The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts tagged “instagram

Grab a Seat

Posted on July 11, 2014

For the budget-conscious person in Hanoi, there are no better alternatives to eating than traditional Vietnamese dishes found on every sidewalk, corner and alleyway. One needn’t look far. The food here is delicious, cheap and fun, as it requires a level of proactivity and interactivity that is unfamiliar to many cuisines worldwide. I say proactivity because the best places in Hanoi only serve one thing, and they only serve that one thing for a short window in the day. My favorite bun cha place is open for three hours a day at most, even less if they run out of food. So you must plan and run. Once you plop down on a dubious plastic cube, the interaction begins. Fix your plate with whatever…

How to Buy Groceries

Posted on March 22, 2014

After a full week (or was it longer?) of eating out, I yesterday felt compelled to go grocery shopping. Normally I’d take my bike, but I’d been driving everywhere recently. It felt right to go by foot, headphones in, daydreaming on shuffle, going a pace all my own. It is in these moments that I feel most this city is my new home; moments of serenity and clarity in a life and setting that breed chaos. (Though on some days I wake up dazed, astounded by the fact that I live in Asia, and I am so shocked and humbled by this that I sometimes forget to put shoes on before going outside.) Walking around Hanoi is special, anyway, because you have to adopt…

Road to Somewhere

Posted on March 5, 2014

I took my bike out late at night to get more practice while the roads were clearer. It was a warm night, the city blanketed with slick pavement that made that sticky noise of rubber and rain, a Hanoi drowning in purple and red buzzing lights – hotels, eateries, flower shops, anything. The road, like a midnight river, reflected the flashing fluorescence. Rainbow Road. I zoomed past Ho Chi Minh’s red-lit tomb, my quiet illustrious neighbor, and around Ba Dinh, making sure to go on new streets, uncovering places I’d never been. I circumvented West Lake, smiling at the realization that I needed no map, I needed no help. There was no one else there at the top of the lake, the green-gray water…

Theory of Omission

Posted on October 10, 2012

This story has three players: Ernest Hemingway, St. Petersburg, and an American in Russia for the first time. We’ll call him Chad. This story doesn’t end well for Chad. Hemingway Bar is located on Ulitsa Lomonsova, a dark and eerily silent street in the lively city center. The bar in question is surrounded by abandoned buildings and telling foreclosures slapped with bulletins in intimidating Cyrillic lettering. But the place lights up at night. It lights up and its emanating glow attracts all those moths looking for a drink. Sadly, it’s not quite the place Hemingway would frequent; the neon lights and bad music tell me so. My favorite bars are the ones where I can picture the man himself in the corner enveloped by…

Matysowka

Posted on August 31, 2012

As tiny children, my cousins and I would play jump rope in their empty schoolyard. It was always great fun, mostly because we played helicopter-style, the only style I could ever manage without skinning my knees on rough asphalt. Little did we know, the metal gate we walked by everyday as children would be destroyed by their friends one night far into the future. The gate would be smashed by a Skoda after their one friend consumed too many beers. Little did we jump-roping children could know, the driver would walk away fine, but the gate that I saw everyday would be severely dented. Confused neighbors and passers-by would see the gate and wonder: “When did this happen?” It would be a fleeting thought as…

Arlanda

Posted on July 30, 2012

Leaving Sweden is more bitter than sweet. But maybe it’s this smoked moose sausage I’m eating at my gate. It’s been incredible mostly because of my friends here, but also because of Scandinavia’s magnetic charm – the Land of Freedom and Liberty For All should be on Sweden’s flag, unlike one country that shouts those words loudly but doesn’t follow through. Now I can only hope to return the favor half as well as they have – my one friend Andreas in particular deserves a huge thank you  – when they eventually find themselves in the States looking for a helping hand and a couch to crash. You travel, you meet people, you meet them again, and then you leave, knowing that at some…

Instagram for the Technologically Inept

Posted on July 3, 2012

“Welcome to Instagram. It’s a fun and quirky way to share your life through photos.” But what if I don’t want to be quirky? I looked down at my socks: one red and one blue. Yes, I am inadvertently quirky enough.  My initial reaction was to hit the delete button, but my iPhone was new to me then and I couldn’t figure out how. And so this app stuck, and I’m kind of glad it did. For one, Instagram has changed phone photography forever. There used to be a time when a camera on a phone was a spectacularly novel selling point. Never mind that it had, like, two pixels. People still wanted cameras on their phones even though sending pictures was decidedly not…

A Day in Food

Posted on February 10, 2012

An exercise in speculative thought: what do our diets say about us? If one were to document everything they consumed in one day, how much would you know about that person once midnight rolls around? Could you tell how much money they make in year? If they lie on the extreme end of the spectrum, very possibly. A dish donning russian caviar would arouse immeasurably different assumptions compared to a tray supporting a Taco Bell burrito and a Cherry Coke. You might also be able to ascertain where a person lives, their ethnicity or nationality, whether they’re single or married, how old they are, whether they’re incredibly obese or wholly malnourished, healthy or unhealthy, their likes and dislikes, and even how open-minded they are.…

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