New York
Paul Topping

Paul Topping

New York State of Mind

New York. I want to taste, experience and wake up in this cosmopolitan city that never sleeps. As I arrive, I am no different from any other tourist and have a list of places I want to visit together with experiencing the restaurants, bars and the nightlife. Not to mention that ‘s’ word that my wife is so in love with – shopping.

New York is the largest city in the USA. In 2016 its population reached 8.5 million with the majority residing in the Central Island district of Manhattan. So many people in such little space creates a vibrancy that other cities lack. With more than 60 million tourists visiting a year I thought New Yorkers would be an unfriendly bunch, but I quickly discover this is not the case. They are amazingly helpful, ready to engage, chat and if in the service industries they genuinely want to serve you.

 

 

Cosmopolitan New York is particularly evident when you take a cab, with every cab driver having a story to tell. My first cab ride was with a Russian migrant behind the wheel. He arrived in New York 20 years ago; he owns his cab, is proud to call himself an American and thanks God for his life in the Big Apple every day he goes out in his cab. He is a jazz nut, and to prove it he has music blasting out from his high-tech sound system. I am not surprised when he tells me he is a musician and shows me his trumpet and small guitar and believing you never miss an opportunity for an impromptu performance. So when we pulled over to get out, he offered a five min rendition on his trumpet.

My passion for music was met with a visit to the Birdland Jazz Club, a famous 1940s jazz venue. The music that night was a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the place was rocking. Café Wha was also a favourite with the band belting out three decades of electrifying music, which was briefly interrupted when the band leader shouted out “where ya yawl from?” I yell “Sri Lanka” and immediately felt hundreds of eyes upon me. Nobody knew where the hell Sri Lanka was.

 

New York City is laid out in a grid system of streets that lends itself to walking endlessly around the city and never being bored. And how could you even utter such a word when you have Park Lane, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Grand Central Station and Times Square (disappointing) at your feet. Walking also rewarded me with stumbling across Bryant Park, where the signs clearly tell you to ‘keep off the grass.” And people did! The park’s sponsored CHAIRS system fascinated me. If the park is one of your favourite places to sit you can make a donation to sponsor a chair or dedicate a chair in memory of a loved one.

Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind fills my head as I realize that despite only experiencing a microcosm of what New York has to offer, I have fallen in love with this city.

My passion for music was met with a visit to the Birdland Jazz Club, a famous 1940s jazz venue. The music that night was a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and the place was rocking. Café Wha was also a favourite with the band belting out three decades of electrifying music, which was briefly interrupted when the band leader shouted out “where ya yawl from?” I yell “Sri Lanka” and immediately felt hundreds of eyes upon me. Nobody knew where the hell Sri Lanka was.

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