When I told Friend W that I was going to New York, she let out an exclamation.
“Wow! Phebe, you’re going to New York?” she asked.
“Yes, I am,” I nodded my head, a little surprised at her reaction.
“Oh, it’s just that I never expected you to want to visit New York,” she said.
And she was probably right. I’d been longing to visit South Africa since I saw a pack of roaming Lions on National Geographic. The only reason why I am not there yet is because I haven’t accumulated the right amount of resources, and found the right sort of company to go lion-watching with. But yes, let’s get back to New York.
When I told some friends and colleagues that I was visiting New York, they talked about it with great passion. ‘It’s a place where you get the sense that you could do almost anything,’ said a Friend S. ‘You’ll be taken aback by the sheer weight of humanity,’ said another.
‘There’s no other city in this world that’s bursting with so much life. It’s the human spirit that really comes through.’
‘You’ll been taken aback by the number of people at Times Square. Go with an open mind’, said Friend J. To that, I reassured her that I was familiar with crowds and people, having lived in India for six months.
‘The city smells of pee. So do the subways.’
But I guess, nothing describes New York more aptly than Alicia Keys in the song ‘Empire State of Mind’.
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
The lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York…
The Travelling Squid is not sure if she will like New York. Or if she would have the time to fall in love with New York. It takes longer than a week, or a month to like a place. But she hopes to understand the feeling. The strong affection which people have for a city which smells of pee, the concrete jungle home to the biggest capitalists of our era and also a multitude of homeless people. But New York is the city where people have laid their dreams on. A city which inspires. A city which makes people feel they can make a difference to this world.
Through my travels, I’ve never seen such a city. I’ve seen people make do with what they have. I’ve seen people strive to do their best under the harshest conditions. But a city which inspires? That will be new.
Note: The Travelling Squid is on a 3-week trip to the United States/ Canada. She will resume blogging soon.