Saturday, November 13, 2010

The US Capitol

To enter the Capitol, You stand in a line for security check and get in to the visitor center if you are not considered a security threat. Upon entering the center, you are given a hand band which should be on your body till you leave the Capitol,and a time slot at which you may see a documentary about the Capitol in the attached theater if you so wish.

Later you stand in another line to be made part of a group of about twenty and assigned to an official for a conducted tour of the capitol. They give you a pair of ear phones which you stick into your ears and follow the leader looking at things which he points out and hearing what he says. I have difficulty comprehending the American accent. Fortunately our leader was speaking slowly and had an accent which I could understand and he did give a good commentary. He talked about the senate, the congress, the house of representatives etc etc, (which is not very clear to me even now) showed us the doors leading to both the houses, explained the tradition, history and architecture of the Capitol building, mentioned the importance/ significance of the various paintings, statues etc etc (all of which I heard keenly but have almost forgotten) finished the tour and collected the earphones back.

Next on the agenda was the Library of congress which was across the street but approachable through an underground passage from the Capitol. On the way to the Library was the cafeteria. Apart from a good spread of the usual American stuff it provides preparations from one other country every day. On the day we visited the capitol, it was Indian food. I had made a note of the menu but have misplaced it somewhere. Palak paneer was one of the items, if I remember right. I did not taste anything as It was not meal time and even if it were, I would not have been hungry after seeing the prices.

The library of the congress is supposed to be the largest library in the world in terms of shelf space and number of books. It is open to anyone who can prove his/her credentials and necessity. The ornamental part of it is open to visitors and we spent about an hour there. I remember seeing the original copy of the American constitution and sitting on a bench to rest while others went around looking at whatever interested them.

We spent about an hour there and were out by lunch time. One of the fellow visitors offered to take a picture of the group with the Capitol building in the back ground and then we walked back to the hotel.

During the time we spent in the Capitol, they must have moved our hotel closer to the building. With Vishwa now leading the group,it took exactly ten minutes to reach the hotel against forty when i lead the party in the morning during the onward journey. My wife decided to cook up something for lunch using the ingredients that we had been lugging around but had never used till then, while self and Bhanu went in search of yoghurt.(plain, gelatin free - substituting for curd). After enquiring in half a dozen stores and restaurants around the hotel, we did locate it in a grocery shop and by the time we returned with the trophy, my wife had performed a miracle using the hotel microwave and we sat down for a lunch of chapattis, curry, salad, rice and yoghurt.

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