North America

NYC Vibes On Halloween Weekend

Ah the throb of life in New York City. The lights, the people, the sidewalk bars brimming with the jolly many, the medley of bizarre costumes. Welcome to a night of gargantuan proportions. On one hand there were these strange airy-fairy creatures roaming around town — my pick of them all was a Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI zombie couple in their coiffed off-white wigs standing at a bistro on the sidewalk. And at the other end of the spectrum were boys and girls in tuxes and ball gowns, straight out of Gossip Girl, climbing up the steps of the New York Public Library with noses in the air, heads held high.

The night was alive and we were heading with the keenness of a precision-guided missile to the ramen-laden embrace of Wagamama in the Flatiron. On our mind were its chilli squids because boy have we missed ’em. In a mall in Milton Keynes, for example, on a superbly grey day in England we ended up going back twice to Wagamama for lunch and dinner — because we were not satisfied with just two servings of chilli squids at one go. We went back for more – for dinner – and the guy who had served us in the afternoon was confounded. ‘You Really like Wagamama, eh?’ he said. No shit, Sherlock.

Wagamama kept us going – because as with London, NYC can work your quads in a way not even a stairmaster can.

We had started the day at the New York Public Library because I had to return my books and renew my membership card. But as it turns out, my name came to my rescue. My usual practice is to come up with a nom de guerre for Starbucks and for those I know would struggle to figure out my name. One of my neighbours, a guy had told me sagely a while ago on an evening of purple hues and barbecue that I should not bother changing it. He had added: ‘Let them try and get it. Don’t change your name to suit anybody.’ Well at a library you cannot deal in any kind of pseudonyms, can you, with the State ID and all that thrown into the mixture? The woman at the check-out desk took a look at my name and said, ‘The same name as the writer! How do you pronounce it?’ She tried it on her tongue a few times till she got it. So yes, Arundhati Roy, the woman with magic in her pen, worked her fame and what happened was that even though the card is allotted for three months to anyone outside the county of NY and has to be renewed regularly, I got it for three years. I wanted to hug her.

With a halo of happiness hanging around me, I headed towards Central Park with Adi. There was such beauty in the air there even though the colours were not pronounced. A guy lay back on the grass and read a book, leaves wafted all around us like we were on the sets of a film, it was poetic, the charm of the evening…a golden retriever was commanded repeatedly by its master to sit and meet a little girl. His name was Jasper, the dog’s that is…Jasper refused to sit down. Yeah Jasper, you are not some performing clown. At the ice rink, Adi spotted a young boy of about 8 or so who skated like a ballet dancer, moving his arms oh so fluidly in tandem with the easy gliding of his feet clad in roller skates…we were transfixed by the prowess within that little body. Then the odd sight of a  bride who was in the midst of a photo shoot with her man in a denim jacket and Stetson hat.

Later we sauntered down Fifth Avenue, wandering in and out of stores. We entered Bergdorf Goodman where women with botox-ed, grim faces piled up boxes of expensive shoes like it was their birthright…Adi was determined to buy me a pair of Manolo Blahniks, so I had to don silk stockings and slip my feet into a pair of lace boots with stiletto heels so high that I thought I would keel over the moment I stood on them. Much to his disappointment, I returned them perfunctorily, sighed over a pair of fuchsia pink booties adorned with zardozi on the cuffs and heels. There is a photo of them below that I caught at the display window. The booties are a result of a collaboration between Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi and Christian Louboutin. Now Sabyasachi makes me proud as my home-town boy from Calcutta because his design sensibility is special. He does not pretend. He uses his roots and folklores and the result are designs that make you swoon. The prices do too. I dropped it all like a hot potato and headed outside, an annoyed Adi at my heels because my beloved wants to pamper me for my upcoming birthday. It made my heart swell with love because the thought is all that counts, is it not? This husband of mine is a gem. Yes, I should spare you the camp notes. But really, I was overwhelmed and I chose to indulge instead in a few stunning winter dresses from Zara with silhouettes and sleeves that made the heart trill.

Then we bought financiers, brownies and bread from this beautiful boulangerie and when we reached Wagamama, the delectable crunch of the squids sprinkled with shichimi, a Japanese chilli pepper mixture, and a huge bowl of ramen hit the right notes. Then home and pastries. Later wine to soak it all up.

And now I shall go pack my stuff for we head out to Worcester in a while. Toodles.

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