28 April 2005

New York calls (Tribeca Film Festival)

Opportunity knocked in the shape of a conference attendance for Stuart, so I tagged along and got my fill of culture, film and general big-city vibes.

NYC is shockingly inspiring, specially since the film festival is on in all its glory with big name movies (Schl├Ândorff et al) as well as blocks of shorts on outlandish themes such as Celluloid and Digital Landscapes or Past Life Regressions. A highlight was the appearance of Nina Hagen, whose movie (7 Dwarves) was pretty unfunny - specially dubbed into English - but who is a teen idol of mine from her Rock-Punk days and proved as embarrassing/entertaining in the flesh as I had hoped.

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Nina Hagen with daughter at the film premiere

Otherwise I spent a lot of time wandering the streets, enjoying a place that is older than a few decades and where people have a history. The first few days of my stay I was based in a friend's flat in the East Village, which was a bit like actually living here rather than just visiting. Although I really just ended up doing things tourists do: breakfast with the New York Times and blueberry pancakes in a diner, then a trip up the Empire State building, later a visit to the Natural History museum. It was only on the weekend that the locals joined in with my pace of living. Still there were trips with big bags to the laundry, mopping of floors and shopping to be done. But at least there were some people in Central Park who had the leisure to amble down the lanes, go for a walk with the lover or take a long lunch. The streets gained a new pace, slower, lighter, less ordered than in the week where the mood is stern and focussed.

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Stuart finally arrived for the conference, but was very busy, so I was still treading the streets on my own. Sometimes I am paralysed by the variety. A shop in Greenwich Village has a counter for take-away drinks, offering tea and coffee in a bewildering choice: 20 kinds of tea bags, three flavours of hot coffee as iced versions, flavoured syrups, different kinds of milk, sugar, sweeteners and toppings. Compare this to the food stall in Chennai that serves tea. Hot, sweet, milky. That's it.

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