Coffee sure is known to have effects on the hormones but I never thought it can change one’s personality, and that too to an extent that the person’s nationality origins would be questioned; Or may be the baristas at Starbucks in New York add some weird chemicals to their coffee …….
On a general note I would have ignored my newly acquainted friend’s comment – we were walking down the national mall in Washington DC and while talking about the cold she simply mentions,” Oh you are are a New Yorker, you love the chill…” – but that day I really grew conscious because that wasn’t the first time I was hearing this. A lot of times, I was framed as a New Yorker as if the Indian in me had completely vanished!
So there I was standing in front of the mirror scanning myself up, the color and the accent seemed intact (although the latter sounds changed according to my friends, but I deny), to top it all off I still had the hints of the famous head nod and thinking of food I definitely felt like having some hot chicken curry with naan or chapatti than a burger and a bowl of caesar with garlic croutons. I heaved a mental sigh of relief, happy that I was still as much an Indian as ever and sure proud to be one.
The whole thing of being called a New Yorker crashed on to me like epiphany slapping me on my face when a few days back I caught my reflection in a glass wall of a building while running down the 7th Avenue. There I was racing to keep up with time for madly scheduled appointments, a Nautica black trench coat over me, a GAP scarf around the neck, Ralph Lauren Shoes (bought at a super discount no doubt!), degree ear muffs, my iTouch playing some random song in the left ear since the right ear was busy hearing someone on the phone (the other earphone dangling away loosely) and more importantly a grande Starbucks and their Chocolate-banana pound cake in the left hand, trying to do some super multi-tasking of catching a cab, crossing the road, assuring the person on the phone, listening to the song and again more importantly eat the cake without spilling the coffee all over since both are in the same hand (a skill you slowly master over time while running around the city). Just as I sat in the Yellow Cab, I craned my neck to view the greenley square, and there I saw many such black coated-phone blabbering-starbucks drinking men and women running around to their routines, the whole sea of ‘New Yorkers’.
Totally echoing Alicia Keys and Jay-Z there is something about this city that makes you feel brand new, something that makes you feel powerful, as if you have the strength to race with time, to make dreams come true, a city that doesn’t itself sleeps and doesn’t allow you to sleep as well. It has it’s way of attracting those for whom their career and passion are intertwined and induce in them a frenzy, a new realm, an illusion full of hopes and double up their urge toward excellence and success in their respective fields. Many come into this city to live a dream, some fulfill it while many get drowned into the sea of illusional glamor and dig a deep grave for themselves, a path of no return. As much capacity this city of lights has to light your path of progress and achievement it has the equal strength to throw you into a sudden darkness of failures and disappointments till the point where one can get completely shattered.
And then there are some pretty funny things too beginning with the dress code that I spoke about, apart from the crazy photo-shooting tourists, everyone seems to stick to it although the brand choices vary. The city never falls back on entertaining you even while you are walking down the pathway with people playing beats on random trash cans, some doing step-up dancing on the sidewalk for petty cash to grand displays of Macy’s, Rockefeller, FAO and many others. On the sidewalks people are obviously running around nose buried in their cellphones or iPads and Nooks but all skilled in dodging and walking without bumping into one another and maintaining an atmosphere of general etiquette by giving a small smile to each passer-by(and if it is ‘that girl with pretty eyes or stunning looks’ then a smile with a bonus of a cheery good morning …who knows, you both may end up for a cup of coffee after work?!). I have never yet understood why there is a rush hour period in the metros, they are always full at any given point of the day and the yellow cabs are almost in league with the crazy rides in six flags or any adventure park you can name; sit in one, promise a small tip, say you are in rush, and the cabbie would whirl past all the avenues and intersection in such a way that by the time you reach, you would have said all the possible prayers to your god to keep you alive till you reach the said destination. Above all, and this one is my favorite, every single New Yorker’s day seems to start at Starbucks, and almost all order their custom-made drink that is never featured on the standard menu, mine being a ‘grande, sea salt layered red-eye caramel bruleed Capp with 10% foam’ – I said that in a Washingtonian Starbucks and the barista stared at me as if I had just dropped from Mars.
Quoting Jay-Z, ” I know if I make it here, I can make it anywhere”, the Big Apple, glamorized by many Hollywood and Bollywood film stars, a melting pot of cultures comprising of the four burrows of Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan each having it’s distinct feature and connected by uniquely built bridges, a city where the liberty’s torch flares up, empire state tower touches the sky, the United Nations holds it’s grounds, the city of ‘wall street’, broadway and of world class restaurants giving a cut-throat competition like nowhere else in the world is actually like a drug in disguise. You take a bite of this apple and you unknowingly get metamorphosed into a ‘New Yorker’, you live a life here, just a whiff of this ‘drug’ and you get addicted to this ecstasy rightly called the empire state of mind*. (* see the video below)