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#NYCDiaries


 Disclaimer: There is no chronological order to read these entries. They are independent of each other and not necessarily in any logical order. Some are short. Others are long. Some are nascent understandings of a city that are heavily biased by stereotype. These maybe inconsistent and could, overtime, even be contradictory. They are meant to be read as singular moments in time without any context or background. You may have had similar experiences as some of these entries or entirely different ones but these are mine alone. 

#1 Times Square

We went back to Manhattan and on to 42nd street, possibly the most famous address on earth – Times Square. Times Square was crazy. It was MG road on steroids. The buildings were taller, the billboards were bigger and brighter and there were 20 times as many people and much more diverse than the crowd back home. To come from a place like India and find a place more crowded was quite something. It was an ocean of tourists, clicking pictures of themselves that would eventually be cover photos on Facebook. There were all the regular characters, Spider man, Iron man and a walking statue of Liberty posing for photos. There was also a recent addition, topless body-painted women who also posed happily for photos with tourists.
Times Square - The crossroads of the world

 We walked and walked to find a spot to sit and finally landed at the spot of the famous 31st December ball drop. Sitting on those stairs one had a good view of the crowded streets and the shiny billboards. There was activity all around, people moving, clicking photos, open bus tours, street musicians and a whole lot of other maddening things. But for some reason, the mind was peaceful. It was the kind of sanity that comes out from seeing the insanity around you. There was so much diversity, so many different kinds of people going about their business without intruding anyone's space. You could be yourself in New York, be unique, be free. Sitting there, one thing became very clear very quickly to me about this city. You didn’t stand out in New York if you’re odd. You stand out in New York if you’re not. You don’t need to put on an accent and wear a certain type of clothing. You do what is important to you, what needs to be done for your good and everything around you is irrelevant and yet enabling at the same time. You can stand in the middle of Times Square with your headphones on and sing out loud. You can dance if your feet feel like it, you can walk by quietly if you don’t. If you have any inhibitions, you need to let go of them. If you can’t do it, you can keep to yourself too. Either way, you’ll fit in. You’ll find people who are happy to have conversations with other random folks and you’ll see people who are lost in their own world. As long as you’re doing what makes you comfortable, no one bothers you. Trying to mimic someone else is probably the biggest mistake one can make. It is next to impossible to put on an act here for too long. You can try, but this massive city will overwhelm you soon enough. By the time we decided to leave, it was 8:30PM. We went back to the 33rd street and took the path to Journal square from where we started the hour long drive back home.

 

#2 Lady Landlady.

“Is there a pest problem?” I asked the old landlady.
“No” she replied, nodding her head sideways, clearly offended by my questioning the integrity of her house. “The only pests in my house are my tenants” she grinned as we laughed along sycophantically to her quip. “And I could kill them too” she continued after a pause, laughing heartily, to our shock.

 


#3 Celebrity Status

I craned my neck to look over the sea of people that had gathered in front of the fancy looking hotel on the way to 59th street. There were a few important looking black SUVs at the front and a lot of security personnel dressed in black as well. People were standing behind a barricade across the road too, holding their phones aloft to take pictures. It became obvious that someone important was either about to leave or enter the hotel but the identity of the mystery figure was entirely unclear. From the chatter in the crowd it could’ve been Obama, Jennifer Aniston or even AC/DC. I looked around questioningly only to find more bemused faces looking to me for an answer. Suddenly, a flurry of activity ensued that resulted in more important looking black SUVs moving into the street. This required some rearrangement of the existing SUVs and the general crowd who had, by now, spilled over from the footpath to the street. One of the security personnel walked towards us to make sure we weren’t standing on the road when the young lady next to me took the chance on behalf of the entire crowd around us and asked him “Excuse me, who is here?”
The gentleman in black replied with a sly grin on his face, “You are!” paused for a second to let the answer sink in and walked past to clear the messy crowd from the end of the road. 



#4 Home away from home.

