The NYC trip — short though it was — had to take place because Ragni, who has given up her job and gone back to do her Masters in Human Rights Law, is working between her College break.
… and I was really missing her badly.
It was only a 2 week trip. I had to leave Brooklyn soon because Ragni was going to move out in 3 weeks to a new place to stay.
You can see the beginnings of the shifting in the picture below:
With Chovie at the new home: Picture by Ragni
Julián was going to go to Austin in a month and start a new job there for a few months. Life is tough in the USA for young people … but it is wonderful, too.
I got there on Saturday (8th July) evening, having left on the same day at 6AM from Karachi. Poor Julián had to carry my heavy suitcase up - but I guess a son-in-law has to do bad stuff like this :) Meeting them was a lot of fun and there were so many stories to tell to each other in the few days ahead. And a lot more to hear — specially about Ragni's courses and cases.
(It's been hard, Ragni, as I can see by this image from Instagram)
Thinking that I was fairly tired, I had wanted to go to bed … but Julián showed me a Keith Haring picture that he'd bought in the Brooklyn Museum
… and said tonight was the last night of the KH exhibition. I became fully awake in the next few seconds and Ragni and I decided that we had to see the show before it ended. So off we went!
The museum was packed to capacity and we had to be in a long line waiting to get in. Hundreds of people, old and young, coloureds and whites, male-to-female, were arriving and leaving. It was the last night … but apparently it was like this on all days. We met three close friends of Ragni who had come there, too.
This exhibition had hundreds of things in it, from his work to works that featured him in newspapers, videos, and more — all done between 1978-1982! What an amazing man he really was! I saw him very briefly in his 'shop' in NY years ago! He loved kids, was a homosexual, seemed mad at society and loved it, too, until he died in 1990. One of my favourites was his poster below.
He once wrote: Generations of kids growing up now have the advantage of knowing that it [AIDS] is out there. Before it existed, it is something you never would have though about, that you could associate love or blood, or sperm, with the carriers of death. [...] The only good thing to come out is that it has put this real intensity to the time, that forces people to really rethink why they're here and why they're alive, and to appreciate every second'.
I cried a couple of small tears (that I quickly put away) … thinking of all the wonderful things, from museums, to music, to art, to flowers, to everything else that a kid gets to see here while growing up. (BTW, here's a package
about KH that you may want your children to see. It's a pdf
Now imagine growing up in Karachi, where Ragni saw Police and Army Guards pointing guns directly at our car while we took her to school. Airplanes, Rockets, Bombs, and even a great big Submarine in the middle of the road were her 'artworks' to look at. Since then things have changed: We now have a at every street corner, each one posted on a large panel on a building or a billboard, trying to be bigger than the last one you passed. This is supposed to tell the Muslims (those few who can read!) that this is what they should know. Really? Doesn't everyone know it already? Christians, Parsis, and Hindus, who live here, are taught the words in class one way or another. Think: Even McDonalds puts up a Kalima.
Coming out of the exhibition there were loads of people outside. It was a Saturday and the place around the museum was crowded with people who had come to dance at the hall or loiter on the streets, meet friends, have some frozen-yoghurt and continue having fun for the night. I left early with Ragni but Julian, Thanu, and other colleagues of Ragni who had turned up decided to stay on.
Coconut Yoghurt & Thanu (Picture by Ragni)
Although my own city was never this much fun (I don't think there is ANY city that is this much fun, anyway!), in my younger days, when I was at school, some of us friends, boys and girls, would stay awake till late at night and even walk miles home after movies or after a dance at my friend Munchi's house, eating a seekh-kabab on a stall in Sadar. Karachi, then, was wonderful and peaceful. Sigh!!!
Walking back to the underground station was great, too. I was told that the NY was hot … but apart from two days in the fortnight I stayed there the place was cool, almost like the early days of Karachi's winter. On the road back I met two more friends of Ragni. I was wondering if that happens all the time in NY or was it just tonight. But no. It happened on several days ;)
The next day was time to relax at home and chat. A small walk for an hour was all I did. Most time I played with Chovie and slept to get rid of my jet-lag.
It is difficult to write about a trip and have the dates and times strictly right, so I decided I'd post some of the things I really enjoyed … but in no special order. Hope you'll forgive this … but it will cover most of the trip, I am sure. And you can see all the pics on my Flickr site after this weekend.
Let me talk about the Apple Store. I had to get to one of them and this branch
was the easiest since it was on the same train-route as Ragni's office was on. I went there to get a piece of equipment fixed for a cousin … but, then, he decided not to have it done. I came back, only to return to Apple Store one Friday morning for a free intro course to iBook Author
. While I had used it a couple of times to try it out … there are
on the web … it was nice to be able to check out a few things with the tutor.
The Apple Store store is always crowded and people buy stuff
Some of them are being helped by Genius Bar attendees
… or are taught something or the other.
I don't think anyone other than SJ would have thought of this. Now there are a couple of other vendors who have tried to follow him … but its not the same thing. This is really real! But following SJ, after saying that his stuff will not work, is not surprising. We saw it happen with the Mac … before Windows copied and followed it. We saw it happen, again, with the iPad before everyone else followed it. We even saw it with iPod and iPhone where Apple changed a contraption around and, soon, so did everyone else after they added a better interface and great software.
Macs were everywhere … whether it was Tekserve or Dr. Brendan
There was Music to be heard wherever you went. iPods, iPads, and numerous other makes were on the tubes and buses. More than that, though, were the free
concerts. One of the concerts I attended was the Latin American Music Conference
at my favourite spot in NY: Central Park. The place was crowded and everyone loved the show.
This concert was part of the over a hundred free concerts in NYC and another 100 free concerts in Brooklyn and Queens in the three months of Summer! We are not even looking at other suburbs and areas in New York, yet.
Think of so many free concerts in almost a 100 days … and a lot more that I did not follow. The fun and friendships - new and old - the amount of work required by the admin, the food-stalls and shops that cater to the public (thousands come!) … It really is fantastic.
some often just lay down to relax,
while others met friends,
and a few enjoyed themselves, drinking ;)
And my favourite squirrels were there, too ;)
Apart from walking around one has to taste some great breads in NY
and that requires a few rounds of drinks
(one does not live on bread alone!)
and some really heavenly ice cream. Ufff!
followed by coffee!!!
Starbucks is pretty ordinary for those of us who like their coffee to be really great (and one had to get to other places for such stuff), but Starbucks, bless its soul, is available everywhere … and has free WiFi at its premises, so one did venture into that at least twice a day.
And if you want a touch of Desimerican food, there's always this!
Monsieur Singh offers Lassi's made into popsicle sticks.
One night Ragni, Julian and I went to Nuyoricon Poets Cafe
. I was going there after 30 years. It was a brilliant night — as it always is. Great poetry!
If you happen to be in NYC some day and love Poetry (or even some music) do check up on their website and make it your point to go there!
The final part of the post will be up in a day or so.