Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Incept -ing New York

"This is the bridge. Do you remember this bridge?" Nick was showing me an old bridge in Brooklyn. Nick had come to pick me at the JFK airport along with Baiju, and was pointing to the bridge as our taxi slowly rolled under. I had just disembarked at New York's JFK airport after 18 hours of long flight. I had slept most of the time on flight even skipping the meals served on board. So when I approached the immigration officer who was going through my documents, scanning my finger prints , greeting me in typical American accent "how you doing?' I had sheepish answered "very tired sir."

I always land in New York, experiencing this dream like condition, not knowing if you are still dreaming in flight or you have actually landed in NYC. Only way I can explain this condition is to my jet lagged state of mind and body which is trying to adjust to a new time cycle.

Nick was obviously pointing to the bridge where a dream sequence form the movie Inception was shot. Yes, it is the same bridge where Cobb is explaining Adrian about complexities of dream world. Baiju knew my predicament so he pointed to the huge painting creating the illusion of crumbling buildings; a scene painted from the movie Inception. "That's the hand painted billboard. Isn't it fascinating" He was saying as we slowly navigated through streets of New York. You begin to experience uncanny experiences amidst massive structures looming over you. And you know, city is spinning a dream for you.

It was 10am. Sun was burning hard as Newyorkers were trying to beat the heat with skimpiest shorts and over sized shades. Honestly, I was not in my best state of mind when I arrived to appreciate bright and hot New York. I had been struggling to pep myself up on various fronts before I boarded flight and was not sure what I want to do here. New york grows on you moment you hit the streets, subs and museums, as if waking from a good dream. But I was not sure this time, if New york can spin a good dream for me.

Every city is a dream and every dream makes a city. Like a dream you can live in a city through its complex layers. Every layer will show you how the city exists in deep layers. It is up to you how good a dreamer you are. How deep you can dream. NYC is certainly a dreamer's city. A Dreamer's dream!

Often I have tried to analyze why I love being in NYC? Is it the Union square where we have spent hours watching people pass by or watch them perform some of the strangest acts. Is it museums, or endless galleries at Chelsea( unfortunately this is disappearing rapidly with art market crash) absorbing a visual feast, is it the sound of good jazz music you hear amidst rushing crowds in subways? or is it the quintessential fire alarm vans zooming past the city at any given hour of the day and night. Is it the jazz performance at one of the many clubs that come alive on Friday nights. Is it the many hours you spend in pet shops pampering those strays cats or those book shops that let you read books even if you spend a day siting in a corner. Is it the huge malls, fashion label houses,huge electronic billboards, mega technology shops that never stops flirting with your eyes. It is hard to say which way NYC seduces you.

People trust you .. even if you are a stranger.People make direct eye contact and smile when they make sales and greet with their quintessential Newyorkian "hi...howyoudoing?" When you get on the bus and give a $10 bill for $1 ticket , trust me bus driver won't bark at you to get out of bus. Surprisingly you might get to hear, "Its ok. Pay me next time". Even when she knows you are just visiting the city and never see her again. Compare this to Bombay bus conductor who will make sure you will be embarrassed before hundreds of passengers as if you have been caught red handed. Even the museum staff, who knows you are a visitor in this city will give you that extra minute to linger around an art work even when the closing bell has been announced for closing gallery. No rules are shown to you.( as long as they are not broken) No one doubts you. No one fears you.In short New york does not bite, you Just because you are a stranger.No matter which nation you come from , which religion you belong to, which race you are born in. There seemed to be an acceptance for what you are. City embraces and celebrates diversity. You feel free, for you don't have to answer any questions to any one for who you are.

But New york is not America, as the Newyorkers proudly claim. They believe they are a world in itself. As they say, if you stand by Times square for fifteen minutes you meet the whole world. And how true it is when you enter the subways when you see whole range of racial profiles boarding and exiting a metro train in unison. This sight never stops amusing me. As if next moment they might bust singing " we are the world..."

Yet again New york managed to spin a dream for me. By the time my short visit ended I felt refreshed and energized. Like a good dream. Or is it another clever inception?

Who knows? I am not going to spin any more totems to check if this is real.