It’s my last day in New York. As much as I’m happy to leave the City that Never Sleeps, there’s a sense of melancholy of saying goodbye to a new brutish friend. The day is cold, grey, and wet outside with the Nor’easter carrying a lot of rain and wind. Quite a fitting finale – as it makes me look forward to coming back to good ol’ Adelaide.
I was asked the chance to be in New York for three weeks on an assignment from work a while ago. I felt a bit apprehensive and tentative, as New York seemed intimidating. It’s much easier to return to London as I know the place already. However, I took on the challenge and here I am, at the end of that assignment. So, what do I think about New York? New York to me, is not as intimidating, and more endearing than I thought it would be.
New York is fast, frantic, noisy, and disorganised – but it felt familiar. Having worked in a busy city like Jakarta – I just had to dig some old habits out of me. New York is not the place to walk leisurely – you’d block somebody behind you who is always in a rush. It’s also not a place to orderly queue – if you don’t guard your spot, chances are, somebody will take the opening.
New York is like a life force – it’s fluid and moving, whenever it finds an obstacle, it pauses and then in a millisecond it will resume its path. Just like the pedestrians who stop at the red light, and then the sooner they see that the path is clear, they will cross the road – green light or not. Its fluidity is remarkable. After tragedies like the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the Hurricane Sandy in 2012, New York paused and then soonest she felt comfortable, she resumed her path, as fluid and as insistent as ever. Other cities may take a longer pause – like a sticky syrup trying to find a momentum to flow again.
The highlights of this trip – along with meeting great people from well-known companies for my work assignments, are:
- walking around Central Park and soaking up all the Autumn goodness;
- walking along the High Line – over the sound of a busker playing ‘Autumn in New York’;
- watching ‘The Band’s Visit‘ in Broadway. I watched the movie in Adelaide years ago, and when I heard that the musical won 10 Tony Awards, I wanted to see it. I didn’t think that the opportunity would come!;
- watching Joey Alexander in Concert in Rose Theater, Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. While browsing around in Twitter, I found out that he would be playing on two days only – and there were still some affordable and good tickets at the last minute!
- attending Times Square Church – the church established by the late Ps. David Wilkerson, the brave man who brought Nicky Cruz to God;
- finding out that the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir was having a free concert on one of the Sundays. They sang True Worshippers’ ‘Jesus, It is You’ as the finale of the concert;
- watching the taping of ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ – and sitting at the front row!;
- visiting the Statue of Liberty, and feeling a sense of sadness. I just wish my Dad were still here, so he would know that I came to visit the namesake of his old stationery store in Bandung;
- visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum with my middle-school friend, Yen Lukman and his friend Rosa. I visited the Memorial Pools during one of my walks, and I thought I would visit the Museum later on. Then, when I met Yen, he mentioned that his friend had a free ticket to the 9/11 Museum, and she also could get me a free ticket too. The spooky thing is that, Rosa got three tickets from her friend who used to work at the Museum and had moved to Miami. Before Rosa’s friend left, she gave her three free tickets. She left to Miami even before I had planned to go to the Museum … So one, for Yen, one for Rosa, and one for me … Isaiah 65:24 all over again!;
- conquering the Subway system – after hearing that I shouldn’t meet the gaze of other passengers, it’s dirty, yadda, yadda, yadda, I am now comfortable in taking it from A to B. Huzzah!;
- tasting Gray’s Papaya (well, not really a highlight – but apparently it’s quintessentially New York. The hotdog’s okay) – but a personal highlight for me is tasting the pizza from Marinara. I watched a news coverage about the best pizzas in town and walked from the flat over to 1st Avenue. Their Vodka pizza is delicious, and so is their Peperoni slice. I would come back here for sure!
So, in this concrete jungle where the sound of the wildlife is the insistent honking, along with the Fire Department, the NYPD, or the Ambulance sirens, I can’t wait to sleep to the birds chirping outside with Indy gently nuzzling and snoring nearby.
Until next time, New York. You’re one helluva city.