Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Sound of Silence; Dinges; Squirrel Terrorists

The Sound of Silence on the New York Subway

The ephemeral silence of twenty people in shared space.  Twenty people, yet a void of words.  Dead sound.  Nothing but the clack-clack-clack of the train.

I have been on a train, but few in silence.  I can think of only two occasions:

The first in the metro in Delhi.  It was my first tour in India, and it was a noisy one.  A symphony of din; a cacophony of shrill noise. And then, I found my way underground and found a brief respite from the sounds.  It was golden, and I considered riding the metro all day.

The other came on an early morning train in Tokyo.  The train was filled with sleeping souls, eyes-wide shut. I felt like a cyclops.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Watching people roll by
wondering where they're goin'...
Ain't Life Grand.
-Widespread Panic

I had crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, and found my way to a bathroom on the hush.  I was walking over to the park when I found a Wafels & Dinges cart.  Free dinges (din-guess) the sign said.  Curious, I asked what a dinges entailed.  One free topping on a Belgian wafel.  I went through the list of choices and stopped on speculoos spread.  Not familiar, I asked what it was.  I got a knifeful in return.  Speculoos, indeed.  Gingerbread cookie spread.  Speculoos, it was.

I had speculoos smeared over the hot belgian wafel and Belgian gastrodiplomacy dreams percolated.  I go some coffee with a dollop of dulce de leche.  Never pass up decadence.

You Lucky Dinges! The paper container said.

Squirrel Terrorists
I sat in park on a park bench to eat my treat.  Immediately I had a squirrel friend.  I tried to be friendly with a lil hunk of the waffle.  The squirrel wanted a mile not an inch, so I shoeed him away.  The birds were content, sayeth San Francisco.

But the squirrel returned with a friend.  Like Neville Chamberlin, I tried my hand at appeasement, offering up a de speculoos cookie:

Royal Ordinance CCXXIX
Cups of the koffiee served within our Belgian territories shall be served only with de spekuloos cookie as accompaniment to said beverage.

But diplomacy failed as I turned to find his tree jackal companion trying to abscond with my waffle.

I just barely caught the lil tree jackal, and learned a valuable lesson that you can't negotiate with squirrel terrorists.

My body felt warn down, so I decided to head over a few blocks to Chinatown for a full body massage.  I had taken a young friend of mine named David over to get foot massages ($22 an hour) a few days prior.  I met David while he was on JASC, and I am working to mold him into a man of the world.  We had both been tense from work when the foot massage started, but there was a certain point where all the stress and anxiety evaporated and we both had an aura of peace come over.

This time, I went to get a full body massage ($36 an hour).  I quickly recognized the masseuse named Helen, who had been my masseuse at the place a few times prior when I was last in New York in February.  We had traded Chinese-English lessons as we bumbled through banter as she kneaded me.  She recognized me too, and we had a big smile.

Helen gave me one of the best massages I think I have ever had.  Oiled, and kneaded with hands and forearms, then covered with hot stones.  The difference was the intent.  Recognition and rapport led to a more connected massage; rather than going through the motions of massaging a stranger, she was putting some real effort, I could sense.

I left Helen a nice tip, and left the massage place to find some veggie mei fan (fried rice noodles) on the side of the road.  The best mei fan this side of Taipei, for only $1.50.  Of course, I made one debacle, and squirted soy sauce on the leg and foot of the poor girl standing next to me.  Thankfully, she laughed.

Then I left Chinatown for Little Italy, and sat out in a cafe on the peatonal, sipping sangria and reading the excellent Year of the Gadfly, and watching the tourists and signores pass by.

My night ended in Tribeca, sitting cross-legged as for a show of Indian classical Raga music.  The incense made me hungry, and I stopped in to the Pakistan Tea House for some wonderful dal (lentils), saag paneer (spinach)  and bagan bharta (eggplant) over rice with a fluffy naan.  Delish.

Oh, New York: the only place I know where I can cross a bridge (once sold to me) to a park to find Belgian waffles- only to dual squirrel terrorists.  Then walk ten minutes into Chinatown for a real Chinese massage and real mei fan, then head 3 blocks into Little Italy, and end the night with Indian music and subcontinental cuisine.  No place like you, dear New York.

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