A Masi in Manhattan
Two cats sit side by side by the potted plant but seem oblivious to each other’s presence. For some reason they remind me of women sitting in the subway. I’ve only been on the subway once in my life, and that was when we were headed towards the statue of Liberty. An African American woman sat in front of me, looking outside the window; a second generation Chinese or Korean young man was sleeping in quite an uncomfortable position opposite, and two seats away from the black woman sat a good looking blonde in a black dress. She looked at me and smiled, and I felt too sheepishly ugly to smile back.
Enter the New York Subway…
When the subway train moves, images of Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon run through my mind interspersed with the monsters in tremors. I feel like I’m sitting in the Falcon which has just been swallowed by a giant worm moving through the desert. There’s something depressing about the tube. People’s lives in transit. Half of one’s existence spent going from one place to another. The other half spent going back.
The train stops like an interval of an Indian soap; with a bang. The doors open and two men jump in. I expect them to sit and go to sleep like the Chinese guy is still doing but they stand in the middle of the compartment and start singing.
“…. I just want someone…to have and to hold…” croons the short fat one.
“Like her!” the other dude points at the pretty blonde. She completely ignores him.
I’ve seen this scene before, a lot of times in fact. In sitcoms and movies. This is the Amreeki way of begging, and to be honest I find it much more enjoyable and persuasive than the whiny droning our beggars at home are so good at. The two men realize that Pakistanis, Chinese, and African Americans are the last people on earth willing to part with a dollar, and the blonde is probably deaf and blind; so when the train slows down they jump the compartment and go on to the next one. The minute they’re out though, the blonde one turns to me and goes “YES!” with a small victory punch in the air. This time I can’t help laughing, after al beggars or not, l would have been flattered too if they had pointed to me. Ammi gives me one of her nasty glares but now it’s my turn to act blind.
Pretty blonde’s stop is the next one and she leaves, but not without waving goodbye. The train goes back to normal. Her place is now occupied by a very professional looking woman in her mid 30’s who probably turns her coworkers to stone with a small glance and there’s a fat Italian-looking guy in the far corner. Stereotype-believing me would put him as a restaurateur or a bartender, but he’s probably a banker or law consultant. Anybody can be anything in New York. The African American’s still there, as is the comatose Chinese guy when we walk out of the compartment. Our stop’s here.
You can’t kill yourself by jumping off the Empire State; they’ve got iron rods all around the roof. But what you can do though is get an inkling of what God probably feels like up in heaven. Taxis look like ants and people are full stops at the end of sentences. But it’s beautiful. Oh Lord, is it beautiful.
look closely!! in fact, maximise the picture! dekho, can you see the tiny cars?
The Empire State Building has 102 floors but most people only go up to the 86th. If you want to go to the top you have to pay 15 dollars extra and considering you see the same city on the 86th as well as the 102nd it seems 15 dollars too much. Added to the fact that by the time you actually do get to 86th floor you’re a few months older and it all seems an unnecessary hassle. America is all about queues. Everywhere you go during the summer you’ll find queues. At Disneyworld, the movie theatre, the ice cream stall, the water fountain, the counter at H&M… however, the line at the ESB beat all the rest. First a line to the ticket counter, then a line to the elevator, then a line from the elevator to the stairs, then to another elevator, then to the roof. The good thing about queues in America though is the diverse elements that they consist of. A dozen people ahead of us we could see an Arab family; the women’s heads covered in colorful hijaabs. One thing about Arab women, they can carry off muslimised Western fashion with wonderful grace. Pakistani and Indian women screw up badly when it comes to style. They either go overboard and forget religion completely, or end up looking like they fashioned their clothes out of last season’s potato sacks.
Zehra thought i was taking a picture of her…ha ha!
BUT the undisputed leaders in fashion are the Japanese. New York was swamped with the Japanese and all of them were breathtakingly beautiful (think Zhang Ziye) and wonderfully dressed. You will NEVER find a fat Japanese person. They don’t exist, and if they do they’re probably sent off to Sumo wrestling camp when they’re 12.
New York City is bathed in yellow light at night. Yellow. Soft, dreamy, romantic. Now I can understand why Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr wanted to meet on top of the Empire State…in fact, now I can almost forgive Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Almost.
New York City has rickshaws, and gorgeous rickshaw drivers. Yellow, pink, blue and red with even more colorful people inside. It’s the favorite form of transport of rich party girls, other than their dad’s limos. If I ever get the chance to go to Manhattan again I will take a rickshaw ride around the city and flirt outrageously with the driver if he’ll let me. I’ll learn to ride a bike in Central Park, and sashay on 5th Avenue with a Macy’s shopping bag filled with newspapers, buy a ColdStone mix in and eat all of it without throwing up. I’ll take another picture with Johnny Depp’s wax statue and this time actually look at the camera….
This can be Karachi, if we really want it to be…
But you know what? This time I want to go to Manhattan with someone special.