Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Reflections: New York

I’m still thinking about my last trip to New York. This is what always happens. I come back from a place, and think about the differences between that city and my own beautiful San Francisco. I find myself exploring each city thinking, “What do the locals do? Could I live here? Which neighborhood would I live in? What would I do? What’s different between here and San Francisco? What do I like more? Less?” In the case of New York, a few observations are sticking with me.

The honking!
Yes, the cabbies there are crazy with the horn! And it’s everywhere! No matter what part of town, what time of day. It’s all around you. I think they should start making NYC taxis without horns. I think New York would be a much nicer place.

Cab drivers not knowing where they’re going
Yes, I realize, Manhattan is big. Toto, we’re not in San Francisco anymore. I get that. BUT. When I get into a cab and ask to be taken to a major hotel, or well known restaurant, it still shocks me that a cab driver can have no idea where it is. I know there are TONS of hotels and restaurants and stores and landmarks in New York. But I see it is kind of their jobs to keep tabs on the city. To at least have a sense of where things are.

Produce goes to NYC to die
Do my other Californians wonder what happens to produce when it goes bad? My new guess? It gets shipped to New York, where New Yorkers will pay three times what we would have paid for it when it was healthy. Seriously. I found that everywhere I looked, from corner stores to grocery stores to even the Farmer’s Market, produce just wasn’t the same. Beets were soft to the touch. Veggies were limp. Colorless. Sure makes life in Cali seem even better.

We hear it a lot. New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world. I think it’s true. After spending time exploring multiple neighborhoods (even checking out the coolest Indian specialty foods store, Kalustyan's, with the largest selection of Indian spices I have ever seen in my life!), I believe it. I tend to think San Francisco is pretty diverse (in case you can’t tell, I really do think San Francisco is one of the most special places in the world.) But in terms of ethnic diversity, New York may have us beat.

Just some of the amazing spices at Kalustyan's

It’s a small city if…you have a community
New York always seemed so big to me. Harsh and cold. You know, the theory that the bigger the city, the lonelier you can actually be? Well, this last trip to New York opened up my eyes to another thought. That any large city, no matter how large, can seem small if you have a good community or network. I know this sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but let’s take me for example. I love food. And the restaurant business. I have a network of friends in my industry and with this same interest. Well, through this network, I continue to meet more and more interesting people. This isn’t limited to just San Francisco. Through my network of friends, I’ve met so many equally amazing people all around the world.

Just takes time to get use to…
Like anything, it just takes time. Because of multiple trips to New York within the recent years, I feel more and more at home there each time I return. I have a better sense of the neighborhoods, how to get where I need to go to, and how to even make suggestions of where to go. More than any other trip before, I could actually see myself living there after this last trip (I think I even know what neighborhood I’d live in!!)

All in all, my last trip to New York was amazing. And as always, it continues to be one of those cities that I want to live in. Until next time…

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