Some loved ones left flowers and some left miniature flags. People flock, read the names that were carved on the long dark bronze blocks and pay their respect. But no matter how many people visit and congregate around the twin giant pools that used to be where World Trade Center buildings or twin towers were, it always feel somber and subdued there. The first time I came to the site of Ground Zero was 6 years after the 9/11 tragedy happened. My parents were visiting from Indonesia and we took them there. There’s still nothing interesting to see but covered wire fences. There were a lot of works happening behind them. The sound from the heavy machineries, the banging of metals and the buzzing from the construction workers all mixed as proof that life still goes on. I felt humble being at the Ground Zero, because a couple years before 2001 I was there staring at the two towers with astonishment of the tallest buildings in the country. My husband and I passed by the area where World Trade Center was for several times when we headed towards Brooklyn. I would open the car window and look at WTC buildings enthusiastically while we passed the lower Manhattan. Who would’ve known that one day those magnificent buildings would be gone.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up on our bed with our oldest daughter who was 2 years old and our baby girl who was 4 months old. They were still asleep soundly and peacefully without any care in the world. I turned on the TV and watched the morning show on NBC, the Today Show. It was sometime after 8AM suddenly Katie Couric, one of the presenters on the show, announced a distressing news: an airplane has crashed into one of the twin towers. I was stunned. But I thought maybe it was an accident until I saw from the live feed another plane flew directly towards the other tower. What has happened? Then, in minutes everything crumbled and fell. Katie Couric was heard crying on air and I had trouble believing what I had saw. My eyes welled up, tears ran down because I imagined the chaos that ensued. I held my daughters closer and I could feel something in the atmosphere was brewing, fear.
It has been 18 years since the most despicable tragedy I’ve ever witnessed, happened. I can still feel the uneasy feeling when September 11th is approaching. The site where Ground Zero was, now a sprawling park with memorial for the fallen and a museum to commemorate the lost. In November 2017, I took a group of high school students from Indonesia and their teacher to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. It was the first time I visited the place and I became rather emotional especially when I read the names of the people who perished during the tragedy. My fingers sometime ran through the carved letters on the bronze blocks while I listened to the sound of the man-made waterfall, said to be the greatest in United States. In April this year, I visited the plaza again and that time I was escorting an old friend and his colleagues who were curious about the 9/11 Memorial. They were astounded and again, I somehow lost with emotion when I read a name, a woman’s, with additional statement “and her unborn child”.
(To all who perished and the first responders, may you rest in peace).
I live about 2 hours away from New York City. To reach this metropolis, I can take the train and that’s the transportation that I mostly take every time I visit New York. Most trains going to or passing New York will arrive at Grand Central Terminal. This magnificent train station was once called Grand Central Depot which opened in October 1871 and went through several changes as New York needed bigger place to accommodate all the trains that were coming and going, also the people. The present Grand Central opened on February 2nd 1913. For a building with more than 100 years old history, Grand Central still looks astonishing. It is one among so many icons that make New York City a marvel city worth to visit. When visiting Grand Central, try to spend some time at Grand Central Market. The market, like any market, tries to offer the New Yorkers and tourists with everyday needs, such as food be it cooked or raw, flowers, baked goods, fruits, vegetables, kitchenware and housewares, etc. One thing that makes Grand Central Market one of a kind is it is a fancy-kind, rather posh sort of market. But you don’t want to miss the experience to browse along the stalls at this small market. You’ll be amazed by the freshness of the seafood, the colors and smells of the world’s spices and also the aroma from many variety of teas; not to mention the artisan chocolates and the baked goods that make you drool. The stalls are lining up neatly and classy that match with the New York middle and upper class life style. Even when you only browsing, there is something, if not a lot of things, to see at the market. Maybe you might want to try the baked goods or bring back home a box of chocolate. Some things are quite affordable and don’t forget to get a souvenir. Come and see Grand Central Market when you decide to visit Grand Central Terminal, especially when you can only visit New York once in a lifetime.
By the time Thanksgiving is over, New York City will be ready to display the festivity of holiday season. There will be more lights, wonderful window displays and amazing store decorations; seasonal events such as ice skating rinks at Bryant Park, Central Park or Rockefeller Center and my favorite is the winter market at Bryant Park. Of all the many wonderful things to see in New York City during holiday season, the window displays from the city’s top stores are the ones that are most breathtaking. Each store competes to show the astonishing display of themes on its windows. People will be wowed by the ranging of themes from Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s and many other upscale stores. They can be whimsical, full of fantasy, imaginative, depiction of stories that are popular like A Christmas Carol, Mother Goose, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and so on. Those themes are truly work of art!
