Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tale of the Two Cities

I am a super-charged NewYorker during the workweek daytime and a change back to a mild mannered Jersey Girl at other times. I embrace my dual identities and happily too.
Funnily enough, it fits and isnt as contrary as one might expect. Having managed the transition from small-town girl (where everyone on the street practically knows your name and what you had for breakfast) without even blinking, I smoothly enmeshed myself into the routine that best serves the fact that I work in New York and live in the neighbouring Garden state.
Of course, I had help; Vijay to help with the office related settling-in and Ratheesh helped me find my groove in the svelte sophistication of Newport, Jersey City.

I never thought I would feel this way, but I like the bee-hive activity in the Big Apple and the constant buzz of people doing things. I like submerging into the sea of humanity and being led into and out of trains and while crossing the streets. There is simply no time for gossip and nose-poking here, its just not NY.
Rules here are simple and very primeval - "Keep Going or Get out of the way". This penchant for efficiency and productive non-intrusive outlook hasnt taken away the souls of the populace, if at all the vibrant culture and flourishing art, architecture, music and theatre are any parameters to go by.

Although treated with apparent disdain by the "natives", the vibes in Jersey City are by no means rural or pastoral as the polished cousins across the Hudson would like us to believe. Although its true that NJ is practically majority Indian with a smattering of the other nationalities, the people are smart, glamorous and ubercool too. If you arent up to going beserk in the 7th Avenue shops (after looking at pricetags) or find it ok to breeze in and out of Millenium Hilton (having eaten and paying the bill there) then Jersey City is probably slumming. But I am in the median of the population's per capita income and I like the close-to-home feel of Jersey and am looking forward to shopping in the 'Indian' street in Journal Square, eating at the Indian eateries in Edison, going to the Temple in Bridgewater and visiting Brinda in the family suburb of Brunswick.

An element of surreality is the place where I live, its a luxury furnished apartment in a high-rise and it overlooks the Newport Marina (where the rich people park their yachts), the Hudson river and the eternal lights of the Manhattan skyline. I have a doorman with a reception desk (replete with the uniform and the gold buttons) and my lobby looks like something from a Karan Johar movie set. To make things worse, I practically occupy the whole house by myself and have gotten even more spoiled with my idea of "space".

Independance and Freedom is in every atom here - you cook if you want or go out and eat, you stay in if you want or go jogging at 1 AM on the Hudson walkway, you save-up if you can or go shopping at the Newport Mall, you can drive or walk where ever or take a train to anyplace, you can internalize all you want and no one will bother you or you could surround yourself with people and be out all the time; Its your choice and there are no constraints here [except those of the financial kind, which we will not focus on just to keep our sanity].

In short, I am living it and loving it- the Desi take on the American Dream.

Happy at last,