I opened my eyes groggily to my 13th dawn in the United States and rolled over to the side of the bed where the sunlight through the windows were less excited to greet me. As if by the devil’s design, my phone buzzed repeatedly under my pillow leaving me with the option of rolling back to the sun baked side of my world or just waking up and dealing with the world as I’ve been doing for nearly 22 years now. I swore that those overly eager rays of sun were never going to see my face at such ungodly hours as 8AM on a Saturday morning so I sat up on the edge of the bed and contemplated life, love and liberty. After witnessing a rather depressing 2-1 home defeat of Chelsea by Crystal Palace, I had lunch and scheduled multiple events for the month ahead.

 I’d been warned by more persons than one that I’d start feel homesick rather quickly. That seemed like a perfectly good reason for a lot of people to carry a lot of Indian things while travelling from home to the US. These included things like Eastern Sambhar powder, Priya’s mango pickle and a few packs of MTR ready to eat food stuff among multiple other “Non-Firang” things. My experiences in this country so far had proved that the warning was accurate. On day 2 of the trip, we’d been to an “Indian restaurant” called Taj Mahal. It was a small, actually narrow place. There was only enough room for two rows of tiny tables and about 8 tables in total. There were grand chandeliers hanging above and paintings of the beautiful Taj and the king who ordered its construction, Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz for whom he had it built. BUT, the food was as far removed from truly Indian as an American restaurant called Taj Mahal run by Bangladeshis could be.
Which was why when I was told that you could get anything you need at the Indian store in New Jersey, I was a bit sceptical. I wore my Bata Hawaii chappal and set foot on American soil with those for the first time on my trip. One small step for this man. One giant step for the Hawaii chappal clad version of this man. Few things make one feel as ‘at home’ as familiar footwear. (The other famous one, of course, is using the bathroom at one’s own house. Seriously. What is it about that?). The Indian store was located next to a small restaurant and a shop selling kurtis and other Indian apparel. My trusty Hawaii chappal got stuck under the mat at the entrance and I tripped a bit. So as I entered the store, my eyes were pointed downwards cursing at, in true Indian style, an inanimate object. When I looked up, it was as if I had been teleported to some supermarket in Bangalore. There were Indian faces everywhere, Bollywood music bleeding out of the speakers and even some small wrappers and tags lying around on the floor- an unmistakable signature of the stores back home. I was even sure that there was some fishy tampering of the AC to make the air inside familiarly Indian- although that was probably only in my head.
 Every step I took through every aisle was slowly dispelling every notion I had about life in America. There were stacks of Priya’s mango pickle stacked right next to rows and rows of Amma’s lime pickle. There was chutney pudi and dosa batter. There were endless racks of pulses, rices and masalas. There were bars of medimix soap, bottles of Dettol and cans of moov. There were even packets of Tiger biscuits and Parle-G. (I must add, with some disappointment, that there was a rack full of “Indian carrots”, the kind of which I have never seen in India. Clearly some scam to convince Indians living abroad that their families are prospering, munching on carrots the size of half litre bottles of coke. Someone call Arnab Goswami. #CarrotGate). It is near impossible to miss Indian food here. In fact, the supermarkets in Bangalore stock less Indian stuff and more American stuff. So in many senses, this Indian store in New Jersey is more Indian than a whole lot of stores in India. So to everyone back home, if there is some Indian stuff you miss at home in India, a certain 2 minute instant noodles brand for instance, give me a call. I’ll bring it from “home” on my next trip home.
"Indian Carrots"

 

#5 Moving.

