Monday, July 23, 2007

Observations from the Big Apple

Usually there is something in particular i want to express that inspires me to make an entry into this blog. Today there is nothing in particular, but i want to remain habituated writing at least once a week.

This week i'm alone in New York City, staying at the apartment of my paternal uncle who is now 90 and lives in Florida. He has been there for past 25-30 years in Florida. He just kept this apartment for very brief visits to NYC, usually once a year. I arrived last week from Chicago, flying here with all my luggage (from India) and the keys to this apartment. I had never been here before. I wasn't even sure if my uncle had given me the correct set of keys because he has dementia now and his memory is not what it used to be. I imagined a situation where i would not be able to get in and would need to find a hotel to spend the night. The average hotel room costs $500 per nite in this part of New York. Naturally i was nervous.

On the plane coming here, i prayed to Hanuman. Hanuman is a most extraordinary transcendental personality. In India, i think he is more widely worshipped than anyone, including Lord Sri Krishna, Lord Siva and even Ganesh. The Hanuman Chalisa is a very famous poem/prayer that is sung and recited by millions. And his murti, usually carved as a relief and painted in bright orange, is seen everywhere in India, even in Vrindavan dham, inside Siva temples, outside Krishna temples and in many of his own temples. Anyway, by his mercy, the keys worked, and i got in.

The apartment location is excellent, being just 100 meters from Central Park, between 97th and 100th St. Anyone who knows New York, knows that Central Park is like a city in itself. Miles and miles of greenery, lakes, playgrounds, fields, theatres, zoos and even restaurants. Yesterday was a hot sunny summer day, and i walked for 3 hours thru the Park. I heard more than half a dozen languages being spoken by various people walking by me: Arabic, Spanish, French, Russian, Hindi, Chinese, just to name those languages i could recognize. New York is the most international of all cities. Unfortunately, there is no unity amongst the diversity. Despite being the home of the United Nations, there is nothing united about people here. Everyone is isolated, either alone, or in small social circles. Everyone is under the misconception that they are the enjoyer of the world. No one actually cares about anyone else, except in their own small selfish spheres. This creates a most unharmonious and unattractive scene, at least to my eyes. I felt more alone walking in that crowd of thousands of persons enjoying the sunny day than when i'm sitting by myself in the apartment.

Inside this flat, it's a bit bizarre. The furnishings are from the 40's, 50's and 60's. Most of the furniture, i believe, came from my grandmother. It looks frozen in time. And despite that for over 25 years no one has lived here for more than a week at a time, and the appliances are all at least 30-40 years old, everything-- the lights, the shower, the stove, the fridge, the piano and even two vintage '60s television sets-- works. Fortunately, i ordered a broadband connection before i arrived and was able to install the router my first nite here. So i don't feel any burden, like i'm in a time warp. My plan here is to clean and prepare the apartment to be rented. That includes giving away, selling or throwing out just about everything here. It's a lifetime of collected stuff. So it will take me some time to go thru everything. Then i need to get the kitchen and bathroom repainted, wood floors cleaned and refinished. And with the help of a broker, find a tenant.

Perhaps while i am here, i will go to 26 Second Ave. to see the storefront where Srila Prabhupada started Iskcon. It's too bad that mood of Prabhupada and his first disciples could not be frozen in time, and be preserved for the benefit of humanity. It is preserved in Prabhupada's classes, and it's those early 1966 NY lectures that i most enjoy listening to on the MP3s. Hearing Prabhupada's enthusiasm and compassion giving his first classes in America is most enlivening. It's such a contrast from what became of Iskcon in later years. In fact, for me, those early NYC classes are all that is left of the real Iskcon.

1 comment:

CrippLeD SaM said...

This means, you have plenty of Time. Maybe you want to download Hanuman Chalisa (Mp3) or other Bhajans, then you can do at:

http://hanumanji.wordpress.com

YouRs SinCereLy CrippLeD SaM

P.S: I've been at Big Apple, this is a cool place. But this was Years ago - maybe it has changed.