By far a most significant place to me in Miami is Florida International University -- my alma mater for both undergraduate and graduate schools (graduated from the latter in 2006). FIU was my home away from home. Underwent tremendous exercises in self-discovery and self-management there, and was blessed with some excellent mentors. The following are pictures of the University Park Campus from last week. This is the Green Library, an eight-story architectural marvel that is one of the finest libraries in the Southeastern United States.
Impressive, to say the least. More importantly, a perfect place in which to learn. Enjoyed the facilitation for research there, in an entity that befits an institution that takes pride in its Carnegie Research I status. Amazed at the number of books on South Asian history, and the depth of coverage on Mahatma Gandhi. Sanjay Dutt from Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) would be proud of it too!
Here is the Graham University Center (the student center). Home of the Student Government and the organizations that it serves. For those of us who went to school to socialize (I did), this was easily the most popular hangout.
Instituted Bollywood Movie Nights here, with Main Hoon Na (2004) screened in the summer of 2004. Remember advertising it across the campus buildings -- Shah Rukh Khan and Sushmita Sen made our job a lot easier =) There was a poster for the film with the term 'exams suck' that we used as a backdrop. A more recent event was the Independence Day celebration there last year during which we showed Rang De Basanti (2006) to the largest crowd I have seen at a Bollywood movie showing at a college campus in South Florida.
This is the Computer Science building. My undergraduate major meant I had to attend this school for a couple of years...
...and this graduate business school a year later for the MBA.
Here is one of my favorite reading spots on campus (by the water fountain):
This parking garage makes it for having the distinction of being the venue of my first ever car accident. Thankfully, I was not hurt. The silver lining to the incident was that I realized how quickly things can change, and not to take life for granted.
A few years later, the film Bas Ek Pal (2006) summarized that thought process in its title. [The one thing I know I shall not miss about Miami is the way people drive there. Unruly, rude, and selfish driving at the peak of shamelessness and carelessness.]
There was also a bridge behind the business building, titled the 'lovers' bridge', which reminds me of this bridge in Saawariya (2007), as much for the structure as for Ranbir Kapoor's fate in the film.
All in all, my time at FIU overwhelmingly positive experience because of the friends, faculty and administration of the University. It also helped me realize that I am hopelessly in love with academia in the United States and that I would want to return to some school for a Ph.D. a few years later.
Among the other places I shall miss is South Beach, which we are guaranteed to see in an upcoming film starring John Abraham (see this post for pictures of John on South Beach). The numerous trees mean that there is at least a prospect of seeing someone in the film running around them, singing a song perhaps?
This, also on South Beach...
...serves as an obvious reminder of Rockin' Goa from Dil Chahta Hai (2001). (Also see this post.)
Aside: In travels to beaches in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, I do not recall noticing all the grass right next to the beach.
Anyone know what Botany tells us about this? =) Now that I think of it, this guy (pictured to the right) might know! Remember the dialog: "Gobi ka phool, phool hoke bhi phool nahi hota" from the film Chupke Chupke (1975)?
South Beach is great on weekdays and a little too congested on weekends. Yet, I shall miss it, and the adjacent Ocean Drive, if only for its independently-owned restaurants and bars. It was close enough to home (about 20 minutes away) to have easy access to.
Which brings me to home. This trail ran through the backyard -- a golf course. Aside from the occasional duck attack, things were smooth. The golf course and country club memberships were fun, although I hardly ever used them because of the work-related travel and the weekend recovery routine that was inherent in their aftermath.
Among my other favorite places in South Florida is Key West, if only for the drive across the amazing seven-mile bridge (it's a heavenly drive, among the most wonderful roadways one could hope to drive on; creators of the Dil Chahta Hai title song or Koi na Koi Chahiye from Deewana (1992) take note)...
...and Islamorada (one of the several keys), home of the Islamorada Fish Company, which serves some excellent seafood. The key is also a sport fishing capital of the world.
Lastly, no mention of my missing Miami would be complete without noting that I shall miss being at Miami Dolphins training sessions in the summer, and at games on Sundays during football season. The team has been in dementia for the past several years, and I am not near the Dolphins fan I was (for 13 years) until about two years ago. Yet, something about the sport brings me closer to American culture than anything else, and that is what I appreciate most about it.
Now, Bollywood might not have shown us a scene or two at an American football game. Here is a wish for that. More importantly, here is a wish that Indian audiences not be led to be confused between rugby and American football. Have seen on more than one occasion, film heroes shown playing rugby wearing pads and cricket helmets! Talk about a fusion of three sports! One such instance was Akshay Kumar in the song Jab bhi koi Haseena from the film Hera Pheri (2000). It is a good song that loses some of its appeal about 4:10 into the video. Too funny =) Still, Akshay made up for it in the rugby scene in Namastey London (2007), so this was forgiven.
Anyway, so here I am in Los Angeles now. No FIU and no professional football team, but beaches that rival the ambiance of South Beach, and a fireplace at home whose artistic quotient some what makes up for the lack of a golf course in the backyard. Closer to the technology and entertainment heartlands, and close to a concentration of desi-ness (and hence a greater likelihood of being closer to Bollywood fans) that I have not experienced in the parts of Florida and Texas I have lived in. Most importantly, closer to closest family. So it should be interesting...