When I first realized that I’d be staying at an apartment by myself (and a couple of flat mates) in New York City, I was rather excited by the whole idea. Of all the things that excited me though, the idea of ‘moving in’ to a new house fascinated me the most. Many sunrises before I set foot in this country, I’d dreamed many a Utopian dream about walking up a flight of stairs, bag and baggage behind me, stepping into the house, heaving a sigh of relief, tossing my favorite black hat on the coat hanger at the entrance and admiring the spectacular view of an empty house that would soon be teeming with activity.
As it turned out, the actual act of ‘moving in’ was rather underwhelming. We’d been hunting for an apartment for roughly two and half weeks before finding this particular place. In that time, I’d climbed more flights of stairs than I’d bargained for, stepped into more houses than I’d imagined and heaved more sighs of relief than I thought humanly possible. In fact we went to one particular apartment at one point in our search. A beautiful apartment on the 6th floor, wait no, the 7th floor of a pre-war building (People here count the ground floor as the first floor. They also flip the switches in the opposite direction, turn the key the other way, drive on the other side of the road and, this is my favorite, their toilets flush in the anti-clockwise direction. I won’t vouch for the accuracy of that last one). It wasn’t the biggest house we’d seen but the view from the bedroom was that of the gorgeous Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the distance. There was a subway station immediately to left side of the entrance to the building- a feature that appealed so much to us that we’d have booked the apartment for that reason alone. But as fate would have it, the Realtor was incompetent, to put it very mildly. After promising that we’d get the flat, he called back 4 days later to say that someone else had got the place. We could’ve comfortably lived under the mountain of our collective disappointment at that point.
It was in that near-depressed state that we came to see this new place. A 3rd floor apartment in a quiet neighborhood. We loved it. The day after signing the lease, I packed a small bag with a week’s worth of clothes from my cousin’s place (I planned to bring the other suitcases later from there) and caught the NJ Transit train from Jersey Avenue to Newark, switched to the PATH train to world trade center and then got on the subway train to my humble abode. I climbed two flights of stairs, stepped into the house and walked straight to my room and left the little bag there. No sigh of relief, no tossing the black hat, no admiring the spectacular view of the empty house. Nothing. But ‘moving in’ was over. I stood in the balcony that overlooked the street, my hands rested on the railings, and eyes stared down at the road. It felt as though a massive burden had been lifted off my shoulders. So what if my dream didn't come true? I don't even own a black hat in the first place! I've come to understand a basic fact of life. Utopia shouldn't be one's expectation but it can always be the aim. “I have a place to live in New York City now” I thought to myself, “It’s time to make it a home”.

Cozy Corner.





#6 F.R.I.E.N.D.S

After an hour and a half on three subway trains I finally reached 110th street. I got out of the nearest exit and landed right next to the entrance to Central Park- that park from that chick flick you saw recently. Now, I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before but crossing the roads in this city is one of the most empowering experiences. The moment the lights turn red, the vehicles stop. THEY STOP. (I’ve learnt not to compare anything here with its equivalent back home including, but not limited to, currency, internet speed and, of course, adherence to traffic rules. And so, I will not dwell on the subject). I crossed the road and found Larry’s Free-wheeling just down the street. Larry's was the meeting point for the Central Park bike tour I'd signed up for a few weeks ago. Cassidy, our wonderful host for the day, was there already with two others. I introduced myself albeit with a shortened version of my name to make the greeting more friendly and less A-Dummy’s-Guide-to-Indian-Name-Pronunciation. After all what’s in a name? We waited for a few more minutes for the rest of the group to join us and in the meanwhile selected our bikes for the evening. (Mom, don’t freak out. Bikes here mean cycles. Not motorbikes). Cassidy told us the route we’d be taking and then we set off on our biking trip through Central Park.
“This is the first time I’m riding a bike since I got to New York” Susan turned to me and said.
 “This is the first time I’m riding a bike since I was 10 years old or something” I replied, breathing laboriously. (At this point, we’d cycled for almost exactly 3 minutes. If anybody has found my stamina, please return it. Sigh).
After a brief stop at the reservoir named after JFK’s wife, Jacqueline, where we got some gorgeous pictures, we moved on to the location I most looked forward to when Cassidy announced the route. Remember that fountain from the F.R.I.E.N.D.S intro song? That iconic round base fountain in Central Park! We got off the cycles as we reached the clearing in the woods where the fountain was and I began picturing the intro song in my head. The couch in the front, the lamp by the side, Ross getting drenched under the fountain and the rest of the cast playing around. Except, I couldn’t actually picture it. I googled “the friends fountain” and found a picture of it. The one I was standing at was a nice fountain- it just wasn’t THAT fountain. I walked up to Cassidy, held out the phone and said “Are you sure this is that fountain? It looks a little..different”. She took the phone from my hand looked at the fountain and back at the screen a couple of times and said, “They lied to me. They LIED to me.” I could see on her face the betrayal she felt at that moment but as it turns out, she’s not the only one who’d fallen for that urban myth. If you ever go to Central Park, just remember- that round fountain on Cherry Hill is not that fountain. 
The Faux F.R.I.E.N.D.S Fountain

