Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer 2011 - Are you from around here?

My father and I share a compulsion, one that seems to both annoy and entertain the people with us at any given moment.  We talk to people we don't know.  Here is a quick recap of the people I have met the past few days in NYC:

Outside the Murray Hill Diner (3rd & 33rd) - 7/15 @ 12:30pm
A old jewish women commented on my 5 well behaved kids.  Nice opener on her part.  She grew up on the upper west side but has been living in Murray Hill for 50 years.  She tells me how the neighborhood has changed in that way that older people love to remember the past.  I shared with her how I worked around the corner (Madison & 25th) in the early 90's, that my favorite deli is now closed (roast beef and slaw sandwiches for lunch) and that indeed the neighborhood has changed, as neighborhoods do.  We talked about Leiby Kletzky, the boy in Brooklyn who was murdered and how sad it is that he was killed in one of the safest neighborhoods in NY and how he was his parents only son (he had 5 sisters).  I don't think we would have been less sad had it been a girl who was killed, yet the cultural focus on sons is one we won't have around for much longer.  She asked me if I sent my kids to private school in Manhattan.  Her son pays $900 a week for a nanny plus the private school tuition.  

Cab ride to Jekyl and Hyde - 7/15 @ 5:15pm
There are 5 of us for the cab ride to dinner so I sit in front with the young driver.  He is from Bangladesh and moved here 3 years ago by himself.  No family or friends waiting for him.  He's been driving a taxi for the past two years and lives in Queens.  We talked about the Tamil Tigers and the military leader I met in Paris 2 years ago who talked about defeating the Tamil Tigers with unmanned systems.  I was hoping he knew my friend Razab who I worked with at BBN in the mid-90's.  Razab and his wife were kind enough to invite Jenn and I to their wedding and the cab driver seemed to enjoy my knowledge of Bangladeshi weddings and family customs.  

Ess-a-Bagel (3rd & 51st) - 7/16 @ 8:45am
Guy in line behind me drew up in Merrick Long Island and has lived in NJ (near the Meadowlands), in Scarsdale (just outside NYC) and retired to Sudbury, Massachusetts (not too far from where we live).  He always comes to Ess-a-Bagel for 2 dozen bagels to bring home.  I love Ess-a-Bagel for their bagel with cream cheese and lox where the lox is piled high and perfectly matched with the right amount of cream cheese.  I know I enjoy food more than I should.  

Hershey Store (Times Square) - 7/16 @ 12:00pm
Kids are off playing with some machine that fills up buckets with candy that you can buy for like $20 a pound or something.  Samantha is grinding out her day.  I ask her if this is her full time gig and she laughs at me like I've said something hilarious.  I think she said she was a student working there part time, but between the kids bothering me about the candy I don't remember her exact details.  She's never been to Hershey Park but is thinking of taking her nephew there this summer.  Eric and I recommend she take him to Sesame Place along the way as it is very good for kids his age.  Eric also recommends the zoo at Hershey Park.  She could have at least given us a free chocolate.

Cab ride to South Street Seaport - 7/16 @ 4:00pm
Back in the front seat again we are cruising down the FDR with my new friend from India who looked like the father from Bend it Like Beckham.  He is Pashtun and has been living in NY since the 1990's.  He was working for a technology placement firm until 9/11 and the tech industry crashed.  He started driving a cab shortly thereafter.  The schools in Brooklyn where he was living weren't very good so he moved his family to Carteret NJ a few years ago.  We spoke about the 20 different dialects of Indian he can speak and how people of different dialects end up sharing common words and phrases that allow them to communicate.  I found it funny how when he gets home from work in the middle of the night he quietly puts the TV on to watch some cricket before falling asleep.

Crazy big-hair guy from SuperDry Store - 7/16 @ 4:30pm
I had not been in a Superdry Store before.  It's a UK brand that makes you think they are Japanese.  As we walked in the store these four teenage girls were taking a picture with one of the guys who worked there.  His hair was just crazy - like a massive afro - and he was model good looking.  After the girls left I asked him how much he charged them for the picture.  Turns out he used to work at the nearby Gap and when SuperDry opened he moved there.  Trying to launch himself into a career in fashion, he and talked about the fashion experience in Tokyo and how the styles make their way between asia, europe and then finally the US.  He said he would love to go to Tokyo but was really interested in getting into the UK modeling scene.  I should have taken a picture with him too.

Cab ride back to the Marriott - 7/16 @ 9:30pm
We walked back to West Broadway with Jenn's cousin so she could catch the A train.  We grabbed a cab pretty easily and as we made our way back up the FDR I learned that our new cab driver was also from India, living in Brooklyn and working the late shift.  In 7 years of driving a cab he has only had three people not pay their fare.  That's a pretty remarkable number.  The first one was a drunk man who gave him an address in the Bronx and once there couldn't remember where he lived.  The guy drove him around for 30 minutes and finally dropped him off at the local police station.  Another intoxicated male had him drive a few blocks away to a building near Central park before he said, "I have no money" get out of the taxi and walk into an apartment building.  The last time he was cheated out of a fare a group of 20-somethings purposely gave him an address near a wall and fence that they sprinted and jumped over as soon as the cab arrived.  Not too bad for 7 years in the business.

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