Thursday, April 29, 2010

A string of happy moments

New York provides small delights even when one is in the midst of a very intense work week.  I'm in the middle of a huge project, and was at work until midnight last night (don't worry -- today I wised up and delegated about half of my plate to my team).  At 10 past midnight, I was amused to step onto the train and discover that it was packed with people.  The train was as full as morning rush hour.  It was nice to have company.

Alas, I had boarded the wrong train.  It was going the right direction, but that particular one didn't stop at my street.  I disembarked to pick up the right train, and while waiting saw the new cover of People magazine at a little shop.  Sandra Bullock adopted a baby!  I love Sandra B, and immediately pulled out my wallet.  The price of the magazine: $4.50.  The contents of my wallet: $4.25.  I was crestfallen.  The shopkeeper immediately insisted that I take the magazine.  "We are friends", he said.  "You take the magazine, and tomorrow you can give me the rest".  So sweet, especially given that he had never seen me before. I resolved to honor his request, even though I am almost never in that particular station.  I devoured the magazine on the way home.

I left work at a reasonable hour today to meet my long-time friend J.  We met in Chinese class at university, and see each other every few (or several) years.  He was traveling through the city for work.  It was so wonderful to see him, and to essentially pick up the conversation right where we left it four years ago. 

I was in a great mood as we parted, and decided to walk towards the subway station that housed the generous shopkeeper.  Along the way I encountered a very long line, about 50 people long.

What on earth?  Here's what they were waiting for:

Unfortunately I wasn't hungry for savory food, but the tacos smelled divine.  Another time.  I did encounter a Mr Softee truck several blocks later, one of a huge army of ice cream trucks that seem to invade the city whenever it gets past a certain temperature.  I am a sucker for vanilla softserve ice cream, and I couldn't resist.  Plus the vendor called me sweetheart.  Delicious all around.

Further down on 53rd Street, I heard rushing water.  A fountain, and- surprise!- a segment of the Berlin Wall were tucked into a little cove.  I was in Berlin a couple years ago, and loved it, so it was wonderful to see this reminder of the city.

I continued walking to the metro station, and upon my descent found the little store.  The shopkeeper wasn't there, but two other men were, and they smiled at my offering of the quarter and the story for why I was handing them 25 cents.  While I was waiting for my last train, I realized that two of my favorite musicians, playing under a banner that said "Lankandia Cissoko (African Criot, Kora Player)" were playing a few steps down.  I leaned against a pillar and let several trains go by as the rippling, dreamy music washed over me.

Small treasures are to be found on even the most challenging of days.

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