Saturday, April 30, 2011

new york: it is the best of cities, it is the worst of cities

today was just a fantabulously scrumptiously beautifully gorgeous day in NYC.
the sun was gloriously shining down on us, people were so just so happy to have a nice day on a Saturday, they were even smiling at strangers on the subway. (okay, so maybe i made that last part up, but one could always dream, eh?)

seriously. i had such a fantastic day. it started with South indian style brunch at Saravanaa's in Curry Hill with author-activist extraordinaire, Neesha Meminger. We talked of some ins and outs of the publishing world, and about the inequalities that exist within the current publishing paradigm, as well as creative ways writers can step around that structure to make things happen in ways that work for them and their audiences. I am not going into high level of detail here, as I didn't take notes... and maybe just maybe I'll get to interview Neesha for a podcast and we can talk about it more leisurely there...

then i was off to the post office to mail my friend Joy Weese Moll some books that she could (potentially) blog about... or just read for fun. As a just-one-class-away-from-being-a-librarian, I often get more books than I know what to do with. And teens will take only so many! At the post office, I was hoping to beg the staff to help me seal my yellow envelope with packing tape, (I had forgotten to bring mine), but what do you know, the PO, struggling with budget cuts, is no longer giving their employees pens to use, let alone tape!

It galled me to think of buying tape when I have so much just sitting there at home, but I went to a hardware store anyway... And then, lo and behold, the guy who worked there had a heart of gold, and let me use not only his tape but even his utility knife so i could hack off pieces of tape, for free! And he wouldn't even accept a candy for a thank you! May he have 7 years of good luck, I say! Then, having shipped off my lumpy bumpy package to Joy (hope you like 'em, Joy) I was off to the N train stop at 23rd and Broadway, to get back home to work on my (last leg of my) interminable research project. And there, at Madison Square Park, was a fully in swing Sikh festival going on, complete with langar for all... By then, my appetite was craving for a little something, so i satisfied it with salty lassi, paneer makhni, chole, roti, makki ki roti, and saag... oh yeah, and jalebi. and watermelon. yum. and it was so fun to see so many families just enjoying themselves. I think I saw more Sikh people in Madison Square Park than i did on my entire month long journey to india this past January! and everyone was so friendly, and genuinely happy to give you food and, i don't know, it was just such a warm feeling. Imagine... feeding complete strangers, for free, in midtown Manhattan!

and then, i was back on the subway, back on my way home. When my train arrived, the guy who was standing in front of me, paused and let me go in before him. so polite... (albeit unnecessary.) it brought to mind something (completely opposite) that happened a couple of days ago. As I was entering a station, having just swiped my Metro card, this guy who was leaving, just pushed himself out of the same entry/exit gate i had just swiped... thereby making my swipe invalid and trapping me outside the station, with a 15 minute wait ahead of me till my metrocard reset itself... (and, if my card had been the pay as you go, i'd have been so S.O.L.) When I protested to him, as he was about to push out, saying, 'hey, i just beeped my card!' his snarled response was, "you saw me, f- you." Beautiful.

So, there we have it, NYC and its people in all our splendor --- beautiful generosity, mixed with petty cheap meanness... it's part of what makes this city so surprisingly alive.

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