Sunday, November 09, 2008

New York - October 25

First impressions of New York: Everything I see seems ever so familiar, even though I have never been here before. It's a natural consequence of being possibly the most portrayed city on the big and little screens.

Having arrived at my friends' apartment in Brooklyn just after midnight on Saturday, I woke up close to 11 am, no mean feat considering I was sharing the room with a number of other people who had woken up around 9 am and somehow managed not to wake up in any way as they were bustling around, making preparations for the day. That's what waking late all week for a number of weeks (or more accurately, years) and a break-up does to you. Nevertheless, eager not to waste even a single moment, I decided to hurl myself into the deep end and walk up to the nearest subway interchange so that I could go to Century 21, a discount fashion retailer, in Manhattan.

As luck would have it, I walked in the wrong direction at first, and then the correct one, but it took me such a long time to get there that I started to have serious doubts and fears as to where I was. What happened once I got to my intended destination? I got distracted and went into a supermarket in order to buy myself some toiletries. I didn't buy anything in the end as it would appear Americans did not understand the concept of small, or even medium-sized, containers.
By the time I reached there, I was starting to get rather peckish as I had only eaten a small apple (ha ha, no pun intended) that day. In sheer desperation, I walked into the nearest deli, ordered a sandwich and was absolutely flummoxed by the ginormous portion they gave me, which wasn't helped my loss of appetite over the events of the day before. I ended up saving half of it for dinner. After the supermarket episode, and now this, it was then that I came to the realisation that many others have had before me: Truly, America is a consumerist paradise.

Following that, I made my way to the World Trade Centre site. It had started to drizzle rather heavily and was turning a little chilly although just a few hours before, it was around 20 degrees C, albeit cloudy. It was rather sad to realise just how many deaths took place in the small area (by comparison) occupied by the Twin Towers. I then popped into St. Paul's Chapel opposite the site. Even though it was teeming with tourists, the church still seemed to offer some peace amidst all the turmoil.

I then made my way to Century 21. Naturally, it turned out to be big and messy, and I wasn't in the right frame of mind to search out bargains. I emerged with two pairs of jeans, a pair of True Religion jeans retailing for $80 (£160 in London) and J. Brand ($100, £180 in London), several pairs of hosiery and a conductor's cap (although the label described it as a "genre-hopping conductor's cap") to ward off the rain.

New Yorkers, I have found, are rather friendly. The cab driver, while driving me to Brooklyn from the airport, asked if he was driving too fast for me (he wasn't) and when the ride concluded, asked where my parents were from and proceeded to tell me I had a wonderful golden tan. Surely, this was not part of the usual customer service training anyone, much less a NY cabby, undergoes? This was followed by the guy at the corner store telling me "welcome home" (if only!) when I popped in there to collect the keys my friend had left for me. In addition, the cashier at Century 21 was friendly and chatty, even though it was clear she was exhausted.
In any case, the rain had gotten pretty heavy, so I decided to head back to get some rest and finish up my sandwich. I had no plans for the night given my general fatigue, but my friends pushed me to go out especially given that it was my first and only Saturday night in New York this trip. So, off we went for pre-party drinks at sexy jazz bar Rue B, before going to catch Greg Wilson, one of the key DJs responsible for developing the electro-funk scene in England in the '70s and '80s, at Santos Party House, owned by musician Andrew WK.

Did I have fun that night? Hell yeah. The music was just like one of David Mancuso's sets, and it's always a great thrill to be able to catch someone who is essentially one of the pioneers for something I so enjoy today.

Thus concluded my first Saturday in New York.

More to follow on the rest of my trip, but judging how long it took me to complete this post, it may be a while before I manage to get them all up!

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