My first bite of the Big Apple, courtesy of my long lost nephew Charlie who took me on a "hop on-hop off" tour of the city on double-deck buses,
as their tour guides updated us on the city's finer as well as sleaze points.
Tingala nang tingala. I could not help but always look up. Couldn't, shouldn't miss New York's eclectic architecture, a blend of vintage (a lot of them art deco style like the Empire State, Chrysler and Rockefeller Center buildings) and 21st century skyscrapers.
Our tour started right in front of the Empire State building, circling the entire Manhattan area, a two-and-a-half-mile-wide metropolis with its more than one million residents, ballooning to five million plus each day with its out of town workers and visitors.
New York's sidewalks literally crawl---a cadence all its own---with people of all colors, shapes, sizes, attires and footwear (love those fashionista stilletos, but argh!, so impractical in this motorized city) pounding its streets 24/7.
I seem to have finally caught Frank Sinatra's real groove about "this city that doesn't sleep."
Times Square is like no other! With its perennial lights, giant screens and billboards promoting the hottest celebrities, products, TV and Broadway productions.
I could have lined up for a Broadway show but the lines were just tooooo long-winded and we didn't have the time.(Translation: What, tickets for $115!?---that's cheapest, with the most expensive at $260. No way!)
|Move over Christina Aguilera!|
I would just have been too happy to purchase a little pasalubong (souvenirs), but Charlie came to the rescue, insisting I get more, including an NBC bird for my granddaughter Natalie.
Phew, Philippine peso in tact! I stopped converting $ to P from then on.
|With long lost nephew Jojo|
It was exciting to see iconic structures "in person---" those which I marvelled at only in Hollywood movies like Godzilla, such as the Brooklyn bridge and flat iron building. Add to that list the new twin towers rising like the phoenix from the ashes of 9/11.
Reminds one of Demi Lovato's line, "Go on and try to tear me down. I will be rising from the ground. Like a skyscraper! Like a skyscraper!"
Notwithstanding the 9/11 tragedy and its aftermath, New York maintans its glitter and appeal. We viewed her that night from Jersey City across the Hudson River with our hosts Ate Dory and Ate Genia.
It looked glorious with its bright lights, dominated by a sheer satiny white light shooting up to space from ground zero.
But I was pleasantly surprised to see the other face of New York.
|My gracious hosts, Charlie from Upstate New York, |
and Ate Genia and Ate Dory (second from right
and extreme right, respectively) from Jersey City
Dr. Carlos Dator mirrors the laid back, other-neighborly and more down to earth side of this side of New York seldom experienced by many.
Charlie came to these parts after his Ninoy episode, established his medical practice in Syracuse, then finally settled with his family in Oswego City, bordered by Lake Ontario to the north.
Oswego felt and smelled iddylic and rustic, with its old low-rise buildings, small cafes and shops, acres and acres of agricultural lands, and folks greeting each other by name. And mind you, an almost zero crime rate!
And this is New York!?
Says Charlie: "I used to tell my children (Cherub, Chucky and Mariel who have become chef, doctor and lawyer respectively. Strictly speaking, they're my grandkids a few times removed.), 'Behave!' because we'd know soon enough what happened."
Oswego is a tightly-knit community. Besides, many of the cityfolk are his patients and could telegraph information to him faster than an email could.
|With Dr. Carlos Dator in the idyllic city of Oswego|
(bordering Ontario river), Upstate New York
Like doctors of yore, Charlie prefers personalized care. He asks his patients to list their questions beforehand so that their concerns get clarified during consultations, which of course take longer than usual.
He even refuses and thinks it rude to input data into the computer while attending to a patient. This he does afterwards even if he sees 25 patients a day.
Someone even pinch-hit for Charlie to make sure his visitors felt at home during our few-days stay in Oswego. His former work associate and mother-figure/confidante Joanne Geers treated us to lunch at a homey bistro. A charming and witty 75-er, she embodied the graciousness of one who valued family, relationships, selflessness, loyalty and faithfulness---the America I knew.
And this is where again? New York. The other side.
I'd thought New York stood for fast, slick, dangerous, anxiety.
The Big Apple may be good for a few bites. But after the euphoria and the dizzying pace, heights, colors and rides, you'd want to just shake it all off. And go slow, raise your feet, and be assured, "All is well. I can sleep soundly tonight."
"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters" (Psalm 23:2). Yes, even in New York!