They say New York City is its own world. As a visitor to the city, this is plain to see. But the longer you live in the Big Apple what was once exciting, shocking, or remarkable now becomes the norm.
- No fashion surprises you: you see a group of women on the street wearing strangely decorated bras and simply roll your eyes, “And I thought the resurgence of crop-tops was bad enough”.
- A ballerina dances by you in Columbus Circle and you don’t even look up from your cell phone.
- You hardly notice the group of fashion models walking towards you down 23rd Street.
- People strip their pants off on the subway in the middle of January. It’s not even worth a status update.
- You don’t think twice about a large gathering of clowns parading around Union Square.
- You jog through Central Park every morning. You’ve grown to see it as a treadmill, eyes on the pavement, completely forgetting the incredible beauty of the natural surroundings.
I am well aware of the danger of becoming the becoming the ultimate New York cliché: the Jaded New Yorker. After celebrating 5 years of living here, my chances of being inflicted by such indifference have only multiplied. I like to think I’m pretty good at fighting off the jade and maintaining the magic of the city of dreams. But sometimes you don’t even realize how desensitized you’ve become until you see the awe in someone else’s eyes.
My roommate Rose and I went down to the East Village to see our other roommate, April in a play- a modernized interpretation of The Trojan Women. As with any Greek tragedy, by curtain call the only hope for easing the echoes of wailing from our ears was a good meal and a good amount of alcohol. So the three of us set forth to find both on 6th Street.
“Indian food and it’s BYOB”, I crowed, “I can’t wait!” 6th Street in the Village is colloquially referred to as Curry Row for the dozens of Indian restaurants line this block. In such a mass, it is a struggle for owners to have their establishment stand out. Four businesses on the corner of 6th and First Avenue tackled this issue in a unique way.
It’s like some great beast vomited up an immense number of string lights. It is truly a sight to behold. Unless you’re a Jaded New Yorker. As we crossed the street to our destination, April, who has yet to claim one year of living in NYC marveled the strangeness and uniqueness of the decor. She was giddy, texting her mother, sharing a picture on Facebook. I hadn’t even considered them much more than a casual remark, “Oh yeah, the Indian restaurants on 6th with all the lights? Yeah, everyone knows those.” I was so glad I could see through my roommates fresh eyes. No, not everyone knows them! They are truly a piece of magic of this city, so easy to forget!
The restaurants are not owned by the same person. They all have different names and it appears different owners. When you approach, four hosts pop out at you, one from each door. “You choose here! Very good meal! Best of the lot! Best meal on Curry Row!” You duck must duck into your restaurant choice as quickly as possible to escape their shouting. We chose Panna II on the top left, stepping inside was quite a relief from perhaps the most aggressive busking on the whole island.
After ordering curry, we cracked open the six-pack of beers we had brought from the deli around the corner. Rose and I shared stories of the times we’d been before- birthday parties, first dates. It’s always a fun time and we certainly enjoyed ourselves that night. It was a night entirely within the norm of New York City. Sometimes I need reminding that such a norm is no such thing anywhere else!