Images from Civilization

My 3 days in NYC reminded me why I love this city so much and how many things from it could serve as inspiration for other places in the world..

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From my favorite coffee shop, to the charming brownstones, the art exhibitions, Central Park, high fashion displays, one cannot just have enough. On the other hand, the multitude of options and people made me miss my laid back, Rio, where I could just go outside in my flip flops and head over to the dirty corner bar to have a beer without any worry in the world..

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Mission – Transportation

My little tri-state adventure was completed successfully. Only four buses, three cabs, one train, and one plane later (within one day) and I am back to my fourth state of the day, the bigger and better one.

I managed to label all of my belongings and realized that my entire life can be packed into 10 boxes and 3 bags, not even enough to fill in one tenth of the container I am eligible for.  Such is the life of the nomad.

Irene (or her friend Maurine), did have their impact, with water damage to two of my boxes. Thankfully, they didn’t contain anything important (although I do know some who would consider the Accelerated Corporate Finance course pack an essential tool for life).

 

As always, my wait time at the airport created an opportunity for people watching. First, I must say I almost gained some respect for JFK, after spending time in Jet Blue’s terminal (5). Fast service through check-in and security, modern fixtures, cleanliness,  decent selection of restaurants and shops (they even had a Muji travel shop, it can’t get better), free Wi-Fi and computer stations everywhere – I was almost pretending I was at some civilized airport such as the Hong Kong one.

 

It’s always interesting to watch incoming flights, when the origin is not announced,  and try to guess where the people were. If they are well dressed, look calm and refreshed, with expensive carry-ones, they are probably from Europe. Loud, with tons of duty free bags, screaming kids, dressed in casual crap, they often can be Israeli. Over-tanned, dressed in Bebe sweatpants for girls, t-shirts and shorts and baseball cap for the guys, their skin orange and their hair beach blond, they are probably another Jersey/Long Island couple coming back from Cancun, Dominican Republic or something along those lines. And the list goes on. A plane arrived when I was waiting for mine, and based on the very trashy crowed, I kept trying to guess where they came from. From the conversations, I could  pick up final destinations such as upstate NY, and Jersey, but not the origin. I tried to guess some cheap locations such as Dominican, et al., but nothing seemed to support the claim. I turned to my most useful technique of inspecting shopping bags, and struggled with the pattern as there was little in common between Cole Haan and McDonald’s. Finally, I’ve identified a couple of different people with Disney bags, therefore concluded that the plane came from Orlando. Some other signs such as sunburn and abundance of little kids seemed to support this logical conclusion.  I wanted to verify my assumption with someone from the plane, but then I got distracted by something else.

 

I saw this very posh Louis Vuitton luggage right in front of me, and decided to investigate the owner. She was an African American women, in her early thirties, just sitting by herself, and reading something on her e-book. My eyes fell on her gold D&G watch. She was also wearing a lot of gold jewelry: a ring, necklace, bracelet.  I continued my inspection and identified a Burberry  shirt. I started to think, must be some kind of a heiress, or maybe a wife of a football player (I might have watched 2 episodes too many of The Real Housewives).  As I was nearing this conclusion, my eyes fell on her shoes, which were cheap and synthetic. And then it downed upon me that all the other stuff must be fake. There were just way too many brands flashing out of this person. I then also noticed a small piercing above her mouth, just below her nose, something I normally associate with very low class (yes, I am judgmental but I find this super trashy). Eh, what a disappointment.

 

My other target was a Buddhist monk in orange gowns that was sitting right across from me. For some reason I started feeling sorry for this poor monk, that stood out so much and had to devote his entire life to his gods. I assumed he’s going to Austin to share his wisdom through some lecture affiliated with the university. For some reason, when I got on the plane, and saw this monk stashing his fancy leather laptop bag under the sit in front of him, while talking on his smart phone, my entire sympathy evaporated. These monks are big  fat capitalists just like us.

 

The perfect lunch

Eggplant sandwich, quinoa salad and my kindle.

-Hummus Place, NYC

I take it back

What storm?

The most unusual thing about this whole hurricane situation was riding a cab through an empty Manhattan on a Saturday night. The city looked abandoned.

Apparently in Battery Park, some steps got flooded. Oh well. Next hurricane.

Notes on the Storm

I have been given the “gift” of perfect timing. Of course, a day before my trip to the East Coast, they had the once-in-a-gazillion-years earthquake and now I am preparing to meet hurricane Irene with open arms tonight. Exciting times!

Having arrived here on Wednesday, I had enough time to remember the many reasons why I love New York City. This time, I branched out from my beloved upper west side, and decided to stay with a friend in the hipster East Village. Once I got re-acquainted with the drug-addicts and homeless  people, I had time to enjoy the many good restaurants/coffee/shops/bars this area has to offer. It was amazing to walk down the street and see persons of any race, nationality, gender around me. I barely heard any English. You forget about this, living in real America.  I saw so many weirdos, too. One guy was riding a little girl’s bicycle with pink tassels and everything. He was dressed in tighty-whities, a wife-beater and white straw hat with a pink ribbon. He was just riding the bicycle, stopping by the windows of restaurants and cafes, and trying to get people’s attention.. incredible.

Otherwise, it has been interesting to watch Manhattan prepare for the storm. Many of the businesses decided to close for the weekend, while others proudly displayed signs stating they will stay open until the sign you are reading will fly away from the door.  People as always started freaking out and buying out every possible crap at the stores, which reminded me of the last hurricane that threatened Houston, leading to mass paranoia in Austin, Texas. At the end, there was no hurricane in either place but loads of people got stuck on the highway between the two cities in an 18 hours traffic jam (normally, the journey takes 2.5 hours..) because they ran out of gas. I hope the case will be the same here.

Last night, while out for drinks, everyone in the hood displayed a positive and careless mood. 4am at local pizza place, everyone was cracking jokes and saying that the city is over-reacting. Today, the mood morphed into anxious curiosity. Most people are just wondering how this will play out. It’s kind of strange to see no cars or buses on the streets and having to figure out how to get to places without public transport. Thankfully, there are many free cabs around, not that I really wanted to go anywhere. It’s interesting that things here seem quite calm, while outsiders watching TV are freaking out about us. One has got to love New Yorkers’ cynicism. Surveying my Facebook friends’ status updates, all the folks in New York are posting jokes about stacking up on wine instead of water, preparing Hurricane parties and sharing video clips, while their friends in other places are posting worried messages and prayers for their safety.

I say, if we go down, we should do it in style!

To be continued…

Here is one of those videos in the meantime: