This mural is new in my mom’s Chicago neighborhood. I’ve walked past this street many times in the last 17 years and was wondering what would happen this little parking garage. There is so much new construction all around. But this is perfect, especially given the atmosphere in the US these days.
On the day after Thanksgiving, my niece and I did something a little off the beaten shopping path. We took a bookbinding class this summer at Bari Zaki Studio in Chicago and returned today to do another type of bookbinding: the coptic stitch. We started with these tools. Since most of coptic stitch binding involves sewing, Bari made our covers and put together our signatures (the reams of pages).
It was our first time using a round needle. We also used a few types of awls to make holes in the pages and cover.
Our first step was to measure the places where we’d make the holes. We started half an inch from the edges, then measured three equidistant spots in between those half-inch margins. Using a piece of paper to measure first really helped so we wouldn’t have to erase the signatures if we made mistakes (which we did!).
When we marked the signatures, we used a brick to keep the cover and signatures in place.
Then it was hole punching time. We used all three awls to make holes in both the front and back covers.
Now to start the sewing! This took about 2.5 hours.
The thread was coated in wax and very strong.
This is what the inside of each signature looks like. The signatures are four pieces of paper folded over to make eight pages.
Almost done sewing. The round needle came in really handy when we had to thread the string through each loop in this stitch.
And the finished book! I’ll probably use mine as a photo album for an upcoming trip.
Bari Zaki Studio is located at 3858 North Lincoln in Chicago and will hold its annual studio sale the weekend of December 9-10.
Okay, so I admit I bought Diksha Basu’s The Windfall because I love the cover. If I ever have a book cover with a customized illustration, I’ll have arrived for sure. I also love the font. The whole thing is fantastic. Also, Diksha Basu has this amazing write-up in the New York Times. It’s the coolest thing ever.
I brought this book on a day trip to Minneapolis last week and although it’s not a long flight to/from Chicago, it all passed so quickly because I was engrossed in the story as soon as I opened the book to the first page.
The Jha family is new to money thanks to Mr’s success with his start-up. After he sells his company for $20 million US, he and his wife move out of their middle class apartment complex and into a fancy development on the outskirts of Delhi. The Jhas’ only child and son, Rupak, is getting his MBA at Ithaca College–not Cornell, which they don’t publicize–and has a white girlfriend he’s afraid to tell his parents about.
The book is so funny, I laughed out loud on my flights and all week. The book is a quick read, but I spread it out as long as possible because it was so enjoyable. I’ve read that it’s comparable to Kevin Kwan’s books and I agree. Basu pokes fun of new money in India and the materialism and pressure young people suffer at the hands of their parents and society in India–even if these young people are studying overseas.
Mr. Jha is especially eager to one-up his new neighbor, Mr. Chopra. When the Jhas travel to New York to visit Rupak, Mr. Jha almost has a panic attack trying to relay to Mr. Chopra that Jha and his wife are flying business class. And when the Jhas are in New York, Mr. Jha buys tickets to Cats and takes his wife to Katz’s Delicatessen. Rupak can’t imagine how his dad would know about Katz’s and can’t think about that.
There are some endearing side stories, like Mr. Chopra’s heartthrob divorced brother who starts seeing Mrs. Jha’s widowed best friend. This generation all had arranged marriages, but now that Upen Chopra is divorced in his fifties and Mrs. Ray is a widow in her forties, they are experiencing the same kind of relationships of the younger generations.
The Windfall is my new favorite book of the season.
I learned this weekend that a social media friend passed away in Scotland at a young age from cancer. Although I’d never met Nick, he regaled many with stories of growing up in Hong Kong and balls at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai, where he wore a kilt.
When I traveled to Shanghai a couple years ago and stayed at the Peace Hotel, I thought about the balls he went to there–especially when I went to one. Here are a couple of photos from that ball. Nick’s mom wrote on Facebook that he guessed people wouldn’t miss him when he was gone, but she knows that he grossly underestimated how many people around the world miss his presence, even it’s online.
When I posted photos from Hong Kong in September, Nick commented on some and asked if I’d just flown there on a whim. I wrote that I’d been planning it for 3-4 months. He said he was jealous and at first I was going to write back that he should make a trip back. But I didn’t. I didn’t know he was so sick and had been battling cancer for two years already. But something stopped me from writing what first came to mind. Instead, I commented that I was jealous, too, and I was there. That was the last correspondence we had.