Of pavement sales, Mr. President, and the Most Photographed Person on 5th Avenue!

 

September 13th 2016…… As part of our usual exploratory Manhattan walking, my husband and I crisscrossed the streets from 1st avenue to 5th Avenue, but this day it was a strange sense of business everywhere: Workers and NYPD were everywhere, erecting metal barricades starting from First Avenue and driving around with their lights flashing. New Yorkers, as always, didn’t seem to care & my curious cat husband asked a couple of police women what were was going on. One of them told us the reason for the commotion, the leader of the free world, Mr. President, would be passing through.

We walked across towards 5th avenue passing through Lexington Avenue & the streets were buzzing with tourists, dog walkers, baby walkers (strollers) & few office goers. The weather was slightly warm but beautiful. At 62nd street, a gentleman was walking 4-pretty looking Poodles, all in apricot & almost same size while the 3 marched in unison, one of it started with pranks. While waiting for the crossing, one of the Poodles decided that she (guess) had had enough & slept on the ground & refused to get up inspite of the handler coaxing it…we spent few minutes watching the cute drama queen.. then as she still fussed, we walked further past the grand Apple show room.

As we passed the GOP’s Presidential candidate’s looming black tower, tourists were busy photographing themselves with the happiest person of the day – the beaming DOORMAN… outside stood few cops, seemingly oblivious of the activities around. For once the General & his Golden lady had a competitor… There were 2-professional photographers perhaps expecting Mr. Trump to get out of the tower, randomly clicking the doorway & another one busy interviewing passersby (a lady in light blue attire was talking into the mike) & a gentleman, dressed in a T-shirt & shorts with a placard in hand that had a picture of two of sons of Mr. Trump with a dead wild cat with “Trump’s sons are deplorable” written across & another one with “Dump the Trump”. We stood there watching the circus & after few seconds a young couple passed by & started arguing with the protestor… we are not Trump supporters but you have no right to say…. the argument went on for more than ten minutes… & most tourists were interested in clicking pictures with the Doorman… who was practically in 7th heaven.

As usual I was insisting that I want to talk to the protestor & my husband did not want anything to with the drama around… finally when the couple left, I asked the gentleman to pose for a picture & then a Jewish gentleman (not very orthodox) with a little cap on his head started discussing with the protestor… saying the photograph must have been doctored!! The protestor was telling that they are fond of hunting & they have killed so many animals & they are hoarding ivory at home, etc., etc. Everyone seemed or sounded like they were not for Mr. Trump but were against the depiction… anyways their understanding or logic was beyond my understanding!

We walked further, passing in front of beautiful old churches & going in & out were the tourist like us, just curious to see the décor like the stain glasses inside… one church even said “This is God’s House, All are Welcome”… I wondered what would be the future of the N-number of beautiful churches in Manhattan? I remember the charming churches of Amsterdam, which are turned into discos or something else as church goers dwindle. I have no idea if Mr. God is happy (or sad) to be left alone in peace. I thought of the “Good News” people still trying to convert the innocents back in India by offering money & wondered instead of creating incomplete, half knowledge worshipers why can’t they improve the existing ones? Strange are the ways of men & their ideology.

We spent time lazing around Rockefeller Center & looked at the exotic Asian plants including the little bread fruit trees & was wondering why they had harassed me & my husband for carrying a single little orange from a British Airways meal at Boston Airport way back in May 2009. Words from the principles of Rockefeller Jr, in front the building is always very inspiring for me. Interestingly, in front of it two men were arguing about something related to one of the gentleman’s wife… & both seemed strangers! Further at the entrance was etched “Wisdom & Knowledge shall be the stability of thy times” – hope this will pass on from generation to generation.

As we returned, beside Trump Tower stood an ambulance & an old man was sleeping on the stretcher after collapsing from fatigue. We stood watching the efficiency of the attendants. While passing in front of the Trump Tower we noticed that the door man had changed & there stood a serious-faced man seemingly stressed & no one was photographing… I joked with my husband that perhaps everyone was jealous of the previous Doorman getting so much attention….. Seemed like he was even more popular than the static Queen’s Guards… of Buckingham Palace!!

And as we crossed, just before the apple showroom, there were many portable chairs & some had small plastic covers kept next to each other. On it was written “$300 for the space including the chair”. Now I was wondering if people are allowed to sell the pavement or what? America is advancing a step forward or backward? I’ve heard of people selling land in the moon… so this must be the testing ground… hum! Made my husband talk to one of the people sitting on the chair & they said they had no idea why they were selling the space. How charming, all in part of hour’s wage. Well, ignorance is bliss… & as we walked further, there were countless offers of carriage trips around the park. And with a “thank you, we have done it already”, I asked one of the gentleman about selling the space & chair & he said it’s for the iPhone 7 sale, for the 16th release…. Oh boy it’s still 13th & sale already started…. God help them. Pokemon…. iPhone 7.. what next..? As long as the human minds could be lured, there are endless opportunities & there is no end to surprises.

