Disembarked at LaGuardia Airport, I was still digesting a self-perceived racism experience from the steward in Delta airline. During the flight, an old Japanese old lady sat on my right and a white man on my left. When it comes to tea time, a steward came and asked the Japanese old lady whether she wants tea or coffee without addressing her, but with his arm crossed, insinuating his impatience and carelessness. I was treated better maybe only a little better, as I was, at least, addressed as “the middle, tea or coffee?” There is no question that this simple English would be helpful for non-native English speakers to understand. When it comes to the turn for the white man on my right, he was greeted with “Sir, would you like a tea or coffee?” The steward might have been tired of lots of Asian faces who have limited command of English languages on the plane, thus, did not care much about how to address them properly. But his attitude for sure did not satisfy me who had been accustomed to the superior services from these Japanese airlines.
This was my second journey to New York, which could mean it would be not as exciting as the first trip two years ago, and this was not a good start to the vacation. However, this time the fact that my best friend Anthony is in New York and I would be his guest could be the most promise of the happiness of this trip.
As Confucius said, “有朋自遠方来 不亦楽乎” – To have friends coming in from afar, how delightful! It’s been a while since we last met in Tokyo and in Singapore, but it felt like it was just yesterday. I clearly remember he visited me in Singapore while I was there by myself and struggled with the relationship with my wife. It was indeed a delightful feeling and now it is my turn!
In New York, Anthony took me to a cafe that serves proper omelettes, the quality of which Anthony grew up with. Unlike him, who has a penchant for eggs, I did find it quite tasty compared to the ones in Japan. I enjoyed a show called “the Book of Mormon”, in the theatre for the first time in my life. While I watched the American people mocking one of their own religions at Broadway, I was switching between the thoughts of the universe and trying to catch up the fast-paced speaking English.
Another highlight of the trip was the visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the third most visited museum in the world. Coincidently, Anthony and I visited the Louvre back in 2009 together in Paris, the most visited museum in the world. I learnt a lot about the Byzantine empire and medieval history in Europe. Although most of the art was centred around Christianity, it is a wonder to behold these masterpieces while imagining what kind of life people were living back then.
A catch-up with ex-Morgan Stanley colleague Susumu got me to the Internet Googling what kind of jobs in New York that I could find and they pay. The result of almost-three-times high compensation as Tokyo is like an invitation to deepen my attraction to work in the low latency trading firm here. New York might not be my favourite place to live, but it definitely is a place that I can spend for a few years to gain some serious professional development. We went to a rooftop bar near Chinatown. The bar experiences were not particularly interesting except that Anthony was asked about the details of a drink by a girl but he could not articulate and pick her up. However, on the way back, we got a chance to pool a taxi ride with a Jewish lady. I started the conversation and got to know she was a relationship consultant. As soon as I insinuate that Anthony was single, she immediately spotted my tempt as a wingman. I guess I need to step up my game next time. She was tall and thin and beautiful by Anthony’s word. He seemed also like her beauty as well as her intelligence.
The grand and magnificent new york public library made me want to come to New York to study here every day until I saw the tranquil Harvard Business School campus with a lavish green lawn in an idyllic setting, a place where I could temporarily forget all the troubles and annoyances back home and stay calm. Walking in the neighbourhood near Harvard University where all the brick sidewalks, made me time slip back to the colonial era in America. Boston is better than New York in the sense that it has the balance between over-crowded and bustling streets and totally rural village.
In Boston, Anthony and I visited Harvard campus and tried various cuisines from high-end Italian food in these tourist areas to the “American house favourite” potato fries near Boston’s rail station. The adorable squirrels in the Boston Common park were almost like domestic pets. We pretended to have some food in our hands and they would just come after us. Just by looking at them, made me happy.
A week was too short to experience the New York life. With the imagination of how would my life would be if I move to New York and reminisce of the old good times in Tokyo, I am already on my plane back to Tokyo, which awaits me to embrace the reality and challenges of the life there.