Monday/Tuesday – Day 144/145

December 23, 2012

Something I completely forgot about Sunday night that was rather significant was the trip to Marie’s Crisis Bar, a somewhat infamous gay hotspot in the center of the East Village. There Mum and I joined in the loud singing to broadway tunes played by the charismatic pianist, accompanied by a few excellent voices.

Monday was another lazy day, with the morning spent in a cafe with the family as we are known to do on holidays. Following that, it was back  home to pack my bag and set off back to Philly in order to clean out my room in preparation for moving out. At 1PM I grabbed by backpack and set off to Penn Station where I caught the Bolt bus back to Philly.

On arriving back in Philly at 4PM I raced around campus, madly trying to get all I needed done before 5PM when things would close. First stop was to the Internation Student Services center where I picked up a new copy of the documentation I would need to obtain a new F1 student visa for the upcoming six months. Then it was off to the engineering buildings to try and meet with Kostas, my professor for algorithms, to discuss taking a job as a teaching assistant in the coming semester despite less than stellar marks on the final exam. He reassured me and also invited me to a end of semester party for some in the computer science faculty which I graciously declined.

After that it was a race back to my room in Rodin to start packing up my stuff. In the process I also changed into my Glee uniform to prepare for the gig that evening, awarding Dr Amy Gutmann a prize on behalf of the city. The gig was fine but took a little longer than expected so when I returned I was in somewhat of a rush. Unfortunately I allowed myself to be caught up for a longer than needed dinner at Hillel followed by a longer than needed chat with Aviva who, was storing some of my stuff over the break. After I made it back to my room for the last time where I spent the next hour in an insane dash to pack everything up before the last bus back to NYC left. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite successful and had to leave a large back under Anil’s care in the room.

When I got back it was unfortunately time to say bye to Dad who was going to North Carolina for work. But before that I was called upon as usual to fix up a piece of technology, in this case his phone that was years behind in software updates.

Tuesday morning was spent at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a wonderful gallery. Though our time there was limited, Mum and I managed to see a number of interesting exhibits including a great Andy Warhol one and another on early photographic manipulation techniques that were employed in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

Following that we stopped off for lunch, this time at Pret A Manger, which wasn’t too bad. Then we received a call that I was most excited for. Family friends of our, who are close friends with a Mr Andreas Scholl, phoned us to let us know they were in a nearby cafe and that we should come to meet him and his wife.

Andreas Scholl is an opera superstar. A countertenor (the highest male voice) with a purity of tone and a richness of expression unmatched in the world. I had the pleasure of taking a public masterclass directed by him the previous year at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music where I study voice at home, however an opportunity to converse one on one with him I had never expected would come to pass. Eating croissants with him and his fiance, and discussing music, food and the good life, was probably one of the recent highlights of my entire trip and is certainly something that I’ll remember for years to come.


Andreas and I

Andreas and I

After that we returned home to pack my bags for tomorrows trip to Montreal, where I was to apply for the visa and packing a bag to leave behind at my cousins’ place in NYC so as to eliminate my need to schlep it across continental America.

We were late to dinner with my little cousins but how adorable they were! Tzippy and Sophie were so excited to see me again and to be able to play with me again. Dinner was at the 2nd Avenue Deli; Raph’s NYC favorite. Amongst the things he ordered was Gribines: chicken skin fried in schmaltz (rendered chicken/goose fat). Not something that hugely appeals to me, but Raph (my brother) is the king of fried food.

After that it was back to the apartment to finish packing up my stuff and preparing for the trip!

Shabbat/Sunday – Day 37/38

August 29, 2012

This Shabbat at Yoni and Rivki’s with Sophie and Tziporah, my little cousins, was very peaceful. In the morning I settled down to read another John Grisham novel and following that a nice quiet lunch (except for the few tantrums thrown by the two little girls). The afternoon was a trip to the local park and a walk along the promenade bordering the Hudson River and the borough of Manhattan.

The park was divided up into cute little zones, each for a different type of recreation. The first one we visited was a children’s playground. It featured many different jungle gyms, water fountains with a bathing area in the centre and, park benches surrounding the zone so that parents could keep a close eye on their young. After playing with the girls for a few hours, the sky began to darken and it was time to make a quick visit to the rest of the park before heading back home.

The next zone we visited was the ‘small dog run’ a five by three meter, oval, tiled area on which ran a number of very small, very cute and terribly adorable dogs. My favorite of them being a darling little pug with a ball in his mouth that was larger than one would reasonably assume would fit. He carried it over to many individuals around the sides and would beg them to take it away and throw it so that he could attempt to catch it in midair.

Following that we went to the ‘big dog run’, a larger area on which bounded hounds and dachshunds, among others. After a while of watching those, we walked back, passed the basketball courts and along the river.

