My trip to New York has been all about humanity this time. I was so humbled to be able to attend meetings on the status of women at the United Nations through the UN Women Chapter I belong to. This conference gave me an insight and invaluable information on topics that I am very passionate about such as gender equality, women in politics, the economic empowerment of women, and safe urban spaces for women and girls. I have to say that I discovered and learned more about humanity by interacting with people from all over the world not only at the panel discussions, but also on the metro, in the cab, in restaurants, and bars. I immediately experienced a cultural shock the minute I got out of the plane to get to Manhattan by metro; sharing the same space with so many people at once is something you forget doing in L.A., where everyone basically lives in their car and leads a very individualistic life.
At first, I felt overwhelmed by all those “rude” people rushing in masses on the streets, (after all, Angelenos make eye contact and say “hello, how are you?” at every opportunity), but despite this initial impact, I left the Big Apple thinking that New Yorkers are genuinely good people and go the extra mile to help you. Traveling sometimes is all about getting to know people and their culture, rather than visiting landmarks and museums. New York surprised me like that this time and I enjoyed chatting with cab drivers from Africa and Bangladesh, and Tony from the bagel shop down the street whom we greeted each other with a fist bump and countless of other people from small mom and pops stores that embraced me as if I was a family member. I’ll particularly never forget three employees from Duane Read, these kids helped me locate my cellphone in a moment of panic in the midst of a small snowstorm on Broadway. One of them, actually, had the permission from her manager to leave her job temporarily to assist a perfect stranger like me in the search. I was so moved by their kindness.
In my spare time, I walked all over the place down Park, 5th, Madison Avenue, Time Square, Herald Square, and Union Square. I dined in Chelsea and the East Village. I shopped at the Hell’s Kitchen flea market and hung out in my favorite part of town; the Meatpacking district where I had a delicious brunch at the Standard Grill. I was blown away by the High Line, an old rail way in disuse for decades which has recently been converted in a green oasis, with a beautiful landscape and art installations. The aesthetic is just exquisite and matches the railroad look with elegance and harmony; it’s a very special place for a romantic or relaxing walk. After walking like 50 blocks, the High Line was the perfect place to relax.