The sun sets so beautifully in Dubai. It descends like a bright spot in the sky; the meanest of reds diffusing into a grayish yellow. With not a pastel shade in sight, the city is a ripe orange and a washed out cyan all at once. The rays reflect in the glass panes, bounding from building to building. All at once, I see the vividness of the world, and every emotion expressed in between anger and restraint. Perhaps a little bit, I begin to understand the glamour of the city.
As the sky grows dim, the people begin to hustle. The atmosphere is warm but not unbearable. The buildings are luminescent and protective. The day ends an unforgettable image carved into my mind. I think of everyone living here, slaving until dusk. Perhaps at night, they can think only of the stars and the buildings that grace the sky; the cool air and the dry ground that is hidden from plain sight. The hours of toll are long gone, and it is the red spot that lingers still in their consciousness. The locals have already forgotten how it had scorched their skin in the morning.
-written 6 months ago, when I was interning in the summer-
I finally have the free time to write this! As soon as I got back from my summer internship, I had to go straight to work. This includes plan-meetings for my student organization’s national board, serving my college during the registration period, catching up on my group contributions for this architecture competition we decided to join, and meeting up with another group of friends for some freelance design work (but only a few times). I know this sounds incredibly taxing, but I know a number of people in my university who are even busier. Crazy, that lot of folks!
My academics and org work this school year are also taking up a chunk of my time, and this is surprising because fourth year is supposed to be when people pursue their other interests, such as hitting the gym or learning an instrument. (Oh! Speaking of which, I’m also trying to start a weekly sketching group where people from all walks of life can hopefully participate in meaningful conversations, so that’s something.)
The bottom line is that these extra curricular obligations have, up until recently, prevented me from getting into any of the personal things I was hoping to do, such study Revit, make experimental art, or even write blog posts regularly. Today, however, I am quite free. I spent about 3 hours learning how to play the piano by ear, and another one reveling in the wonder of music. (No, seriously.)
I suppose I have been more sensitive to music over the week. Instead of just passively listening, I’ve begun to try and pick out specific notes and melodies. I’ll be the first to admit that I obsess over perfect pitch — an ability I will never possess. Nevertheless, I try to decompose radio songs in my mind– what beats does this track sample, how smart are the lyrics, and how exactly do the notes flow into each other? When I’m exceptionally bored in class, I turn on my inner radio and tap my fingers over my legs. My professor’s voice is then drowned out by this clear melody that begins to ring in my mind.
Now if only I could translate that air-piano elegance into actual good playing! Unfortunately, I’ve felt no improvement since my second year of high school, when I stopped taking formal lessons. My fingers are stiff, and my rhythm is just……. atrocious. It will take some time to develop the proper technique (again), but hopefully I’ll have the dedication and free time to get there.
I’ll end this journal entry by discussing my other obsession for this week: EMOTION by Carly Rae Jepsen! Now, I hope that anyone who reads this will actually take time to listen to it because she’s so much more than a one hit wonder! The album feels as golden as Ariana’s ‘Yours Truly’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream.’ That’s all I’m going to say about it, because you have to hear it for yourself.
This was supposed to just be an intro to a much more educational post, but I ended up rambling, and will list this as a separate entry. If you’ve gotten this far, thank you very much! Here is a raw graphic of the outdoor seating pavilion I designed for the competition.
Hopefully tomorrow, I get to talk about what I’ve been truly meaning to talk about
Over the weekend, I went to the Etihad Museum located along Jumeirah street in Dubai. It was a bit out of the way from my apartment– I had to ride the metro, walk to a bus stop, and figure out how to board the right vehicle. Had this been in New York, I would have just walked the entire way through, but with the heat coming into full swing over the summer, that would have practically killed me. Regardless, mass transportation is one of the things I enjoy most about developed cities. Figuring everything out, asking locals for directions, and observing building profiles from high-speed vehicles– I don’t get to do any of this in my own country.
Off to the building lobby I went, where a tour group composed of various expats awaited the local guides. After purchasing student tickets, I proceeded to the central hall where a lovely Arab local volunteer (whose name I didn’t catch!) had appeared. He would be touring us to comply with his company’s chosen value for the year: generosity. Out of respect, I didn’t include his face in any of my photos.
He began the tour with this basic question: what did the Etihad museum resemble when viewed from the outside? I thought of the slanted glass panes, the curving roof panels, and only the name of the late Zaha Hadid surfacedin my mind. Still, it couldn’t have been her; I’d surely have known had that been the case.
The guide held a piece of paper between his index finger and thumb. He pinched its two edges together and let the rest of the paper form a loop, such that no crease appeared on the sheet.
‘If you noticed the shape of the museum, it looks something like this!’
(At this point, I was like ‘????’)
After a minute, I kind of grasped what he was talking about. No, the building wasn’t exactly a loop; it rather resembled a cracked eggshell. Visually, it was something you could easily explain to the public and have fun with. Anything more straightforward might’ve been tacky, and very much Beijing if you asked me. (Not that I dislike Beijing! I just noticed how modern Chinese architecture is so literal. To apply this aesthetic to any other part of the world is iffy at best).
The museum is actually underground, and the building visible from outside is just the entrance lobby. I liked the programming of the spaces, as you can imagine yourself standing over some kind of underground city when you enter.
Went to Kinokuniya, this huggeee bookstore, instead of the museum today because I got my dates and schedules wrong. Turns out, the tour is happening tomorrow! Not complaining at all because I got to buy these beauties and a few classy pants.
Hey folks! I have too many moments in life wherein I feel poetic and excited about compositions forming in my mind (how they’re supposed to be narrated, which words to use, etc). I get down to writing them, and end up with two amazing paragraphs. Then, I get lazy about the rest.
I’m mostly sorry to myself for being either too busy or just not disciplined enough to actually sit down and write things. I guess that’s why I have a million drafts, and not one published composition.
Still, I enjoy discussion! A lot of times, writing chill posts like this is less stressful and more fulfilling than those long, dramatic essays anyway. (I WILL PUBLISH ONE SOMEDAY!). They’re also much clearer in terms of intent, so here goes:
I’ve been living in Dubai for the past couple of weeks. It’s a truly glamorous and unique city, not just in terms of local customs but also with regards to the collective attitude of the people. I’ve collected some personal insights about its architecture and culture, but that can wait. Tonight’s post will revolve around a couple of images I’ve taken during my travels.
These depict various scenes in the city at street level– how the people interact with the architecture, and what it feels like to be in this place. Didn’t really edit anything because I’m too lazy. Regardless, it’s almost impossible to take bad photos in Dubai, as all of its buildings are simply stunning.
In a couple of hours, I will be going to the Etihad museum and meeting a few locals! I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did!
Today was not so good, either. I don’t know why I feel so anxious, but I had to channel all of that nervous energy somewhere. Bad paper is good for watercolor in the sense that you don’t have to make something ‘worthy’ of its price/quality. In this regard, you can truly let loose with the strokes.
I could have scanned this artwork, but it is still wet, and I’m impatient. Maybe tomorrow will be calmer.
The fourth thing I painted yesterday. I generally design gowns with a theme or concept in mind, but this was created quite spontaneously. I guess I just wanted the light, playful fabrics to contrast the plain white underneath. Here’s to getting better at (formal) fashion!