Visiting New York

New Yorkers on Nassau Street

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)’s 2011 Courage in Journalism Awards take place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. When Roshani asks if I will be able to attend the function, I am like, “Are you kidding me?” I will definitely be there. So we go about arranging my travel to New York. Rosie Whitelaw offers to host me while I am in New York. I am so excited about the trip. The Waldorf Astoria I have been told is one of the oldest and priciest hotels. I think the people who go around giving money to the developing world sometimes meet here for dinner or tea or whatever. I tell my friends that I want to taste the food the rich eat.

I try to travel light. Something I just don’t know how to do. So here I am with three bags. My camera bag, my handbag and the overnight bag which is a patchwork bag of numerous colors. I wear jeans, brown boots, and a cream sweater. To top up the color delight are the huge orange earrings I wear. I am sure I am a photo opportunity for the man I see walking towards me at the Technology Square, just off the Amtrak rail and Citi office. I know he cannot resist the urge when I see him lift his android phone and
takes a picture. Our eyes meet. Mine say, ‘dude I know what you did. But I will not bust you because, guess what? I do not want to be late and secondly, I am student of photography now and since I take pictures of random strangers, I will not complain about it.” His eyes I think say, “Hey I took your picture and I know you know that I took your picture. Get over it.” We pass each other. I smile and increase my pace. I do not want to be late. I want to get to the station on time. Anyways I look at myself in numerous glass buildings in techie square and yes I would also take a picture of me for my flickr account.

I take the Bolt Bus from Boston South Station. Roshani has said it has free Wi Fi. James, my besty in Uganda, sees me online and tries to call on Skype. I tell him I cannot answer as I am on the bus. Chatting is a much better option at this stage. He tells me I am in a different world where we even have wireless on buses. I agree. Travelling on Ugandan buses makes you never want to take a bus again. Firstly, the bus is almost overly booked. By that, even the aisles have passengers standing in them. Sometimes you rub your nose in someone’s armpit or your neighbor decides to
take out their food. The worst combination is always the boiled eggs, which when you are not the one eating them, smell hideous and make you nauseous. In addition, there are so many stops on the bus, that by the time you get to your destination wherever that might be, you already want to get flashed out of there and your feet are paralyzed. So I am happy that the Bolt Bus has lots of space and is not full and that the situation of ever breathing in someone’s armpit odor is hypothetical. We pass miles and miles of natural and later concrete beauty. I tell James in the chat, that I do not mind the bus travel.
The road is so smooth, I tell him it is like flying on ground, whatever that means.

When Rosie calls to ask what I am wearing, I tell her, you will notice the large bright orange earrings. We arrive twenty minutes earlier than scheduled. So I wait at the stage and watch the New Yorkers scurry past me. I stand waiting for Rosie. I feel small in front of the sky rise buildings around me. I stare at the Tick Tock Diner looking out for someone who looks like Rosie. Rosie calls me to say she is at the diner and cannot see me. I say I am across the street and wave my hand as we walk towards each other. We hug. We head down the sub-way to catch our train rides. Rosie picks up a copy of the subway map for me. The New York Subway makes the Boston Subway look like the little known cousin. I have a meeting at the New York Times on Friday and I suddenly feel scared and lost, wondering how I will navigate the subway system.

We change trains a number of times and when we alight from Prospect Avenue, we walk to Rosie’s house. We buy wines and head to the house. At the front is a hilarious No Trespass sign which I do not notice until two days later when I return from my New York Times meeting. She shows me my room where I drop my stuff and take out my clothes for the award ceremony for the next day. Then we head to the patio where we take some wine before heading out for dinner. I have made it clear that I am looking for meaty food. I have not had a meal all day. Bus travel does that to me. I prefer to eat at
the end of my journey lest I get nauseous on the journey. I have spent the day eating on dried fruit I carried from Boston. So now I have this hunger headache. I swear I do not need Tylenol, Advil or the numerous pain relieve drugs I see advertised each time I turn on the TV. My remedy for this particular headache is a good hot meal.

We go to Coco Rocco, a Peruvian restaurant. I love the restaurant. The tables are laid with plain white paper, a cup of crayons, and a lit candle in a brown paper bag. Rosie says the crayons are for use. So when you are having a conversation and want to illustrate something, you actually draw on the paper. By the end of the dinner, the papers are filled with different drawings. Christine Moore and Nicholas, Rosie’s brother-in-law, are to join us for dinner. We order appetizers as we wait. Only Nicholas shows
up.

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