Tag Archives: New York City

A low-key return to blogging

It’s been an embarrassingly long hiatus, from which I had intended to return on several occasions. Alas! The unforgiving demands of adulthood always found ways to rain down on the blogging parade.

Exactly a month ago, I left the chaos and unpredictability of New York city to return to the hot, clammy tropical oven that is Singapore – where, fifteen years on, I am still worse off than a bright-eyed, just-off-the-plane tourist when it comes to directions. In that sense, I miss Manhattan’s orderliness of numbered streets and avenues; it was much easier to acquaint myself with my surrounding by searching for the street and avenue markers at the corner of every block. As for the climate, I have enough grievances about Singapore’s tropical humidity versus Manhattan’s “cray cray” weather to fill up an encyclopedia. I mean it snowed on the first day of Spring for goodness sake!

On the first day of Spring, it snowed for six hours straight.

On the first day of Spring, it snowed for six hours straight.

Like every other survivor of academia, emerging from graduate school with puffy eyebags, sleeplessness, and an insatiable caffeine addiction, there was a need to find gainful employment. Through a few wonderful contacts, things fell into place with ease and I started my real-life newsroom adventures at CNBC International at the start of this month.

The graduation ceremony was quite the spectacle!

The graduation ceremony at Columbia was quite the spectacle!

Fitting in nearly 30,000 people comprising graduating students, parents, family members, & faculty in the Low Plaza was quite the feat.

Fitting in nearly 30,000 people comprising graduating students, parents, family members, & faculty in the Low Plaza was quite the feat.

In honour of the graduating class at Columbia, the Empire State Building turns their lights blue every year. The best viewing sites include roof top bars like this one.

In honour of the graduating class at Columbia, the Empire State Building turns their lights blue every year. The best viewing sites include roof top bars like this one.

At Columbia’s famed journalism school, founded by Joseph Pulitzer, where the highly prestigious Pulitzer prizes are given out, the faculty prepared us for many things – such as writing breaking news, interviewing laconic newsmakers, lugging heavy video equipment in sub-zero temperature, or navigating the bureaucratic juggernauts that are government agencies among others. But nothing prepared me for the experience of being part of the news team that puts out a 3-hour live show every Monday to Friday, which happen to be a flagship program for CNBC. Or the fact that I go to office in the dead of the night and finish the day’s work by lunchtime.

Nothing was more beautiful than experiencing the first sun rise back home.

Nothing was more beautiful than experiencing the first sun rise back home.

Though I will terribly miss the beautiful view from my dorm room on 109th and Riverside Drive; overlooking the New Jersey, the Hudson River, and the George Washington bridge.

Though I will terribly miss the beautiful view from my dorm room on 109th and Riverside Drive; overlooking the New Jersey, the Hudson River, and the George Washington bridge.

In the one month I’ve spent here, I learned more about honing news judgement senses, working with 12th hour deadlines (read: less than five minutes before a video story is scheduled to air), and paying close attention to detail than in the 10 months at Columbia. That is not to say graduate school was a bust – far from it, Columbia was a lengthy exercise in personal and professional development to understand our calling better.

Speaking of personal development, there is a list of blogging topics which I have put on my to-do list with, perhaps, naive determination; one could hope at least two of the entries, one of which comprises doling praises to Chris “no longer the chubby guy from Parks & Recs” Pratt and the entire cast of Jurassic World, will get written and posted. Jury’s still out though.

Central Park in Spring

The word Spring is a misnomer when used to describe the current New York weather. While the last of the snow has melted, the temperatures are barely crawling past zero (in the Celsius scale) and dressing in layers is still the advise du jour; because even if it looks warm and sunny outside, it usually drops to near zero temperature in a few hours.

In this weather, Central Park looks quite charming in its post-wintry decay; the trees are still bare and brown, dried, ochre-colored leaves cover the off-road tracks, and only the slightest hues of green, from the new patches of grass growing, hint at the change of season.

