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We'll bring you first-hand accounts of local Seattle-area residents and their journey to D.C. and generally all things inauguration. If you're going to the inauguration and would like to contribute, contact us here.

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January 21, 2009 8:42 AM

Reflections on ceremony

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

The walk to the ceremony was perhaps more joyous than the ceremony itself. We were part of what my friend, Jenny, described as a tsunami of people walking together through barricaded streets. Even though we had maps, we're visitors to DC and were quite perplexed by the maze that the scattered security detail had put us through.

Still, there was happiness and a shared sense of celebration. The fact that an African American was about to be sworn in as president and an unpopular president whose policies had frustrated so many Americans was about to depart seemed to create a conviviality that could overcome other irritations.

The sight of the magnificent Washington monument brought tears to my eyes. I've seen it many times, but it always impresses me. Today with birds swooping around it in circles it seemed to hold spiritual significance.

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January 20, 2009 12:37 PM

On my way home

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

It's 5:48 p.m. Tuesday, January 20. I'm on DC metro heading back to Fairfax. We're swapping stories with other riders and I am finding myself thinking about the view from the streets I had wanted to convey.

I eschewed efforts to score tickets, buy my way into more comfortable seating or attend inaugural balls. I wanted to feel the inauguration like one of the 2 million or 3 million who were just going to show up and be part of the crowd.

So many plans, hopes had to be scrapped. As a reporter, back in the day, I could dip into a crowd and collect quotes, stories from people. Afterwards, I could escape to a desk in a newsroom and file my story of their stories. As one of the people pushing and feeling herded through street after street, there was no time for story. At least, that story. I could only focus on my story and on not stumbling. Literally.

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January 20, 2009 10:10 AM

Who's on the helicopter?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Helicopter flew over. Bush leaving? Obama arriving? Either way, some say, applause.

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January 20, 2009 9:57 AM

After speech, beeline for the port-o-potties

Posted by seattletimes.com staff


Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

After Obama's speech, masses headed for porta potties singing the star spangled banner.

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January 20, 2009 9:13 AM

Past and present

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Where I'm standing we're getting a short echo. It has a nice reverberating rhythm ... Linking past and present.

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January 20, 2009 8:53 AM

Updates from the ground

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson


8:30 a.m. Just caught a glimpse of Maya, sister of Obama.

8:22 a.m. (Pacific) At the base of the monument. Tried to push forward but couldn't see a thing. Frozen fingers, teary eyes, warm heart.

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January 20, 2009 7:51 AM

Arrived on the mall

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

We just arrived at the mall. It's reverent, almost spiritual. We walked an hour plus. This is what America looks like united.

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January 19, 2009 7:17 PM

TV vs. real thing?

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

The trains are crowded, and the mood is friendly. People are happy in a restrained sort of way. A family from the Greenbelt (Maryland suburbs, I think) saw festivities on TV going on at the mall and decided on an impulse to take the Metro in. "It's history and my teenagers want to feel it," one of the women in the party said. "Me? I want to see it. I'll be watching it on TV at home."

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January 19, 2009 5:49 PM

Lots of Obama buttons, lots of tired people

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Our flight was an hour late and we're 3 cents short of the bus fare. My husband wanted to slow down and wait, but I was in a rush. Lots of Obama buttons, lots of tired people. I feel good and excited. Night owl rush kicking in.

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January 19, 2009 12:27 PM

Re-uniting with old friends

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

Heading east from my Obama-supporting neighborhhod in Central Seattle makes me realize how huge this country is and how scattered our affiliations have become in this globally digitized age. I'm currently at Denver International Airport encountering people on vacation -- and not on vacation to the nation's Capitol.

I'm traveling now only with my husband but in DC a scattered array of friends is gathering -- from Hawai'i, California, DC proper, and Germany. Fifteen of us will meet face to face for the first time in 5 years at an Ethiopian restaurant on Wednesday after the throngs have left. A common thread unites us -- we all are or were attached to the UH political science department either through a personal affiliation or that of a partner/spouse. And we all have shared seminar space or work space at some point in our lives with the brother-in-law of the almost president.

Tomorrow ... It may be frigid in more ways than one. My goal is to stay calm and patient and not to let the scattered human encounters -- the shove, the frown, the glare, the snide remark, and slammed door -- get to me. America is vast in its races, languages, viewpoints, and forms of self-expression. Democracy is great, but it can get irritable and uncomfortable at times. Finding comfort in that discomfort for one's self is a part of life.

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January 18, 2009 11:33 AM

Coronations and colonizations

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

I'm still in Seattle. Our flight leaves Sea-Tac at 7:27 a.m., which means catching a 4:58 a.m. bus from our neighborhood in the Central Area. Or earlier, if we can, my husband suggests. We're on almost the latest possible itinerary we can take to D.C. and still get to the inauguration on time. We land Sunday night at Baltimore-Washington at 7:20 p.m. and have a bus-train trek from there to my aunt's place in Fairfax, Va. In the 24-hour countdown, all the "How are you going to it?" warnings are coming back to haunt me. Can I really pull this off?

Barack Obama taught us to say, "Yes, we can." Instinctively, though, we Americans seem more likely to say, "No, I cannot" or "What if I fail?"

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January 17, 2009 12:23 PM

My countdown to D.C.

Posted by seattletimes.com staff

Submitted by Himanee Gupta-Carlson

My last few days have been filled with pre-inauguration logistics and a slow buildup of excitement. Among other things, I've been:

* learning how to shoot video on my new Blackberry

* learning how to upload both video clips and audio commentary to a website called Utterli.com from my new Blackberry

* creating an event page on Facebook

* setting up a virtual classroom for students in my two political science classes

* connecting with friends, family, and colleagues across the nation as I re-practice the craft of observation and documentation

* and reflecting on what exactly it is that I am doing.

How did I get here? To this point of being a teacher, a scholar, a writer, techno-experimenter, and political activist? I have learned how to move through these worlds almost seamlessly in the last six months.

How did I get here? To this point of joining a few million others in Washington, D.C., to help create a rough draft of history? That question has a lot less to do with Barack Obama and more perhaps about Obama's assertion that the inauguration is not about him but about all of us.

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Recent entries

Jan 21, 09 - 08:42 AM
Reflections on ceremony

Jan 20, 09 - 12:37 PM
On my way home

Jan 20, 09 - 10:10 AM
Who's on the helicopter?

Jan 20, 09 - 09:57 AM
After speech, beeline for the port-o-potties

Jan 20, 09 - 09:13 AM
Past and present

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