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One for New York

What really do I know about NY to write about it? Nothing! But then NY has a definite chemistry. A chemistry that is different from the other places I visited in the US and the rest of the world. The fact that I had spent one month at Idaho before visiting NY heightened my fascination. Idaho is on a different planet altogether. It is just coincidental that it shares the same national anthem with NYC.

If you have been to Mumbai, then you have been to Shanghai, or the most fascinating city of any country. Mumbai, Shanghai, Casablanca, Nairobi, Singapore: all have a common theme to sing – even though they would inevitably fare differently in the BQ [busy or business quotient] Every such metro rises above the extant context. The country’s temporal and spatial context. Such cities shock first – especially if you are used to a sleepier place – but in due course we start getting into the groove.

NY fits the bill too. NY however is not just another numero uno. It is the super numero uno, the quintessential metro. NY does not just rise above the extant context. It is the ultimate statement of life: multi-cultural, multi-culinary, and multi-ethnic. The indomitable enterprise, the co-existence of multiplicity of value systems. The seamlessness with which we agree to disagree. The ease with which we accept contradictions [read different norms] as a new way of life, or as a facet of a different and acceptable value system is what a metro is all about. That is but a demonstration of the soaring spirit of collective maturity.

NY is a place where there is an audience for any dance show; where restaurants can go out of business every month [despite the fact eating out is a popular pastime]. There are a people to relish any new dish at any price – be it the roadside street stall, or a glamorous 5-star restaurant with. Human diversity and human dignity are pursued with a passion that cannot be seen with greater commitment at any other place. It is a place where every citizen is as important or unimportant, and has as much right and/or dignity as his idol or his nemesis [if any]

The buzz of such cities is the buzz of enterprise interwoven with creativity. Where creative and enterprising people are every moment themselves, and the other proverbial opposite. Every creative people would need to demonstrate immaculate business sense to thrive, as every businessman would need to be continuously creative to survive.

NY, I am sure, stretches its most loyal inhabitants – to the very precipice – thus, giving them an exalted sense of achievement. This the place where everyone survives. Every tyro gets the optimism of the huge canvas to nourish a fertile dream credibly to outdo her/his hero one day. In the same way, as even the most successful get an opportunity to humbled every moment. Not entirely different from what a Mumbaikar feels in Mumbai.

No one is safe and no one is in danger. The glitterati and the hoi-polloi are all the same. They all survive and dream. Changing colours like a chameleon – changing positions of sense, of being empowered, and challenged every day, every moment.

NY is a leveler like other metros. Their mass transport systems – the lifeline of cities – are the first among all levelers as everyone brushes shoulders there. The cities get their competitive edge, and thrive from their ability to transport people from long distances [People travel upto 200 KM everyday in Tokyo one way to go to work.] – to and from work every day. This is the most common denominator.

The city has an ability to absorb more and more diversity as people of different tastes, professions and ethnicities pour in to make a living and to give a new dimension and vibrancy to the place. A library in all probability would be center stage for some connoisseurs of Hebrew maybe. I am sure the restaurant ‘Dalma’ will survive if not in Hell’s Kitchen, [because of high real estate rentals] in some other neighbourhood with Indian diaspora. In the same way, modern dance has as many just as many enthusiasts as ballet & Indian classical. These are places where significant number of people wake up the crack of dawn to start their day with Yoga and meditation, while an equally significant number of people stay up into the wee hours religiously, spoiling their health in the process. NYC never sleeps It always churns, and is always on the move. If someone has an opportunity to work and make a living some a few years, one must grab the opportunity. Or for that matter any other super busy, ultra competitive place. [Not everyone can logistically land up in NY]. These are places every person should work in and live for sometime to have a complete life. Else, we are missing something.

Bhubaneswar
June 26, 2011

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