Yesterday afternoon, a friend and I went to what she called “the more hispter side of Central Park.” In other words, this was the enclave on the Upper West Side populated by jogging/walking/strolling New Yorkers instead of starry-eyed tourists with their baseball caps, fleece jackets, sunglasses, and cameras hanging off their necks. We went an hour before sunset, which provided the perfect lighting for the photographs below. One of my photography professors remarked back in August last year that this light is referred to as “the golden light” among photographers – the perfect setting to take photos.

Overall, it was satisfying to see how these pictures turned out.

The path led up to the 110th Central Park West entrance

The path led up to the 110th Central Park West entrance.

The sense of decay among the trees was a remnant of the bone-chilling winter.

The sense of decay among the trees was a remnant of the bone-chilling winter.

This dusty pathway by the small water passage gave off the lost-in-the-woods vibe from fairytales.

This dusty pathway by the small water passage gave off the lost-in-the-woods vibe from fairy tales.

My friend Joanna.

My friend Joanna.

Another small water body; though the water here was quite filthy.

Another small water body; though the water here was quite filthy.

Back into the woods.

Back into the woods.

A fallen branch in the midst of the decay.

A fallen branch in the midst of the decay.

Another off-the-road, dirt path leading up to one of the main roads.

Another off-the-road, dirt path leading up to one of the main roads.

Deep in the woods. And my friend Joanna.

Deep in the woods. And my friend Joanna.

Decay.

Decay.

Despite the cold, the sky was gorgeous.

Despite the cold, the sky was gorgeous.

Central_Park-14

At this point, we were pretty lost and it felt like fairyland.

At last, we found our way out onto one of the main roads within the park.

At last, we found our way out onto one of the main roads within the park.

First brushes with sub-zero (degrees) winter

As the city thaws and the last traces of snow melt away, beckoning the arrival of Spring, this evening is a good time to be reflective as the day folds into night over and across the Hudson. It’s been seven months and two weeks since I packed a part of my life into three big suitcases and left the warm, tropical “comforts” of home in Singapore.

New York has been amazing so far.

Overlooking the Hudson River

Overlooking the Hudson River

The city really does not sleep. Uptown. Midtown. Downtown. I live in a room that has “a million-dollar view” said my superintendent once when he came to fix a window. It overlooks the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge; there’s a beautiful Riverside park across the street, which looked magnificent in the winter.

This was my first proper winter that made the 15 degree Celsius Indian winters look like a paper boat in a vast ocean. On the coldest days, the weather languished somewhere between -15 to -20, with wind chill going as low as – 25 and a 35mph wind blowing from the river. There were days I could not feel the muscles in my face until after I had come home and spent considerable time thawing by the heater. It’ surprises me that I did not end up with frostbites on at least three occasions.

There was even a misplaced blizzard warning in January, which ended in many foiled plans for a 48-hour Netflix marathon with hot chocolate, mac-n-cheese, and every other type of comfort food one can think of; but classes were cancelled nonetheless, long lines formed at grocery stores as New Yorkers picked up their last-minute comfort snacks to live out the freezing evening, and for the first time in its history, the subway shut down by nightfall. I remember the exciting game of Cards Against Humanity that everyone on our floor played.

Total whiteout.

Total whiteout.

The eve of the "Blizzard"

The eve of the “Blizzard”.

When it snows for hours at a stretch

When it snows for hours at a stretch.

When it snowed, however, all of the menacing cold weather was forgiven as the neighborhood went underneath a white, almost comforting blanket of snow. It was beautiful. I went to an impromptu snowball fight that was organized on college walk at campus – the wide pathway through the Low Memorial and Butler Libraries. Being hit in the face by snowball wasn’t something I relished but hitting friends and schoolmates with them was full-on fun.

It was like the Hunger Games, only less lethal.

It was like the Hunger Games, only less lethal.

The aftermath of snow was disgusting. The gray-and-yellow snow, slippery ice on footpaths, and deceptive, ankle-deep slush puddles at every street corner formed the holy trinity of everything bad and inconvenient about snow in the city.

Still, as I see the snow, even the disgusting type, melt away into the grass and on footpaths, signaling the passing of another season, I feel a pull of nostalgia in my heart. Has it really been seven months?

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