Tag Archives: Crowds

How Froyo Saved Plainsboro: A Redberry Story

By Siddhi: 

When the often unpopulated downtown area of the place I grew up in was suddenly brimming with life on weeknights when before, noticeable crowds near the local coffee and cupcake joints would be a rarity even on weekends, I knew that the “next big thing” meant a lot more to my suburban New Jersey community than a dessert fad. When the froyo store Redberry opened in Plainsboro, the solution to the puzzling question of suburban spirit revealed itself in the vibrant swirls of frozen yogurt.

When people hangout in my district, they take their cars or hop on the local Dinky train service to Princeton. It’s only logical. A cozy movie theater that acts as the only pseudo “indie” screening center for miles, the most eclectic collection of restaurants that span across the full cultural spectrum, consignment shops, quirky arts and crafts stores, and of course, the sprawling lawns of Princeton University provide every hangout outlet a suburban teen could want. And when that wasn’t enough, we’d just use the good old NJ Transit and be in New York City within an hour.

I can’t even remember how many times I asked my mom when we’d move out of Plainsboro to a place where “more happened”. All I’d see on my bike rides were farms, fields, houses, and a few months later, farms and fields being replaced by more houses. It was an existence that I taught myself to loathe the older I grew.

Enter Redberry. Of course, right when I left Plainsboro for the city life I’d always dreamt of in New York.

It seems like an odd and gross exaggeration that a frozen yogurt store calmed my anxious suburban nerves. But on my weekends home, as I’d pass the place that’d been coined “Downtown Plainsboro” to create community that was foreign to my town, I was completely shocked to see throngs and throngs of people standing outside of Redberry. People from nearby, and people from all the way at the other end of the district. People from around the world who’d come to visit friends and family. Kids, teens, parents, grandparents, everyone.

I gave it a few months. Fads are fads, it would die down. But even a year later, whenever I go home and pass Redberry, I’m still amazed. People are communing, discussing, laughing, enjoying. Together. Even from a distance, it makes me smile that the place I grew up in has a meaning I always wish it did and has embraced community in what was perhaps an unintentional but nevertheless crucial move.

And even though I can only take my froyo in moderation, I can’t help but come to Redberry’s defense when people roll their eyes and say “oh not that again.” It gave a place that was on its knees begging for some life a critical infusion of spirit, and united a suburb that always prided itself on community yet escaped its own borders to find it.

To learn more about Redberry, you can visit their site here:

http://redberryfroyo.com

A Tale Of Two Squares: A Pre-Revolution Tahrir

By Siddhi: 

In light of all that is happening in Cairo at the moment and the election of President Mohamed Morsi in what is hopefully a true democratic leap for Egypt, I thought it was fitting that I write about a place I knew before revolution exploded on the streets of a city aching with a desperate heartbeat for change.

Two years ago, my family sat on our Continental mileage accounts looking at where we could do a unique cultural immersion trip for Spring Break. When Cairo cleared up as a viable destination, our intrepid souls booked the tickets without a blink. This would be another crucial and adventurous step in our goal to conquer each of the Ancient Civilizations, a dream that possessed me ever since I took my sixth grade world history class.

Cairo was unforgettable, to say the least.

In the largest city in the Middle East, it can take 40 minutes to travel a mile in the severe traffic that congests the narrow, populated streets.  On your feet, you simply cannot stop moving amongst the whirlwind of almost seven million Cairo locals who have mastered the haste required for basic survival in their city.  The City of A Thousand Minarets is a fitting name indeed, so expansive that according to those who’ve been born and raised in Cairo, a lifetime navigating the metropolis isn’t enough to fully experience its scope.

So when I visited Tahrir Square, I felt like I was in another Cairo. Broad spaces, pristinely maintained grounds, a delicate Sphinx exuding serenity, and the warm enthusiasm of the paints on the walls of the Egyptian Museum. Tahrir inhabited a wholly different world than the city I had roamed in preceding days. As much as I enjoyed and appreciated the ceaseless energy of Cairo street life, sitting in Tahrir was a much-needed escape from the thrilling yet tiring rhythm of the city.

