Day 42: Half (A summary in Tweets)

Disclaimer: This is really long and it’s possible you don’t want to read the whole thing.

I’m sorry about this, I really am, but I’ve been using twitter a lot here and I haven’t really written anything about all that I’ve been doing here because I haven’t had the time and so I’m going to take the easy way out and post a list of relevant tweets before they’re fall away into that dark place where old tweets go. This way, if I come back here a year later I’ll still know what I did in New York. I did put a lot of effort into getting this list onto this blog, it isn’t easy to find a site that will host a 3 MB picture for you.

Now, if you want to read this, you have to start at the bottom and read upward. There really isn’t anything I could do to avoid this. Oh, and if you’re featured on here and you’re offended that I didn’t take your permission before putting your tweets up then, well, I’ll tell you that it’s public information anyway and I can do anything I want with it, legally speaking. So until the more interesting blog post that I will hopefully put up later this evening, you can enjoy this summary of what I’ve been doing in New York since I got here.


Day 35: Live Cheap Week

I went to Atlantic City this weekend. It was fun. It wasn’t insane, it was fun. Atlantic City is about 2-3 hours away from New York, depending on traffic. It has a bunch of casinos and it’s on a beach. It’s the primary weekend getaway destination from New York. I didn’t really have much money in my pocket when I got there and when I went to an ATM and tried to withdraw $200 it told me that I didn’t have enough balance. When I tried to withdraw $100, it at least did that and told me I have $24 left in my account. Now this means that I spent my entire first month’s allowance in a little over one month. Yes, it has been more than a month and I should have got paid my second month’s allowance by now, but I haven’t. And yes, I did buy a guitar and spend about $400 on it, but lets not get distracted here. The point is that I’ve been spending way too much money eating and drinking in expensive places and going for concerts in far away places without having a plan to get back home and then spending $50 on a cab. There was only one concert and it was Flyleaf and it was totally worth it, but the problem that I’m broke still exists. And so, the plan is to live cheap for the next one week. I should survive until the end of Friday with $100. Wish me luck.

Day 25: Summer’s end

Dear Bombay,

Summer in New York is over. This means that the highs rarely go above 25°C and the lows have hit 14°C so far. And it’s only going to get colder. Summer’s end here means that the days get significantly shorter. The sun which used to set at 7:30 will probably set by 5 before I leave here. It means that all the short skirts and really short shorts don’t show up on the streets anymore. It means the trees actually lose their leaves. It means that winds blow hard enough to make your ears freeze. It means that waking up in the morning gets harder and getting out of a centrally heated building uninviting. It also means that alcohol will go well with the weather, it’s about time I bought a bottle of whiskey home. I haven’t done this before because I have two roommates who don’t drink.

Just today I discovered that I can search for all the concerts happening in the New York tri-state area on ticketmaster and I drove myself crazy. Flyleaf and Story Of The Year are playing on Tuesday in a town named Sayreville while Linkin Park is playing at Times Square. I still don’t know which of these I’m going for, if any. Then there’s also Nickelback, The Gorillaz, Porcupine Tree, Belle and sebastian, Disturbed, and countless more that I can’t remember off the top of my head right now. I have 2 months more here Bombay, and one month is almost done. I would like to chose this moment to tell you that I miss you. Not too much, just a little bit. I don’t miss your food, there’s plenty of good food here. I just get nostalgic when I think of the little details, like what the rain there smells like, or what it feels like to drive to Bandra on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t miss your people as a whole, I can get along with people here. I miss my people though. There’s always the internet, and there’s always cheap enough telephone calls but the difference in timezones gets in the way more that I thought it would. What I really miss is having someone’s house to go over to and do nothing when I’m bored. I don’t know anyone well enough here to do that. As I already told you, making friends is a long process.

I bought a Fender 140SCE from the Guitar Center, and it sounds really nice. I haven’t been able to make any real music with it yet. I can’t wait to get back and plug it into an amp and play it with the rest of The Cheeselings though. Tomorrow’s a Friday and what I really want to do after work is go to a coffee shop or a park or even sit in a subway train here and get some serious writing done. Lets see how it goes. Goodnight old friend.

