Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Random observations on a New York weekend

Going to "the City" as everyone in a 100-mile radius of NYC refers to it, is always an interesting experience. The influence of the Big Apple on everything in the vicinity is evident from the banners at NJ Transit stations advertising Broadway shows and financial institutions.

Like the eager kid I used to be when going to Bombay(now Mumbai), there is a certain buzz of anticipation you feel as you approach the city. There is an effervescent spirit in New York City, that constantly reminds me of my nanihal, the city of dreams that Mumbai is. The City is (in my own words) a zoo, with the most interesting set of characters you will ever get to meet. Unlike the fairly sanitized interiors of the East Coast where two colors of skin abound (with a smattering of brown Indian software engineers and doctors), the city is a riot of colors, the quintessential melting point, where mainstream radio plays Punjabi MC with as much enthusiasm as punk rock.

The city prides itself on being culturally progressive.The kind of clothes most people wear is (in my opinion) a reflection of that. On weekdays, the dark, sober colors of corporate America seem to dominate especially in the business district. But venture out on friday evening and thereafter, and there is a distinctly eclectic blend of couture on display. People seem to pride on an a la carte approach to dressing , and on stamping their individual brand on what they wear. A refreshing change from sale-rack fashion for sure.

So, we did the usual and the unusual. An afternoon in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, looking at Mughal miniatures, sacrophaguses (or is it sacrophagi?) and an amazing collection of Monets, Renoirs and Rodin sculptures. And dinner at a place in Greenwich village selling Kathi rolls, quite like those we used to eat in Pune. Apparently it gets so crowded with drunken patrons from nearby pubs/clubs at night, that the owner has a bouncer to keep a check on things after 11 PM.

Then, it was onto a club with a Bollywood style theme night. The guy collecting the entry fee was wearing an Indian cricket jersey . On it, he had pinned on a Vote John Kerry badge. Talk of interesting combinations.

However, the number of non-desis at a Bollywood theme party at a nightclub was surprising. The party itself was a true Bollywood one, with theDJ playing bona fide 70s and 80s hits and not the remix trash that clogs Indian airwaves today . Assuming that these (non-desi) people are here with Indian friends is taking the easy (and plausible ) way out. But this proved not to be completely true.

The night's bill:

Dinner bill for 3 in Greenwich village - ~$30 (for 3 people - cheap!)
Entry at the club - $12 ea.
Catching a cab to get home - $15.
Hearing an American PYT say on the phone " Bollywood was awesome"? Priceless.

Today, New York...tomorrow, the world? Muwaahhhaa( evil Bollywood villain laugh)

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