It irks. It really does when the only writing you do every day is confined to your office mailbox.
Then of course, there is work, work and more work, accompanied by HBO 2, HBO Signature, HBO HD, and not to mention “Free On Demand” seasons of Castle (yet to be aired in most parts of the world!) to take away most of your precious time. Now that I am forced to stay indoors while nursing a bad cold in 12°C , the options are not many.
I landed in the city of skyscrapers on a pleasant Monday evening, around 34 days back. As the plane began its descent, I was glued to the window to get a good look at one of the most inimitable cities on earth, beautifully spread out, thousands of feet below. Naturally, an adrenaline rush for someone who has been inside an aircraft for 22 hours!
Honestly, I was a bundle of nerves when I stepped out of the aircraft. Voices rang in my head “Gosh, you are landing on 9/11!”; “if you mess up your immigration check, blah blah, they will deport you, blah blah blah!” I don’t how many of you have had horrific experiences, but the officer who I came face to face with, was a man of very few words, “What is your last name Ma’am”; “Next please”. I quickly collected my bags before the police sniffer dog changed its mind and moved towards exit. I was officially in the US of A, a shameless tourist in the making.
My first conversation with “the American” was short and very sweet indeed.
“Hey kid, you come to the college here?!” Kid!!!!!!? Like, Really!? Ok, I LOVE this place!
“Nope, on business” I replied with a big broad grin.
He guided me to a cab which brought me to one of the nicest places in Jersey City- Candlewood Suites. Did I tell u that I can see the Hudson river from my room? *Allow me to gloat just a li'l bit puh-leeze* :)
But the Hudson really didn’t help soothe my feelings then. While India was fast asleep, I was so many miles away, across the oceans, all alone. My first time in a country not my own. I was not sure what was more unsettling, that feeling of sudden loneliness or the horrible jet lag. To my relief, I discovered that a good friend of A’s stayed just a few blocks away and he offered to help me with my commute to Manhattan.
So there I was at the Newport Path Station, at 10 pm, swiping my card and staring at the vending machine for a monthly pass!! Jet lagged and tired, I hit the sack only to wake up every one hour. Grrr. And just like that the next morning arrived and I was all ready to go to the 33rd street. My daily route in the days to come.
Call it my poor observation skills, I could only see iPads, iPhones, and Kindle during the short journey. How was I to blame when most faces were buried in ‘em? I decided to carry a book from the next day onwards. The commute took about 20-25 minutes and ended with the announcement “The next and last stop is 33rd street”. After a li’l bit of asking around, I managed to get out of the right exit! (I wonder why I did that back then, when there were arrows right above my head that screamed EXIT loud and clear!)
One flight of stairs from the subway and I came face to face to what we often hear – The New York Minute. Caught right in the middle of it!!
There I was, awestruck, on 33rd street, 6th Avenue, Manhattan amidst a sea of people, walking past me hurriedly. Food carts selling doughnuts and pretzels, and huge colorful hoardings met my eye inspite of the sea of people. NYC yellow taxis whizzed by and I looked around hoping to make sense of the sign boards. That’s when I saw an NYPD car parked right across the street.
In no state of mind to hunt for a map, I walked up to the uniformed officer who stood next to the car, his eyes fixed on the streets and the moving traffic.
“Hi. I was wondering.. which way do I go for 31st & Park Ave…..”
Before I finished, he pointed a finger to his right and said with a smile “Two blocks down Ma’am, and this way to Park. Good day.”
“Thank you. You too”
Lesson #1 . Use crisp sentences :-/
Exhaustion, yet excitement was me. I brushed past a group of New Yorkers relishing their coffee and bagel, and hurried to 460, Park Avenue.
My very own New York minute had just begun.