Day 14: One-sixth

I can’t get sleep tonight, which sucks because I have to get up in less than 8 hours to go to work tomorrow and I slept only around 4 hours last night. There’s never enough time to sleep. Today makes it two weeks that I’ve been here, which means one-sixth of my time here is done. One-sixth isn’t that much, but it’s gone by so fast. There’s never enough time to do everything you want and there’s never enough time to do enough nothing either. I’ve started making friends here. Making friends is really easy but it’s a really long process. I wish I could speed it up because I know I don’t have that much time here; by the time I’ll know people well, it’ll be time to leave and (mostly) never see them again. It’s a little depressing. I don’t know what else to tell you… I wish I could just sleep. I’m anxious for some reason. All I can think of is all these things that I want to do and I wish I could just spend the day tomorrow doing them. This happens when I go out too much and don’t get enough time to myself. Spending 9 hours a day doing something you don’t love is brutal. I read this online somewhere: “They say every cigarette takes away 7 minutes of your life, but every working day takes away 9 hours.” And though it’s a little lame, it’s frighteningly true. you spend some of the most productive hours of your day with nothing to show at the end. I need time, so I’m going to take my time for a while. And I’m going to take this one day at a time. I need to clear my head. I’m going to try sleeping again now, and not think about tomorrow.

Day 8: One week

Today, I’ll tell you about everything I’ve done in New York. Now the first day that I got here, I went for the India Day Parade which I mentioned earlier. It’s been happening in New York on the 15th of August for the past 30 years. This was surprising because as far as I know we only have one parade in India on Independence day and that happens in New Delhi. So even Bombay doesn’t have a parade. But New York is just the kind of place where people have parades. I doubt you’ll find a more diverse population in any other city, and yet, there’s something for everyone. I think having parades is a brilliant idea. It keeps people happy, it makes people get out. We have our festivals back in India and they’re bigger and involve more people than a small parade here. But that’s the point. You hardly ever feel like you belong in any such gathering the way you would feel you belong in a parade for or about something that you care about. I’m not saying I completely felt like I belonged in the India Day parade, because some of the people here are not like me at all, but there was Indian food, kebabs and tandoori chicken on the street, Bollywood music, etc. A long stretch of road in the middle of New York was closed off for this parade. And I’m sure there are people here who wish they could go on with their lives and didn’t have to put up with things like parades blocking their way, but this city wouldn’t be so culturally rich without these things. The parade itself was quite cool, I’m not going to post the pictures here because there are too many, so instead I’m going to link you to the facebook album. You can also see videos here , here and here .

After this, apart from going to work I mostly slept until Tuesday. Tuesday evening I went for a jog in the park near my house. When I say near I mean about 50 steps away. This park is really pretty, it has a jogging track, a basketball court where kids play football in the evenings, plenty of benches, a children’s playground, an area in the middle with a roof and it’s on the top of a hill so you can see the sunset all the way from here. Things like jogging and exercising happen easily here because of the facilities and and the weather. Also because of the food. The food here, deserves a paragraph to itself.

The servings here are huge. And I mean huge. Big enough to keep me full from lunch right up till dinner. And I’m used to eating something every 2 hours. One helping of anything here should keep you full for half a day. Even at Subway, which tastes exactly the same as the Subway in India except with better meat, I ordered a footlong for lunch. I don’t remember the last time I ordered a footlong in India. I ordered a footlong here because it doesn’t cost that much more than a 6 inch. You’re just tempted to buy a footlong instead. And if you ever buy a coke at Subway, I know you’re not going to finish it alone. A 3 musketeers bar from the vending machine in my office lasted me a whole day and I still have a quarter slice of cheesecake in my fridge that I bought on Sunday night. The food here is also awesome. The amount of variety here is crazy, and remember, I’m coming from India. The Indian food here is really authentic Indian food and I’m guessing this applies to all the other kinds of food here. And no, I’m not saying that the pizza here is authentic Italian but I’m sure you’ll get authentic Italian food if you go to an Italian restaurant. In conclusion, there are way too many places you can get food from and a lot of different types of food.

