Last Summer

I was in Starbucks in Town Square, a two-minute walk from my apartment. The coffee store is not spacious, and is part of a high-rise building, sitting on the first level in a corner by the Hudson River. It has a restroom that remains open to all, although the Restroom only for Customers marker on the door is missing.

This coffeehouse has long remained my first stop to drink any espresso. My favorite spot inside is a corner at the far end of the store.

After the barista, Stacey, filled my tumbler with blonde roast, I walked a few steps before peeking to my right to see if the brown chair and table at the far corner was occupied. It wasn’t.

When I sat there, the restroom was to my left. People walked toward me before turning around to wait in line if the restroom was occupied. The bottom half of the wall lining the length of the passage was wooded, matching the brown hue of chairs and tables; the top half was an off-white coat suggesting completeness; the ceiling – an unadorned stretch of pipes and cables – infused rawness. Next to the restroom was the Employees Only room, where stocks of beans, muffins, croissants, cheese Danish lay fresh on iron shelves; although the room remained locked, employees accessed it also to change when their shift was over.

The more professional they looked, wearing green over black with a Starbucks cap crowning their pride, the more casual they were, sashaying around when it was time to head home. Employees – young or old – mostly wore ganjis and shorts after the completion of their shift in the dying weeks of summer. I remember a girl who had a language makeover, too: at work, she’d welcome everyone with a smiley “Hello” – post which, a cheerful “FO Dude” when a co-worker teased her.

To my right was a big stained window, framing not only downtown Manhattan but part of the Hudson River, where rich people had docked their yachts.

The blonde roast tasted more pungent. The rays of the setting sun outside were almost dead in their reflections off the mast of a three-level luxury yacht, docked very close to the window. The river ripples, serenely pallid under dock lights, moved in the direction of the sun, which, now devoid of its rays, looked a tint of orange.

Glancing at the bottom of the yacht, I saw a head pop out of the first level. He was a yacht cleaner in a white V-neck and yellow pajamas, with a piece of cloth in each hand. He replaced the pieces of cloth with a muffin in his left and coffee in his right hand. His Starbucks cup startled me. I wondered as to when he’d visited the store: it would’ve taken him ten minutes of a U-turn walk from where he was. But if I could open the window that Hurricane Sandy couldn’t break, he’d be in the store in ten seconds. He shifted his half-eaten muffin to his right hand, holding it along with his coffee, leaving his left hand to wave at me.

He appeared to be in some discomfort, jumping up and down. Then, gripping the US flagpole that was tied to a railing, he looked stiff in an army posture, as though ready to negate a drone attack. I cursed the insensitive yacht owner who’d probably locked the restroom in the yacht. How could a poor soul disobey nature’s call?


I was helpless, but soon he wasn’t. His face glowed under the orange sky. His smile appeared to grow into muffled laughter; he blew me a kiss – which I rejected – and when he blew me another, I thought that was enough. But when I watched him closely through the developing blurriness of my contact lens, I learned that his gaze, its line of sight, was angled a few inches away from me, in fact over my head to a target perhaps to my left. Just then Stevie Wonder crooned I Believe on the jukebox. As I turned to my left, I saw Stacey standing right outside the stockroom, blowing kisses back, which again went over my head.

She smirked at me, indicating that I’d made a fool of myself. I stared at my computer before closing my eyes; the sound of her footsteps receding. She’d disappeared for him, and he was also not there, anymore.


Sweet with Valentine’s sugar (Photo Challenge)Suspicious, I was (Daily Prompt).

Window To Man’s Soul

There’s something about windows. In the words of Quentin Blake: You see, I don’t draw from life at all, but I do look out of my window a lot.

A window is alluring as it secures and gives us a view. What we access through it may have varied overtones: a life away from life, the blossoming beyond our reach, frightening us as much, high altitude and back.

Our 4-year-old son – isn’t this a tricky phase – doesn’t listen to us much, but when he’s in an institution he conducts himself well. Thank god. Here, I captured him through the window of his Taekwondo class.


Racing upwards at 14 miles per hour in a glass-fronted elevator, it took us 59 seconds to reach the observation deck (116th floor) of CN Tower. If I edit this photo, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada may look like a leaflet. For more CN Tower posts, visit CN Tower defies gravity and CN Tower in Toronto.


From atop the CN Tower, and as the sun peeked through clouds, Billy Bishop Toronto city airport (center-right) looked abandoned.


