So, it’s been about two months since I’ve been back. At first, it was strange adjusting back to this culture. The weirdest thing was the dimensions of space-to-human usage.
In most of Southeast Asia, people got around by low-powered motor scooters. Here, scooters are usually luxury products (unless used by food delivery service drivers), and huge cars aremore abundant.
Rather than hundreds of drivers crammed into the same road going about in every such direction at low speeds, there are big cars driving along wide, multi-lane streets at high speeds. The American highways were at first a huge shock, but I am at the point where they are becoming normal again.
Some things I’ve been doing seem like they’ll always be the same. For instance, Grand Central, as long as I’ve known it, remains static. Maybe during times in the past it was grittier or more accessible to the public, but today, it is the same luxurious, crowded, semi-long distance train terminal I’ve always known.
There have also been some changes around town. I’ve noticed that the 99-cent pizza craze has taken off on a new level. A few years ago, they were few and far between, but now, some places even conduct price wars where they reduce the price to 75 cents to compete with their neighbor! While this cheap pizza may not be top-notch, the regular pizzerias have graced me with the beloved style of slices that I will forever compare all other pizzas to.
Readjustments have been made to American household appliances. I messed up using a drip coffee machine for the first time, but was able to figure out a clothes dryer again right away (such dryers were pretty much non-existent in Asia). Though I barely ever use an oven, it is pleasant to have that as an option once again.
Being American, it is also hard to match the endless consumer options we have at home with those abroad. Though many people live in excess, as it’s so easy to do, I can basically access any food or other useful product I’d desire.
Some things I’ve been doing have been the same. Riding the subway, going to Central Park walking around the East Village have all been similar.
The Union Square Greenmarket is an exact replica of what I remember it as. Walking around it is aesthetically pleasing, but all of the smells can’t help but make me incredibly hungry.
I’ve been to Bryant Park dozens of times, in the past and present.
However, this is the first time I’ve embarked on the carousel cat.
New things are always a treasure. I’ve ventured to Astoria Park in northern Queens. On a nice day, this is a great place to bring some Greek groceries from one of the local stores and relax on a bench. I also embarked on Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, and discovered where a high concentration of live-action cricket-playing is located. I walked along with High Line, and decided that as beautiful as the view is, it is better to go on in bad weather, when it is not flooded with tourists.
The Staten Island Ferry ride is also a new thing I’ve done. The smell of the water, views of the Statue of Liberty and sight of planes taking off and landing into the Newark airport are all pleasant.
In the Coney Island/Brighton Beach area, some of the businesses I remember have shut down to make room for new development, but the people and overall feeling of the place remains the same.
I mean, real estate developers could never kill the integrity of one’s ability to walk around the boardwalk with a cat on the shoulder!
Though I have not been itching to travel long distances lately, there are still many places to explore that are not too far away.