To travel to work, I walk about a hundred steps from my house from where I get a bus that takes me to the train station that seems to come every 2-3 minutes. The buses are all air conditioned, and heated in the winter. The trains here are a little complicated and I still haven’t quite figured out how they work because there are too many different lines. The trains all run mostly underground which makes traveling in them quite boring. Luckily they don’t take long to get anywhere. I get off at 14th street and 6th avenue, from where I have to walk around 7 minutes to my office building on 17th street after 7th avenue. The roads here are mostly all numbered like this. Finding an address is never hard.

You know, I don’t much like writing a blog post like this. I don’t like telling you what I did and I don’t much like telling you the details of my day to day life. It makes everything sound so mundane. I’m going to end this blog post here, tomorrow I’ll tell you about the Cake Shop and Times Square, and hopefully I’ll find a more creative way of doing it.


Day 7: Settling in

Good Evening,

It’s 10:32pm, but I can’t really start a blog post with ‘Good Night,’ can I? I don’t feel the least bit articulate right now but I will at least provide you with the pictures for the previous blog post.

Large clean sidewalks. Notice Guitar Center on the left. It’s an awesomely large guitar store.

“No Horn Honking. $350 Fine.”

Beautiful Buildings.


I really, really have a lot to say and a lot has happened since I’ve come to New York and I’d love to tell you about all the places I went and show you pictures and tell you what I thought about it but I think my brain stops working after 11pm around here. It’s been a whole week that I’ve been here and I’m settling into a routine here. The problem with routines is that they make life monotonous and boring. The problem without routines is that I never seem to have enough time to get everything done. I stayed at home all day today, it being sunday and all. By staying at home, I missed out on this topless women’s equality protest parade and who knows what else. There’s way too many things happening in this city and I can’t possibly go for all of them. At the moment, I feel like staying at home for the next two days but unfortunately I can’t do that because I have to go to work. I guess I need time to myself as well. Time to organise myself, to watch TV and maybe even read a few books. That’s the problem, you see, I’ve been hyperactive since I got here and I can’t last like that for more than a week. I was at times square yesterday but after about an hour and a half there what I really wanted to do was come back home and chill! Three months is a very long time, and yes, I probably won’t get to do everything that I want to over here but in order to enjoy whatever little I manage to do here I need to do it at my own pace, which is going to be the same pace that I lived my life in Bombay at.

So for better or for worse, I’m sinking into a routine here. I’ll tell you more about New York itself the next time. I’ll try to do this as soon as I get back from work tomorrow. Good night. I’d wish you a happy Monday, but we all know that those come around as often as once a year so I’m going to be realistic and wish you a not-so-bad-Monday.


Day 3: Honeymoon period

Hello again.

This is not going to be that much awaited long elaborate blog post with pictures and videos either. This may be just long and elaborate, but that depends entirely on how fast I write and how soon I begin feeling sleepy. It’s already 11:09pm. When I was in AIESEC , which is a student organisation that among other things sends young people on internships in other countries, we would tell those about to go on an internship all about cultural sensitivity and the culture shock they are about to face. The first few weeks on going to a new place was called the ‘Honeymoon period’, for obvious reasons. It’s after this honeymoon period that the nostalgia and culture shock begins to get to you. Now you know what the title means.

The first thing I thought as I approached the gates of the Newark Airport was, “Man, those cars are moving fast.” And if you’re coming from a place like India, you will probably think the same thing too. Because these roads are wide and organised and porthole-free and cars here can go that fast. It seems a little unreal at first, as if you’re walking into a movie or something. And not only are these cars fast, these cars are BIG. They don’t need to be small because they don’t need to fit into small parking spaces and they don’t need to maneuver skilfully between traffic and well, they’re cheap. Everybody here speaks English. This may seem trivial to you, but I can actually communicate with people here with a little more ease than people in India. Not people in Bombay of course, because I’ve lived there for too damn long and I have too many cultural similarities with everyone there. Even the watchmen and the rikshaw drivers. But take my office for example; I can talk to people here far more easily than I could with people in Thane. Mostly because the Thane people have Hindi as their first language. I can make conversations here with people more easily. There’s nobody here who’s close to my age but oh, well. Just today I had a conversation about why people here are filing for bankruptcy and why they’re doing it and what kind of people are doing it. I don’t plan to tell you about this but if you’re really curious you should google it. It was on the news today so I’m guessing it won’t be hard to find.

