(Note: i apologise for the confused grammar in this one... still haven't figured out what tense to use!)
New York. There simply ain't no better city in the world in which you can leave your prescription glasses in a taxicab. The same New York, where you stick out like a sore thumb if you do not possess any of these accessories: dark glasses (to be used even at night as you sit dozing in the subway), an iPod, a suitably uninterested expression and oodles of indifference.
So leave those glasses behind, if you may, but hey! Remember to take the bill from the cabbie and make sure you are carrying a mobile phone, in the absence of which it is absolutely imperative that you have a prearranged emergency “what-if-we-get-lost” code with your spouse. Phew! it was our lucky day because we had none of these.... And to think that i only ever wanted to go to New York to hold hands with the husband on Times Square.
So, if you are unfortunate enough to get left behind on a subway station, with your sunglasses on, DESPITE all the precautions that you did not take, just remember never to carry any quarters, to make the experience a truly memorable one. For starters, your pocket will be lighter and you will avoid the high blood pressure that comes from cursing at the evil phone booth that snacks on loose change. What’s even better is that you might get asked out for the evening in exchange for those elusive quarters, right after you explain that you need them to call your husband whom you seem to have lost! Twice. Which is more dates than i had in a single year back in high school!
So after you dutifully store the scraps with hopefully scribbled mobile numbers in your handbag, you can use the change to call your absconding relatives in Indianapolis, on whose answering machine you may leave a message in the hope that your spouse will do the same, and pray that they will check their messages in time to connect the dots and realise that you have been separated, Bollywood style, by the closing doors of a train at a grimy subway station.... Oh, and whats more, if you are lucky, they might just do it in time, given that you have only one day to absorb the sights and sounds of a city you have wanted to visit for as long as you can remember!
So in your search for quarters and during the endless wait for a manna from heaven, you get into a polite conversation with a pleasant albeit geographically challenged American commuter who heaps praises on your country, right after you tell him that you are from Delhi, which on his First World map is an inseparable part of Pakistan and yes, yes, of course, “Gandy” was a great guy. You suffer his map rearranging till you find a good (and rather cute looking ) Samaritan who ignores his approaching train, and good naturedly walks out of the station for a mobile signal, allows you to make two frantic calls, and then also uses his subway pass to get you back into the underground. Wow! Was he for real? i told a New Yorker friend about this kind stranger... the epitome of unbelievable kindness (he missed his train. and went patiently back to wait for the next one.) so when i told her, she sat in horrified silence for a few seconds and then whispered to me not to tell anyone about him, as nothing less than New York's reputation was at stake!
In the meantime, more messages have been left on various answering machines and been picked up, analysed, replied to and soon you are on your way to a rendezvous with your lost (and by now, rather annoyed) spouse at Times Square, that quaintly magical neon jungle of crass consumerism...
So you see, i finally did get to see Times Square with him, after two silly quarrels, one moment of sheer panic and with the aid of heaven sent messengers who made it possible... thanks to all of them! .... as they say, all's well that ends well. Amen.