and with that...
new york city greets me with open arms and cruddy weather. normally when I travel, I am showered in beautiful weather. I mean, I've gone on business trips where people tell me that it's rained every day for 3 weeks before I arrived. while I'm there, it's sunny and 72. when I depart, the rain recommences. while making my grand entrance into the jfk terminal, I am getting on the horn and calling my people. I called dj109, I called cassandra, I called joe, I called christina and others. know who was home? nobody. fuckers. I left messages and got started with my waiting. I wandered about the airport, contemplated taxis, wondered who'd call me first. because, you see, I didn't know where I was going. there were a bunch of people in new york that I wanted to see. a couple places where I might have been spending that night. for all intensive purposes (sic), I was going to hop in a cab and go visit whoever called me first. the clock ticked so slowly. and time can do so much...
after not too long, the belly dancers won the major award and called me first. unlike "normal" new york travel directions, I got their address, intersection, city name and big nearby intersection. I was off to queens, not on the grid. while in the taxi line, I saw these two asian ladies plowing through the line like the black stallion plowed through cyclone and sun raider. when they got to me, they breathily asked if they could cut ahead of me because there's a plane leaving from la guardia soon and they aimed to be on it. I don't know if they were lying or truthing, but they got a cab out of jfk faster than molasses in las vegas in june.
I've never been to queens. I've seen the subway map enough times to know where it is. but I've been always a princess, never in queens. I (still) have no idea the route to take to get there from jfk. so I hoped I'd get a cabbie who knew a decent way to get where we were going and then knew queens well enough to find the place once we were there. I felt all cool new yorkery because at one point I looked out the window and recognized that we were on the van wyck expy just from how it looked. I felt more confidence in my cabbie when, once in queens, someone asked us for directions to some small sounding place and the cabbie told him pretty precise directions.
I don't know if I've ever mentioned, but I love new york cabbies. much more so in harlem than near jfk, but I love them. do you know how many lincoln driving cabbies in harlem speak french? maybe not all of them... but by that standard, maybe not ALL the people in utah vote republican. not only do they speak french, they all speak different flavors of french - very little of it parisian. the cabbie with whom I rode to les reines was born in haiti. this guy spoke beautiful french. there are generally three things that make the way someone speaks french appealing to me.
1. easy to understand. sometimes it's pronunciation, sometimes it's tempo, sometimes it's how much I've had to drink. whatever it is... the easier it is for me to understand, the more appealing.
2. aesthetic. just a general pleasingness to my ear. this one doesn't usually factor in so much. the other two are more important.
3. gender. I just like the way it sounds when women speak french a lot better than when men do.
despite being a man, I really liked the way he spoke. even though there are a bunch of french speaking white folk in new york, the not from france french speakers are always pleasantly surprised when I speak french. or maybe they're just hoping for a bigger tip. so we chatted a bit - very nice. his clever ruse worked out for him as I tipped him handsomely.
I went upstairs to meet and greet the belly dancers and within minutes, dj109 was on my lap, we were chatting, and I was rubbing her back. it's good to be in queens. I was introduced to our lovely cohosts markus and deborah. it's 7:30ish and we prepared to find indian dinner in the east village's "indian row." conveniently enough, joe called me back and agreed to meet us for dinner. we trained it to the big city. when we got off the subway, the area looked very familiar - the east village is one of the top neighborhoods in manhattan on the "time dan has spent there" list. while we were walking to the row of glowing restaurants, I stopped. I recognized that we were right near gay friend jared's place. I called him and told him where we were. I didn't realize just how close to his place we stood. it sounded to me as if our phones got disconnected. while I was still doing the "hello? hello? can you hear me?" dance, jared walked right up and said hi.
with a local as our tour guide, we meandered through the sitar wafting, hawker filled, one glowing more than the next boatload of restaurants around 2nd ave and 10th known as india row. these places were lit up like an fao schwarz christmas tree. jared took us to some brighter places, some with better food, some with better hawkers, some with sitars, etc. we settled on pallon2, about which the ny times review said "the one with the most lights." oh - my - god, becky. look at those lights. they are so bright. I just cannot describe the plethora, the virtual cornucopia, of illumination. they should have sent a poet. my head was in the clouds of jalapeno shaped lights of rainbow carnage. and it was all mirrored. I noted that were one to have a propensity to eat while on psychedelic drugs, here would be an excellent place to do it.
the flamboyant hawker of our restaurant loved my prop cigarette and after telling me that I can't smoke in here, asked to borrow it. I was very tempted to give it to him. had I not already decided in my mind that I wanted to have this cigarette as my constant companion throughout my entire journey, I would have. oh well. I also noticed an interesting difference in the menu. there were a lot of same dishes spelled differently than we spell them back home. I don't know if it's a difference in restaurants from one part of india or the other or if it's different parts of america.
after dinner, we wandered to a lesbian bar to get some drinks before we saw a midnight showing of donnie darko. the bathroom at the donnie darko theatre looked just like the black lodge. as always, the movie rocked the casbah. then to a hookah bar where dj109 and cassandra talked to the manager about belly dancers for hire. we smoked an orange + vanilla creamsicle hookah. we met some annoying inebriated people while we were hookahing. we ate some baba ganouj and took photos with the annoying drunkards.
after the hookah, joe departed. we walked down avenue a looking for something interesting. we found ray's pizza, I was "random guy" in someone's tourist photo, we saw a guy peeing on the street. then we waited for a long time to catch the subway back to queens for a "night" of cuddles and snoozing. I say "night" because it's like 6am by the time we get back to the apartment. we all managed to fall asleep without any nytol at all. so ended day two. so it goes.