Just up ahead was Bow Bridge. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably seen it. If you haven’t seen it, you probably haven’t seen Spider man 3 or Made of honour. It isn’t the fanciest bridge in the world. It’s small and unassuming but it just automatically makes the whole place look rather romantic. 

“Do you see those two tall buildings?” Cassidy said “That’s not where John Lennon lived.” We stared blankly at her face.
“He lived in the building next to that” she continued. I looked at her skeptically but she was confident about that information especially because there is a memorial site called Imagine close to that building at the place where he was shot.
We laboured along the cycling trail when Cassidy stopped at one point and pointed to a giant circle on the side of the road.

“That’s the centre of Manhattan” she said. Then, after a brief pause, “But then again, the same people who told me that was the friends fountain told me about this. So who knows.” her voice descended in tone, distraught. Geez. F.R.I.E.N.D.S fountain. What a scam.

The Bow Bridge.



  #7 Freeze

Until about two hours ago, this was not the article I had planned to post. It isn’t for the lack of interesting episodes that I haven’t written anything recently. For instance, I missed out on potential opportunities to meet Frank Lampard (Chelsea Football Club legend and my sporting idol) and Tim Cook (Top Boss of that evil corporation trying to take over the world, Apple Inc). Probably the biggest thing to write about though, was the Global Citizen Festival featuring Cold Play, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, Sunidhi Chauhan, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman and multiple other big names which I was surprisingly lucky to attend. But those are stories for another day. In fact, there isn’t much to write about that. The festival was awesome. You’re just going to have to take my word for it.


Somewhere in South Bangalore circa 2012.
It’s a typical Bangalore morning. I throw aside the double layered blanket I had created using a fat blanket and thin, soft blanket so that I’m warm and comfortable in my cosy bed, surrounded by pillows, a hand kerchief and my phone. I get up and roam around aimlessly and settle on the couch in the fetal position, trying to steal a few last minute winks before the mad rush to get ready for college starts. Eventually, I get up again, remove my ear mufflers, then my hoodie and then my socks. I am now warmed up for the rest of the day.

The temperature is 26 degree Celsius and I’m cold.

