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I am writing this post at the insistence of my friend Mr. Sushobhan Mukherjee when my journey to New York to Calcutta was finalized.
A city like New York is like a global shadow – it touches a modern man’s life pretty early as he moves along. In my case, the shadow touched me when I was 14 and I read a book by Srila Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of ISCKON who started his worldwide movement in New York in late 1960s. There I learned about Brooklyn.
Coming of age, I came first time in New York in 1998 while as an employee. Then in 2013 as a freelancer. I wrote a micro-novel entitled – The Enjoy-er and the Enjoyed.. This time as a business owner to attend a Conference and also to visit Brooklyn – to keep an appointment promised some 30 years back.
In between, two films made me realize the import of the phrase – City as a Novel. The first was Godfather I and the second was Once upon a time in America
A Brooklyn girl left a lasting impression in me, especially in an age when once reads Shelley and Keats in rapture and in the next moment wants to see the housemaid undressing. This Brooklyn girl appears for 2 minutes here and I had kept the appointment.
I stayed in Brooklyn this time too and after customary sub-way visits in Manhattan, Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, I embarked on a small journey in the morning in Manhattan on foot. I put on a cap – in tribute to my childhood and present hero ( one has lesser number of heroes left as one grows older) Mr. Sherlock Holmes and started walking in the Southern tip of the Manhattan area. A chilling wind was coming from the Harbour and I remember a Strathclyde Professor of Mathematics commenting on the area over dinner in an unusually warm summer day in Glasgow : “the architecture of the place has a theology of its own”
I was strolling by – watching busy bankers at lunch and towering buildings – all dealing with money. It is interesting to observe that a hundred years back, the tallest, the highest towers of any city in the West was the church – the Gothic cathedrals that symbolized power of the institution called church and its sway over people’s lives. A German named Mr. Luther first started a heretical idea of having a separation of the state and this idea was a lemma in America’s constitution – a water tight separation between the church and the state and this is continuing. However, Glass-Stegall Act did not remain so watertight and this eventually played its way, culminating in 2008 crisis.
I had an appointment with a young banker of Indian origin working in one of the financial institutes. A graduate from India’s I-institutes of both technology and management – a man in his late twenties, a bachelor. I had a coffee with him and found the theology aspect as told by the Scottish Professor to be on the mark. He sits in a small enclosure and being at the entry level, handles reports and power-points. He is digging dirt now to access gold in the future.
I took a train from Fulton Street (the person who invented steam’s engine and that changed the global sea trade and made New York harbour ) direct to Grand Central Station and the architecture consoled and solaced me. I felt peaceful and relaxed. Architecture is a living thing. It impacts something deep within us.
Brooklyn Bridge – my Brooklyn girl lived quite nearby this bridge
Finally, all these walks and I came to Central park – the entry at the Columbus Circle. I was tired and wanted to rest. Central park the ideal place.Most of the trees were barren and leafless – a grey spectacle and occasional pine-green and cherry blossom.
There were very tall towers being built and these towers are casting their long shadows. Plutocratic rich had claimed light and air of the park. The Atlantic air now hits the walls of those towers instead of the trees of the park
One of my friends described his first experience with cannabis Indica as – ” my head is being formatted.”
A city like NYC has also an effect close to “formatting” you. The city takes you inside the ‘matrix’ and suddenly you feel as if you are someone else. This formatting aspect – this personality shifting aspect is interesting, painful but worth understanding
A New Yorker, walking his dog in the park, florid-faced deserves my thanks for shooting the picture below where the tallest tower in the background made me feel like Diogenes the Cynic telling Alexander, who stood in front of the philosopher just before he embarked for world conquest – Do not block the sun.