I learned that it’s a good thing to eat Kosher while in New York (of course, for some, it’s good to eat Kosher all the time). Being that I’m not Jewish, it was a cultural lesson for me to understand what Kosher food actually is.
I learned that it is a common misconception by non-Jewish people that Kosher food has been “blessed by a Rabbi”. Apparently, the modern definition of Kosher is that the manufacturing and packaging (and perhaps distribution?) of the food has been certified Kosher by the relevant authority on such matters.
I learned that most major brands of condiments are actually Kosher, but only if they are packaged individually. When I ordered my Turkey sandwich from the Jewish deli (Noah’s Ark in downtown Manhattan, I believe), I ordered extra mayo. Not knowing yiddish from skiddish, I asked if that was Kosher. My hosts kindly informed me that I could order extra mayo and that would be OK.
Oddly, I received my extra mayo in a little plastic container that was obviously not from the factory. They must have known that I wasn’t Kosher. The next day, however, my mayo came in individual packets right from the factory.
It was an interesting cultural lesson, and one I plan to remember. From now on, when I go to a new city, I will most likely attempt to eat Kosher food the first day until I can get my bearings. That may be a little harder to do in the smaller cities here in the South, but I will still keep it in mind.
Let’s look at some more photographs from my trip…
The view from my walk to work each morning was great. I was staying at the Holiday Inn in downtown, so I was on the “edge” of SOHO. My client office was on the corner of Canal and Hudson, so I walked down Canal street my first day.
I didn’t like it. When I rounded the corner, I was hit with a gust of wind that carried hummingbird-sized rubbish down the street. I got something in both of my eyes and struggled to stay focused.
Once my vision cleared, I learned how to squint my eyes the same way I did when we used to explore the Arizona desert and a sandstorm would come.
New York is a very busy place, and I’m in awe at the ability of the city to keep the infrastructure running. Honestly, if a natural disaster or other such nastiness hit this city, that’s the last place I’d want to be.
However, I’m no alarmist (I didn’t wait in line 45 minutes for gas yesterday), so I doubt that sort of thing will happen. But if it did…
I’m convinced that there’s a secret white slave trade in New York. I’m pretty sure that the line of shops along Canal street are a front for such an operation. This was first suggested by a comedian that I saw at a comedy club in the village. After having spent a few days in Manhattan walking the length of Canal street, I can tell you that it’s not all that funny…since it’s probably true. All of the shops were selling what appeared to be cheap knockoffs. The only reason I came to this conclusion is because I was constantly approached by short little of indeterminate nationality (Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Pakistani, ???) people repeating “Rolex watches Rolex watches Rolex watches Rolex…” over and over again while moving themselves to interfere with the people walking towards them on the sidewalk.
I was suddenly reminded of our experience in Tijuana, Mexico. Very aggressive shop workers trying to convince you to enter their store. Now I’m wondering if there was an underground white slave trade in Mexico, as well.
You see, as the comedian joked, it’s likely that when white people from Jersey go into these stores to buy a “designer” bag that should cost $300 for $29.99, the shopkeeper tells them to follow them to a back room…then another, then through an alley, to another back room…to another back alley….to the back of a truck equipped with bars, handcuffs, and old issues of Highlights magazine to keep the newbie slaves guessing.
It was nice to look up and see the American flag flying atop a nearby building, as it reminded me that I was, in fact, in America. As long as I stay on the sidewalk, don’t look the scary guy in the eye, and keep dodging the wristwatch salesmen, I’d get to the office without a barcode tattoo on my right arm.
For the next few days I decided to take a slightly longer, but more enjoyable, walk through the heart of SOHO.
Along the way, I observed some fantastic urban artwork and stopped to snap a photo (this is still probably considered the “edge” of SOHO, but it’s still better than Canal Street). The detail is incredible and the creativity expressed here is phenominal.
One of the coolest features on the wall was the “smoking man”. I’m not very good at making out the tags (though, I think I can make out “Kosmo” in the smoke), but I can recognize style when I see it. This artist is definitely talented. This beats the hell out of the silly “toy” taggers we have here in Atlanta. I imagine little third graders stealing a can of spray paint from the local hardware store (since they can’t legally buy it), walking a few feet away from their apartment, and painting their name in some horrible illiterate scrawl.
Not so in New York. These people are artists.
When Friday came, I got to see what real city traffic looked like. The conference room window had a great view down Canal street and I was able to see the line of cars waiting to get into the Holland Tunnel (which is one of the few ways to get to New Jersey from downtown Manhattan).
It was crazy. At about 3:30 each day, the New York police would park their cars and direct traffic. Sometimes, there were three officers in a single intersection.
I learned that during this time, the pedestrian signs are dangerous, as you might walk when you shouldn’t. It wasn’t hard to figure out when you could go based on the sheer congestion. If the cars in front of you weren’t moving, it was probably safe to cross…with your rear-facing eyeball watching for cabs…