Marhaban to The Big Apple
Now, flying to me is an ordeal; and this was a short trip (relatively speaking), approximately four hours to New York, "deh oldt cahntree" - my hometown. We took the red-eye, taking off after midnight and landing at 6 a.m. I was exhausted, and had developed a sinus post-nasal drip two days before and hadn't slept the night before our flight. But at least I thought that I would be able to sleep a bit. No such luck-hey, are those seats getting narrower, or am I getting wider? (-that's a rhetorical question, buddy.)
But then, we finally arrived in New Yawk City: The sights! The smells! The wet cold insinuating itself into one's bones! The dull gray monochromatic sky! I know why I left.
But I struck up a conversation with a most interesting driver for the car service we booked: a Palestinian Arab, born and raised in New York City, with some Jewish roots. His grandparents were dairy farmers in Jerusalem; his grandfather was Jewish, and he still has family in East Jerusalem, having just returned from a trip to Israel. In New York he is known as 'Abraham.' How does a name like Achmed (pronounce as in "Achmed the Dead Terrorist," see below) Greenberg* sound? He met his (Jewish) wife at an Arab wedding in Israel, nine years ago. He was a stock broker on Wall Street for 18 years (and now he drives a cab?) Has three kids, who according to Jewish law are Jewish. I mentioned that. He knew already.
When he heard that I was an expat New Yorker, he decided to give us the grand tour - good thing it's a flat rate - and drove a roundabout route to show us the tremendous urban renewal taking place in the city. Apparently Mayor Bloomberg (quoted by Achmed) is planning to 'eliminate the middle class;' what with all the slummy areas, tenements, old docks and piers along the river being torn down, rebuilt or converted to luxery condos and lofts, only the filthy rich and the poor will be able to afford to live here (!)
In the neighborhood where my husband was born (Red Hook, Brooklyn), you can now rent a nice cozy two bedroom 1 bath condo for 2k a month. Better yet, buy the darn thing for a cool million.
A city park is being planned in the Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill area where now there still are old piers no longer in use. They will be torn down to make way for the new, reborn New York. Can you imagine? New York being taken over by rich Californians, Mid-Westerners and Texans? (gag me with a spoon, you betcha, y'all! )
I don't know which is crazier - the demographic changes happening in New Yawk City, or our Arab driver who speaks fluent Arabic with his Jewish wife who speaks fluent Hebrew (not to mention their three Arab-Jewish kids, Yousuf, Jameel and Fatima*)
Well, gotta get ready to go to Dougies for dinner, so until my next post, from my New York driver:
مع السلامة (ma'a salama: goodbye!)
*some names have been changed to protect the guilty.