New York – Week Eleven

This was my last week in New York. I am writing this from my room at home in Los Altos. I am having reverse culture shock just looking at the rows of spacious, suburban homes sprawling off the car-packed highways. I had an eventful enough week to justify a blog entry, which loosely translates to: I took a bunch pictures of food, people and Central Park that I want to share. Other than all the outstanding food (and 24 hour access to it) in New York City, I will miss the constant flow of life, and even the distinct (-ly terrible) scent of the city: a combination of cigarette smoke, hot metal, urine, and a waft of falafel.

At work on Monday, I began preparing to leave. I started telling constituents and organizations which I spoke with on the phone that I would be leaving at the end of the week, and directing them to another person to contact instead. I called back as many people as I had time to follow up with and booked as many budgeting assemblies as I could feasibly plan for the next two or so months so that those would be taken care of. I made the effort to finish up whatever else I had been working on and during the week I also began preparing a ‘Transition Doc’ to explain all my current projects to the people at the office who will continue them.

Despite being very sad to leave, the fact that it was the last week for most of the interns who were left in the office motivated us to be both more productive during working hours and also socialize during our break time. Most of us exchanged numbers and added each other on Facebook, promising to keep in touch and share stories of our upcoming journeys. I enjoyed having an excuse, besides being myself, to take pictures of everyone in the office, because my supervisor was making cards for all the departing interns and wanted their pictures.

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Lethy

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Ned

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Sam

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Marcia

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Nick

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Stephanie

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Jenna

Because it was my last week and my roommate had already left with some of the cooking supplies from our room, and I was in the middle of packing and wanted to see as much of the city as possible before I left, I chose to eat most of my meals out. I had spent a good portion of the summer eating all of my meals on weekdays at home and packing lunch for work, and I felt that I had missed out on an essential New York experience.

On Monday night I stopped at a cafe a few blocks away from my office that I had been meaning to go into all summer, but never had before then. Even though they seemed to be known for their coffee, I wasn’t in the mood for coffee at that hour and I had another place in mind that I wanted to get coffee at the next day. I instead ordered a caprese sandwich. It was decent, but not as good as I was expecting. (I can’t for the life of me remember what I had for lunch that day- I must have brought something from home.)

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Inside Sugar Hill Cafe. It was almost eerily quiet, even though the street outside is always very lively.

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Sugar Hill Cafe

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Sugar Hill Cafe

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Caprese sandwich from Sugar Hill Cafe.

On Tuesday the so-called “typhoon” rolled into the city, bringing with it light rain and gentle wind, and no disruption in the constant humidity. It wasn’t nearly as ferocious a storm as any other rains we had throughout the summer. Despite the fact that the anticipated typhoon never truly made an appearance, it was overcast and slightly cooler that morning than most days, so I got a latte and a muffin from the independent coffee shop down that street which brews Stumptown. It was one of the most delicious lattes I’ve ever had in my life (although it might just have tasted that way because I was hungry and hadn’t had coffee all summer), and the caffeine gave me an extra boost in energy which allowed me to be extraordinarily productive.

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Inside Filtered Coffee.

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The sitting area in Filtered Coffee.

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The best latte I have ever had, from Filtered Coffee.

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A blueberry muffin from Filtered Coffee.

The clouds had filtered away and rays of sun were shining again by early afternoon, making it perfect weather for the unveiling of the new mural outside our office. The non-profit charity who brought local neighborhood kids to paint our wall planned a great event which involved music, dancing and a few speeches by officials from our office and other community organizations or government agencies. After the event I went to get lunch. I had never been to the cafe across the street from our office, and heard that they made really great black bean burgers. It was definitely one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

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A warm, sunny day outside the Morningside NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) Projects.

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Cafe One

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A black bean burger from Cafe One, across the street from my office.

On Wednesday our office had a participatory budgeting assembly targeted toward seniors at a local group of housing projects. Even though only about ten people showed up, they were very enthusiastic and had no qualms about speaking up to make their voices and opinions heard. We collected many potentially feasible ideas to turn into project proposals for our next fiscal. The event was very nostalgic for me, because it was my last budgeting assembly for the summer.  I had been to every assembly and almost every training all summer, and had gotten quite confident at facilitating discussions, and I am still having a hard time grasping the fact that I won’t be at the next one. After the assembly I went to get lunch. I decided to try the sushi restaurant a few blocks away from our office. The veggie roll I got wasn’t spectacular, but the California roll was fantastic.

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Inside Geisha Japanese Restaurant, a few blocks from my office.

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California and vegetable rolls from Geisha Japanese Restaurant.

After work I on Wednesday I went home, changed, and went back out again to get dinner. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I thought I might wander over to Herald Square and get something from the food stalls in the park. Once I got there, I realized that the food stalls must only be open on weekdays, so I instead walked back toward my building and stopped at Penn Plates, the food stalls next to Penn Station, to get a Turkish spanish and cheese burek. I also bought a slice of cheesecake from a classic New York 24 diner a few blocks from building, open 24 hours.

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A couple dancing at Penn Plaza.

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Salsa dancing on the streets below the Empire State Building.

