A Single Girl’s Guide To New York City
Shipra Arora is a 34-year-old scriptwriter, based in Mumbai. Travelling is her passion and she has just returned from a 3-month-long backpacking trip from the US after quitting her last job, only to share her experiences here! #HauteStories
I always say, learn to be alone and like it. There is nothing more liberating and empowering than learning to enjoy your own company. And what can be a better place to be alone than New York! Where everyone is running, no one has the time, and no one stops. But theatres, concerts, museums, operas, ballet, restaurants, festivals, street fairs, parks, shopping joints, hotels, and tourist sites don’t let you feel alone.
NYC was the first city I landed in when I commenced my trip to the US, and the last city from where I departed for home. I made no advance plans for NY, except my accommodation for the first 2 days. I left everything to fate to see how this crazy, mad, vibrant, and colourful city would touch me.
However, to my utter dismay (and to the horror of many), I hated the city when I just landed. It was May and I expected it to be sunny and pleasant. Instead it was wet, cold, and raining. And that just crushed my dream of lying on the grass at Central Park, doing absolutely nothing. So the first thing I learnt was to ALWAYS follow the season calendar of the destination you’re planning to visit.
Do Your Homework
Did you know the average temperature in NYC until the beginning of May is 6 degree Celsius? Well, clearly I didn’t do enough homework. Sigh! From June onward, the weather becomes better and July is hot. From August-end, autumn hits. So, coming from a tropical city, at a time I believed to be peak summer, I just wasn’t prepared for the cold that hit me. Plus there’s literally nothing that right clothes can’t make right! So packing your bag wisely is critical.
Also, because you’re alone and unfamiliar with the surroundings; because you don’t want to be lost; because you want to explore; because you wish to click hundreds of pictures; because you need google maps and travel apps on your mobile — buy a good data plan and battery back-up. It can save your life and you don’t have to be dependent on others!
Must Know When In NYC
An important thing to buy to really explore the city is the MetroCard. But that’s not all. New York’s famous underground metros take you to places where your best data plan does not work. So while you buy a MetroCard, also download a metro app that works without Internet.
Don’t Stand In The Middle Of The Sidewalk!
I kind of realised why everyone is running in NY. For instance, commuting from Manhattan to Brooklyn takes about 45 minutes. And that is only possible if you’ve managed to take the right train from 81st street and you are fast enough to figure a change of train at Kingston, at the right time. If you happen to miss, you end up spending another 20 -30 minutes extra before reaching your location. And who has time for that, right? Maybe you and me, who are travelling and have the time of the world in their hands, but surely not busy New Yorkers! Which is why you’ll get pushed around if you happen to stand in their way.
Create A New Wardrobe
A city where anyone wears anything. Where people have no time to judge. Where the gay flaunt their skirts. Where an over-sized woman wears shorts without hesitation. Where fishnet is commonly worn as a tank top. A city where you can bring your hidden clothes you didn’t dare to wear in your own city.
Living in Mumbai for over a decade now, I had kind of forgotten what cat calling is. But New York, surprisingly, reminded me of my early days in Delhi. Where you are being stared up and down, where — ‘Where you going?’, ‘Come here baby’, ‘Kiss kiss’ — remarks are thrown at you, depending on the area you’re in. So be careful. Be vigilant. Be aware. If you end up encountering such a situation, walk straight and just look ahead. Don’t ever give the impression that you’re pissed, ’cause that’s the reaction they’re looking for.
While every friend I speak to loves NYC, I despised the city at first and then started to like it — love it even. Almost like a fight with your lover — when you hate him, then like, and finally fall head over heels! New York is everything magic. The city dazzles you with its light and energy. Sights of the homeless and too many crazy people on the road sadden you. Central Park makes you smile. Museums make you wonder. Colours in Brooklyn make you appreciate the colours of life, and how foolishly we just see black and white. NYC surprises you in so many ways that you can’t even comprehend.