New York City

Last week I went out to New York for a Philips legal conference on Thurs and Friday.  Met a lot of great people based all over the U.S. and I like the Dutch/Euro flavor of the company and I especially enjoyed talking with the stylish, laid-back, intelligent Dutch people with cool accents (when speaking English of course).  We stayed at the Hilton in Pearl River which was very nice and the exterior actually looked like a castle.

Since being in NY was a great opportunity to see NYC again (we went there together for the first time last year in the Fall), Ivy flew out on a redeye Thursday night and we checked into a flat we rented from a guy off Craiglist in the Chelsea area near Greenwich Village in Manhattan.  It was fun for me to take the train in from New Jersey and get "picked up" by Ivy at the Penn Station.  Ivy, continuing her very impressive, hard-working ways, (she is taking 3 online programming classes this Fall-- PHP, javascript and XML) finished off a midterm in a NYC Starbucks prior to picking me up.

Friday night we had a great, inexpensive Indian dinner at a little place in Greenwich village that had cool "Eastern-sounding" music, a funky interior with red velvet walls, dim lights, and lots of candles.  It was a very narrow restaurant and it felt like we were eating inside a train car (kind of like the Orient Express in India we guessed- just funkier).  It was called the Gandhi cafe.  By the way, "Gandhi" was a great movie--we saw it this past Summer and Ben Kingsley was amazing.  You'll also appreciate and understand Indians and their culture a lot more--which is very helpful if you live in Silicon Valley.

On Saturday, we walked down Wall Street, and also to see the site where the World Trade Center used to be.  There are Starbucks everywhere in New York City, and while we stopped by one on Saturday we sought to Russian middle-aged men with what appeared to be their young attractive daughters in their early 20s.  Unfortunately, after the Russian "dads" started holding the hands of these young girls we realized that they were probably rich Russian mafiosos with their girlfriends.  We felt disgusted overall at the scene because the men were in their mid-50s, all with beer bellies, and certainly not your ideal if you're young woman.  The economic situation in Russia is quite bad, with a huge polarization between the very rich and the very poor (which includes pretty much 90% or more of the population).  In any event, it's just not this type of pair up to occur.

We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, had pizza in the "Dumbo" area of Brooklyn, and then took the subway up to the Columbus statue on the south end of Central Park.  Central Park was absolutely beautiful, and the fall colors were a great sight to see.  Unfortunately, our pictures did not turn out quite as well as we had hoped, mainly because it was overcast that day.  I definitely want to learn how to improve my picture -- taking skills and need to read the camera manual!  We saw an interesting play on Broadway, near the Lincoln Center (which is also in near one of Trump's Towers) about philosophy and the Russian Revolution -- ironically enough -- by Tom Stoppard.  Overall, Ivy liked it more than I did.  And this is in line with our taste in books in general: she appreciates literature and plays that get into psychology and the human psyche more than I do.  For example, Ivy read, the Brothers Karamazov last year, and after she finished I wanted to read it as well.  Although it wasn't torture, it was only through force of will, that I got through it.  Does Dostoevsky really need 30 pages to describe how Alyosha felt when he crossed the room?... However, I am currently on page 450 of the John Adams biography by David McCullough (something that Ivy is not as interested in reading because in her view it's rather dry) but I am eating it up.

On Sunday, we traveled north on the subway up past Central Park on our way to "the Cloisters" medieval Museum and decided to get out at Washington Heights.  This was an eye-opening experience, and we were probably the only white people for 20 blocks and we definitely felt like we stood out.  New York is such a city of contrasts -- much more so in my opinion than San Francisco.  There are ultra rich billionaires cruising around in their limos while there are also many very poor, new immigrants struggling to make ends meet.  Perhaps it's the sheer size of this place, and all the people, that makes such an impact.


The cloisters is a beautiful, authentic medieval monastery, that was largely transported from Europe and reassembled on a hill overlooking the .  It contains amazing artifacts and relics from medieval as well and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city.  The surrounding park is also very pleasant to walk through.  We spent the rest of Sunday afternoon (largely because it was raining) at the .  This is an amazing place, and it is very similar to the Louvre, which we had the privilege of visiting just this past April in .  One of the enjoyable highlights of the Met was an exhibition entitled "Americans in " which displayed the work of the artists that lived in in the late 19th century. 

 At a café in the Met, since everything was very crowded, we sat down next to a well-dressed, distinguished looking bald man (who looked very much like Ben Kingsley), and it turned out that he is from Iran.  What I've encountered several times in a row, upon meeting new people from the (Arabs and non-Arabs) is that they are extremely sensitive regarding an American’s, or a Westerner’s, impression of them.  When I didn’t know where he was from—but could hear an accent—I asked our new friend, as polite as can be, “are you French, you definitely know a lot about art"  He responded, "No, I am from Iran – we’re not all a bunch of camel drivers, you know."  This caught me off guard and I mumbled something in return.  After that, Ivy said.  "Watch out, we’re going to invade your country next."  (Haha -- she didn't say that).

We finished off Sunday night by watching Woody Allen's movie back at our apartment.  Overall, I don't recommend it, but at least it was fun for us to see the area we were staying in.

On Monday morning we visited the and enjoyed seeing the very impressive dinosaur fossil exhibit.  And I also particularly enjoyed the section commemorating the life of Theodore Roosevelt (who love the outdoors and made a huge positive impact on preserving the natural wildlife and lands of the .  For example, there were pictures of him standing with John Muir in .  After retired from politics, and had received the Nobel peace prize.  He traveled to both Africa and on important ecological and exploratory fact-finding missions.  The man was not only a public servant, but was  quite an adventurer and lived life to the full--I think I'll read his biography after I finish the one on John Adams.

We flew out Monday night, and arrived back in rainy and beautiful northern California .

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