July 15, 2013
by Sumandeep Singh

Hello ! I am Sumandeep Singh, I am the Q2 Dallas fellow for the inaugural class of HKS Xchange fellowship. I represent HKS New Delhi, India. The Xchange fellowship is a unique and visionary program and I am excited to be selected! For the next three months I will be sharing my experiences of being in the ‘Big D’ with you. I am a history and information buff, I am always curious to know ‘how it came about to be like this’ and travelling is my passion. After a long 25 hour journey involving two flights, I landed at the world’s fourth busiest airport, the Dallas Fort/Worth International Airport. I was received by Taylor Fleck. Taylor had worked at HKS Shanghai for three months earlier this year and was coordinating everything to make sure I don’t feel lost! The drive towards Dallas is particularly interesting as you can see the downtown skyscrapers in the distance and always remain oriented, while traversing through meandering highways. The Xchange apartment is on the Main Street, Mercantile place on the 12th level with an immaculate view of downtown. It is a compact, comfortable den for a single human being. It has been christened with a monotone architectural site model courtesy Mark Pataky, the Q1 fellow. I had my first meal in Dallas in a Vietnamese restaurant just across the street from the apartment. My next stop was 350 N St Paul Street , the brand new corporate headquarters of HKS. The headquarters span 6 floors of a ‘diamond shaped’ building with a service core in the center. I had arrived on a Friday after Fourth of July and most of the office was vacant, but I still managed to meet a few familiar faces. I was greeted in various ways ranging from ‘Welcome to the US, Welcome to Dallas to Welcome to Texas’. The last one was particularly soaked in the famous Texan pride, and I am curious to and will find out more about this during my stay here. The Next day I went with Taylor to visit the Dallas farmers market, a hub of fresh vegetables, fruits and groceries brought to the city by local farmers from within 150 miles. This market was established in 1939, the same year HKS was founded! The place was buzzing with energy. Farmers and their children were calling people out ready to help them shop. Fruit sellers were happily gave away samples of the fresh juicy fruits to the shoppers to taste. The place was full of life on a Saturday morning and almost reminded me of similar markets back home in India. While driving back we decided to take a detour through Highland Park, an upscale neighborhood to see some of the most beautiful houses in the city. It was a kind of an architectural window shopping cum thirst-quencher for me; I do this all the time in Delhi. The only difference here was that there were no boundary walls so one could see the homes from the road! On Sunday I went to the Dealey plaza in the old West End district of Dallas, a place layered with historical significance. On the way to the plaza I passed by the white JFK memorial designed by Philip Johnson, all visual distractions are cut off as one enters it, it a quiet sanctuary in the middle of a busy street. The imposing Old Red Museum building with castle-like stone walls is a strong visual anchor at the junction. The triple underpass where Main, Elm and Commerce streets meet is also known as the ‘front door of Dallas’, where John Neely Bryan had first arrived to establish Dallas as a trading post back in the 1800’s. This is also the place of President JFK’s assassination. The sixth floor museum on the edge of Elm street stands testimony to that ill-fated day of November 1963. After visiting so many spots that took one back in time it was time to move on to something new, some place fresh. The Klyde Warren park is the newest urban space that the people of Dallas have gifted themselves. It is located on the top of a freeway. The park feels like an oasis after one exits the busy downtown area. There are numerous fountains for the children to play, a reading area, an area for the pets, table-tennis tables, a restaurant, food trucks parked on the edge of the park serving delicious food. One particular truck I found intriguing was that of ‘coolhaus’, and guess what they were serving! Ice cream sandwiches wittily named after famous architects. Mies Vanilla Rohe and Frank Berry were the hottest favorites among people. I later learnt that the co-owners of coolhaus are architects! On my walk back to the apartment I was pleasantly surprised by the musical fountain on the plaza of the Frist Baptist Church of Dallas. I was forced to stop and sit down to watch the fountains perform to the music. I was the only one there, it was just me and the fountains. My first weekend in Dallas was about getting introduced to this city from the very core of it. Downtown is the heart of Dallas. I had absorbed so much in the first weekend and am ready to immerse myself fully into this wonderful city and look forward to my first week at the new office!

01-First Sunrise In US 02-Site Model at the Apartment 03-Farmers Market 04-JFK memorial 05-Old Red Museum 06-Dealy Plaza 07-Sixth Floor Museum 08-Klyde Warren Park 09-Klyde Warren Park 10-Klyde Warren Park 11-First Baptist Church fountains 12-HKS headquarters building