Chicago, to me, meant Mies van der Rohe, Louis Sullivan and few lessons of History of Architecture that I studied in college. But when we planned the itinerary of a vacation in USA, I so wanted Chicago to feature in that plan so I could see all those steel-framed large glass-paned buildings.
We rode a bus from Detroit to Chicago. We knew it would be windy in Chicago but weren’t ready for it to be so much. Even at one in afternoon we had to pull our jackets close to block the cold October wind. It was Sunday and there were hardly any people on the streets.
Since we had only a day and half at our disposal in the city, I had announced what all I wanted to see before boarding the flight to San José. After a little nap and lunch in our hotel room, we ventured out to explore the city in evening. It was cloudy and we didn’t want to risk getting caught in rain so the evening plan included some window shopping, early dinner, Millennium Park and the Cloud Gate or ‘The Bean’ of course.
We did reach the Park but since the sun had already set, the park was little deserted and I wasn’t at all comfortable there, being in a foreign land with nobody to turn to if trouble came calling so we walked and walked till we were near the ‘Bean’. The place was buzzing with people trying to take photographs, lights reflecting from the bean surface, skyscrapers with thousands of lights shimmering in the dark night….It was beautiful, no doubt!
The Bean is a result of a competition and is the brainchild of an Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor….this I was not aware of but later I felt proud that Indians are making waves (or beans!!) in foreign lands. Made of some 168 steel plates seamlessly welded together, it mimics a mercury droplet with its underbelly having a navel like centre called ‘omphalos’ or Greek for navel. The centre distorts the reflections oddly.
As we shot our photographs at the Cloud Gate, the clouds in the sky decided to burst open on us pouring heavily. We had to run to find cover. With a quick dinner we hurried to the metro station to return to our hotel.
At the station a street artist with his guitar crooned and made up for the performance, that we missed, by another street artist who was using empty cans to create loud music even as the rain pelted down on us.
On our up and down trips to our hotel from the hub of city, I saw a few graffiti … under the bridge, on roof tops and abandoned buildings.
The next day we had planned to see some skyscrapers of old Chicago School of Architecture style, Bean and the Navy Pier. At Navy Pier however the weather had deteriorated and the rides of Ferris Wheel, boats were all cancelled. Not equipped with rain wear, we were stuck at the Pier with nothing much to do. The glass walled landscaped atrium with frog like leaping water bubble fountain was the only area where we spent most of our time besides eating at a Mexican counter.
As soon as the rain stopped we made it to the Bean. After few daylight pictures, we called it a day as we had a flight to catch and bags to pack.
The big regret was the missed chance of reliving the lecture of History of Architecture and missing the works of great architects!