Monday, February 4, 2008

Sleepless in Chicago


A couple of weeks ago, I saw the news on TV3 that Chicago and the mid-West were blanketed with snow. Having a close friend and a partner there in Chicago and having visited him a couple of years ago, I remember my encounter with a foot-thick snow and getting trapped outside in the freezing temperature when I decided to venture outside early one morning and I locked myself outside by mistake.

In today’s newspaper, is the story that China was hit by winter storm.

And I have been told today that 13 inches of snow had dropped on Chicago yesterday. Wow, wish I was there!
The view from my room at Madi's house very early morning the next day

So I had to write this piece.

Sleepless in Chicago

It was very early morning mid-December 06. Having just arrived the night before and still jet lagged, I was wide awake by 4 am, and being a restless by 6 am, I decided to enjoy my encounter with the white stuff outside. It has been years since I had more than a foot of snow in the yard. So I went out and feast my eyes with the fluffy stuff. The roofs and the lawn were all white. It looked so like watching a Christmas movie to me, or even watching the Home Alone movie. Some still have their Christmas light on and decoration hanging on the balcony and in the yard. But after 5 mins enjoying the snow that looked like a white carpet in his compound, I decided that I had enough.
The view of the suburb of Hinsdale as Madi took me around
upon arrival that evening in Chicago

It was a tad too cold for me to enjoy the ambience.

I tried to go in, but the door would not budge. It was locked.

I had basically locked myself out. By mistake.

It was still very early, and it was the weekend. The host, tired from the night outing showing this writer Chicago, was still fast asleep. I didn't want to disturbed him. So I continued on enjoying the freezing temperature while hoping that the host would wake up and rescue him soon. I tried keeping myself warm by rubbing my two hands together.

It didn’t last that long. I could not hold fort anymore and I need to get in quickly; or else the next day headline would be “Malaysian frozen to death”. So I had to ring the bell.

Hah, Madi can’t do much except offer a wry smile at me for locking myself out. He probably wished I had not done that so that he could have a few more precious minutes of sleeping time. But he didn’t complain.

When I was there, the weather was calm. No snow was falling unfortunately. It was practically a pleasant week there. But while I would like to see fresh snow, I was not keen to be trapped by snowstorm. It was close to Christmas and if I don’t get back to KL in time, I could be trapped there due to the holiday traffic.
The hosts in front of the house in the posh suburb of Chicago

The wonderful hosts in front of the house in Chicago. His house has this basement that we can just sit there and relax while we listened to old song. I love his basement - wish my house has the same thing.

Chicago is fun to me. The downtown is nothing that I had seen before, except for New York may be. Chicago makes Houston looked like a small kampong. It does. Huge and tall skyscrapers are the norm there. It is so ultra-modern and chic. What do you expect for a city that boasts seven of the 10 tallest towers in the world for the longest time and was only surpassed by our twin towers; even then due to technical reason. Their argument was that the highest floor at Sears (110th) would be looking 10-floor down to see the 88th floor of the Petronas Twin towers.

The only reason why we were listed as the tallest buiding was that our twin towers have a pinnacle to make it architecturally taller. The Sears tower management argued that their building has a radio antenna that would surpass the top of the Petronas tower pinnacle.

The tall building authority at Lehigh University had to arbitrate.

Well, I guess many would know the verdict by now. The antenna is not considered as the part of the architecture of Sears towers while the pinnacles of the Petronas towers are.
The ultra-modern and chic Chicago downtown.

Well, I guess, it does not matter now. None are the tallest building in the world. It was surpassed by Taipei 101 (which by floor count is 9 floors below Sears Tower). Again it does not matter - it will be surpassed yet by another building under construction in the Middle East.

And the race continues.


Years ago when I was practically living in Ontario, I had thought of driving to Chicago. But then the response from my Canadian counterparts was "Why do you want to go to Chicago? They've got guns there, you know. Afterall, Al Capone used to live in Chicago!" So instead of heading West, I head East to New York and Boston.

Then of course I had no clue that my former classmate from MRSM was living and working in Chicago.


  1. Man, your post certainly brings back good old memories of the 4 years I was there...yeah, for me, downtown Chicago is the best, not as hectic as Manhattan and not as sterile as downtown Houston or LA. It was a bliss to stroll down Michigan Avenue in the cool fall day...luckily you got trapped outside in December...had it been late Jan or Feb, God knows what can happen..hah

  2. Hahaha, I am glad you feel that way. I must say I don't really know downtown Chicago that well (I do enjoy it the 30 mins Madi was driving me around), but I must admit I agree with your description of Manhattan and downtown Houston.

    (Anyway, I dont think I am able to identify you...;-)