The Past #Throwback Thursday

This visit is the first time in 18 years that I’ve been back to Chicago. My family lived in Buffalo Grove from when I was 3 to 7. As a result, some of my formative childhood memories were created here.

Yesterday, we came back to our old apartment complex. The apartment we lived in looks exactly the same from the outside. The school bus stop where I once got hit in the mouth with a frisbee is still there. So is the winding path, bridge, and running track where I first learned to ride a bicycle. My dad would wake me up at 5 in the morning every day to teach me to ride with my training wheels off. He never learned to ride a bike himself, but that is the typical middle class mentality isn’t it? Make sure your kids get every opportunity you didn’t have.

This is where I learned to ride a bike. If I had been here a couple days ago, I might have used this picture as my “road pic” for Photo 101.

Another memory that always makes us laugh happened in the parking lot in front of the apartment. I was probably 5 years old and there was a puddle completely covered in white flowers and feathers. To me, it just looked like a patch of ground, but my dad knew there was water underneath. He saw my little kindergartener’s mind considering and he told me repeatedly not to step in it. Of course I thought he was just pulling my leg and I stepped in it anyway – my feet were totally covered in dirty water, hah!

We walked around a bit more, taking our old routes and reminiscing about friends we had when we lived here and places we went. We visited my first elementary school. We visited some family we hadn’t seen in all these years.

My first day of kindergarten consisted of a scavenger hunt around the school which culminated with finding the gingerbread man. This is also the place where I learned how to hold scissors safely.

Perhaps my favorite moment was when my uncle spotted a tiny Indian girl with short hair and a pink jacket playing on the same swings I used to play on at that age and said, “Look! There’s Shachi.”

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Chicago (A Bit of a Cheat)

A city on the water

Today’s post is a bit of a cheat. The assignment for Photography 101 today was to take a picture of water. I actually took this photo a month ago when I was flying through Chicago for a business trip (the one when I met Jasmine), but it felt relevant because I’m back in Chicago now. Another cheat: technically, I didn’t first meet Chicago in my twenties (I lived in Chicago from the age of 3 to 7) but as anyone who’s been dragged to Vegas as a kid can tell you, experiencing a place as a child and experiencing it as an adult are two very different things. 

Chicago is majestic. It’s not like the East Coast cities, formed because that’s where the founders happened to land. Instead, this land was chosen, and the city was built upon the banks of a mighty river. Buildings in cities like Boston (where I grew up) tend to be uniform in their brick and dark colors but there is a great diversity of architecture here in Chicago, and there are many buildings in light beiges and creams that somehow create a more optimistic, forward-thinking vibe to the city. Fellow Bostonians, don’t get me wrong, I love Boston and its history, but it’s like a breath of fresh air to be in a city where the past isn’t staring at you from every corner. 

How would you describe your city? Is it historic, futuristic, or a bit of both? Chicagoans, I’m just a visitor in your city – how would you describe it? Finally, Photo 101 classmates – what are your thoughts on plane photos? 🙂

The Retailers

I currently work as a product executive for a software company. If you’ve read some of my blog posts, you might understand that that’s a description I never thought I’d have. Our clients are major retailers, primarily in the grocery and pharmacy business. As a result, over the past year, I’ve met quite a few people who fit in a very select demographic – retail pricing analyst/manager – basically the guys who figure out how much to charge you for that banana you bought at the grocery store. It’s a complicated business, grocery retail – so much so that there are entire conventions dedicated to it. I’m at one such convention now. 

These “roadways” are where I’m spending most of my time this week. During the exhibition hours, the grey pathways are bustling with retail executives .

The floor feels like a marketplace and we’re the sellers with the stalls. It’s like a cross between my high school science fair and a street vegetable market in India. People are dignified and poised, but just under the skins of those crisp suits are eager salespeople. The retailers I’ve met have typically been in the business for a long time. They are mostly men, with some women, trying to coax their businesses into the modern world, shifting from paper and Excel spreadsheets to advanced analytics. They like sports metaphors and speak in regional accents. They’re hardworking, experienced, and savvy about their competition.
 

Our Booth at FMI: The other side to my dual-natured life

 
Sometimes, when I step back, I realize it’s an odd dynamic – I’m selling retailers a system that helps them decide prices for the groceries I will later buy from them. It’s a world that is all about numerical analysis and making profits. It reflects part of my nature, in that I’m interested in technology and small business, but it’s so very different from my creative, passionate-about-dance-and-writing side. The two don’t converge often, but on some occasions (like creating the materials for our booth or even writing this blog post) I get to use my creative skills at work.