After the conclusion of Shabbat I decided to treat myself to something I’d been wanting to do for a while: Batman! Finding an IMAX screening that I could make, I excitedly picked myself up and headed over to AMC Lincoln Square: Loewe’s. After climbing four flights of stairs I arrived at the IMAX screen and candy bar. Deciding to make my American experience complete I purchased the smallest combo of popcorn and drink offered: a three hundred gram massive bag of popcorn with a 1.56L drink. Daniel Serebro had said to me that the movie was not a “batman” movie, and though I thoroughly enjoyed it, I tended to agree. The focus of the movie was more on the events unfolding in Gotham City rather than the exploits of batman himself. For his part, Bruce Wayne spent more time soul-searching than fighting crime with catwoman making only a brief appearance.

Sunday morning marked a trip to Governor’s Island with the girls. Located towards the battery park end of Manhattan, a ten minute ferry ride away, Governor’s Island was a fort, used at one time as a coast guard base and more recently as a military prison.

The view from the ferry

Today it is converted into a cultural site, with an African festival being held for the duration of our stay. The first order of business was to visit a graphic design museum on the Island, where I realized a long-term love for typography and brand design, oohing and ahhhing at the posters and vector graphics while the girls looked at the pretty pictures.

That was followed by a picnic lunch with Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, another American tradition, I had not experienced in years.




Afterwards, a walk to the otherside of the island to listen to the African drummers, to run around with the girls and, take a well-deserved nap on the grass.

Listening to the African Storyteller


We returned to the apartment early to prepare for the arrival of my great-aunt and uncle, Alfie and Zahava Slonim, at whose place I had stayed while I was preparing for and sitting my SATs. Also in tow were my second cousins once removed, Louisa and Adam Slonim. Dinner was a delicious platter of Deli foods, most notably some sizzling hot pastrami which with a bit of coleslaw went down most splendidly.

Rivki, Yoni, Tzipi and Sophie

After their departure, I finished my book and headed to sleep.

New York – Thursday – Day 35

August 27, 2012

Thursday morning and it was time to make my way off again, this time from Cos Cob, CT to New York, New York! After packing my bags again, Gus drove me to the center of town. There I bought a prepaid AT&T sim card after being told that without a social security number I was ineligible for a plan. Following that a quick jaunt to the train station and I was on my way again, catching an MTA local line from Greenwich station to Grand Central.

I arrived at Grand Central Station with all my bags and was thoroughly not in the mood for dragging them around for the entire day till my cousins arrived home.

Grand Central Station

Thus, I dragged them a few blocks down to Schwartz Travel Services, where they provided a baggage watch service for 5$ a day. With my bags gone I headed a walking down. The first major landmark to catch my eye was the New York public library.

New York Public Library

By this time the blisters on my feet were starting to play up, but I was not about to let that stop me from exploring the city on foot. Another few blocks and I was at Times Square, taking the mandatory tourist photo.

Times Square

From there I walked to the PNC bank at Penn Station, in order to open up an account for the time in the states. There I met Jessica, a bank officer from the Dominican Republic who seemed about ten years older than me and was most friendly. We chatted for a while as she opened the account and I left with a feeling of satisfaction. Following that it was off to AMC Empire Cinemas on 42nd Street, right next to times square. I wished to go see Batman but the next screening was an hour away. So, to kill time I went into the AT&T store to see if someone there would be able to put me on contract rather than prepaid. After a good 25 minute wait I was helped by a lovely guy by the name of Ulysses, who informed me that though I had no SSN, if I put down a large deposit they could arrange a contract. It was thus that I received a brand new Samsung Galaxy SIII phone in return for my commitment to the firm.

At this point I decided to walk to the Eugene O’Neil theatre where the book of Mormon was playing to try and enter a lottery for cheap seats and failing that to join the standing room line. When I arrived I was informed I had just missed the lottery however, the standing room line wasn’t too large so I joined it, having been informed there were between twenty and twenty eight tickets available every day.

After two hours of standing, the queue began moving and I eagerly awaited my turn in line. Finally, I reached the front of the line but was then informed that the last ticket had just been sold. Desperate for a ticket I entered the cancellations line, a last bet where the house manager could sell tickets reserved for celebrities if they didn’t show. Sixth in line, I was hopeful that I might get in, however one hour later, again at the front of the line, the music started and the box office closed.

I then returned to Schwartz’s travel to pick up my bags and caught the subway to get to 55 South End St where my cousins lived. Guided by my phone however, I unfortunately hadn’t noticed that their address was in fact 55 EAST End St and found myself at the opposite end of the city. With all my bags, and the sky dark at 9PM I decided to catch my first cab of the entire trip and soon was safely at Yoni and Rivki Slonim’s. After a quick goodnight to the girls and a slice of pizza, I too was fast asleep.

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney