Sunday, September 27, 2015

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a guided tour of it

Stairways leading to the Ray and Maria Stata Centre.

When I was visiting Harvard on 24 Jun 2015, it seemed very natural to make time to visit MIT, i.e. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If I had to summarize my impression of MIT in one single sentence, it would be "MIT is about design, design and design."

Thankfully, I met a very nice guide who allowed me to gate-crash into the guided tour that she was conducting. I had taken the train to Kendall station without checking out where exactly I could join a guided tour of MIT. Thankfully, life showed its way to me and I came across a large group of people who seemed to be on a guided tour of MIT. So I asked if I could join them, and I felt thankful that my request was obliged. On the side, more information about MIT's campus tours can be found here:

While I found my senses over-stimulated by designs everywhere around me when I was at MIT, it was a treasured experience that I was willing to subject myself to.

The tall building is the Green Building.

During the tour, I had the honour to see the Green Building by I.M. Pei. and Araldo Cossutta. It is, as best as I had understood, the tallest building in Cambridge.

One of the stops during the tour was the Lewis Music Library. The tour stopped by the entrance of this library. I was reminded that libraries like this were made possible because of the benefactors who had donated generously.

Maclaurin Building.
The Maclaurin Building at MIT was impressive in its scale. I was attracted to the sculptures that were placed within 10 minutes walk from this building.

Jaume Plensa's "Alchemist" (2010).

Julius Adams Stratton Building

I had the plesure to visit the Julius Adams Stratton Building which is essentially the Student Centre of MIT. This is a place where the Lobdell Food Court is located. After the tour, I ordered a chicken shawarma for lunch at the Lobdell Food Court. It was a place suitable for exchanges of ideas and a lot of conversations and dialogues.

At the Food Court.

The Chapel in the background.

Kresge Auditorium.

During the tour, we had a glimpse of the Kresge Auditorium from a distance. We also saw a cylindrical-shaped chapel that stood nearby the Kresge Auditorium. Another stop that the tour had brought us to was the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center. Was that a reminder that health is precious for any kind of endeavours?

The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center.

MIT fascinated me with its offerings of design everywhere I went. I had also fell in love with the beauty of the Charles River that was flowing next to the site of MIT. This is a place I would be pleased to learn for hours and hours in. Nature inspires, mankind aspires!

Charles River at a distance.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
77 Massachusetts Avenue
MA 02139
Nearest Subway stations: Kendall (MIT) - Red line

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Places: Goodbye 74 to 80 Commonwealth Drive Carnival

Image courtesy of My Community and Queenstown Heritage Committee
Here is to inform you of an upcoming event:

Goodbye 74 - 80 Commonwealth Drive

3 Oct 2015, Sat,

From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

At Blk 74 Commonwealth Drive Car Park

Organized by My Community, Queenstown Citizens' Consultative Committee

Places: Goodbye 74 to 80 Commonwealth Drive Carnival

Places: Coffee.Culture.Conversations

From 17 Sep - 28 Oct 2015, there is an exhibition on anything coffee and inspired by coffee held at The Art Gallery @ Glocal Connect Village, Temasek Polytechnic. You could find out about my visit to the exhibition here: Places: Coffee.Culture.Conversations.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Read: The World Atlas of Coffee

Image source:

Title: The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing - Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed.
Author: James Hoffmann
Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd (2014)

In the hope to learn more about coffee, from beans to brewing, I borrowed this book from the library. This is a useful resource book for enthusiasts who love coffee.

The book is classified into three different sections. The first section which provides an introduction to coffee is informative and succinct enough to the point.

The second part of the book, discusses about coffee "From Bean to Cup". I have learnt quite a number of new things from this section.

Section Three of the book provides a good reference to Coffee Origins. Other than listing the taste profiles of coffee beans from various countries, this section listed the varieties in the selected regions in these countries.

Section One and Two are fairly accessible to read. Section Three makes a good reference to refer to when it comes to the topic of coffee origins.

Friday, September 04, 2015

24 June 2015: Official Harvard Tour

When I was visiting Massachusetts, I planned for a visit to Algiers Coffee House and Harvard on the same day.

Holyoke Center.

As I was very new to Harvard, I decided that it was necessary to sign myself up for the Official Harvard Tour. The earliest tour started at 10 a.m. As I was in Harvard area very early, I signed up for the tour way before 9.30 a.m. I later learnt that it was helpful to be early to sign up for the Official Harvard Tour. The tours were so popular that the 10 a.m. tour was fully booked before 9.45 a.m. However, as registration starts only one hour before a designated tour, it does help to plan ahead the visit to the Harvard Events and Information Center in Holyoke Center so as to secure a place on the Official Harvard Tour.

