mercredi 1 septembre 2010

Rite of Passage?

Saturday, August 28th 2010.

It's 7:46 PM (GMT) and I'm in New York. That everybody knows; exactly where, will help us more to understand.

Where are we, it's the proper question I should answer then, because I'm surrounded not by the sound, even though we can make that case too (sound of voices, noises) but rather by a lot of people of all colors and nationalities like the melting pot New York is, and it's not strange that I don't recognize any face amongst (that's British) them, nor there's any hint they know who am I either. 

The question is if they could really do it, the recognition, because nobody looks at you straight into your face (could be perceived as offensive as well). And that's an interesting thing in how people in these environments try to avoid making eye contact with other people, situation that if you are curious enough like me you can use in your favor for just looking at them unscathed. In their effort to not confront you or somebody else they get defenseless against scrutinizing eyes like mine who study each and every one of their movements before they could even realize they have been watched or they could catch the watcher.

Nevertheless, it's not very safe to get too confident; looks like there's some sort of truth in the assertion 'the weight of the gaze' and it's probably why people seem to perceive when they are looked at and you have to be fast and stay one second ahead of them in changing deliberately the object/subject of your study to another subject for they don't discover the trespasser and the invader in you. Because the feeling of being caught is always so embarrassing and don't ask me why, I just know it doesn't feel any good and for me that's more than enough to try not being surprised in the act of doing it.

Probably you have guessed right that I am in one of those collective means of transportation that are so peculiar of the urban life in the big cities. I'm in the Subway or one of the cars of the fourth train to be more specific and my journey started at the stop of 167th St. and River avenue in the Bronx, one stop before the New stadium of the baseball club, The NY Yankees.

I left my car intentionally because how can you speak properly about life in NY or any other city if you don't/never describe what it is or how it feels to commute in the subway. But you don't have to be a hero either and it's better if you take it on a Saturday or a Sunday because to know what a pie tastes like, is enough if you eat just a piece and not necessarily the whole thing.

I'm heading downtown Manhattan (you should always want to go downtown) and if you pay close attention is quite amazing how the demographics inside the car changes from one stop to the next. The colors of the people change too, depending on, if you are in Harlem, Chinatown or close to Wall Street. Education (as always) plays a key role in how people behave, how they are dressed and how friendly their appearance is. You can also make an inverse correlation between the level of education some people exhibit and the street number where they make their regular stop. The lower the street where their stop is, the higher their level of education and the manners they possess. On the contrary, the higher the street number where the stop is, the lower...

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and that's not a bad say, and maybe there are many exceptions applicable to this one, but you get the idea how things are..

A couple of months ago I was visiting the Rubin Museum of Art who specializes in Buddhism and culture of the Himalayas. In one exposition they were comparing the meaning of death in the Buddhist and the Christian traditions and there was a vanitas painting with an written observation about how the ears could have been the work of demons because they are orifices that were left open on purpose in stark contrast with the eyes that we can shut them down at will like when in the presence of an horrible vision. We can't shut the ears when horrifying sounds threatens us and in the train unless we're using a device to counteract the noise around us, we can't help but listening to the conversation that is happening between a couple of young guys in their late teens or early twentieths. And they're talking fashion. Just imagine, there's a taste for everything: pants down showing their underwear and one of them is trying to cover his head with some sort of clothing band on top of another fabric, nylon perhaps, covering already his hair and half of his head.

In midtown Manhattan the scenario changes for the better and in this case is a young lady who gives us a good spectacle of what it takes to live in the city. She enters the doors of our subway car with her bike, a big bag on one of her shoulders and standing close to the doors -there's no empty seat available for her, she tries with her empty hand to hold on and read a book. At the same time she grasps of the bike with the other hand: just add the rocking of the train and you get a pretty good picture of what's going on....

At the 68th St stop in Manhattan it's 3:03 local time (8:03PM GMT) and I haven't spoken yet about the purpose of this trip. The thing is that this blog is about bridges, trying to build one and it's a shame I know nothing about them. I've been experiencing feelings of fraud for not knowing enough about bridges. At least Sophie built one in the front/home page of the blog. But What about me? So I decided I shouldn't allow this to be bothering me anymore. I took a bold decision -not that I'd want to know how it feels to jump off from one, but instead to have some kind of a 'rite of passage' with bridges.

The idea is to do something I have never done in NY. I made up my mind to cross/walk a bridge and the only one possible to do it is just one of the most memorable and historic bridges of New York City: The Brooklyn Bridge. This one connects downtown Brooklyn with downtown Manhattan and I'm going to do it from East to West, in other words, from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
I just passed Fulton St., Wall St., and the last stop in Manhattan that is Bowling Green and here we go to Brooklyn.

Let's go and let's see what this adventure with the Brooklyn Bridge (another BB) brings!

4 commentaires:

  1. Really nice post, I've read it all :P (although, you must admit, it's pretty long and I'm exhausted).

  2. What a pleasure to have Pichiplayas here! Sophie, I introduce you to Pichiplayas; Pichiplayas I introduce you to Sophie.
    And let me tell you Sophie, her sense of humor is what made me a fan of hers (she seems to be always happy or in a good mood, even in funerals).

    And yes P., this post is very long. I just started making things shorter. I started with your name :D (Oh, I'm thrilled you said is a nice post).

  3. May I say nice to "meet" you, Sophie :) Or in French, enchantée? I'm sorry I've forgotten almost all my français...

    Fernando, when the weather is good, I wear my sunglasses and stare at people so that they don't notice it :P

  4. Enchantée too Pichiplayas. Even more now i know you use tour sunglasses to spy on people too. :D

    (BTW!: i love your haircut :)) )