The grass is always greener beyond the fence. That’s what you’d say in German if you wanted to talk about the fact that things always seem to be more attrective as soon as they are out of reach. Having lived beyond the fence for seven months I know the phenomenon pretty well. Cheese and bread? So much better and cheaper back home. The subway? Actually works, regularly and reliably. Washing machines? Turn laundry really clean. Restaurants? Let you finish your meal and another bottle of wine before slapping down the check at your table. The list goes on, easily. Continue reading
Category Archives: Moving around
This is absolutely amazing. This is New York at its best. I love it. 2 points for making the subway a stage.
… there are more than 12,700 registered yellow cabs on New York’s streets.
John Daniel Hertz (1879–1961) first introduced what later became one of New York’s most distinctive symbols when he founded his Yellow Cab Company in 1907. He referred to a survey by the University of Chicago that claimed yellow was the color to be distinguished most easily.
Your average New York cab wastes some 7,3 gallons on 100 miles (17 l on 100 km). The cab drivers come from 85 different countries and speak more than 60 languages.
… in total, the streets of New York are more than 6300 miles long (almost 10,200 kilometers).
I have never seriously considered to buy rain boots in my former life, although they come in really nice colors and patterns. But I didn’t need any. Yes, it does rain, where I come from, heavily even, but ordinary sneakers and an umbrella would be the appropriate answer to most thunderstorms. New York, of course, is different. For reasons I don’t understand puddles morph into deep ponds in this city; and they tend to do so at street corners–right where you’re supposed to cross the street. There are three possible concequences:
a) Get wet feet,
b) walk large distances on the street instead of the sidewalk until you find a snow heap low enough or a puddle shallow enough to actually make it back on the sidewalk,
c) buy and wear rain boots. Continue reading
I come from a slow city. A colloquial Viennese word would be pomali, that’s originally Czech and means something like take it easy or slowly, man. Coming to New York I always wondered why speed seems so desirable here and why it is considered to be the epitome of urban life.
I also wondered, where New York hidd its old, slow and weak people. They’re not on the subway, they’re hardly ever on the street. Finally, I found them. They are in public buses. I was amazed to see that the driver actually waited for an elder woman who came “running” after the bus as fast as she could–which was not very fast, of course. I was even more amazed to see, that the rear seats could be folded away to make room for a wheel chair, that the bus could be lowered to the side to make it accessible and that the driver took his time, very quietly, to arrange and rearrange everything. It almost took me an hour to cross from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side. But it showed me New York’s humane face. Half a point.
Living near a local subway stop drove me insane when I first came to New York. Disheartened by the long waiting times, I thought of jumping off the plattform and putting my life to an end many times–if I had had the chance to jump as far as the express track. (No trains on the local track, why bother jumping there?) Then I read the book Gebrauchsanweisung für New York by Verena Lueken. Her Instruction Manual of New York is well written, well reearched, and it contained a crucial piece of information for me: “Experience teaches you that every second express train is followed by a local one. At the latest.”
And Mrs. Luecken is right! Pay attention and you will see. I stopped contemplating suicide at once. 2 points for so much help!