Saturday, May 12, 2012

Passport DC Embassy Tour 2012 #PassportDC

Logo near Venezuela Embassy
It was by chance on Thursday evening that I learn of an upcoming weekend event. I had heard of this event in the past year after-the-fact. Thus, it further piqued my interest but with such short notice, wasn't too sure if I will be able to make it. Further the ongoing week was hectic - so I was really looking forward to some downtime! But I did not want to pass this as well. Ah, the self-debate is the most energy-consuming!

Such is my life and varied interests..wish lesser things interested me (much along the lines of my pet peeve that I wish that lesser cuisines interested me so much - well, I guess this is again misplaced emphasis on my interest than my own lack of control when it comes to new and good food!).. La and voila, my friend Raji was interested as well to go for this. With company available, another argument in my kitty to not let go of this opportunity! So I was all set to be a part of this wonderful event - Passport DC Embassy Tour 2012.

It is a wonderful international event in DC. About 40 embassies open their doors for citizens to visit them and be a part of their culture and food. It is aimed to increase interest in the different countries and encourage tourism. Indian embassy was not a part of it this year - they have been in the past and have had saree-tying and mehendi as some of their spotlight events. #PassportDC is the twitter tag for this event - if you are interested in looking up the interesting pics and tweets related to this. I am already looking forward to the next year.

Well, my bad luck was that I could not wake up early and get the much-wanted head-start to the day. I met up Raji in DC metro and we headed to our destination. Being new to the Dupont Circle area and embassy row took some getting used to. For a certain section of our walk to the various embassies, we resorted to following the crowd coz that was easier than reading the map, particularly when you have so much to cover in so less time! :)

Before I get into the different embassies and their pics, one surprise discovery during the 4.0+ mile walk during that day included finding this very statue of Bapuji aka Mahatma Gandhi. I had first heard of it's existence from my friend Raka when we were walking in the Rock Creek Trail - we wanted to go by and see this that day but could not for some reason. A proud surreal feeling on seeing this!

Bapu's Statue in Massachusetts Avenue, DC - first heard of this statues existence from Raka - finally got to see it!
The link to the tour details page is here. Click the map below to see the participating embassies and their locations.

View Around the World Embassy Tour in a larger map
Embassy of Indonesia

We started with the Embassy of Indonesia as we came across it first while walking down from the Dupont Circle Metro. It was grandiose both from outside architecture as well as the inside decor. The pics will tell it all. I even picked up a furniture store's card from one of the exhibitors there and look forward to get a nice solid wood-work item from there. And definitely this is one of the countries I want to visit some day. Passport DC's objective had started working for me - to get citizens interested in the different countries and increase tourism.This embassy put up a good show indeed.

Indonesian Embassy
Front entrance - Indonesia EmbassyPainting in Indonesia embassy
Glass decor roof - Indonesia Embassy
Banquet Hall - Indonesia Embassy
Lovely idols exhibiting their traditional dresses in the Indonesian EmbassyA nice sculpture in the Indonesian Embassy
Indonesian Embassy - solid wood work!Indonesian Embassy Sculpture - their national symbol, I guess!
Intricate work in a statue in the Indonesian embassy - would love to have one of these in my house!
Embassy of The Bahamas

Our next stop was here. That day was Cinco de Mayo, so me and my friend were interested to visit the Embassy of Mexico. However, due to the short time and it being a little further off, we decided to cover the ones in Massachusetts Avenue. They had colorful head-gears placed all over the place with nice camaraderie, music and dance - only thing missing was the beach! People got to try some of the head-gears - second down and one more added to my list of places to visit. Well, re-confirmed coz it was already in my list! :)

Note - I have already been to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas during our cruise trip a few years back. Should share the pics of this someday. Fine sand, nice sunshine, good food - I was not ready to leave that place. Think I almost got my kids married off there - the ones I don't have yet! :D

Bahamas Embassy - Entrance colorful decor
Bahamas Embassy - Colorful head-gear on display
Bahamas Embassy - Another colorful head-gear on displayBahamas Embassy - Yet another colorful head-gear on display - each one more enticing than the other!
Embassy of Haiti 

This was huge and a kites galore. And of course, the much needed fruit punch to beat the heat of the afternoon. They had some nice paintings - not sure if it is new and thus, they still need to furnish the rooms. There was one huge almost empty room in the top floor. Would have loved to see more cultural display here.

Kites decor in the Embassy of HaitiEmbassy of Haiti - roof decor

Embassy of Chad

It was a good experience to see the local culture, style of dressing and interior decor of these embassies. Chad had a small exhibition area but it was a visual treat - the crafts galore! The symmetric display of the flags in the background added to the charm.

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

There was a long line for this and none of us were complaining coz we did want to stop walking and take a break for sometime even if it meant just standing in a line! ;) But we were soon welcomed in and given a tour of the facility. They had it very well-organized with people guiding you from one section to the other. They even had a cultural show at 4pm which we passed-on in favor of getting back early - next time!

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela - Guided tour
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela - an interesting painting

Embassy of Japan - what a display of culture  

This was another embassy with a long line - but it was worth the wait! The gentleman from the security team gave an interesting funny presentation and made the wait in the line at the end of the day less painful. :) There was green tea to welcome and a nice exhibition waiting for us inside. They had a good display of culture indeed and people more than willing to answer your questions. This was our last stop - we did not even manage to cover half of all that was out there for us but we were happy with the ones we did manage to cover.

Embassy of Japan  - the front yard with lovely unique fish-kites who were enjoying the breeze as much as us!
Embassy of Japan  -Uchikake, a bridal dress - very expensive and passed on from mother to daughter at times (learned this during my Japanese language class while @Wipro, Bangalore quite a few years back.Embassy of Japan  - a brief write-up on the Uchikake, the bridal dress
Embassy of Japan  -Boy dollEmbassy of Japan  -That's a kite!
Embassy of Japan  - Girl dollEmbassy of Japan  -Are those kites too!
Embassy of Japan  - loved the young girl in the extreme right of this picEmbassy of Japan  - traditional umbrellas .. Sayonara Sayonara (Japanese greeting and a popular Hindi song of the 60's)
Embassy of Japan  - different type of painting near the exitEmbassy of Japan  - 2nd one the different type of painting near the exit
Embassy of Japan  - A Samurai - most people were just standing with him for a pic but this was a more cool pose - glad I caught it in time. Hope the lady in this pic gets to see this pic as well! :)
Please note that the European tour is today. Hope you get to check it out. Looking forward to hear all about it. I would have loved to go down but a trip to DC two weekends in a row is not my cup of tea! :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Follow foodie said...

Loved the post

Reshmi said...

Nice post and snaps..
An award for you at my space.. Do collect..
Noel collections

Recipeswap said...

Love ur photos, I'm waiting to go to the carribean, ur so lucky uv been there already.

Pragyan said...

@Follow foodie - Thanks!

@Reshmi - Thanks, dear! Picked it up, will be sharing it soon..Much appreciated.

@Recipeswap - Yes, I am sure lucky - am sure you will soon and you have an even better time than I did! :)