Present day New York City.
I was trying, and repeatedly failing, at logging into a remote server to run some programs for the VLSI assignment that is due in three days. It was around 6PM and a little hint of hunger was beginning to sway my focus. Suddenly, it occurred to me that it was Friday a.k.a laundry day. I decide to shoo two birds with one stone by going to do the laundry and then eating a gyro from a street cart on 4th avenue while the washing machine did its job. By sheer coincidence, the phone rang. It was my housemate and he made me an offer that I could not refuse. Many weeks ago, we’d planned to go eat Shawarmas from a Lebanese restaurant on 86th. It so happened that the R train he’d taken today from college ran express from Atlantic Avenue to 86th, skipping about 7 stops including the one he was supposed to get down at. Surely the universe had conspired to drag him to 86th street to finally eat the shawarma. I stopped what I was doing and postponed my laundry plan for a little later in the day. It had been raining all day thanks to the wide-spanned effects of Hurricane Joaqin. So I grabbed my jacket and an umbrella and stepped out.
As I stepped out of the door, I was still zipping up the jacket. I walked a couple of steps on the footpath when the wind decided to introduce my face to the rain. My face, understandably, was not pleased. I shook off the water and opened the umbrella and walked further. The wind returned, this time just sneaking in through the sleeves of my jacket and causing me some discomfort. I smiled to myself because despite the best efforts of this heartless wind, I wasn’t shivering yet. Suddenly, my phone rang again. As I took my phone out of my pocket, I found my fingers were responding to my brain with the kind of delay you’d normally find when you’re using whatsapp call over a really bad 2G network. Suddenly in the background, I noticed a broken umbrella lying on the ground. And then another. And then many more. I valiantly walked through the ruins of these once-robust repellers of water, proud that my Made in Kerala umbrella was still standing tall in the sky. Drunk in arrogance, I forgot to pay attention to the ground and stepped into a puddle of cold water. Freezing, cold water. It made its way through the clothed lining of my sports shoe, drenched my socks and, I’m pretty sure, froze instantly on my foot. I remember skipping, jumping and hopping my way into the warm safety of the subway station. The station was, after all, just a hop, skip and jump away from home.
I got off at 86th and stepped out of the station, trying to regain the feeling in my feet. The omnipresent wind blew straight into my face again. I hurled a few abuses in the general direction of its origin and looked around for my house mate. We walked into the restaurant, placed the order and sat ourselves in a corner where it was warm (all adjectives especially those with respect to temperature, are relative). In hindsight, sitting right by the entrance was not such a smart idea because every time someone opened the door they brought behind them a large trailer of cold air. After eating some rather terrible food, we walked back to the subway. I was careful not step into any more puddles and safely made my way into the station.
When we stepped out of the station at our destination, I opened the umbrella once more and walked on. Out of nowhere, the rain, the wind and the leaves ganged up in one insane move that made me hold the umbrella in front of me to offer some resistance to wind. In that awkward pose, I left many gaps in my jacket uncovered and the cold air found every single one of them. I readjusted my body and pulled myself back together and marched on. The wind was now colder than earlier and a lot less well mannered. It was blowing along the streets and avenues and causing particularly nasty problems at the intersection of the two. We somehow battled against the forces of nature and made it home. Home, where we were finally safe from the very real dangers of hypothermia. 

The temperature is 11 degree Celsius and I’m cold.

“Just imagine” one of my friends in San Diego had said just this afternoon, “By December..”
“Let’s not talk about December please” I replied, “I don’t want to talk about negative numbers”.
The temperature is 11 degree Celsius and soon, minus 5 won’t be just another insignificant value on the number line in a 4th grader’s math book.




#8 Home again.

After paying our tributes to John Lennon at his memorial near Strawberry Fields, tossing a few pennies into that pseudo “friends fountain” (which was now, apparently, a wishing well), hanging around a festive gathering of South Americans near the bow bridge for some time and then dancing with an ethnically diverse group of strangers to some catchy music being doled out by a make shift DJ in the middle of Central Park, we walked towards 79th Street because someone uttered the words “There is a Saravana Bhavan in Manhattan”.

There are a few things one tends to take for granted after living in South India for two decades. At the top of that list are dosas, sambar and filter coffee. That isn’t to say that I’ve been craving dosas or anything. I just haven’t given it much thought because I’ve been busy trying to imbibe as much of this new atmosphere as possible. New cuisines have always excited me and I’ve enjoyed the Gyros and pretzels from the street carts as much as I have the pizza slices, shawarmas, salads or sushi. Two months isn’t enough time for that excitement to wear off and so I’ve been living in my little bubble of satisfaction rather comfortably. But this night out was about to test that resolve.

