I don’t believe in love at first sight. I’m a cynic, you know. Professing my immediate love for anything, no matter how glorious is an impulse that is highly improbable, if not entirely out of the question in my world.
I moved to NYC in Aug 2014. You could’ve filled a stadium with all the people who congratulated me when I announced my move. I was told I’ve ‘arrived’. In contrast, I didn’t get even half the fanfare when I first moved continents – New Delhi, India to San Fransisco, USA. Apparently, entire continents dwarf in comparison to NYC. Most humans, stepping into NYC for the first time, arrive in a dazed ‘dream-come-true’ state, unabashedly proclaiming their love for the ‘greatest city in the world’. I, on the other hand, found myself undecided on how I felt about the city even after two years. I too wanted to jump on the ‘greatest city in the world’
train subway. Spoiler alert – despite a rocky start and 2 yrs of a troubled relationship, this story has a happy ending.
For starters, I wasn’t a big fan of the famous NewYorker ‘realness’. It’s still confounding to me how being a total douchebag makes one ‘real’? Trigger warning: I’m just warming up here. Burning in the mid-summer hell-fires of the subway station for two years seemed like more than enough karmic retribution for a lifetime. I know I mentioned Subway troubles, but PATH was a whole another beast and deserves a separate mention. Being told off by a homeless person for offering him some hot Starbucks on a cold snowy day was enough to send my good-samaritan genes scurrying for cover. From interactive theatre, Broadway, Opera, and Ballet to doorman buildings with elevator, in-unit washer dryer with a car parking, the city can fulfill all your desires for the right price, subject to availability, of course. Tiny apartments, aka money-pits because who needs a couch when the entire city is your living room? So there are always things to do, new experiences to be had, sure, it’s a melting pot of world cuisine, culture, and art. Year-round free events and marketing pop-ups where the entire city turns up because everyone’s broke and trying to have fun. I was consistently reassured – this is ‘the’ city for having maximum fun- by people who seemed to be having the worst day of their lives, constantly. I know it’s one hell of a sales pitch. Yet, those are not the things that I will miss the most. It took me two years, an interesting subway ride and an epiphany to realize what I love the most about this city.
New York city, for me, as it turns out, is the city of the nonconformists – the misfits. If you’ve felt like an odd bird your entire life, this is the city you will fit right in. From the moment you land in NYC, you belong. You are home. It’s more than a city, it’s a sanctuary for anyone who needs one. With all its imperfections, the city will embrace yours with acceptance and openness of an understanding ally. Certain that you’ll have to succumb to a life of conformity and denial? Not here. Here you get to be exactly who you are – a briefcase-carrying Batman with a career in finance – if that’s your jam. There’s no judgment. Well, mostly no judgment, unless of course you’re a slow walker taking up precious sidewalk space, in which case you’ll get to experience the NewYorker ‘realness’ first hand. The City is very much aware of its many imperfections and is always trying to redeem itself or at the very least offer excellent distractions in the form of countless performing artists who make the subway rides just a little more endurable. That, plus the ubiquitous $0.99 ‘NewYork’s Best Pizza’ available 24X7 at every street corner, ice-skating in Central Park and the Christmas decorations at Rockefeller with a backdrop that’s made for Instagram definitely adds to the charm.
Then, there’s snow. I experienced my first snowfall in NYC and for that NYC will forever have my heart.
Yes, I sound smitten. Didn’t you know, cynics make the best romantics? It just takes longer to convince us.
‘My Summer Fling’ is a collection of photographs of NewYork City, mostly taken during my last 5 weeks here, with a few sprinkles from my earlier stay.