Jul 14, 2010

My American Journey. Summer 2010. A Travel Diary - Hanging Out in NYC Like a Hippie

At this point, all my initial plans and predictions about this summer, what I’ll do, how things may supposedly go and so on are totally bust. And I am doing some crazy things I never even thought about I would engage myself in while here. For instance, smoking weed, lol, let me get there.

The storyline is multifaceted and in several layers, as usual, and all are more or less intermingled in one aspect or another. But, let me tell you how the main aspect of the storyline of my stay here continued to develop in the past week.

I was browsing and pondering on the mysteries of economics and their hidden workings in the social machine of our civilization. That book I just read on the reasons behind the most recent economic recession was very enlightening indeed, in new and untackled aspects. The world apparently is a very messed up place in every aspect and Capitalism in America is not much different than the feudal ways of the previous centuries. Still, hierarchy is intrinsic to human societies and is nothing new, just the tools and the means have changed. Not the humans.

Last week two new roommates arrived, one from Ukraine, who had forgotten her passport and documents somewhere at the security check points in the airport, and a girl from Brazil, who came in NYC to take a photography class. Our first interactions at the common area in the house were very formal and in the form of basic dialogues, while each of the involved was indulged in their own inner worlds and the things on one own’s mind. The girl from Ukraine seemed like the average girl with very bad English, so that our communication wasn’t easy nor very engaging. The Brazilian girl, however, turned out to be deep waters and we fitted each other very neatly. She’s a crazy, adventurous head, just like me, though about seven years younger.

While I still had no definite idea on what I will be going to do in the very near future ahead, decided that there isn’t much point in working 9 to 5 for just a few months, I wasn’t going to do any money, apart from what I need to pay a very basic accommodation and have pocket money for the month. I don’t want to postpone my education after all and I have to take my exams this fall, so overstaying or extending the visa period was out. Yes, I would have gained some interesting experience and know-how in the e-commerce work with the Jewish people, sure, but couldn’t have enjoyed much of the city this way. Working full-time and commuting to work take a lot of your day you know. I was just wasting my time, I concluded, here and on the whole. So, I decided to embark on adventure and gambled on it. I was to enjoy New York city and my summer vacation here the most I could and go back home to resume the path of my life I was following.

Though everything still uncertain, I just knew it will all fall to place and settle, so I was feeling really spaced-out and idle in stand by for a while, just gaining life experience and insight while high on inspiration from the buzz of it all. Just as my stunt began to prolong into boredom, me and the two new girls found likeness in one another, mostly in our lack of orientation and overall confusion and we started hanging out together. The girl from Ukraine had lost her prearranged job, because of her being too late to show up, had very little money and was looking for a cheap place to stay for another week, while deciding on whether to stay in NYC or go to another state. The Brazilian had came as a tourist, but with the intention to stay along longer, enroll into a photography course here and find a job. And I, who came for no clear reason, to gain experience and just wander around for a change. I really needed this change of setting and routine, this travel to excite me and fill me up with impressions, and by now I feel psychologically rejuvenated from this trip, even reborn from within in certain ways. A great adventure, filled with improvisation and suspense! And a lot of new knowledge, yeah.

We spent a few days around Manhattan, in parks with public WiFi and in libraries providing it. Browsing for jobs and affordable accommodation. We couldn’t find anything for three of us and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to live in one room with two other people, even though buddies. Then Anna went into a hostel and me and the Brazilian decided to move out together. We saw a few places for 300-350 per person, share rooms, but they were all dreadful. We weren’t going to find anything better for cheap. In the end, we talked to our current host and bargained with him to move in his other house and pay for a share room, me and Samantha. The other house is actually worse than the first and the rooms are priced higher. Speaking about adequate pricing. It is very old and worn, made with brick foundation a meter from the ground and the rest of plank wood and plastic. At least it feels cooler, maybe because we are on the first floor. The second is in process of renovation, a halted process at the moment. There is one average-sized bedroom with a small hallway from it to a small bathroom. The bedroom is connected via a double-winged door to the living room, which leads to the kitchen. We are to sleep together in the bedroom and the living room is available for rent from one or two other persons. Incredible, a floor designed for one or two, being rented to four. So crampy, maybe if we were all good friends and staying up to a week, but in every other case, this is horrible.

For now we are alone, so she sleeps in one room and I in the other. Though we aren’t staying at home much, the house on the whole is definitely not predisposing for this. Anyway, we have a place to stay until the end of the month and only for 275$ per person. Well, that wasn’t a bad deal, considering the overall prices and circumstances.

The day before we moved in, I and Sam went out in Manhattan and after an afternoon of wandering around and browsing the web we unanimously decided to have a drink. So, we went to a grocery store at Broadway and bought a bottle of wine. We decided on Australian, so that it be interesting and far away taste for both of us. We asked the seller if we can leave it in the cooler isles to chill and he didn’t mind. Then he opened it for us as well. Prior to that we had supplied ourselves with convenient vessels for the ancient beverage, closed, opaque cups from McDonalds, that is, large size. The reason for all the discreetness is that alcohol consumption outside establishments is not allowed in New York. I was a bit concerned on being caught, yeah, because with Samantha being under the legal age for drinking would have gotten me in some trouble. And so, we drank, and hiked the streets all night long. We sat in a nice block garden with square tables and chairs made of stone with red tint, surrounded by the skyscrapers and ate hummus with flat bread. So cool, so unexpected, I ate hummus and drank wine at a public garden in downtown Manhattan. When we were finishing off our third bottle, the sun was already rising above the city and daylife was slowly reactivating. Broadway was surprisingly barren and dark at night, not what one would expect really. There was some activity in the SoHo area and around night clubs along, there were people at Times square too, some youths hanging around and passing-by drunken dudes. On the whole, however, New York is very much asleep at night, not much differently than other big cities in the world, even more so than some of them, as I have heard. I guess, “The city that never sleeps” meme is again born out of propaganda, for the larger part. The legend is dismissed now, New York does sleep at night.

And we did this again and again, just hanging around and drinking coffee or milk shake, lol. I find some reminiscent feel in my experience here with some parts of the same from Dubai, like a déjà vu in a different setting. And that is, apart from the look and atmo of some parts of Broadway, the way we hide and feel like law-brakers drinking outside, disguising like casual tourists on the hike. As we found out that on Sunday mornings alcohol selling is not allowed in NYC, thus we had to persuade the sellers in the store until they agreed to sell us two cans of beer, but we had to hide them and watch out not to be seen, they warned us, we agreed. I saw a Jumeirah hotel the other day somewhere around downtown Mnhttn as well.

Our new neighborhood is a pretty interesting place too. Different than the previous, even though not much far from it, still in SI. And not that different even so, maybe there are more latino people around. We are on a bad street, it seems. Yesterday, I saw two boys at the next door house smoking weed in the backyard and asked them if they had some, so one of them turned out to be a dealer. Now we have his mobile and can call him if we need Green, yo. On the way out the same day, just on the street outside two black guys and a girl asked us if we “Knew Marihuana”, wanting to sell us, I presume. We pretended that we don’t understand, because we already had found a local dealer just next door. Wow, I never thought I’ll be smoking weed in NYC. Now, that’s a surprise, among everything else. Meanwhile, Samantha found a job as a night club photographer and she can also bring along friends for free, which is pretty cool. I guess now we have the chance to do some clubbing in NYC as well, in the weeks ahead. Nice, we’ll see to it. The story twists on and on, and even though the downturns, I do enjoy it thoroughly, yeah, it is all just so hippie.


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