Over the weekend I stayed in Brooklyn, where I met Yemenis, Syrians, and Palestinians - most were Americanized, all were very friendly. On Monday my Palestinian American friend introduced me to her 19-year old cousin and his 18 year-old Yemeni American friend. They were very kind and drove us through some nice parts of Brooklyn - I did not know that Brooklyn is so nice! While in the car, a lighter on the middle console caught my eye - it was adorned with a photo of Saddam Hussein! I picked it up, laughed and said "I can't believe you have this!" I had never met anybody with a Saddam lighter. The Yemeni guy said "Yeah he's my boy, they shouldn't have fucked with him...things were better when he was in charge." I smiled and said, "True, things were better when he was in charge" and left it at that. They dropped us off at a Yemeni clothing store, where we shopped for a kiffiyya (chiffiyya in Iraq) and then had lunch at a Syrian restaurant, where I was surprised to find klaicha - it was pretty good, but my mom's is better:) We walked through Prospect Park and then I took the subway to Manhattan, where I checked into the Hilton Millennium Hotel, across from the site of the World Trade Center. I had a perfect view from my corner room (see pics below) where I could see the WTC site from one window and the Brooklyn Bridge from another.
View of Brooklyn
On Tuesday I visited the Museum of Natural History after walking through part of incredibly gorgeous Central Park. I was impressed with the Hall of Human Origins, which has a really good section on DNA.
This was my first trip to NYC since 1998, and I couldn't help but think a lot about the events of September 11 and where I was that day, especially after seeing the WTC site. My family and I were inside the WTC towers in 1978 and I kept thinking that people just like us died on 9/11. It also reminds me that Iraqis have experienced many of their own 9/11s.
When I flew out of San Francisco International Airport, security personnel could tell through their high-tech X-Ray machine that my bag contained a bottle of shaving cream, which had to be removed. I was impressed, despite being a bit embarrassed. Their metal detector also alarmed when I walked through it - I had forgotten to take off my belt. It's interesting because I forgot again to take off my belt at La Guardia yesterday, and yet the metal detector did not alarm. This has happened before - it may be that metal detectors at airports are not properly calibrated. Another thing I have noticed is that sometimes old people are randomly selected for 'extra screening'. After passing through security yesterday at La Guardia, I noticed an older (white) gentlemen being screened, while I wasn't. I felt bad. I'm not saying they should have screened me - it just doesn't make sense to select older people for these kinds of screenings.
Overall my trip to NYC was wonderful. I wish I could spend the entire summer in NYC!