Friday, October 3, 2008

The Start of Something New

The things you hear.

Yesterday evening, after having gone all the way down to 23rd Street in some weird diary writing dream world, when I was really supposed to be heading up to 103rd Street... I looked up, perplexed for a split second or so to see the numbers 2 and 3 outside the subway window, and not... I don't know, 9 and 6--the station right before mine?

I realized that I had gone down the downtown stairs, when I really should have gone down the uptown stairs (that also go down, confusingly enough), and that I had gone several minutes worth of subway traveling time in the wrong direction.

I quickly collected my things and jumped off right before the doors closed behind me. I looked around. No Exit. Exit Only at Middle of Platform.

"But that will take me out on 7th Avenue. Not to the uptown platform."

Stupid crappy loud rackety no-good crowded construction-site New York subway system.

As I finally had found my way to the uptown train and got out on Broadway and 103rd (with my diary now safely tucked away in my briefcase--because, yes, I have a briefcase), I clickety-clacked my way home with my black office style shoes, scarf wrapped around my shoulders.

"Aw, man. You and I could never rob a bank together."

"Sorry?" I turned around to the short-ish Hispanic looking man I had just passed on the sidewalk.

Did I tell you I live in the outskirts of Spanish Harlem? In any event, there are lots of people with Latin American descent on my portion of the Avenue.

"They would hear you coming a mile away."

Like I said. The things you hear. I laughed, and said no problem, I could take them off. Just for that occasion.

"Yeah, I'd have to get you a pair of rubber shoes." His intonation pattern an African-American sitcom actor's.

I laughed and walked on. Clickety-clacking my way to my cockroach apartment.

Oh, and if you would like to know what somebody who had their yesterday go down in history as the day they actually did shake hands with the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has to say?
He's the Egyptian guy in my office I've been telling you about. My life jacket in a sea of suit-wearing, sit-up-straight (some would say stiff) UN colleagues. Actually, to tell you the truth (because who would dream of doing anything else) others are beginning to warm up a little in my presence (or is it me who's beginning to relax a little?), but it's still nice with somebody you share a piece of history with. Because even if we never knew each other in Cairo, we've been to the same places, we've eaten the same food, drunk the same juices (well, actually, he's never had peanut juice at Toot Eksbress, but you can't have everything).

I just saw that they passed the bill. The House of Representatives voted 263-171 in favor of spending 700 billion USD on buying up bad Wall Street debts and throwing a bone or two to Main Streeters.

Georgia Democrat John Lewis said it well: "I have decided that the cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of doing something."

Now let's see if this will turn things around so that we get to see our stock markets pop their heads out of the water and gasp for some air. Because after all, the end of an era (if that's what this has been, or is, or whatever) never comes unless something new takes its place.

Anyway, this week's bathroom update:

The view is still amazing. The windows just as large. I told the new intern--Julius from Germany--all about it, and was still laughing about some joke we had made when I opened the door to visit the ladies' room. Another lady was just in front of me, so in an effort to explain my mirth about going to the restroom (man, there are so many different ways to say it, and I've only used the polite synonyms so far), I said I was telling all the male colleagues about what they're missing.

"Oh yes," she said. She wasn't wearing a suit, by the way. Her clothes are relaxed, colorful and stylish. Her hair is Hennah-colored. There are some others like her. Some women who wear saris with beautiful patterns and colors; some men who wear galabeyya-type dresses from African countries I've never visited.

"Oh yes," she said, "they don't have anything like this at all." (So the rumor about the men's room seems to be true!)

She told me that as it gets colder, though, the view gets even more spectacular. I should wait until December perhaps (I won't be here, but I'm hoping she confused the months and really meant November... after all, they do rhyme with one another), and go to the bathroom (yeah, I'm avoiding the less polite words for said room) at around 5.30 P.M. "And look down there," she said and pointed downtown. "The sky will be all golden and red from the sunset. Especially on cold days. There is something about the cold that really brings out the colors, you know. And look over there, you can see all the way to the river on the other side."

So you can. The entire street with Grand Central in the middle; tiny yellow cabs going, stopping at the lights, turning down the avenues; and all the way to the other side of Manhattan and Hudson River.

I'll end with what my dad always says when New York is the setting for some movie, or in the news: What a city!

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