A few weeks ago I’d written about my experience at the “Taj Mahal hotel” (If you haven’t read it, just scroll up to “#4 Home away from home). For me, that and another similar experience at an “Indian restaurant” established one cold, hard truth. There is no genuine Indian cuisine in New York so I’ll just have to live with that knowledge for two years. With that thought repeatedly ringing in my head, I walked with the rest of the guys through the chilly streets of Manhattan in search of a saving grace for Indian cuisine in the western world. When we got to 79th and Amsterdam Avenue, my shoulders drooped. It looked a very familiar story. A fancy looking restaurant that was crammed into what little space was afforded to them in the extremely expensive avenues of New York. There were a few tables outside, about 5 tables inside, chandeliers hanging above and stereo-typically Indian designs drawn on the tables. That there were large shelves of fine wine stacked near the counter did not help establish the authenticity of a traditional south Indian hotel based out of Chennai. We seated ourselves and were greeted by a friendly waiter who handed us menu cards. It had all the regular stuff- Idlis, dosas, uthappams, bisi belle bath, thalis, rotis, curries and everything else you’d expect from a south Indian hotel. Skeptically, I ordered a paper masala dosa and a filter coffee and decided to share a sambar vada with a friend.

But from the instant we placed the order, I knew this place was going to be different. We ordered 4 coffees and one tea in total. The waiter turned to another elderly waiter and shouted “Anna, Naal coffee, oru tea” (brother, 4 coffees and one tea). It had the tone, the pitch, the accent and the style of an Indian fast food restaurant and it immediately made the environment a lot more homely. The sound of that order was the first of many feel good moments that evening. First to arrive was the sambar vada. I took a spoonful of sambar in the hope that it wouldn’t disappoint. As soon as it went into my stomach, a warm feeling engulfed me. Whether that was because of the hot sambar or the warmth of nostalgic familiarity, I don’t know. But it was beautiful. The dosa came next and it was spectacular as well. But what had me sold was the coffee. Of course, the taste was great but how it was served was even better- In the regular steel cup and saucer with the coffee overflowing just a tad bit and staining the rims as it flowed out of the cup sloppily into the saucer. It lacked the finesse of an American hotel and I loved it. It was rustic, authentic and done perfectly. Nothing in the hotel- not the food, neither the ambience nor the communication among the waiters had been bastardized to suit the standards of the west.

A sophisticated NRI family walked in after a while. The father was in a polo t-shirt and shorts, the mother in casual western wear too, the grandparents in grandparent clothing (which included 3 layers of jackets) and a young son playing on an iPad. They conversed in English and spoke with a faux-American accent to the waiter, asking for bottled water and extra napkins. And then, they began placing their order. But this is where the authenticity of the ambience kicked in. No matter how much you try to hide it, you can’t help but say “2 masala dosai, 2 plate idli vada and one saada dosa” even though there was no such thing as a saada dosa on the menu. The entry in the menu read “plain dosa” but every south Indian in his element knows that it really is a saada dosa. That, for me, was a tribute to the atmosphere that place had.

Was the food out of the world? Arguable. But did the experience remind me of home? Absolutely. And that is as much a part of gastronomy as the taste, probably more. Do I now crave dosas every week? Meh. That craving suppresses itself when you make the rookie mistake of converting the bill from dollars to rupees.

 Rs. 1800 for a dosa, vada and filter coffee. Sacrilegious.




#9 Burn Notice

We were all rather fatigued by the stress that the mid-term exams brought and sitting in class at a time like that isn’t the most ideal thing. Which is why we were all grateful to Microsoft Windows for starting an update on the professor’s computer 15 minutes into class. With the slideshow shut off, she shifted to the printouts she had of some revision for the midterms. The class was suddenly paying rapt attention, hoping to decode some clues she might throw regarding the questions on the exam. Everyone had their eyes on their laptop screens, vigorously highlighting key points and making detailed notes of important concepts (some even typing, verbatim, what the teacher was saying). The difficulty of the topics being discussed went on increasing and the ferocity of the note-taking reached a crescendo when suddenly, bright white lights began flashing all around the room. They glinted at a steady rate accompanied by a loud, arrhythmic, vexatious sound that had by now filled the room. It took a couple of seconds for everyone to realise that the lights were actually from the otherwise insignificant little box that read “Fire alert” and the sound was the unartistic tone of the fire alarm. A sudden panic set in and everyone looked around, perplexed. 99 students and one teacher broke into a nervous laughter while slowly putting laptops back into their bags, ready to run with our lives. 

