backstory. Continue reading