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Classic New York City- cigarettes, heels, and Harrods.

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Spinach and cheese filled Turkish burek from Penn Plates, a set of food stalls a few blocks from my building.

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A classic New York diner, open 24 hours, a few blocks from my office.

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Inside Skylight Diner.

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New York cheesecake from Skylight Diner.

On Thursday I decided to splurge and have a few street cart pastries for breakfast. I got a cinnamon roll from the cart near my building, and pan dulce from the cart a few blocks from my office. Both were very good. My friend and I decided to go out to lunch to celebrate it being both of our last days. We chose the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet two blocks from our office. We both had a plate with a variety of curry dishes and rice, which were great. However, the standout items were probably the complimentary tea and the dessert. I don’t normally like iced tea, but this was spectacular. I thought it might be due to the cinnamon in the tea, but I don’t think that alone was it. I couldn’t ever figure it out, so I just shrugged and enjoyed it. The dessert was a rice pudding called Kheer. It was sweet and had vermicelli noodles in it, and was simply delicious. After lunch we splurged and got smoothies from our favorite smoothie shop a block away from our office. It was one of only a few days that I went out for lunch, and it was very enjoyable.

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Cinnamon roll from the street cart near my building.

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Pan dulce from the street cart a few blocks from my office.

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The patio of Clove Indian Restaurant.

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Various chicken curries and cinnamon iced tea at Clove Indian Restaurant. 

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A strawberry, mango, pineapple smoothie from Yellow Banana.

After work I went over to my cousin’s apartment for dinner. We had roasted chicken and vegetables. It was really nice to see my cousin, his wife and their baby, and to have a homemade dinner. I took a bunch of pictures of their baby, who turned a year old today. On the way home, I walked through Times Square for the last time.

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The glorious streets of Harlem. 

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My last jaunt through Times Square at night.

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On Friday I slept in and then went out to enjoy my last day in the city. I got my traditional egg and bagel breakfast sandwich from Murray’s Bagels, and then headed toward Central Park. I let myself wander on the way there, and ended up at Rockefeller Center. I had never been inside, so I stopped in a few shops as well as the farmer’s market outside. I bought a cannele from Jacques Torres and an almond cake from Bread Alone. I then continued to Central Park and walked around and took pictures for a while before heading back to my building to pack.

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Musicians in Penn Plaza.

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Summer food truck culture in New York City.

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Proof of the popularity of The Halal Guys.

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Rockefeller Center

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A view of the mid-town Manhattan skyline from the baseball fields at Central Park.

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Many children love the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.

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Musicians in Central Park.

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The dock pond in Central Park.

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This duck was adorable and absolutely made my day.

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The cannele from Jacques Torres that I ate as a snack in Central Park.

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Bethesda Terrace and The Lake in Central Park.

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Bubble magic in Central Park.

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A relaxing afternoon spent reading in Central Park.

In the evening, once I finished a good portion of my packing, I went back out for one last adventure in the city. I had hoped that an old friend from elementary school, who I hadn’t seen for over ten years and who had just moved to the city that day would be able to join me, but she was very jet lagged from having flown to the United States that day, and wasn’t able to make it. I wasn’t about to let that get in the way of enjoying my last night in New York. I had heard great reviews of an ice cream shop/bakery in Hell’s Kitchen since I arrived in the city, and I hadn’t had a chance to try it yet, so I decided to go. The shop is well known for its doughnut-ice cream sandwiches. I got peanut butter caramel cookie dough ice cream inside a doughnut topped with hot fudge and peanut butter cups. It was a decadent, delicious way to end my time in the city.

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Outstanding almond cake from the Bread Alone stall at the Rockefeller Center farmer’s market. I ate it in the middle of the night on my last night in NYC when I was packing and couldn’t sleep.

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Decadent cupcakes at Holey Cream in Hell’s Kitchen.

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A doughnut ice cream sandwich with peanut butter caramel cookie dough ice cream, hot fudge and peanut butter cups, from Holey Cream.

When I got home I finished packing, and tried to get some sleep. When I woke up in the morning I got dressed, ate the oatmeal I had pre-prepared, and hauled my five bags down to the lobby to wait for the car which was taking me to the airport. When I arrived at the airport, I checked my bags at the curb. This process was made complicated by the fact that I had to re-arrange the contents of my bags so that I only had four bags and none of them were over 50 pounds. Once I had accomplished this, I passed quickly through security, and spent the few hours I had to spare reading the summaries on the backs of books and browsing souvenirs at various airport shops. After getting bored with browsing junk I didn’t intend to buy, I picked up and green smoothie and settled at my gate, un-condensed the two bags I had back into three bags and white tagging the third so I didn’t have to carry it onto the plane. I spent most of the flight sleeping, and arrived home relatively refreshed.

I was disappointed to find out that I had just missed seeing a friend of mine who I have been meaning to catch up with since we graduated high school. He was leaving California on the same day I arrived home, and coincidentally, he boarded his plane, which was departing from the gate next to mine, about ten minutes before I walked off my plane. Though this past week was filled with narrowly missed opportunities in regards to seeing friends, I still made the most of my time in New York, and I will miss the city dearly!

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