Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Neue York

We passed through Hell Gate to enter Manhattan from Randall's island, and truly, driving in NYC was no heaven. We were two country bumpkins in a green shoe box, generating a symphony of horns.

After being liberated from our car, we had dinner with a friend who drove a cab in college. "If you're raised in Manhattan, you'll be sharp, that's for sure," he said, one hand on the wheel, suavely swerving through the city.

We stayed in a researcher's apartment for its approximation to Columbia. Our dank little refuge had a fantastic bookshelf, which overflowed with Urdu love poetry, physics textbooks, and the New Yorker. Wahoo!

The next day was ours to fill. Following a Columbia tour, we walked through Central Park to the Neue Galerie, the best art museum I've been to (maybe because I'm a Germanophile, maybe because of the rhubarb cake). The smallish space made each work more accessible - time to ponder and absorb. A handful of paintings by Gustav Klimt, my favorite artist, adorned the walls. An old man gestured to the painting below, telling his wife to look twice:

The Park at Kammer Castle (1910). Can you see the head dipping into the water?
I saw only a fat hedge, at first. All artworks are palimpsests.

The German secessionists were featured in a special exhibit. This group of artists - whose mediums varied from watercolor to wallpaper - sought to heal the world of the "negative aesthetic and social consequences of the Industrial Revolution." On display was a silver coffer commissioned by Gustav Mahler for his wife, Alma. Klimt painted Schubert at the Piano. How amazing to see these lives overlap!

We encountered a beautiful skylight:
shell-like colors
A note about our adventures on the Metro: people tend to avoid eye contact, but my mom kept disobeying this rule. She interviewed a group of model-like Norwegian tourists and complimented people on their babies. I am proud of her. The Metro also had somewhat of a crime scene: we emerged from a stairwell to hear a woman shrieking for help as she flailed after a shady man, who had stolen her cell phone. They sprinted out of the station before the passersby could comprehend her plea. :(

On our final morning, we decided to descend from Morningside Heights into Harlem and attend First Corinthian Baptist Church. My ears had never been so full of sound - praise was blasted at full throttle. Happy shouts of "Hallelujah!" were right in rhythm. As attendees of a comparatively silent Asian-American church, my mom and I were entranced.

I thought that the Bay Area was diverse, but New York sure is one batch of mixed nuts.

Yum, yum.

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