Saturday, August 23, 2008

She Writes Again

Hi everyone! Sorry for the blogging hiatus - I'm back from my trip now and finally have the long-awaited opportunity to curl up with my laptop and type away.

I'm suffering from too-much-to-write-about syndrome when it comes to updating you all on my trip so instead of dedicating my time to covering the Met's superheroes exhibit, which you can read about elsewhere, I'll stick to something a little more off the beaten path.

My Aunt and I had been talking about checking out Jackson Heights in NYC for ages, so Wednesday afternoon found us in driving into Queens with my Uncle and the friendly GPS device, Manuela.


I've never seen anyplace like it.

Where the Chinatowns and Little Italy's I've been to in the past have been catered toward tourists, Jackson Heights is truly meant for the locals. As I stepped from the car, I was greeted by a bustling city street. The faint scents of curry and coriander filled the air, joined in some places by the sweet aroma of crispy golden pakoras. Turbaned men leaned against the windows of restaurants, while burqa-clad women examined the jack fruit and peppers that glistened greenly in grocery bins lined up on the sidewalk. But for many, the true treasures lay in the clothing shops where a dazzling array of saris, salwar kameez, and intricate jewelry welcomed the perusal of both the older women bound by tradition and the younger women searching for bridal and special occasion wear. My aunt and I shopped there too, sifting through racks of long skirts, bejewelled tunics, and embroidered tops.

I let two shop owners talk me into buying from them - purchases will be modeled for you later with the help of the tripod my mom just dug up for me. (Yay tripod!)

It was a joy to examine the goods, but I also found contact with the people there to be fascinating. I ducked into one store after climbing a sketchy flight of stairs and walking through a narrow hallway, planning to spend a little time admiring fancy dresses. A beautiful Indian girl smiled at my Aunt and me, eventually remarking that the saris would look fantastic with our pale skin. I laughed. "Well, I've always wished my skin looked like yours!" I told her. I was met by a noise of disbelief.

"But I'm so black," she told me, lamenting her skin color. Her tawny brown fingers lightly pinched my arm to demonstrate the pink flush that she wished herself capable of. But looking at that perfect, smooth golden tan, I could not understand.

Concepts of beauty are funny, aren't they?

We ended our day with a new appreciation for New York. After all, it is a special city that allows you to visit a whole different country in a manner of minutes. Only there can a luxurious splurge on Fifth Ave change to a foray into pickle barrels and Jewish delis on the Lower East Side, to a stroll in the lush greenery of Central Park, to an exotic trip to India via Jackson Heights. A subway ride, a step around the corner, and you're somewhere completely new.

I want to live there some day.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had an amazing time. Even though I knew you wouldn't be updating I've still checked your sight everday... It's good to have you back!

beccajanie said...

that whole experience sounds lovely! And saris! Some of the most beautiful things ever. I would love to buy one or more of my own, they are stunning.

RetroMuffin said...

Everyone wants what they don't have.
Haha I use to HATE my fair skin.
Now I love it because it looks awesome with bright red or maroon lipstick.

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