How many different forms of precipitation can fall on your head along the course of a single day? Four- rain, snow, hail and sleet, as I found out while trying to explore the environs of 42nd street and Times Square. And to think I chose the previous sunny and wholly precipitation-free day to spend inside the Met. Grr. One never appreciates the importance of weather forecasts when one has only lived in places where the three seasons are hot, hotter and hottest.
Ah, the Met. While it didn't make me completely ecstatic like the Louvre did, there were a few thrills of pleasure here and there-
- Monet's exquisite Rouen Cathedral- there's a whole series that he did of Rouen Cathedral, and the only one that hangs in the Met shows the Cathedral bathed in mid-day sunlight. Gorgeousness and gorgeosity.
- Edvard Munch's The Vampire.
- The medieval section- especially the absolutely magnificent choir screen or Reja that serves as its entrance. About 50 feet high, it was brought from Valladolid Cathderal in Spain. Awe-inspiring.
- A completely unexpected portrait- that of M. & Mme. Lavoisier! Apparently Madame was an artist, and also helped him write his papers. Oh, and you know that he was executed during the French Revolution?
- All the Rembrandt and Caravaggio paintings- although IMHO, the Louvre collection is better.
- The collection of Sevres pottery- over the top, but brilliant nevertheless.
A (v. good friend and classmate who I stayed with) and I caught The Producers on Broadway. Good fun, thought the performances could've been much better. Monty Python and The Holy Grail was also on, but didn't get tickets for that, unfortunately. Wandered around Times Square, which looks exactly like it does on TV.
Went to Union Square, and spent quite possibly the most bizarre day (and in some ways, most fun) of my life there. Chanced upon a farmer's market(!) where I bought organic red-pepper and olive cheddar cheese. A man was standing in one corner and denouncing W and his cronies, he saw me grinning at his rant and beckoned me over. Turned out that the guy was from the LaRouche Political Action Group and tried to get me to donate some money, which I slimed out of doing. Still, he gave me some pamphlets (one of them was titled 'Children of Satan IV') which I've kept as a souvenir :)
Went (yet again-rendering useless previous day's walk from 42nd street to visit the one at Times Square in the freezing cold ) into Virgin Megastore- and found Vampire in Pakistan. Bought 8 1/2, Dr.Strangelove, Monty Python and The Meaning of Life, Pulp fiction and the entire Pink Panther series. Got lost trying to locate the Strand Bookstore (yes, getting lost in Manhattan is quite a feat- streets and avenues are numbered), but that turned out to be a good thing- saw quite a few interesting things along the way. Like this second hand bookshop which specialised in books on history and music. Eclectic. And also what was perhaps the highlight of the day- I think it deserves a paragraph to itself.
The 'New York Costumes' store- established to satisfy costume needs of your entire family and pet(s). Superman kitty? Or Princess Leia poochie? Darth Vader doggie, perhaps? And for the ladies- Goth fairy(!) and every other fairy you can think of, Nurse Feelbetter, French Maid (in about 137 different styles), Lydia the Tattoo Lady (my favourite), Belly Dancer, Witch (in 177 different styles)... For the gentlemen- Pirate costume, and er, that's all I can remember, sorry! Grotesque masks of all sorts, light sabres, fake blood, fake casts, fake wounds, Frankenstein and anythig else you could possibly think of. I have an especial talent for spotting bizarre things, wouldn't you agree?
Ate Ethiopian food- whatever I had looked (and even tasted a little) like a dosa! Wandered around Grand Central for an aimless couple of hours. Finished bulk of my shopping (Godiva chocolates) there, rather unexpectedly. They have a fancy food market there that sells, among other things, gourmet cheese. Hang on, this is supposed to be a railway station?
Took a cable car (only it's called a tram there) ride to Roosevelt Island to have dinner with grandmother's cousin, and her husband who works for the UN. Was astounded at what she served true to Kerala heritage, for dessert- nendram pazham appams (as opposed to Aappams that one eats for breakfast) with coconut ice-cream. Apparently said pazhams grow in the Caribbean! And here I was thinking that they're virtually unknown outside of God's own country...
The New York Public Library was visited. As was Ground Zero, Wall Street (I saw The Bull), Washington Square and the Village. Didn't go to the Empire State or the Statue of Liberty. Chrysler building was seen from a distance, Macy's from the taxi (I hate shopping) on the way to Penn Station- from where I caught the train back to Pittsburgh, bringing my trip to an (unwelcome) end.