Next, I’m going to give you a tip for if you ever come to the US. Don’t convert dollars to rupees. Yes, it seems very simple and I never thought I would do it when everyone told me so. But honestly, you can’t help it. You want to know if you’re paying too much or too little, if you’re saving enough, if you have enough money to make it through the month and rupees are the only currency you understand. You will do this for a couple of days at the least, but you need to stop doing it before you can start enjoying this place. Just as I got to the airport, I paid $5 for a trolley at the airport and $48 for a 15 minute cab ride and $2 as a tip to the cab driver who didn’t even try to offer me my change. Did you convert that? An average meal here costs $8. A chocolate bar costs 75 cents. Again, do not convert this into rupees.

New York, is a beautiful city. Now Bombay, don’t take offense to this. We all know that beautiful is something you’re not. Let me begin with the roads. They have sidewalks that are wide enough for 6 people to walk side by side comfortably on both sides of the road. Some of the main Avenues have special lanes for cyclists. There are short steel railing bits every now and then for people to lock their bicycles on to. Traffic is organised. Only people in the right lane make right turns, and people in the right lane make only right turns. People cross only at intersections and (mostly) only when the signals tell them to cross. Now this may not sound all that good, but it’s the only way to manage so many people in a city so big. I think I’ve heard 3 car horns per day on an average since I’ve been here. There are signs on some streets that say “No Horn Honking. $350 Fine.” Convert that. Every car waiting for a signal makes it through when the light goes green as far as I’ve seen. The roads are clean, the roads are spotless. There are garbage bins every 20 feet. The roads are straight ! This, again, may not seem like much. But now imagine, in a city where buildings are a few hundred times as tall as you to be able to look in a direction and be able to see as far as light can carry. Though the buildings here are much taller, this city is nowhere as claustrophobic as you Bombay. The buildings here, are wonderful, they’re creative, they’re unique. And of course, some of them are ugly, but some of them are brilliant. Some of them look as if the architect was out his mind when he decided to make a building so thin and tall. The air here is clean. And I mean it’s not dusty. No dust. You could spend all day outside and not be covered in a layer of grime, even if it’s a hot day. People here seem to smell of sweat more though. Why, I haven’t been able to figure out.

I’m going to sleep now, but I will complete this post tomorrow. I still have a lot to talk about. Goodnight love.

Day 2

Hello All,

I thought that today I would have the time to sit down and write a long elaborate post along with some pictures and videos about my first impressions of New York. But the truth is that I’m too tired. I didn’t get to sleep much on the flight here and coz of the time difference that day lasted 33 and a half hours for me. I could have slept after I got here, but it was 12 in the afternoon and my roommates were going to see the India Day Parade, which has been happening in New York on the 15th of August for the past 30 years and after all it was my first day in New York and I thought that since I’m still only twenty three I’ll be able to manage it. The consequence, however, is that I had a terrible cold all of yesterday, which I’m still getting over, and even after sleeping 11 hours last night, I’ve been sleepy since 10pm today. I should sleep at 11 anyway, which is 12 minutes from now since I have to get up around 7 for work tomorrow.

