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Sinatra sang it right: 'My kind of town Chicago is'

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Posted: Friday, September 10, 2004 10:00 pm

"My Kind of town Chicago is…."Chicago is fascinating city. Flat as a pancake with no geographical attributes, Chicago has all the stuff that Frank Sinatra sang about and more.

It has "the people who smile at you." "It has the razzmatazz and jazz" and "it is the one town that won't let you down."

In the '70s, when I used to live in Minnesota, I spent many a weekends in Chicago. And lately I had another opportunity to spend a week there. At end of the week I realized that Chicago needs more than a week to visit. This city has lot more than you can cover in a week.

Taj Khan

The views of Lake Michigan from a building like the Sears Tower or John Hancock Building near Lake Shore Drive are awe inspiring. If you can brave the weather, a boat ride on Lake Michigan can provide you a breathtaking view of the city and you can learn more about the marvelous architectural skyline of Chicago.

Chicago is full of museums. It has the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Field Museum. Although it does not have an ocean shoreline it does have the famous Shedd Aquarium/Oceanarium with live dolphin show. It has the Art Institute of Chicago which displays some of the most famous paintings of the world renowned artists, such as American Gothic painted by great American painter Grant Wood, and other famous paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Degas, and Monet.

It also has some of the famous sports arenas such as the Soldier Field, the Wrigley Field. It has the Navy Pier where you will see thousands of tourists trying to take in sights and sounds of Chicago.

Chicago preserves and showcases the little ethic enclaves -- Greek Town, the Italian neighborhood, the Polish area etc. All of them have their own ethnic identity and culture. You can enjoy Chicago style stuffed pizza, Greek cuisine, hot Indian curry or a Kosher meal.

I was surprised to see that some of the streets have two or more names. The streets have their conventional name written on a typical street sign. And right under the normal street signs often hang honorary names that showcase the culture of each neighborhood.

Devon Street runs east west for few miles on the north side of Chicago. The honorary names of this street change as it runs through various ethnic neighborhoods of Pakistanis, Indians, and Jews. For a short distance the street honors Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistani nation; then Mohammad Ali Jinnah Avenue melts into Gandhi Marg, honoring the Indian leader; Gandhi Marg ends a few blocks later as Golda Meier Avenue, named after the Israeli leader.

Scattered throughout a few blocks of this street stand Halal (Islamic) food restaurants for Muslims, vegetarian restaurants catered to Hindus and Kosher food serving restaurants. In Chicago one can see the true colors of America. The followers of the three religions who are at odds with each other in Asia can live in such a close proximity to each other in peace and harmony.

A few blocks north and south of Devon Street stand churches, mosques, synagogues, mandirs (the Hindu temple), and gurdwaras (the Sikh temple) and Latino barrios. In these neighborhoods you will find people walking around wearing saris, kamiz-shalwars, kurta-pyjamas, yarmulke, pargries (traditional Sikh turbans.) In these neighborhoods live Bosnians, Serbians, and Croats. And the community flourishes.

During the week I visited Chicago, the Hindu community opened up a new mandir with the unique Indian architecture. It is a beautiful building which commemorates the diversity of this nation and its tolerance potential:

"And each time I leave, Chicago is

Tuggin my sleeve, Chicago is

The Wrigley building, Chicago is

The union stockyard, Chicago is

One town that won't let you down

It's my kind of town …"

And Frank, I agree with you.

Taj Khan of Lodi is a consultant and retired engineering manager for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.



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