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 XVIII. Candid Verses: A Year Later!
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Posted on 04-24-16 2:05 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Candid Verses: A Year Later
“F****** Tourist. Move out of my way!” An old woman blurted out as she shoved me down the stairs.

Nearly a year has elapsed since the big day, and it is suffice to say nothing has changed. Oh no! I am not talking about the earthquake that jolted us to the core last year. I made peace with it by attending the candle light vigil and again yesterday, in central park by buying a pink balloon and letting it go, just like our folks back home, and then blasting my fb page with some sad emojis and #hashtags to commemorate the event. A wonderful way to overcome tragedy folks!

What I am really talking about is my move to the big city a year ago, and how I am still struggling a year later to keep pace with it. The bustling city of skyscrapers; the big apple; the city of lights, the city that never sleeps, or if you live in queens, the city that won’t let you sleep because the Bengali taxi drivers are blasting their music system with “Choli ke piche kya hai!” at 1 am!

I still remember the first morning commuting to work on that dreaded 7 train, when I let nearly half a dozen trains go by. Why? Well, how do you muster courage to get on one of these morning-rush-hour-packed-trains that seem to make KTM microbuses look better? After relaying my anguish to my bona-fide New Yorker friend, he decided to show me the ropes. And I learned quickly.

You simply push your way in pretending others are pushing behind you. Sort of like when you make your creepy move towards a drunk damsel in a packed nightclub from behind. A fantastical accomplishment. Except when you open your eyes, you’re in a company of browns each with their crotch grinding you, albeit unintentionally, from all directions. The Chinese, the Indians and the Hispanics, each struggling for personal space and each blessed with their unique heritage of morning smell. And who needs a green juice for detoxification, when you get an early morning infusion of pork-bun, ragan josh, and that pungent breath given continually and freely over your face with an unfazed stare. Intoxicating romance, I say!

But this was still a small price to pay compared to the arduous ordeal of getting on the train itself. After much thought, I came out with an ingenious idea. I simply carried my laptop everywhere. Because pushing people with computer from behind somehow seemed less creepy and more polite than doing it with your hands and at worse with your frontal. And to my delight, no one has complained. Well, except my southern-neighbor friends at work, who are bewildered that I carry my laptop everywhere, but somehow not part of their exclusive IT team.

When I first moved to the city, I assumed half the people in NYC had diarrhea. Just look at the pace people walk and talk around this city. I really thought they all had that “5 min burrito” the cart dubbed by my friend near Queens Blvd, because you literally had five minutes to make it to the toilet after munching on this delicacy. Well, as it turns out, the pace of people is what distinguishes New Yorkers from the tourists. What is fascinating is, I now move with the same unprecedented pace, edgier than ever, unaware even when it is the weekend. And I sigh in unison with implicit disgust with my fellow city mates if the train is late or missed it by a few seconds.

And what has this excruciating pace done to me, you might wonder? My hair that stood the test of time through the stress of working under table at Ocean city and gas stations or the rigorous graduate program is fast disintegrating. Some say it’s the water, but I know it is this grueling pressure of 8 million people I have carried on my shoulders that are ushering me not only to work overtime but attend the myriad events and shows that I can barely afford, neither with time nor money. I find it particularly interesting the advent of the first sign of every sunshine, when people suddenly come in droves to congregate at the park out of hibernation, as if the sun had finally emerged out of some apocalypse.

This is not surprising, because you cannot assimilate in this country if you do not obsess about the weather. I cringe every morning at work as the elevator fills up with people – and the clichéd small talk we have to make for the sake of being cordial and social. The conversation in a nutshell is always the same. At winter, isn’t it freezing cold? At spring, isn’t it allergy season? At summer, isn’t it f***** hot? At Fall, isn’t it unseasonably warm? If you’re a smart ass, you say that it’s the cause of global warming. If you’re striving to be a hipster, then you point out the difference between the global warming and climate change. And if you’re a manager aka an A**hole at work, then you just stare down and shut up the smart asses and hipsters!

The upside of working in NYC is you can show up fashionably late and nonchalantly blame the subways for not being on time. But leaving the work early? Good luck with that. That’s when you need a “colleague” at work. It took me nearly six months to find mine, because all other colleagues it seems, had already been taken. Colleague - someone who understands your need to bitch and vent about everyone else at work. This colleague-ness comes out more coherently during the incoherent conversations during the happy hour. This is when we vent the most about our a**holes at work, make elaborate plans to quit work, and leave this darn city for greener pastures. But at around 6 pm, our brown-ness kicks in, and we go and get our grande cappuccinos, and return to work quietly for the next few hours.

“Man how can you afford NYC – it’s so expensive!” my tourist friend chimed in. But he quickly changed his mind once we reached Jackson heights.

“Man are those spits of paan? God! You guys get paan here?” “Are those people talking in Nepali?” “What – you get momos for $5? Is this a Bhatti-pasal?” His exuberance began to get out of control.

After dropping my friend off, as I neared the subway station, my phone buzzed – “I have been trying to reach you, so many times. Are you not home? I thought we could catch up today!”

Well, of course – right on cue. “Give me half an hour, I will be home in a jiffy!” I texted with my heart in my mouth as I noticed that my phone was dying.

I ran as fast as my legs could carry me until I reached the station, and as I began to climb the stairs, a big contingent of tourists were blocking the stairwell transfixed on a performance on what seemed like a thriller music in the background.

“I am sleeping. Talk to you some other day!” Came her reply.
“No my phone is dy……” Smartphone Blank. Smartphone dead.

At first my heart dented and hyperventilated, then the disappointment at my smartphone, then the sheer anger at the situation – I just thought out aloud:


To my utter surprise, the crowd quieted down instantly, looked behind, quickly gave me the way to pass as if I were some royalty. When I reached upstairs, a little-grown man dressed up like Michael Jackson was dancing to thriller who gave me the eye. I realized there was also a dude with fluorescent hair that matched his fluorescent trousers who was trying to make his way down through the crowd. He fist bumped me and nodded in acknowledgement.

I walked away feeling a little better– feeling a bit empowered, confident, and bold. Sort of like an A**hole.

Sort of like a New Yorker- if I may dare say!

Posted on 04-26-16 11:27 AM     [Snapshot: 220]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Simply brilliant! You really cracked me up :D Enjoyed reading another one of your masterpieces :)
Posted on 04-27-16 1:22 PM     [Snapshot: 628]     Reply [Subscribe]
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You described NY as it is , welcome to hell bro :) Nice writing !
Posted on 04-28-16 1:07 PM     [Snapshot: 735]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Welcome Back after a long Hibernation, Lynx bro !

I am kinda away from that 8 million heads into the greener pastures so i could visualize what you presented and enjoyed NewYork life.... one thing though... that "colleague-ness" and that one "colleague" exist everywhere I guess...hehe

It feels very good to read your prose. Well written yet again. Do keep writing...

- Thaha chaena

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