The second day was a hot day with temps going up in the 90s, factor in some humidity and we got a grumpy ole me
Today is the day of the wedding, happening at 8:30 pm tonight. So we have the rest of the day to ourselves. Got to see as much as we can of this great city. And this is the highlights/lowlights of our day:
- Took a 45-minute subway ride to Manhattan. Stopped at Parkside West. Hit the pavement and reached St. John’s Cathedral for some photo op.
- Entered a little Hungarian bakery and got some pastries to munch on while hitting the streets and to get a little shelter from the sweltering heat. We got one good piece of rumball.
- Because of the weather, saw a lot of hot chix, hubs got an eyeful.
- Walked around Chinatown.
- Walked around Little Italy.
- Stood in line for 20 minutes to use the bathroom at McDonald’s
- Took a long subway train ride back to the hotel passing other boroughs. Had my sightseeing tour right there.
The wedding happened as husband expected it to be later than advertised. He said we need not hurry, it’s not going to begin at the time announced. He was right. It was my first Bangladeshi/Muslim wedding and I was there soaking it all up. The people were extremely friendly and accepting in their finest saris. I was the odd person out as I did not don my sari. I own a few of them, but I could not confidently walk all over NY and ride the subway wearing them. Not yet at least.
The ceremony itself was very fascinating. Let’s just say there is pomp and pageantry and a lot of shining gold. I was told that it’s the subdued version. If this was happening in Bangladesh, it would be ten times the pomp and the pageantry.
It was past midnight when the festivities ended. We were in Queens and taxis were unbelievably scarce and the subway was just a block away. Despite my apprehension, the subway was a safe place to be at that time. The train came on time and there wasn’t any slasher that always lurks in the corner of the subway (thanks Law and Order). Walking the 1 1/2 blocks from the subway to the hotel was remarkably safe too.
On the third day, we went sightseeing. There is more to see than what we could cover. We saw a little of Central Park, a little of Times Square, a little of Grand Central Terminal or is it station, a little of the city hall and viewed the Brooklyn Bridge from a distance, accidentally ventured into Trinity church in Wall Street and photographed the church and the lingered in the garden (what a lovely time I had there), went to Jackson Heights where I shopped a bit and we ate at a Bangladeshi restaurant for a taste of home made shingara and mango lassi. We wanted to eat more, but we were expecting company for a late lunch, the plan went kaput, we got invited to a dinner instead.
The dinner was very nice. As was my experience with the Bangladeshis, they are like duty bound to invite you over to their home for dinner immediately after meeting you. It’s like something they had to do. You must understand that this was the first time these people met us. We are connected via the groom; they are the bride’s family.
So, having had dinner invites by Bangla households before I knew exactly what I was getting. And I was getting something wonderful all the time. And the thing that I never thought would happen in NY, here in the US, thousands of miles away from their homeland, the tradition continues to thrive. I got a gift when we said goodbye. And like any good guests we were not allowed to refuse the gift. It would be an insult. Back in the hotel did we open what’s in the bag and the aunt gave me a wonderful gold necklace and earring set. Costs way too much to gift someone you just met a couple of days before. It’s definitely more expensive than the pearl set that we gifted the bride. I didn’t know what to say, but hubs assured me that refusing the gift was not acceptable behaviour. Spent time with the newlyweds too.
Time to leave the city hot and humid city of New York for the cool breeze of San Francisco’s marine layer (aka fog). We called the front desk of the hotel asking them to call us a cab. A limo came to take us to the airport. I was surprised. For a measely 5 bucks more I got to ride in a limo to the airport. I told my husband if this was his way of making an exclamation point at the end of the trip. He claimed innocence on this plan. It was a good touch to the trip.
When the plane was touching down, the pilot announced, WELCOME TO BEAUTIFUL SAN FRANCISCO! I was glad I was home and the screen infront of me say the outside temp was 55 F at 2:30 pm, wow I was in heaven. It’s not in the 90s anymore. I was glad to be home.
Lessons of my trip:
- The subway is the cheapest, most reliable, and most convenient way to get around the city. It’s far safer than I thought it would be.
- The city is way too busy for my taste. I would be a nervous wreck within a month of staying there.
- People hardly smile to each other. Or simply smile. They’re in too much of a hurry to smile.
- David Letterman was not kidding about squirrels in Central Park or rats in the subway, or even the smell of the city.
- Queens is so much like an Asian city. There is a part of Jackson Heights that feels so much like that area in Pasay City. It smells like that too. I was so at home.