Saturday, January 05, 2008

Scences from the New York City Subway

I recently had a chance to hang out with an old soulmate of mine in New York City. She told me that she used to read my Friendster blog and particularly enjoyed reading about the "scenes from the subway". I told her that I stopped writing on that blog because I didn't really think anybody read it. She said that she thought I would stop writing if I ever found out she was reading it.... go figure.... Oh well, she inspired me to write once again, but this time I write about scenes from the New York City subway.....

My first few rides on the New York City transit system were surprisingly uneventful.... I mean c'mon! This IS New York city, where are all the interesting scenes that I could write about? Considering all the interesting happenings on the Toronto Subway, I was half expecting that I would encounter some doozies the second I stepped foot in a New York Subway car.... But alas, soulmate and I had to make our own interesting scences.... they must have been interesting scenes for the other passengers, I mean.... get your minds out of the gutter.....

5' plus Filipino girl and 6' flat Filipino guy hop on the Q44 bus, swipe their metrocards and sit down and start talking.... at next stop, girl gets up and asks driver to let them know when they get to the subway station.... driver tells them to get off the bus and cross the street because they're heading in the wrong direction.... he gives them each a new metrocard and writes "wrong side" on them...

Same girl and same guy, on the right bus this time, get caught up in their conversation about revenge and the bitch surgical resident upon whom said revenge was rendered.... they miss their stop in the deliciousness of their conversation....

Same girl and same guy (still) get on the Q25 bus.... "you're on the wrong side Miss".... not again?... must be her first time commuting in New York.... the guy looks very hungry and exhausted.....

Finally, something interesting... the 7 train stops at the 52nd street station, the doors close and suddenly the booming voice of a young man is heard.... "Ladies and gentlemen, may I please have your attention for a moment... I'm not selling these chocolates to benefit a school sports team or any charity.... I am selling these chocolates for myself.... If you could help out and buy some, I would really appreciate it.... it will help me stay off the streets".... That was the jist of it.... the lady two seats to my left found his speech convincing enough to buy a bag of M&M's for $1.... I admired his honesty, but not enough to shell out a US dollar.... which incidentally is only 99c Canadian now.... how the mighty have fallen....

Sitting across from me on the 7 train heading to Flushing is an elderly Chinese gentleman.... he's how my friend Jerome will look like when he's older I think to myself.... incidentally, I was heading to Flushing to see my friend Jerome....

Chinese lady who looks like my friend Young asks elderly Jerome something.... the conversation starts in English, but quickly turns into Mandarin.... apparently, she got on the wrong train and was heading in the wrong direction.... she looks to me with a questioning smile.... she probably thinks I'm Chinese.... don't look at me lady, I think to myself, I'm probably more lost than you are..... trust elderly Jerome, if he's anything like my Jerome then he's pretty smart.....

On the PATH train from Journal Square, I decide to get off at the re-opened World Trade Center station to get into Manhattan.... I hadn't visited Ground Zero since 2002 despite visiting NYC several times since then.... I was traumatized by that first visit.... decided to pay a well overdue courtesy call.... as the train pulled into the station, passengers get up to look out the windows at the gaping hole and construction site that is Ground Zero.... a reverent hush falls on the subway car.... despite the screeching of the train, the pounding of construction, and the scattered piles of twisted metal, this is a sacred place.... thousands of innocent souls sleep here.... Tu Anh Pham, The Falling Man, Father Mychal Judge, countless firefighters and police officers etc..... we all understood this.... the hush was maintained as we disembarked the subway car and was only broken as we rode the escalators to the surface where the rest of the tourists were climbing the fence and snapping pictures of Ground Zero....

In an attempt to test my theory that New Yorkers are actually nicer than Torontonians, I did not hesitate to ask directions from a variety of New Yorkers from little old ladies to gangsters and thug-like looking individuals.... none of them disappointed me.... little old lady even ran after me as the subway door almost closed on her hand to tell me to take the 2 line.... gangster guy was kind enough to indicate to me that we were arriving at the station I had asked him about.... they probably could tell from my accent that I was just a lost Torontonian and felt sorry for me....