When you decide to visit New York City during holiday season, be prepared to encounter a lot of people, more than usual. There will be crowd almost everywhere! Wear sensible and comfortable shoes, bundle-up warmly, cause you’re going to take lots and lots of walk. Your main attractions will be mostly along Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue has musical light show that covers its entire building. It is simply amazing! Young and old would gather across the store and waiting for the show to begin every 10 minutes. Across Saks Fifth Avenue is another attraction that has been showed on popular movies about Christmas, such as Home Alone: Lost in New York, which is the Rockefeller Christmas tree. The tree, the ice skating rink and the displays around the Rockefeller Center are another wonderful sights to see. You might also browsing the winter market at Bryant Park that has many local artists showing and selling their artworks. Not too mention, another ice skating rink, which is heated, and I think is more romantic than the one at Rockefeller. People can buy some hot cocoa or coffee and have varieties of munchies, sit on one of the park metal chairs and see people ice skating or just relaxing with loved ones. The market is also the best place to get presents for any occasion or souvenirs, if you’re a tourist. So, let me show you how New York City celebrates holiday season. You’ll be amazed for sure!
I believe people should be able to express their understanding about art. With the reasoning of freedom of speech, that expression can be quite confusing. Some expressing it through an art form that they see fit to their purpose and yet on the other hand, it is considered as rather vulgar. In Times Square, that form of expression lately becomes a popular news because it happens in a public space and some says beginning to feel like a menace. Desnudas or the painted ladies who strut along in parts of Times Square, wear body paint on their bodies as they call it as art. They mostly wear only panties or bikini bottom while showing certain illustration on their bodies. For your information, in New York City, being topless is legal and these ladies who now exhibit their painted body in Times Square really knows well how to sell their artwork. They will pose with certain tourists who are willing to give them some tips. Those tourists who were mostly men looked bewildered and also amused. The rests of us, the other passersby and tourists, parents with children would try to avoid the desnudas. When I saw the lady on these photos, a part of me admired her spunk, but another part of me couldn’t fathom the idea of showing off your body in a public space where everyone can see and even touch, and is considered as art expression. With so many ways to express yourself, why this? In the end, I think because this one is the most profitable way to do without requiring any serious effort.
Notes: When I took these pictures, it was last October, I only saw one Desnudas or painted lady in Times Square. Now that it’s almost a year later, I read that the ladies are multiplying and becoming a handful. The local law enforcement has decided to take care of the desnudas.
While I was walking towards Grand Central Terminal, accompanying my two daughters and their friend, I came upon this man. I was taking several shots of the Chrysler Building at night, when suddenly my eyes saw the man sleeping on the sidewalk. He laid down on what it seemed to be two pieces of cardboard. The man crossed his legs and covered his body with a jacket. His face was partially hidden under a baseball cap. The man’s trolley, his primary tool of transporting and to hold his worldly possession laid close to him. Under his head was what I believed to be his clothes, in a bag, that became his pillow. As the dusk set, the wind blew a little bit chillier. People kept on passing by, some would stop to take pictures of the Chrysler Building. Under the dim lights in a somewhat quiet street between some buildings with upscale shops, bar and cafes, a man slept soundly without any care in the world. Scattered litters around him, dusts that settled and blown away by the wind, didn’t bother him at all. I took one shot of the man, and kept on walking. I didn’t want to wake him or maybe I tried getting away before I felt guilty for him. In my head, I could hear a song,”She calls out to the man on the street. Sir, can you help me? It’s cold and I’ve no where to sleep. Is there somewhere you can tell me?” from Another Day in Paradise, a song written by Phil Collins. The night sky had darkened and on a train ride home, the song kept playing in my head. “It’s just another day for you and me in paradise. Oh, think twice, it’s just another day for you, you and me in paradise”.
I took my girls to New York last weekend for their spring break. When we just arrived at Grand Central Terminal and bought some baked goods, we saw a man passing us by. The man wore a red jacket, a skirt and red boots. He also had a very unique hair style, had lots of accessories on him and on his wardrobe. He was about between 60-70 years old. Having coming from a traditional and rather conservative upbringing, I know there’s an unwritten rule about people from certain age should act their age. But I don’t believe this man really cared about that rule. He walked with confidence, with his black canvas bag that had Union Jack, chains and metal spikes on it. It turned out that at the same moment, there were some people from photography club or some kind, who were having their photo hunting at Grand Central. Right away, the man with the red jacket became their point of interest and just like a professional celebrity, the man posing for the cameras ready for his red carpet moment. I couldn’t hear any of the small talk some people had with the man. I wished I knew. I wondered my self why he was wearing such an eccentric attribute. For what purpose? I think everyone’s curiosity was similar at that point. Meanwhile, we were really amused by the man. He reminded me that once in a lifetime, you’re allowed to go all out. Even though some may think you’re nuts or silly, there’s nothing beats the feeling of being one of a kind.