Visual Diary: Philadelphia ft. Magic

I only spent one fabulous weekend in Philly (and well, an afternoon on a completely separate occasion when my friends and I drove all the way for cheesesteaks at Pat’s and Geno’s) but I learnt this much.

- Reading Terminal Market (51 North 12th St) is an awesome place. Go there. The chocolate stall is rad!

- Their Chinatown is seriously legit. Head to Joy Tsin Lau (1026 Race St) for lo mai gai and dimsum and then pack a bunch of pastries to go at one of the many Chinese bakeries in the neighbourhood.

- Penn university is big on sculptures.

- Spruce St Harbor Park is (was) a summer pop-up and a great place to hang (hammocks!).

- Cedar park is my favourite neighbourhood for all these reasons.

- The best day of the month is First Friday.

I also learned that Philadelphia loves murals and spotted them everywhere thanks to the Mural Arts Program that was set up nearly 30 years ago. Then on my last evening in Philly, when Raina (mega shoutout to this girl for being a great host!) and I were on our way to Magic Gardens, I discovered magic murals. BLING!

Magic Gardens is essentially a giant installation, an outdoor mosaic sculpture garden and maze of tunnels and grottos with thousands of tiny mirror mosaics decorated with discarded glass bottles, crockery and china, bicycle parts and other odds and ends. It is the work of artist Isaiah Zagar who also beautified dozens upon dozens of walls around South St with his creations.

Unfortunately when we got there it was closed for a wedding (Oof hipsters!) and I only got a peek but I have it on good authority that it is a terribly enchanting place and definitely worth the $7 general admission fee. Raina and I checked out some of Zagar’s other mirrored mosaic murals and if you’re interested in doing that too, you can find a map here.

Philadelphia Eats: Little Baby's Ice Cream

Forget Philly cheesesteaks, if there’s a reason to drive down to Philadelphia, it’s Little Baby’s Ice Cream, the second coolest thing in town after this little baby.

I think I’ve found my favourite ice cream shop and it’s only on the other side of the world! I’m talking handmade small batch ice cream in inventive flavours like earl grey sriracha, pizza, cucumber dill, chocolate salt malt or my favourite, red hot cinnamon and an outlet with ice cream zines, a pay-it-forward board (leave a scoop for somebody you love), and a NerdsTM grinder.

Little Baby’s Ice Cream’s customer helpline also offers a magic 8 ball service that you can call/text your questions to which they respond to promptly. Look for the blue zigzag at 4903 Catherine St, eat their delicious ice cream and follow them on instagram (because they are so much fun).

 

More in Cedar Park:

I am all for dessert before dinner but if there’s another reason to get your butt to West Philly, it’s Guacamole Mexican Grill (4612 Woodland Ave). This cheap-as-tortilla-chips little yellow cantina and the wonderful gem of a woman that runs it will warm the cockles of your heart. Order the guacamole to share and get a mixed plate of soft shell tacos. It was easily some of the most generous, most lovingly prepared and most delicious Mexican I’ve ever eaten.

Shoutout also to Milk and Honey Market (4435 Baltimore Avenue). Their gluten free bagels made my morning. A great spot to get coffee and breakfast! 

Lastly, a heads up. Look out for an awesome cultural event called the Baltimore Ave Dollar Stroll held once a year. You’ll find participating independently owned local businesses (of which there are plenty because Philadelphia is fantastic) offer their wares for only one dollar. From craft beer to injera rolls, look what was on offer this year.

A week in the life: Goa

I am in Goa. (Healing.)

This year, though I have been most fortunate and grateful to travel as much as I have has left me feeling rather drained and unlike myself.

Goa usually means north or south for me, with sun soaked days in Mandrem, visits to the ever festive Saturday night market and gorgeous meals at La Plage, or even spent in small rented cottages in Agonda with simple thali lunches at Fatima Store.

Not this time.

I’m happy to be here outside of season, lingering somewhere in between. I wasn’t meant to be back in India but here I am. I’m spending time with my grandmother (who is my soulmate), collecting shells on the beach as I always have done, reading and writing, breathing more deeply and finding myself enjoying being on this blog more than ever. I have so many stories to tell. Thank you for reading.

Philadelphia: First Friday

This is Max. He is 9. Max draws portraits for $1 on 2nd St. Max drew his first face before he was two years old and his enthusiasm never wavered so two years ago, Max began setting up his easel on the sidewalk outside the Arden Theatre Co (where his parents are the technical director and costume designer) on First Friday and drawing passerbys willing to shell out a buck for a signed Max original.

Of course my friend Raina and I couldn’t resist. Max likes to work with a brief so we asked to be underwater and Max turned us into mermaids paying careful detail to our hair and jewellery, and added masterful touches to his drawing. This is the result.

Then armed with our latest acquisition, we checked out some of the current art exhibitions in the neighbourhood. First Friday is a cultural event in which the galleries of Old City stay open late and host receptions for the general public. It’s coupled with a fantastic sidewalk artist’s and flea market where we bought prints, handmade and vintage jewellery, healing crystals and other lovely knickknacks. If you can time your Philly visit to coincide, I highly recommend checking it out.