Later Mr. Obama’s convoy passed just a stone’s throw from home but I was too tired to go stand to see the vehicles… once I did see Mr. Bush junior’s helicopter landing in Washington & it was not thrilling so what is the use of waiting for a bunch of black car?

Bloomington diary – Part 1 – Small town blues

Firstly, sorry for the long delays since my last few posts, been travelling all over in the last month or so, including a long eventful drive cross country through America. This next set of posts has been a long time coming, and is a summary of collections and stories from my previous trip to the USA in 2014. Hope you enjoy!

When I landed in Bloomington, Indiana on 4th of July, I was wondering what I was going to do for 3 weeks & planned to make walking & losing weight as my number one priority…

Bloomington is a small Midwestern University town & it’s practically empty during the summer months of June to August when most students will either be away on internships or on holidays. That is almost 65% percent of the population.

Like all the university towns of North America, it’s a peaceful wooded town & the forest beside the state highway reminds me of a drive on Coorg roads. The air is fresh, water is clean & people are friendly. Like every nation in the world where people closer to nature are friendlier than the city dwellers, bloomy goes one step extra- at least compared to Providence, RI.

People passing by, even though very few at this time of the year, always have a smile or a wish or at least a nod, irrespective of the colour & creed. Even the youngsters walking the dog also were in the same league. People drive with caution & in an intersection where there is no signal always the one who comes even if a fraction of a second earlier gets the preference. And here the pedestrian rules the road & everyone waits religiously.

Whole surrounding is extremely clean, & the lawn everywhere well-manicured. The birds singing early in the morning with various sounds surprise you as if you are in a rainforest. Plenty of hares running around showing off their white spot on the butts!! Occasionally you can spot the grazing deer while driving around in the evenings.

Surprising there aren’t many gardens around but many wild flowers peep here & there, popping their head out on the grass. Unfortunately, I could not get a single picture of the wild flowers beside the forest as stopping anywhere even for a short time is prohibited & Uncle Sam could pop up anytime from anywhere it seems.

Many a times I see the Asian cousins of various plants with little variation in colour or texture or flowers or the leaves. For example I met the cousins of the orange trumpet, ekka flower, & strangely a wild edible mushroom (umbrella mushroom) which of course my husband would not even let me pick. There was also a mushroom similar to the tree-mushroom but on the ground- later I realized that perhaps it is because they use wood-shaves in the garden & the mushroom must have evolved!! That’s reminded me that in spite of everything, there are lot of things common at least in the nature and over which man does not really have control. No visa or green card or residence is required!!

The remaining summer students at the bus stop reminds you of the era which you are in as everyone sports a mobile phones and are unaware of the world around them. As usual either talking or texting in their own shortcut words, murdering the English language itself! The words they use sound like they are writing some Vedic mool-mantra or something… At times I wonder if the future generation will even know how to write by hand or calculate using their brain. It’s every inventors dream to create a future robot with emotions & motion like humans. But I think it’s going to be the other way around & we are going create children, rather future generations, who are like robots… The bus stops stands beside a beautiful pond with a weeping willow tree. I don’t think most of the students are even aware there is a pond behind them…ha ha ha!

While walking in the morning we came across the rushing fire brigade & everyone promptly made way for them. The siren could be heard from far & even before the fire engine had hit the signal, other drivers had already made way. Then in a while the police car followed & then the medical vehicle. Everyone knew exactly where they are supposed to go unlike the usual scene I witness where the fire brigade goes round & round, perhaps because it’s a small town & later after walking a kilometer plus we saw the medical vehicle going back. No wonder fireman & fire chief are well respected in the community.

Even though you can get stuff in plastic bags in the super market (Marsh – the only one nearest at 1 km away) & in pharmacies, etc., you don’t find any plastic bags lying everywhere. It was odd one day, when we found a bag lying on the pathway between the meadows near the apartment. My daughter wanted to pick it up & carry home to put in the dustbin as for about quarter kilometer there was no dustbin. But I would not let her do that because I was afraid that something must have been inside as a normal Bloomington citizen would not do that. Next day it was still there on the grass & flowers of the meadow, carried by wind.  At the end of the day it was cleared by the young man who was mowing the lawn. So in 25 days, that was the only time I saw plastic lying around. Even the two young men running though the garbage bin just got in, collected what they want, & left without messing up outside.

The main post office is very close, practically across the place I stay but quarter kilometer away still functions in full swing; mostly I see the elderly people working. May be I should take a chance & go & meet or talk to someone there.

On 16th July while walking home in the morning, around 10 am, we saw a mobile kept under the tree. Perhaps someone must have found it & kept it there in case the owner comes looking for it.  We were wondering if we should pick it & give it somewhere, a lost & found place perhaps, but we were afraid to touch it.  Then I thought of the news I watched a while ago on the theft of mobile phones in New York city last year (about a million!) & the high light was on a girl who lost her life. She was shot by two men in a car who stole her iphone when she was talking to her mother telling she is on her way home, while get into her car.

Another time early morning we saw a pair of sunglasses kept neatly on the grass besides a parking lot. Someone must have found it and kept there.