A Day in the Life of New York City…
What is it with New York City – it’s simply buzzing! Today Manhattan is overrun by security, cops and traffic police, there are closures and enclosures everywhere and yet there seem to be people, people, people everywhere too! After all, how often do you get to see the Pope – and especially one as beloved as this one? An army of world leaders is in town for the UN Summit, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Also in town is the youngest world leader, Malala Yousefzai, for the premiere of the documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’ and also for delivering a powerful speech at the UN. And yes, even Priyanka Chopra, Bollywood Goddess, is in this frenetic city for the launch of her new ABC series ‘Quantico’.
I’m returning from a press conference at the London Hotel with the producers and director of ‘He Named Me Malala’ and it’s a fun walk down the avenues, jostling into all the big happenings in this vibrant, crazy city. At the Ziegfeld Theater the hoardings of ‘He Named Me Malala’ are up with the familiar face of Malala – close by a giant tent city is being raised for the premiere, with her pictures everywhere, and construction crews are busy on the job. The place should look a glittering fairyland, come evening.
In another part of the city the splendid Waldorf Astoria is also hopping, with hundreds of world leaders and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi met with world leaders and top CEOs. Lots of wining, dining and spoken words to change the world. The place is like a strong fortress – and outside, this being New York, people, people everywhere. Public transit is doggedly running though the buses have been diverted and re-routed. Everyone wants to get somewhere!
Pope Mania has officially come to New York. Walk down the avenues and you see the intersection of so many different lives as thousands and thousands of people gather to get a glimpse of the Pope as he heads to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s only 3 pm but people are lining up as if they are giving away free tickets to a rock concert. And of course, the Pope is more than any rock star with legions of believers and non-believers alike lining up. I even see some girls in hijabs settling down on Fifth Avenue to catch a glimpse of the holy Pope Mobile when it passes.
There’s unbelievable security with cops and machine guns and dogs and heavy metal fencing – and the lines make their way slowly through security checks. They are then behind the enclosures, settling down for the long haul – the Pope is expected to pass by three hours later. People are squatting on the pavement, eating lunch, studying music notes, checking out their phone cameras and even a gigantic telescope. Lots of babies are there for blessings. If they can’t go to the Pope in the Vatican, the Pope is coming to them…
Yet, can New York ever forget Mammon? Fifth Avenue stores are open and there’s another world bustling inside them. The headless mannequins in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman have their usual bored, worldly stance and tourists are milling all around.
Outside the Plaza, outside the Apple store, crowds are basking in the mellow September sun, clad in jackets for the whimsical winds which come and go. Central Park is totally closed for security reasons but on the streets the halal chicken and falafal vendors are doing a brisk business. Waiting for the Pope can be hungry business! And one enterprising cap vendor has pinned on a huge cutout of Pope Francis, who always wears a cap though not the kind this vendor is selling! But what a great endorsement to have – and yes, you can buy key-chains and other mementos of the Pope from this vendor too.
I watch a little girl happily pop her hands into the fountain outside the Plaza Hotel and I’m moved to do the same. The water is cool and fresh to the touch. I grab a quick lunch on a park bench and breathe in the excitement of this cool, crispy first day of Fall, as hundreds, thousands each go their own way, following their passions.
New York, never a dull moment with you!