New York calling

It’s the city where dreams get their wings and you are accepted wholeheartedly, no matter where you come from


When you go to the States, Papa, please phone me from Manhattan,” my 11-year-old daughter’s request rang in my ears the moment I landed in New York. Her request meant a lot, said a lot about the first city of the world. For despite the initial fears and frets that the terrorist attacks have caused, the city’s Big Apple image turns out to be true.

One enters New York a little jolted, scared stiff from the terror that once rocked its streets. The surveillance in the public places, the sniffing dogs and hefty cops of Irish or Black origins and the famed vigilance cameras at every street corner turn out to be nothing but regular features of the metropolis of the goddess of freedom. Once you settle in New York, you see how it’s a special place and also the safest place on earth. It’s the city where citizens know their duties to the State and would take any security measure as part of the national safety and move on with their chores and civil life absolutely unperturbed. It’s the city where dreams get their wings and you are accepted wholeheartedly, no matter where you come from.

The New Yorkers are a special breed and soon you will find one of them ready to take you on a tour of this city with numbered streets and alphabet avenues. New York-based Canadian novelist Jordan Zinovich took me across the Brooklyn Bridge to show Walt Whitman’s house. Immersed in New York literary glitter, he seemed to have forgotten his Canadian links. We were in the locality where Lincoln worked out strategies to abolish slavery and Whitman edited his magazine, The Brooklyn Eagle. From across the bridge, we saw the Manhattan skyline glimmer into a shape, bringing to our vision the wailing spaces where once twin towers stood.

Coming to New York is like coming back to the home of humanity. If one puts the people from all over the world in one place, what would

it be like? New York City

might be an answer to such a speculation.

The welcome a writer gets once he lands in this magical place is incredible. Even before my landing in New York, I had about a dozen readings fixed for me from people I hardly knew. New York acknowledges your worth without any snobbery, jealousy or inhibition and has an open, no-nonsense approach to shrug the narrow and parochial and accept the best in the world.

It doesn’t take much time for one to be a New Yorker. It’s very likely you will make friends in the bars or crowded squares or in the busy subways. You will find a nook for your ethnicity or interest or merit if you come to this city.

Just take a walk up to the Union Square to sit in the restaurant atop the Whole Food Market to see the Tibetans doing a peace rally. Or walk a few steps across the square to enter the Barnes and Noble Bookstore and pick up loads of books from the shelves to browse at its Starbucks café. Or walk down the Sixth Avenue to go to Bowery Poetry Club to be part of the Hip Hop poetry performance events. Or visit New York State Library or Guggenheim or Rockefeller museum to feel the thrill of seeing with your own naked eyes the manuscripts of Whitman, Hemingway or Saul Bellow.

Or just go to any of the bars in the Greenwich Village to see the world share a glass of wine or a friendly kiss that will make you believe you are the citizen of the first city of the world.

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