New York, New York

It is a crazy feeling to find yourself in The Place to which you have been attached by a fizzle of excitement for months. The tinseled mirage in your mind materializes around you and it is not at all what you had imagined, for it is impossible to conjure up the weight of all-encompassing stimulation. The aroma of halal, spice and biryani, hot dogs and mustard, croissants and butter. Mixed and mingling, competing for nostril space. The monstrous towers, the florid gothic architecture, the industrial brick and dainty fire escapes, all competing for visual attention (I think my third eye must have opened). The only thing that remains exact is the excitement, now amplified, screaming (fever pitch). You knew it would be worth seeing- you willed it into existence!

***

I took as many photos as I could on my way from Penn station to a Prêt-à-Manger twenty-five minutes away, in true tourist fashion. I rolled my suitcase past a million Prêts- they seemed to appear more frequently than 7/11, Coffee Bean and Starbucks combined.

I paused, as a normal person would, at a red light, entranced by the smoking potholes. As if lifted straight from a movie, I watched as a man in red tweed and a knitted beanie jay-walked across the street, escaping a Taxi cab collision within an inch of his life. I wonder what music was playing through his earphones, the soundtrack that made him feel like he could walk on water. How bold and daring these New Yorkers must be to so stylishly flirt with death.

***

At one junction, I am the ONLY one waiting for the green light.

***

I took photos of the pedestrians, the yellow cabs, the double decker buses and all sorts of peculiarities. As I whipped out my phone for a picture of the Empire State poking through buildings, I caught a man’s eye. He gave me a knowing smile, as if we were in agreement over his favourite city or as if I reminded him of how it felt to be new.

***

People rule the city (totalling 8.6 million, apparently). The hoards are the main attraction, a World Wonder, rushing over the streets like a force of nature. So many humans had earphones plugged into their heads, each walking at their own pace to their own beat. Yet, they were united in motion, a flurry of boots and coats in the fall.

***

SIGHTINGS

I swear I saw R. Kelly’s twin.

I saw a cop in blue uniform eating a doughnut, no joke.

I could not tear my eyes away from this tall, slender man with platinum blond hair, sharp features, and killer cheekbones as he threw some rubbish away with a flick of his wrist. He strutted off, as Vogue as ever.

I looked up into a conference room on the third floor, where a man stood, hands on his hips, surveying his imaginary executive board.

I watched a man shift in his loose trousers, fiddling with his belt at the crosswalk.

***

“We have nature, we have Central Park!”
Surrounded by concrete, our modern forts, the golden foliage is like honey to the soul.

***

Construction work is here, there, and everywhere. I fell asleep to the sound of a jackhammer and woke up to sounds of engines, beeps, and honks. It felt right, waking up in the bundle of heavy hotel sheets. I gazed down into the streets often and looked into the windows across from me, half expecting to see a naked person (as per the movies).

***

Where is your respite? There is no place to be idle – only shade between buildings. I missed seeing the sky, my glorious Californian sunsets.

***

On the Subway carriage: a man snoring loudly beside me, a woman with her eyes closed, standing upright. Another against the wall, sleeping.
I went on a date with an investment banker who averaged three hours of sleep a night.
“Why on earth are you here with me?!” I asked him.
“Don’t worry, I’m used to it.”
He said he was trying to make it as an actor, trying to “catch up to people who do this full time.”
Passion, security, sleep- can’t have it all, can we?
I might just prefer sleepy Southern California.

Tesla, tea, and death

I need time to learn. I need time to read. I want to watch movies yet I do not want to spend two hours of my time in front of a screen. But I do love reeling after an amazing movie or a book, completely mind-blown and in awe of the power of creation. How thoughts I’ve never had have been shared with me through words, spoken or written, and how beautiful things I’ve never fathomed have been show to me through moving images or skillfully evoked in my mind.

Some things to remember:

After watching The Prestige, my curiosity, admiration and respect for Nikola Tesla has been renewed. I once started a novel about him, called The Invention of Everything Else but I never got to finish it. It’s one of those books that melds together content from history with elements of fantasy. The one thing I do remember is Tesla’s eccentricity, with the whole talking-to-pigeons thing and isolation in his New York hotel room. But I just couldn’t get into it- I guess I just wasn’t interested at the time. The movie has piqued my interest. Although The Prestige is largely fictional, the wisdom (or should I say genius) and quiet confidence of Tesla is definitely conveyed. Apart from Tesla, it’s the kind of movie that you have to watch more than once to appreciate the clever shots, clues and crumbs left by the director. This is what I love about some books and films: you’re able to find something new or surprising each time you go back, depending on different frames of mind and life experiences. People say that about bible verses too- some particular verses may hold a slightly different meaning at a different period of time. 

I did some research on Tesla and apparently he was believed in Eugenics. It reminds me of how my dad called James Watson a misogynist bastard just yesterday, very rightfully pointing out that geniuses do not have to be good people. Darwin shared these elitist beliefs too but nobody really cares considering his revolutionary contribution to Science.

Also, I am never drinking Chai Tea Latte ever again. The aftertaste is slightly medicinal… I think I will stick to my usual coffee fixes. And I can live on persimmon fruits for the rest of my life. I am in love.

My previous post ‘ELEGIAC’ was the culmination of my thoughts on funerals one day as I was walking home from school, imagining a car swerving and smashing into me right then and there. I thought “who would go to my funeral?” as anybody might, and began to think about the reverse: “whose funerals would I go to?” At what point does a person become significant enough to go to their funeral? It’s obvious that it’s expected of family members and friends but would it be weird to go to an old crush’s funeral? What if he/she was only an acquaintance? I talked to a friend about this and made up my mind, though I don’t know the extent to which I’d be practical about it. I don’t know if I’d put my words into action… but hopefully I won’t have to anytime soon.

From Sobe to Sobe to remember