A good morning

It was sunnier than usual. A deceptive sunlight—a photograph of which would have you reach for your shorts and flip-flops with hands made frictionless by extra layers of sunscreen. But it was one that wouldn’t brook liquid water. Sam sighed as he glanced out the large circular window of his tiny square room in the cramped SoHo apartment. He was sharing it with two others, both of whom had demanding jobs, the stress of which they rebelled against by passionate, amorous wrestling. The floor was hardwood, but with the nails holding the boards generously offering their opinions on foot texture.

He opened the refrigerator and reached for the milk that his roommates kept in the door despite his reproaches about temperature fluctuations and bacterial growth. It was, strangely, in the middle shelf, preserved and ready to lighten his morning coffee. Perhaps one of his roommates’ overnight guests had stumbled on to his blog. What did people do before the internet became fast enough to overcome cognitive drift?

His eyelids had just barely surrendered to the sun, and he realized that his nose was a little slow on the uptake as well. The smell of coffee, not unlike their usual Sumatran, but with a little more body, and maybe a hint of cinnamon, hit him no sooner than five minutes after he entered the room. Smiling, he opened the door to pick up the Times. Waking early usually ensured getting a virgin, rubber-banded paper and the faint almost-escaped smell of ink. Today, all he saw was a bare welcome mat. Apparently, the cost of home-brewed coffee was going to be the trouble of reading news with an iPad balanced on four fingertips and the thumb around the center pole on the uptown 6 train.

He stepped out of the shower with red eyes. Somehow, the post-doctoral fellow in charge of knocking out specific proteins in laboratory mice had not mastered the art of closing his eyes before soaping his face. The roll-on deodorant seemed exhausted, but he rubbed it on anyway, vowing for the third time that week that he would buy some on his way home. He unslung his blue denims from the arm of his chair and put them on. A creature of habit, he sucked in his gut and appraised himself in the mirror. Nodding as if to pump up for one of many monotonous days, he got dressed, queued the audiobook version of Atlas Shrugged on his phone and left for work. He needed a new peacoat; this one felt like it was designed for a thinner man.

Manhattan delights

A dear friend of mine once described a concept called ‘patel shots’. When I asked him to elaborate, he said that they were postcard-type photos taken by tourists near all the garden variety tourist spots around a popular city. This guy loved all the nuances of NYC that I could show him, but make no mistake, he could give the patels a run for their money (which is bucketloads, by the way!) in the quest for the unparalleled patel shots! (No offense meant to actual patels!)The other part of Manhattan, that only residents can show you, are the quaint coffee shops, the small but amazing brick oven pizza joints run by the temperamental Italian owners whose moodiness is not only tolerated, but appreciated, all due to their culinary genius.What I am gonna give a preview of right now, is a part of the Lower East Side of Manhattan…a little further off NYU campus. For a long time, the lower east side has been associated with the student and worker crowd, which brings with it fashionable pubs, bars, cafes and well slightly proletariat experience altogether. It was not out of character for the rents to be lower here than say the upper west side (endorsed by the sitcom Seinfeld, as it is based entirely in that area).

Now, however, the paradigm shift has come where the quaint coffee shops are quaint not because they cannot afford to expand, but because the yuppie mindset is tired of the chain stores and eateries and now covets the European bistro/cafe experience. Coffee now costs $4.50 at some places, and people are happy to shell out the duddu.

I am in the process of discovering places which serve great food. Now there is one place I ate just today morning. It is a small breakfast place, where there are long lines on weekday mornings just to get a table for two. If you are in a group of four or more, the reservation card handed to you may as well say “Are you kidding me!” The breakfast was awesome, I had a salmon based entree, with some fresh squeezed orange juice and my cousin had something similar. We wound up the meal with coffee, and the check came with the number $50 on it, which I duly passed on to my cousin, whose face had the calm of a person who had eaten there before, compared to my jaw which was somewhere between the table and the floor! The amazing thing is, with unemployment increasing at the rate of knots, the lines outside places like these (and there are many, mind you) have not been affected at all. You gotta love NYC. There are other reasons too.

Rents are going up as people are now wanting to live here. I, of course, am enjoying the delights of this region as I visit a cousin of mine every weekend, and mooch off him while he picks up the tab, with me realizing all the while that pretty soon, I would have to do this for someone else. Duniya gol hai!

This is the first post of mine where I have rambled on without much direction or purpose, and I really feel indulgent today. You might scoff at my desperation to have my blog read that I did not forewarn the readers of this randomly ambulatory post.

Corona with a twist of lime

“So we were just having coffee…”

“Wait a second, you said you were in the lab all afternoon and evening yesterday, so this coffee…?”

“I knew you would not miss that; it was over breakfast!”

“Alright dude! I knew you would eventually reach the finish line!”

“Wo to theek hai, but you won’t believe what she said…”

“You mean when you told her that the only reason you were going out with her was because you wanted to get closer to her hot friend?”

“Are you nuts, there is no way I’m gonna tell her that! She actually looked me in the eye and said those three words”

“Uh oh! And you are not serious at all? I mean your scheming date with her was two months ago; I assumed that you had feelings for her now…”

“Well, not really…I mean she is not bad, but I don’t feel anything special for her…by the way, I contacted that hotter friend of hers, and we did go out; she moved to Toledo that’s all”

“So you broke that off, then it is fine na…just forget her, and keep it going with this chick!”

“Dude, you remember that Epidemiological conference I went to last weekend?”

“Yeah sure, the one with…oh…you mean….Toledo?”

“Yeah, it was a great weekend!”

“Okay, so now what? Which one?”

“Right now, I don’t know; all I know is that I’m feeling guilty because this chick says she loves me…and I don’t feel it for her”

“Are you sure she really loves you?”

“Come on yaar, only guys say that line without meaning it”

“Well…I just think you have no reason to feel guilty”

“Yeah? Why?”

“Remember that weekend last month when your ‘I love you’ girl went to meet her parents in Vermont?”

“Yeah sure, she even called me from there”

“Her parents are dead, and it cannot be a coincidence that the college soccer team went to Vermont that same weekend; and that her ex was on that team…honestly I can’t believe you did not connect the dots soon enough”

“Oh, then I need not feel guilty I guess…”

“Only of sheer naivete, chal let’s order our beers now”