Siddhant Pyasi

The very first one

Apr 7, 2023 | Read time: 4 min | 725 words

A sweaty brow, an uneasy stomach, and a tentative heart accompanied my first stepsa fairly brisk trot, as opposed to the more languid walk employed by most expats into America. What Wodehouse would call a “concatenation of circumstances” had occurred, and it meant that I marked my arrival to the New World by being cataclysmically sick mere metresstill on the metric system, thank god after I stepped off the planethat’s right, I couldn’t even make it to the nearest washroom. I blame the fish served on the plane, my mother on the other hand says this is how I lay announce my arrival to inhabitants of foreign lands. Both of us have sufficient empirical evidence to buttress our claims - I know that fish have never been great fans of my gut; I also know that several new-to-me places have had the good fortune of being decorated with the contents of my stomachA screening of Koi Mil Gaya (2003), Simla (2004), Shillong (2009), Ladakh (2017). In any case, the 18-hour plane ride was not comfortable, I was unable to sample any of the food Singapore Airlines is famous for (apart from the fish of course), and I arrived at my sister’sher name is Srishti apartment a sweaty, dehydrated husk of a man.

You know when you think you know what a term means, and then someone conducts a demo for you, and only then do you truly internalise what the term truly means? Well, my arrival was God’s way of demonstrating to me why the word “projectile” is present in the term “projectile vomiting”.

Anyway, moving on. By this time in an article about arriving at a new place, writers of a certain variety would have used the next few paragraphs to describe their interaction with the fairly chatty taxi driver who drove them, and tried to draw a nice pithy conclusion about the state of the world from the said interaction. Yours truly, however, was, a) driven by a driver who didn’t say a single word throughout the ride, and b) was taught statistics by the formidable Rosie Ching, so he knows what happens when one tries to draw conclusions about things from studies with small sample sizes.

Later that evening, Srishti and I dragged all of my stuff over to the corporate housing apartmentsplendid digs located at Liberty View, Battery Place that had been booked for my first month in NYC. Now, corporate housing can be a double edged sword. It is a great source of comfort when you land. It is also a great source of discomfort when you start looking for apartments and realise that you have a ways to go before you can afford to live in that sort of style, or space. In any case, by my second night in the fancy apartment, I missed Singapore so much that I walked about a kilometre away in pouring rainI put on my ski jacket and took advantage of its waterproofness (waterprooficity? I don’t wanna say water resistance) to the only establishment in NYC that made me feel like I was back in Singapore for a little bit - Shake Shack. And I’m pleased to report that the Shake Shacks here are just as good as the ones in SG.

The next two weeks passed by in a blur denser than the fog that envelopes your glasses when you get out of an air conditioned car. I learnt quite a few things in those two weeks. I learnt that people jabbing themselves with needles in subway cars are not doing it to get their daily dose of insulin, generally. I learnt that setting up a Twitter listfor the uninitiated, a Twitter list is basically a feed with specific Twitter accounts called “NYC” and filling it up only with Fire Department and Police Department tweets is a great way to turn into Chicken Little’s distant Indian cousin. I also learnt that you develop peripheral vision rather quickly if you have the aforementioned Twitter list and look at it every 20 minuteshey, I have better peripheral vision now. That’s a win in my book. Lastly, (and this is something that affected me more than it should’ve) I learnt that Manhattan doesn’t have any decent Chinese food.

There were more learnings (some quite major), which will come in a second piece, so stay tuned!

Thank you!

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