“I’ll go find out what’s happening” the teacher said and walked out of the class leaving most of the class with a confused expression. I have watched enough Bollywood movies to know how to over react dramatically to a situation so I had my bag in one hand and my legs out of the desk in the kind of starting position for a 100m dash that would make Usain bolt proud. We all turned our collective stare to the door from where the teacher had so calmly left to investigate the situation. The alarm was still ringing and the lights, still flashing. She returned soon enough with a smile on her face that relaxed most of the tension in the class. Surely it was a false alarm. Some sort of mock drill (that we completely failed at because we made no effort to escape). She walked insouciantly to the front of the class and announced nonchalantly,
“The lectures in the other classes haven’t stopped”. We heaved a sigh of relief and I dropped my bag and dragged my feet back into the desk, relaxed.

“So at least we won’t burn alone” she added with a grin and then continued with her lecture as if the fire alarm ringing in the background was irrelevant to our current situation. 99 jaws dropped simultaneously in disbelief, the flashing white lights adding the requisite amount of visual dramatics. The only thing missing was a better background score and the fire sprinklers. But I suppose New Yorkers aren’t very experienced with the use of visual theatrics involving fire and stuff. Oh wait…


P.S: As it turned out, there was no fire or emergency of any kind. But if the real story behind this false alarm turns out to be interesting, I'll make a post about it!




#10 Saving Sunshine

I was, as usual, scrolling through the multitudes of diverse and often largely garbage information on twitter when I came across it. I’d only heard of it when I was in India and I had never bothered contemplating its effects then because it was never going to affect me in any way. I am, of course, talking about that extraordinarily curious concept called Daylight Saving Time. Apparently at 2AM on the 1st of November daylight saving ended, which was really a pity because I was rather enjoying saving daylight without even knowing it. Maybe in some parallel universe, we were all heroes saving that damsel in distress who gives us light, heat and is the very basis of organic life on our planet. But for some reason, we’ve had enough of her innocuous trouble making and we’ve ended the project of saving her..for now. Soon it will be spring again and we’ll rekindle our affection for her and save her once more but for now, we will take a much needed winter vacation from all that saving we’ve been doing and concentrate on more muggle tasks such as going to work or college and doing our laundry and other menial goings on.
In this universe though, the concept is a lot less interesting but equally innocuous. It meant that I woke up at the exact time of the morning as I did the previous morning except that I had woken up one hour earlier when in reality I had not. Confused? Basically, they changed the time. They made it one hour behind. No. Not some uber-cool time travel technology. They just changed the time on the watch. Thus, marketed brilliantly as “Fall back and spring forward” where you changed the time on your watch to be one hour ahead in the spring and an hour behind in the fall. (You get an extra hour of sleep in the fall and one hour less in the spring). What purpose this serves is not evident to me yet. I will probably find out soon but until then, I’m going to fall back and enjoy that extra hour of good sleep. As for Ms Sunshine, she’s just going to have to stay out of trouble till the spring when everyone is out to save her once more.  





#11 Sleepless in New York

 I'd mentioned right at the start that some times these updates will be few and far between and incoherent at times. This one is the "far between" and incoherent post because it comes after a gap of two months and is about nothing in particular. Just a few post-mid night musing on a day when I was sleepless in New York.

