For this week’s post, I’ve decided to take a break from my usual football & cartoon posts. This is a Birthday Special !! When I first started this blog three years back, I wasn’t too sure how things would pan out. I remember that somewhere around the time of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, I had just contributed a series of articles to my brother’s blog about all things Japanese. These series of articles were about the history and rise of Japanese football. You can check them out in the link below.
It was quite a fun experience and I was feeling very inspired. It wasn’t until a few months later though, that I decided to start my own blog.
Oh wow !! I just realized that my first blog post was right after my birthday too !! Fascinating Co-incidence…. which brings me to an interesting point.
As you have observed, my posts tend to be about football & cartoons. This was exactly what I wanted my blog to be about. Strangely back then, I had a brain flash and decided to write about how I had spent my birthday in NYC.
Of course, I had to add an additional category to my blog called ‘Random Musings’ or else none of this would make any sense. I remember writing that post with quite a bit of feeling and I had been scarcely associated with NYC at that point. Interestingly enough, the next my next one and a half years of my life would become intertwined with the city.
Now, NYC was not the reason I decided to start this blog. Yet the special place the city holds in my heart and the timing of certain events (more on this later) … I can’t escape the feeling that this post carries more significance than I may realize at this moment. It’s almost as if I was meant to write this post.
So here’s to Nueva York…
My Tryst with Destiny
Four years ago during my masters’ program in Pennsylvania, a friend of mine who was holidaying in New York invited me to the city. He had been persuading me for a few weeks until I finally gave in and I’m glad I did. That weekend was something else !! I remember the first time the bus came out of the Lincoln Tunnel and into the city. It was night time and seeing all these huge buildings with bright lights staring at me… Woah ! I was in some other world.
Finding my friend that night in a new country, new city… in Port Authority was truly a miracle. We spent the whole of the next day taking in the sights and sounds of mostly Manhattan. From the Empire State Building to Staten Island to Central Park to Times Square (Heck, there’s just way too many to name); it was a roller coaster ride. When I finally returned to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania I felt like I had come crashing down to earth. I made it a point to return and live in this city. There was just so much to experience and I had barely scratched the surface !!
Return I would…
A year later after the completion of my masters’ program, I started making trips to the city for job interviews. These trips were almost always for job interviews and usually happened roughly once every 2 months. Though I rarely had a chance to do much other than meet a friend, that feeling whenever I entered the city was so fresh.
Oh ! I almost forgot to mention the fact that right after I had finished my studies, I once again stayed with another friend in the city; not once but twice. My friend was working in Chelsea at the time and staying in his studio apartment was an absolute blast. During the day I would visit lots of different places in the city (Anything that was free or cheap !!) and at night, my friend and I would usually watch some TV show (Friends and Suits come to mind. Both NYC Themed !). We did quite a bit of sight-seeing together as well.
In any case, it would take nearly a year until I really had something to do with the city. My job search hadn’t proved particularly fruitful in any part of the country. So, a friend of mine told me about this training centre in Harlem in my chosen field (Energy Efficiency). I was initially reluctant to leave Pennsylvania but then took a chance anyway.
The City at Last
As things transpired, it turned out to be the right move. I moved to New Jersey and commuted to the city whenever I had to. Not long after finishing my training course, I finally did get an internship and then finally a full-time job.
The good times had arrived and I could finally live the life of a New Yorker. It must be said here that my job situation at the time eventually never worked out in the way I had hoped. However, that said, I had a chance to explore a lot more of the city.
The Best of NYC
To be honest, I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to describing my favourite places, activities or memories of the city. The real truth is that despite exploring a lot more of the city, I still feel as though I’ve barely scratched the surface.
When I used to commute to Harlem for my training course, I often visited Bryant Park. Hands down one of my favourite spots in the city, especially when I didn’t have too much cash to spend. I also spent a lot of time in the NYPL (New York Public Library). Later on when I did have a job, I remember spending a quite a lot on food. I’m a huge fan of the city’s ‘world culture’ and enjoyed trying so many different kinds of cuisines. A personal favourite of mine is Meson Sevilla on 46th street. I particularly loved the place because of its warm atmosphere and shared love for football. I spent many an evening there talking to the general manager about football, Real Madrid and pop-culture.
Another of my favourite memories was watching Real Madrid games with the Pena Madridista NYC club. Making a noise with fellow Madridistas while drinking beer can be a blast but I also really loved meeting people from new cultures at these events. Football and Real Madrid apart, there was also the fair share of partying. Roof-top parties in Brooklyn, spending time at bars such as the Playwright’s Irish Pub, McGettigans etc. was also great.
What have I missed out ? Hmm.. Probably a lot.
Of course !! How can I forget watching a game with my tennis-buff friend in Flushing Meadows at the U.S. Open ?
There were the plays and concerts too.
Carnegie Hall (Thank you Club Free-Time !!), Radio City Music Hall (What a beautiful place !!), BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, Dumbo, Williamsburg etc.
Although I never did get a chance to live in the city, I still feel lucky and grateful to have experienced as much as I did. There is a lot that I have not touched upon in this post because there is just too much to talk about. Often times, I still do think of my good experiences with this place and I always get this feeling that I will return sometime.
Coming back to the timing of certain events that I had mentioned at the beginning of this post; it is very interesting indeed. I had already mentioned that my first post 3 years ago was around my birthday and it is interesting that I suddenly feel like writing a tribute to NYC at the same time. Three years ago, my brother was also heavily into his Japan blog at around this time of the year. So, the fact that he is visiting Japan right now and just earlier in the day went and got me Japanese football memorabilia (Think the blog article series connect) makes this even more curious. Also, I had mentioned something about Cardcaptor Sakura in my very first blog post. It’s been 2 decades since anything Cardcaptor came out and a series revival is just 2 months away. It is just a series of synchronicities.
It would be fantastic to return to NYC. I still haven’t seen a Broadway play (Especially in the Minskoff Theatre) and haven’t experienced the charm of the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts. Just before I left the city, I remarked to a friend (Yep, the same guy who was holidaying there 4 years ago) that someday I would own a property in the Upper East Side overlooking Central Park. We were walking along that exact same stretch on our way to Grand Central (God, that night was gorgeous).
It’s a dream of mine to return to the city for a few years and share that experience with my family and close friends. No one knows what the future holds but I’ve always been a dreamer and believe in them.
To the Future and to New York !!