Sunday, April 6, 2014

New York March-April 2014

New York City trip Thursday March 27th 2014

We had a long but pleasant flight with the Qantas A380 across the Pacific then connection with AA for JFK where we arrived on time at 8.30pm. This second flight was on a brand new Airbus A321T with fully reclining seats in business, excellent food and audio-visual. Interestingly there was no indication on board that I could see that the plane was not American. Even the emergency instructions had “A321T” but no mention of Airbus Industries, France or other indication it was foreign made. I think that Americans may be the most nationalistic people and the lack of foreign designation may have been purposeful so as not to offend some of their regular ‘travelers’. There are US flags everywhere one looks. Nothing wrong with some nationalism, yet at a certain point it evokes serious superiority, something quite unnecessary and inappropriate with one example of a country with just as many good points just to its north, not to mention all the others.

Now in New York it is almost impossible to go out for a day and not see/hear/witness something absolutely incredible. It becomes clear why photographers, poets, writers, cinematographers and others gain such inspiration from this city.

This trip has been no different … weather is an important factor and out of our first week we have had two perfect, blue-sky windless days .. with rain, wind and cold on some other days … but they have their joys too, of course. We had a nasty storm one afternoon and we noted a black umbrella lodged high in an otherwise bare tree next to our brown-stone lodgings. By the time I got the camera out it had gone, blown to another vantage no doubt.

There was a pile of remnant snow in Central Park near the main central avenue where some amateur acrobats were performing incredible feats both together and singly to a gathering crowd. They asked for three children from the crowd to volunteer for a feat of daring. Then the host asked out loud if any of the volunteers’ fathers were attorneys. Then after asking for silence, one of them took a running leap and did a massive somersault over the heads of the children … to the great mirth of the crowd (and probably terror of the petrified youngsters). See the amazing action-photo c/o Allan. 

Acrobats at work - leaping somersault over three volunteer children

 Busy market 80th St and Columbus Avenue
Grey 'Canadian' geese in Central Park

Tortoises basking in Central Park

I always marvel at the choice of foods available here. By my second trip back from the smallgoods and fruit shops I had obtained a packet of ‘duck bacon’, osso irati and izaru sheep’s milk cheeses, Taleggio chunk, black truffle and liver paté, spiced dried Moroccan olives, Niçoise olives, dried nectarines, giant roasted cashews, Tanqueray Malacca gin (in a clear bottle), Godiva dark plain chocolate bar, hot-smoked cutlet of salmon, caserecce dried pasta (gemelli), custom dried bean mix, Iberico jamon, smoked beef ribs … I could go on!  

I was waiting for the local train at 8th St on our second day while carrying my cache of cheap grog. Suddenly, the "via local" train shot through at high speed ... much to the consternation of a platform of stunned would-be passengers who had never seen such a thing. One voluble black man hooted as the train disappeared down the tunnel towards Washington Square: "So, you donna like this station, heir?" Another ten minutes and we were on our way. I felt a bit like Falstaff, lacking any assistants, carting my own sherry sack!

Being only 5 short blocks from the Lincoln Center, in the first ten days we had been to La Sonnambula twice, a dress rehearsal of Arabella and a performance of Andrea Chenier. We also heard a historic event on the radio in which an indisposed Mimi was replaced on a Saturday HD broadcast by a soprano, Kristine Opolais who had just sung a performance of Madama Butterfly the night before … a phenomenal feat in any elite athlete’s language.

It was a great pleasure to catch up with an old school friend and his wife who live in the big apple. They are on a health kick after watching a video of the benefits of a vegan diet. Everyone here has some fad or other and my delectation to gate-crashing mosques and synagogues is not as bizarre as it might be considered elsewhere (although one has to concede it is pretty bizarre - and nowhere in the world better to do so than New York).

Allan has secured some bargains in the clothing and fragrance departments while I have crammed in two specialist lectures at NYU, on ‘decarcertion’ and decriminalisation of drugs; Bellevue Hospital resident presentations and VA Hospital in Brooklyn where I gave a description of our practice and results of a recent survey we conducted concerning choice of medication and hepatitis C. Also Columbia and Rockefeller University visits.  More about them on my medical blog in due course.

More anon if anyone is interested when time permits.