 As it turns out, the annoyance, frustration, anger and helplessness that comes with exams transcends boundaries both geographic and academic. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 5th grader in India or a masters’ student in New York- you go through the same set of emotions anyway. But apart from that, the semester was largely interesting and a lot of fun. Speaking of which- HOLY SMOKES THE SEMESTER IS OVER. “That year went by quickly” is a scientifically inaccurate clich√© that is uttered every year. But it’s hard to disagree with that statement primarily because it is that time of the year when you sit back and reflect about the year gone by and wonder what exactly you did all year.
It’s 3AM as I write this. In the last two months, I’ve spent 3AMs’ in the library studying, out by the pier chilling with friends, at home singing out loud and occasionally in the subway station waiting for the 'R' train. The 'R' train, by the way, is a mythical creature that runs between Brooklyn and Manhattan under the constraints of no particular schedule. I joke (although that's exactly what it feels like). The 'R' takes me to college and brings me home everyday no matter what time it is. As frustrating as the wait for the old, slow fellow can be sometimes, that is just the dynamic of our little love-hate relationship. Over time, I've come to enjoy the time I get to spend on the train with no cellphone network or internet- the necessary evils of our time- because of the numerous people of varied cultures that you get to come across from business executives to homeless people and from young students to old street musicians. More about the train in another post.
But why am I not doing those things during more godly hours of the day? Well because alternative perspectives are amazing. This is a city, like any big city, that is more than bustling with activity during the day. People rushing to work, others waiting for their dates, still others waiting in vain and a multitude of others with a plethora of other things to do roam here. These streets have seen more stories than we think possible, these skies have heard more cries of joy laughter than we can imagine, these buildings have witnessed more history than we can document and everyday dawn brings more. But late at night, when nothing is happening and nobody is watching, to sit in silence in this theater of madness is an experience like no other. Like leaving the camera rolling after the scene and watching the set come alive albeit only in your mind. 
Now that the vacations are upon me, I won’t have to wait till those ungodly hours to find a moment or two to breathe. But being sleepless in New York isn’t a sickness, it’s an addiction. Even while nothing is happening, there is so much to see and hear. All you need to do, is to pay attention.
Happy new year everyone!

"Drama, my darling, is when you watch something happen while nothing happens at all. Like when the sun sets on the horizon and the clouds hang from the sky, and I watch these glorious moments just as they pass me by"

#12 Snow



Outside, water has decided to take another one of its many forms. Dancing in the air, twisting and twirling in circles to the tunes that the night seems to be humming without a care in the world. Gradually the world turns into one big picture with a white filter permanently fixed in front. Every half an hour, I peek out to see what has changed. A solitary car revs past, clearing the snow on the road where its tyres rolled. Those dancing above aren’t perturbed because they’ll dance through the night and into the morning and soon, the car’s tracks will be covered again. The grass in front of my house is no longer visible- in its place lies a cottony carpet sent from the heavens above. When it clears in the morning the grass will look up again but without the emerald joy it oozed the day before. But alas, my friend announces, that the worst is yet to come. The dancing party must twist and twirl to their heart’s content now for in the morning the breeze will leave for some distant shore across the ocean. When dawn breaks, a strong wind will drag the little flakes against their wish past the lamp shades they love so much to settle on some insignificant car on Bliss avenue. I squint my eyes as I look through the patterned curtains in my room and there’s been a flurry of sudden activity. The dance has already mellowed and like soldiers in a blinding white, they now march along in organised waves on their way to colonizing whatever land they will be dropped on. There’s no sound outside but I suspect that will change in the morning. The sun might even be out and look on with guilt as the blizzard roars, the winds howl and the snow-flakes fall silently in line. After all, if he’d been a little closer this whole mess could’ve been avoided. But even without his micromanagement, this whole affair has been handled well. While the rogue few continue to dance in the silent tones of the middle of the night, the others march on robotically. When the storm hits in the morning, we are all prepared for the worst but the ones who really don’t want it to happen are those- those little fellows in white who want to dance and sing all night and just be happy. Soon, I’ll be fast asleep and they’ll be gone too without a word of good bye. Because soon, Jonas will say hello.
 



Comments

  1. Am so excited for u dudoo, keep posting & i will be one sincere follower of ur diaries :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Believe it or not the "Prale-g" struck me as well on my first visit to the US, so much so that when i got back to blore for the first time i bought myself a packet of parle - g ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow Dudu!You can write my forward whenI turn author!

    ReplyDelete

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