New York, New York

I have been visiting New York a lot lately, and even though I grew up there, the city never fails to amaze me. Even while walking down Broadway, navigating the annoyingly quintessential swarms of tourists, I recall fond memories of years past. My high school was located in downtown Manhattan, and before the high-rises took over the coveted real estate, we were spoiled with the view of the Hudson river. The school was minutes away from the Twin Towers, and we spent many afternoons in the Borders store there, taking over the floor space and browsing the book shelves for hours. I still can't believe the towers are gone.

I went to college in Manhattan as well, and I got to live on campus all four years. We changed dorms every year, "upgrading" our room options with seniority. One year, my windows faced a psychiatric hospital. Another year, I lived across from a fire station. In my four years on campus, I became immune to sirens. I completely tuned them out - there was no other way for me to get some sleep at night. So when I moved to California after graduation and finally learned how to drive a car, it took a while for me to recognize the sound of sirens on the highways, signaling my tuned out brain to pull over and get the hell out of their way.

There are things that you can only see in New York. The other day, we saw a man golfing in the middle of Manhattan. He was standing on a walkway between two sides of a broad, two-way street, and swinging a golf-club. The balls he was hitting into the air were not imaginary. I wondered what their target was. A police car pulled up to the golfer, and the man proceeded to heatedly explain something to the cop. He even gave the policeman a golf ball to hold. Meanwhile, at the intersection of Broadway and Canal, the sidewalks were densely packed with tourists trying to score a deal from the street vendors selling fake Coach handbags and Rolex watches. Several police officers hung out nearby, observing the scene and doing nothing about it. It was business as usual.

I was on a bus once when I happened to pass by the Occupy Wall Street movement before the tents were banned from the park. As the bus drove by, I saw the crowds of people with protest signs taking over a narrow downtown street. On a parallel street, policemen were nervously waiting, with their scooters lined up, ready to get into action if it became necessary. Across the street, I noticed this truck:

Sorry for the blurry photo. I took it with my phone while the bus was moving.
I am fairly certain that the truck did not, in fact, belong to the anonymously run WikiLeaks organization, but there was someone in the back of the truck, interviewing passerbys.

Even though I was born in a different country, I consider myself a New Yorker. I no longer live in New York, and perhaps I never will again. But part of my heart was left in that city, and I will always go back there, to the place I still call home.


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