It is not that something that is said repetitively is old or worn.
I know I have said many a time that New York City is the center of the world. I know that I have seen myself in the fictional character Blaire Waldorf more than I’d care to admit; I believe I gave a standing ovation when she said that anyone who didn’t want to live in New York City was just kidding themselves; those cop-outs.
All of that is getting old.
It’s quite an ironic story really, because the person who catalyzed this story was old herself.
I travel on the train almost daily. The subway experience is not exactly pleasant, as I have pointed out in my last post, but you deal.
If there is someone sitting next to me on the long seat that runs along the length of both sides of the car, and he/she is swaying with train, presumably sleeping, so that his/her body weight tends to bear itself upon me, it is ok. I won’t push the person. I won’t give subtle hints. We’re all human. We have all either woken up too early for work or are inexplicably exhausted on our way home from work.
If the train car is filled to capacity and there is a forearm in my face because someone has to hold onto the metal support above my head in order not to fall, that’s ok.
I may turn my head in the person’s direction a little in order to remind him that I’m standing there.
He had said, “I’m sorry” and everything was alright.
I switched from the conditional tense to the past perfect, purposely.
The context had actually materialized.
A couple days ago I was on the train. A woman had to get out of the train car before the doors closed. People were rushing into the car simultaneously. Blocking the doorway myself, I stepped to the side to let the lady pass whose facial expression I saw go from furious to less angry with a tinge of gratefulness because I made way for her.
This is the way of the New Yorker - always on the offensive but still able to put down the metaphorical spurs…
…. because who wants to be that New Yorker wearing spurs?
In the act of being a New Yorker, stepping out of the way with my naturally down-turned lips and furrowed eyebrows…
I felt a fist forced into the lower arch of my back.
Dressed in a pea coat pinched on my right shoulder by a shoulder bag and messenger laptop bag, my body already felt frail.
I turned around to find the source of this new pain.
I made eye contact with an older lady with a head full of eighties inspired, frizzy hair, fanned-out bangs and all.
Upon making eye contact she blinked and said, “Oh - sorr-”.
Perhaps my tights, bright red oxford shoes, my kara that she may have thought of as a harmless bracelet, and my side braid gave off the impression that I was Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
Little did she know that she would meet my pair of eyes.
I was shocked that someone had intentionally touched me, much less maliciously.
My head was pounding, my heart was thumping rapidly, I was trembling - I was absolutely enraged and all I could blurt out was: “You punched me!”
Her response: “Your bag touched my hair. Move!”
Are you serious lady? Are you freaking kidding me?
Expletives… about to come out.
Finger next to the one made for a ring given by my future prince charming… about to go up.
Head splitting, goosebumps appearing, hair standing, living by an eye for an eye….
I controlled myself.
I did not curse. I did not raise my voice. My fingers were kept by my side.
Reshmi? Where are you?
I’m right here.
I’m grounded, albeit in pain.
At least my pea coat shielded me from the full blow.
As my stop approached I told her: Learn some manners. You don’t shove people -
I was completely saddened. If this is what being a New Yorker means, I don’t want to identify with this anymore.
This is strike 3, this is the last straw, this is it.
I am applying to go abroad. I have spoken about leaving, knowing that the U.S. cannot be the know all and say all. I refuse to believe that we are the epitome of civilization and the rest of the world is barbaric.
I know in the U.S. every life is precious. We have amber and silver alerts. We have code blues and reds. We even have red, yellow, and green traffic lights.
However, are we so individual-minded that we refuse recognize humanity?
Look at India. The second most populous country in the world. Sometimes people are packed in buses or in trains. I never thought this situation was ideal. Like Kunal Kapoor’s character in the film Rang De Basanti had said, in India you have to constantly adjust - make 4 people sit on a bench made for 2. He thought this was backwards of the country to do.
Think about it - they adjust. Indians, perhaps not all, but most, adjust for one another so that everyone can fit.
That is humane. This adjusting that Indians do is necessary for a joyous living and for people’s minds not be muddled with nonsensical arguments.
Then go! Go somewhere else!
I want to see what is out there. I want to go and experience and then I want to come back because, regardless, this is my city, the place of my birth.