On that trip, Tahrir Square came to represent structure and relative tranquility in a city that otherwise embodied the shameless pulse of disorder (one that, in retrospect, so precisely incarnated the tremors of an Egypt ready to be flung into the heat of rebellion).

Tahrir was peace and order amidst a city throbbing with the spirit of an overwhelming but beautiful chaos.

And less than a year later in the very strange timeline that is our world and the way it works, I was sitting at home and CNN flashed with images of an entirely unnoticeable place. They called it Tahrir Square. But it wasn’t the place I had visited. Swarms of protestors in crowds significantly larger than I had seen in the most populated streets of Cairo occupied the place that I could only remember as an exhibit of unruffled composition. There was peace, at first. And then bloody violence. Tahrir became the site of arguably one of the most significant modern social uprisings that lit the first flames that would ultimately set the rest of the Middle East on fire.

It’s almost impossible to juxtapose these two Tahrir Squares in my mind. One is a serene departure from the harmless turmoil of the city, and the other is a tumultuous revolution fighting for the preservation of human rights. Seemingly antonymous on every level, and yet so intricately intertwined. The place that embodied physical peace within the greater city wilderness had become the place that decided that peace meant something a lot more. Even if guarding it meant upheaval first.

Perhaps soon, when President Morsi and Egypt begin working towards the construction of that functioning democracy, Tahrir will once again begin to resemble the place I remember it as.

It is all very confusing and intriguing at the same time.  But what I take away is that any notion of “static” is foreign in the constantly surprising continuum of human politics and desires. What a place means isn’t bound to any locked grid of time or ideologies. The connotations of its presence transform, eternally. Just like Tahrir.

Rohan’s Top Five Theme Park Travel Tips

Tokyo Disney

It feels like no matter where you go these days, there’s always a huge theme park waiting for you to dare to try their intense roller coasters and of course, beg you to spend big bucks on sugary snacks and souvenirs. Theme park travel and hopping from one attraction to the next is a ton of fun, but it can also be very stressful if you don’t follow these important tips.

1. Reserve Tickets Ahead of Time: The greatest insult of going to a theme park (especially a major one like Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, or Universal Studios), is looking at the park skyline in awe only to find out you have to wait two hours just to get in. Print out your tickets and keep them in a folder. You are going to need this folder for later so hang on to it! It’ll be your best friend by the end of the day.

2. Establish Priorities: Think of five rides that you HAVE to do before exiting the park. This way, you can plan your day around these five rides, finding restaurants and shopping locations adjacent to the attractions you are dying to hit.

3. Expect the Unexpected: This category is pretty self-explanatory. Bring an umbrella, even if there’s only a slight chance of rain. You don’t want to get soaked and then have to pay thirty dollars (or more) for a theme park umbrella. Make sure you research indoor activities (arcades, indoor attractions like the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom, eateries, etc.)

4. Skip the Lines: Why wait two hours to ride the 30 second long Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Many major theme park chains have something called a Fast Pass. For you theme park newbies, a Fast Pass is a ticket that allows you to re-visit rides at a later time and skip the line all together. I recently got back from a trip to Orlando and Fast Passes were our best friends by the end of our five days. There’s nothing more satisfying than a white-knuckle ride on Test Track with a two minute wait.

5. Be Unconventional: It has been proven (and is evident through personal experience) that theme parks are the busiest from eleven in the morning to around three in the afternoon. This is why you need to re-structure your day if you want to make the most out of it. Hit the biggest rides bright and early. We rode Expedition Everest at eight in the morning and could get on it three times in fifteen minutes. Another great time to check out the park’s thrill rides is during popular shows and parades. If you are traveling with older kids who are uninterested in watching Disney or Nickelodeon characters prance around the park, that’s your cue to get in line and scream to your heart’s content. Another great and unique time to hit these rides is late at night. I was so glad that we rode Test Track at night since it actually felt like we were speeding down a highway at sixty miles per hour and the idea that we were in a theme park was erased from our minds.

Follow these tips, and you can make the most out of your day at any amusement park! If you have interesting stories or tips to share, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. We would love to hear your perspective on theme park travel!