The Official Harvard Tour was led by one of the student volunteers. In addition to attending the Official Harvard Tour, I bought myself a copy of "A self-guided walking tour of Harvard Yard and surrounding areas".

Our guide led us to various locations on the Harvard Yard. Our guide introduced us to the Massachusetts Hall and the Harvard Hall. The former is the oldest building that is still standing at Harvard and the second-oldest academic building in the country. When the guide spoke about Harvard Hall, she shared with us the story of the fire that had happened in January 1764 which had destroyed the former Harvard Hall that was on the same location.

Harvard Hall.

As we progressed into the tour, we learnt about the Johnston Gate, the Science Center and the Memorial Hall. I learnt that the Memorial Hall is the building whereby first-year students of Harvard would dine in so as to foster a sense of community.

The Memorial Hall.

During our tour, we also passed by the Memorial Church. This was the place that is used for commencement. Our guide shared with us that the Memorial Church was intended to commemorate Harvard men who died in World Wars I and II.

Memorial Church

Widener Library.

Widener Library in Harvard had a moving story that touched my heart. The library was built using funds donated by Eleanor Elkins Widener in honour of her son, Harry Elkins Widener, Class of 1907, who was a rare-book collector who died on the Titanic in 1912. There were four stipulations set by the donor to honour Harry Elkins Widener. One of the four stipulations was that free soft-serve ice-cream will be served. To find out more about the moving story behind the Widener Library, please visit this site:

John Harvard Statue.

Concluding the tour was a visit to John Harvard Statue. It was very popular with visitors. This is called the "Statue of Three Lies", cast in 1884 by Daniel Chester French. I learnt that because there were no known portraits of John Harvard, French had used someone else as a model. Next, Harvard College was not founded by John Harvard but was named after him. Thirdly, the College was founded in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and not in 1638.

My reflections following the tour was that Harvard makes thoughtful efforts to foster a sense of community among its students and the Harvard community. I felt thankful for the opportunity to learn a bit more about Harvard. I love the spaciousness of Harvard Yard, and it was a lovely experience being there on a day in summer.

If any one wants more after the Official Harvard Tour, I heard that there is a fun alternative to the Official Harvard Tour. It's the Hahvahd Tour.

Official Harvard Tour
Harvard University Information Center, Holyoke Center Arcade
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Tel: +1 617 495 1573

Nearest T-station: Harvard

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

24 June 2015: The search for Algiers Coffee House

Before visiting Boston, I had done a bit of research and listed down a few of the places in Boston where one can enjoy a good cup of coffee beverage. One of the cafes on the list that I had compiled was the Algiers Coffee House at 40 Brattle Street, which was relatively near Harvard.

It was in my plan on 24 June 2015 (Wed) to visit Harvard so that I could visit both Algiers Coffee House and Harvard.

Algiers Coffee House is not located near the train station so it took a while to find it. To get there, take the Red Line T to Harvard Square. To locate Algiers Coffee House, I had found it easier to walk towards Church Street after walking past Harvard Square. Yet, there are a few other alternatives to reach Algiers Coffee House.

Algiers Coffee House is a nice place to relax and watch the world go by. When I was there around 9 a.m., there was very few guests at the cafe. I learnt that Algiers Coffee House is well-known for its Middle Eastern style food. One of its unique interior decor features were its Moroccan octagonal tables.

Algiers Coffee House.

When I was there, I was on a specialty coffee drink spree. I ordered a cup of espresso. It was balanced and had a lingering aftertaste. The cafe had an old world vibe and I felt I was in a different world of its own. It is a charming place to visit and the cafe has two floors. The second floor terrace overlooks Brattle Street.

Special Mint Coffee. Algiers Coffee House.

After the espresso, I was wanting more coffee because I heard that its signature drink is the Special Mint Coffee. It was brewed coffee with mint and served with whipped cream. The coffee taste was very mild for the Special Mint Coffee.

Coffee Pots!

At the Algiers Coffee House, I saw coffee pots. I was told that the Arabic coffee from this cafe would be prepared the Arabic way in which the coffee grounds would be boiled with water in the coffee pots.

This is a cafe to visit especially if one is visiting Harvard.

Algiers Coffee House
40 Brattle St
Cambrige MA 02138
Tel: +1 617 492 1557
Nearest T-station: Harvard Square