I’ve said this several times and am saying it again that we are lucky to be living in an apartment with this view. For almost a decade now. What you see here: Freedom Tower in downtown Manhattan, the Hudson River, Brooklyn, Marina yacht club in Jersey City. -It was early morning Sunday; the Norwegian Cruise Line ship was returning to Manhattan from Bahamas. We’d taken this ship for our Bahamas and Florida tour some years prior. See Life on board the Norwegian Gem and Great Stirrup Cay in Bahamas.


The window that gave us utmost happiness also worsened our fears during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The effects were severe in NJ and NY: businesses lost billions of dollars, half a million homes were destroyed, around 50 people were killed. I took this picture around 9 pm. Storm surge/strong wind pounded Newport, flooding the walkway up to ten feet. Sustained wind speed: 75 mph. We’d taken this advisory from our building management seriously: “…all windows in the apartment are maintained closed, locked and the blinds in the lowered position…that the wind is not permitted any opening, which if allowed, can potentially result in the further opening of window or, worse yet, ripping out the entire window.” Though we lost electricity and the fire alarm beeped all night, we survived unhurt. -Strange that I remember what Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said: Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?


We had fun riding this tramway that spanned the East River and connected Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island. Midway to the island and at its highest elevation of 250 feet, we saw another tramway journey back to Manhattan. The window overlooked East River, the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island.


As we approached the Toronto-Pearson International airport in Canada, the pilot’s reminder to fasten our seat belts matched these bumpy clouds we saw through the window.


At Mount-Pleasant station in Brampton, Ontario, the windows of this moving bus reflected the not-so-clear activities behind me. Billy Wilder had said: An actor entering through the door, you’ve got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you’ve got a situation.


Mail trucks don’t use window doors in summer. Here, I see the driver’s seat and the bright ambiguity through it.

Windows to a soul (Photo Challenge). Witty and attitude (Daily Prompt).

The Empire State Building


Clouds may gather, dusk may approach, people may whisper – the Empire stays true to its name.

For Day 4 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I show you the 360-degree views from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Seeking happiness among the concrete?

South view: downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hudson River, New Jersey. The Freedom Tower stands tall.IMG_3046

North view: midtown, uptown, Central Park (oasis among the concrete).IMG_3078

East view: East River, Queens, Brooklyn.IMG_3148

West view: New Jersey, the Hudson River (a beautiful river separating Manhattan from New Jersey).IMG_3066

A panoramic view encompassing East River, downtown Manhattan, the Hudson River, New Jersey, and a slice of the observation deck itself.IMG_3051

I link Sabiscuit for this challenge. Sabiscuit is an impressive blog.

Bronze Threshold In Battery Park

We know that the immigrants built this country, suffering years and years of toil and struggle. This bronze sculpture in Battery Park celebrates the diversity of New York City.


The figures with their dramatic poses include a freed African slave, a worker, a priest and an Eastern European Jew. Indeed this was a threshold before the freedom beckoned guaranteeing our rights and responsibilities.



From Resilience Of Ground Zero To Reality Of 9/11 Memorial

We visited the 9/11 Memorial soon after it opened to public on Sep 12, 2011. These pictures were taken then.

I’d like to quote what Barrack Obama, President of the USA, said on the occasion:

When people visit the 9/11 memorials in the future, they will know that nothing can break the will of a truly United States of America. They will be reminded that we are not perfect, but our democracy is durable, and that democracy — reflecting, as it does, the imperfections of man — also gives us the opportunity to perfect our union. That is what we honor on days of national commemoration — those aspects of the American experience that are enduring, and the determination to move forward as one people.

The South PoolIMG_3870

January 2012 115

The North PoolJanuary 2012 063

January 2012 026

One of the WTC buildingsIMG_3865

Survivor TreeJanuary 2012 087

Transportation HubJanuary 2012 099

January 2012 108

HeroismJanuary 2012 095

The ParkJanuary 2012 106

January 2012 110

How Thick Blanket Of Fog Obscured Manhattan Today

It felt surreal as I clicked these from our apartment.

A thick blanket of fog appeared out of nowhere, as though a jet whooshed past inches above the Hudson River leaving contrailsphoto 3 (2)

The more the fog thickened the less the sun’s intensity; the downtown Manhattan skyline is bracing for impactphoto 5 (3)

The sun’s misty brightness; its rays’ reflection in the river were drops of sparkling pearls. But where’s the skyline?photo 3 (1)

The sun and the fog: Will they or won’t they…?photo 5

They met and merged. Every obscurity may not mean enmity. There’s life, love. Any of our interpretations is only reflective of our identity photo 1