On the PATH train heading to Journal Square from 33rd St.... while the train speeds along, the door slides open and elderly hobo comes into our car from the car ahead of ours.... "can I have your attention please".... sounds like a familiar speech I think to myself.... his speech however was about sparing some change for his new year's dinner.... what's more, his words were stammered and slurred, and not particularly eloquent like the young man with the chocolates.... in fact, his speech was incoherent at times.... "would be greatly appreciated the news years dinner" he kept repeating.... "God bless you the new years dinner".... the gentleman to my left gave him some change and a lady sitting down gave him her take-out.... "God bless you the new years dinner", as he made his way to the other end of the car......

I was happy to find the New York Subway's "Poetry on the Way".... they call theirs "Poetry In Motion".... Luckily I was able to get a shot of one poem....

Men Say they Know Many Things
by Henry David Thoreau

Men say they know many things;
But lo! They have taken wings, -
The arts and the sciences,

And a thousand appliances;
The wind that blows
Is all that anybody knows.

I wasn't surprised when soulmate said that she recognized the poet.... She knows many things of the arts and the sciences..... Lo! You have taken wings as well soulmate!.... Good luck on Jan 8, I'm sure you'll do great.... as for me, the wind that blows is all that I know for now.... I'll just pray for wings like yours.... God bless....

TECHNORATI TAGS: , , ,

9 comments:

haze said...

Wohooo ! You are in NY, I would really like to visit that place someday. That is I guess the busiest city of all USA right ? Thanks for sharing this anecdote. Impatiently waiting for lots of photos of NY :D !

shoshana said...

Sounds like the pleasanter side of NY. I would like to go there and shop with my daughter...but first she has to grow up some more. She's only 10.

Sandy said...

Thank you for coming with me and enduring the cold, hunger and wrong directions. Because of you, I've been looking out for PiM's and therefore missing my stop more and more! Here's the best PiM so far:

Come away with me, my love.
The winter's past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers fill the earth and their fragrance fill the land. Come away with me, my love.

I really hope this match-thing is over and gone. I hope we all get to be in the same area! I hope I never miss my stop again coz my feet hurt from so much walking.

Ontario Mortgage Broker said...

There are different people on different countries...the thought that you say about the kindness of people in NYC than Toronto on helping you on your way is somewhat unfair or maybe true...i am not sure but i know that somehow there are other people that is a kind of New Yorkers...but i love the way you write...hope to read more from your posts...thanks...oh i like the poem...:D

ghee said...

great...what a nice read.I enjoyed reading while imagining every single scene you`ve written.I am so moved somewhat,with those guys who made their honest speeches,esp the one who sold chocolates just to survive...

you re such a keen observer,Angelo.We have one thing in common now,and I have seen various scenes in the subways,ugly,pathetic,fun,erotic(my own experience,LOL!a guy tried to "hit" me erotically,I never paid attention though,it was a relief that he was young and smelled David Beckham`s perfume)...oh well,I go to Tokyo a lot recently coz we are moving far North this March.

I love the poem!Reminded me of Meg Ryan`s movie...he passion for words and phrases.

ghee said...

and yes,about your "tatami" comment,im impressed that you know that term,LOL!

Actually,not really on tatami but a Japanese bed/mattress called "futon".

More posts to come,Angelo!I love reading them!

ghee

Maricar said...

you know kuya, you should really take up writing. you write intriguing blogs. it always make me smile.

tina said...

Yay! you were looking for adventure and you found one. hehe ;p

nice recount i can almost imagine everything. hehe. :) tc.

Puss-in-Boots said...

Hi Angelo!

Good to see you back and thank you for commenting. Hey New York sounds like a pretty fabulous place. I'm going to visit there one day.

How are things with you and Nermal? I hope you both had a wonderful Christmas.