This place is awesome. And as Shivani said, I do feel right at home here. Sadly, I haven’t got the chance to explore NY much. And that is exactly what I plan to do tomorrow after work. I need to find ways of keeping track of all the fun stuff that goes on here. You know, live music and other such stuff. This means that I might not find the time to write a decent blog post tomorrow either. I unpacked today though. I moved all my clothes into my closet. Now the only things I have on the to-do list in my head are: organise my pictures, figure out how to make calls for cheap from my ipod and laptop, write a decent long blog post and find places to keep track of all the fun stuff in NY. I’m being redundant, I know. I guess by the end of this week my I should have adapted to this. This house I’m staying in is big and comfortable. I also have a roommate who cooks, but he’s leaving next weekend. I’ll let you know more when I have the time. For now, I’m off to bed. Let’s hope tomorrow goes well. Goodnight.

Dear Bombay

Context: I’m going to be in New York for the next 3 months. I wrote this on the flight on the way here. A lot has happened since, but for now I’m dead tired, and I really should sleep so I can get to work tomorrow morning.


Dear Bombay,

I’m leaving you for three months now and this is the longest I’ve ever been away from you. It’s true, that one must explore and not stagnate, but you’re just so damn convenient and comfortable. Besides, you’re the only city I’ve known. As I grow older I find it harder to leave your comfort, which is why I must go now. I know you understand. After all, you will be able to comprehend much more than I can imagine, being a city as big as you are. I will miss you. I will miss your people, I will miss their attitudes, I will miss your weather. Oh, how I’ll miss those rainy days. You shouldn’t miss me, you have far greater things to worry about. Or maybe you will, who knows.

There’s a map on the screen in front of my seat. The white outline of the plane moves further from the dot labeled “Mumbai” with every word I type, at almost 1000 kilometers per hour. 83% the speed of sound, the pilot says. I never liked the name Mumbai much. You will always be Bombay to me. I’m flying over Karachi right now. What I want you to know is that this is not about you, this is about me. I’ll come back different, and you’ll be just the same. Who knows, I might even like New York more. No, that cannot happen in three months, but this is only the beginning. You see, I can only live about 50 more years. In another 6 or 7, my body won’t be able to do all that it can now. This is a lot of time in my opinion. Whether you think this much time is enough depends entirely on what you think you need to do in this much time. I don’t think I need to do as much as most others. but I still have a lot to do. And to do all these things, I can’t sit around in one place. Take this letter for example; it would never be written if I was sleeping under your warm blanket tonight. Take all those songs I wrote in the recent past; they wouldn’t have been born if you weren’t at least an arm’s length away. And as much as I complain about Thane, I know that it helped me find me. And it’s also true that you would rejoice with an entire day of rainfall if you knew how much of you I found inside me.

Nobody’s as big a part of me Bombay, nobody. You’re etched under my skin, you’re a part of my heart, you’re deeper in my head than I know. If I really think about it, at the times that I’m happiest I’m always doing or seeing or feeling something that has to do with you, something that has to do with something we did when I was young, or something that has to do with what I see when I look at you. That may not have made sense to a lot of people, but I know you understand.

I have to find more of me now, I have to make more of me. I also have to make a lot of some thing that is more than me. I have to make , Bombay, I need to create. Whether it’s my own future or yours or whole other worlds. It’s all that really matters right now. What I find and what I create. I hope you know what it feels like.

And so I must go. I’ll always come back, you know. Of course you know. You’re something like the first girl I ever fell in love with, I’ll always have a place in my heart for you. You’re home. In the end we both know that I’m going to come back to you. And we always know where I can come to find myself for every time that I lose myself out there. Here’s to new things, new places and new people. Here’s to new situations, new sights, and new sounds. Here’s to Novelty. Here’s to me.

I’ll be back, 86 days from now, and oh, the stories I’ll have to tell. I know this will have its ups and downs but lets just hope that things don’t get too bad. I don’t know what I want, but can I tell you a secret? I don’t think anybody does. And the ones that think they know exactly what they want don’t even know what’s out there. The day they find out, they’ll be shocked my old friend, they’ll be awe struck. It’s very easy writing a letter to you, you know. It feels almost like I’m actually writing to a friend I’ve known for all my life. Anyway, I should probably get some sleep now. This whole thing with time zones and indirect flights isn’t easy to get the hang of, so I don’t know how much sleep I’ll be able to get. Wish me luck.

Good night.