Friday, June 01, 2007

My Trip to NYC

Last night I returned home from New York City, where I met Jeffrey Schuster (founder of Iraqi Bloggers Central) and other cool people. I absolutely love NYC, especially in the summer. The weather was perfect during my entire stay. On Saturday Jeffrey and I ate lunch at a nice Moroccan restaurant in the West Village and then walked through SOHO and ended up in Washington Square Park. Of course we discussed Iraq and the Iraqi blogosphere. Thank you, Jeffrey, for a really nice afternoon. You were a most gracious host, and I hope to see you again.

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.

WTC Site

Airport Security

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!

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