I got into a passenger survey this morning at Greenpoint Avenue station. A friendly MTA official asked me how often I use the station. I told her that I use it every day. Well, for one month that is more or less true. She wanted to know if I was aware where to stand on the platform as the G train is a short train. When I first used the station I had not known this and had to run after the train. Then of course I knew, so I said yes. She made a note and wished me a nice day.
In the L train across from me a Hispanic party was sitting. Mexicans I would say, but that is just a guess. Two young women, a little girl and a young boy. They apparently came from a Kindergarten event. One of the women was carrying an air balloon with “Jennifer” on it, apparently the girl’s name. Jennifer looked very stylish. She wore a fancy lilac dress, silver sandals with plenty of glittering stones on them, lots of jeweler and her nails were artfully designed. She had a smartphone-like toy with a movie on it. Her mother and the other woman were sisters, I guess, and the guy was the other woman’s husband or boyfriend. At least he had his head lying on her lap and they were sharing the earplugs of an i-pod. Both women had long black hair that urgently needed washing. Why don’t they do it? Stylish dresses alone don’t make women look good.
I first crossed Bushwick from northeast to southwest on the elevated M train to get an overview. I didn’t really get an overview but from above it looked quite ugly with all the graffiti on the upper parts of the buildings. When I got out of the train at Flushing Avenue and Broadway, I wondered if I still was in Brooklyn. What I saw did not look like Brooklyn, at least not like my image of Brooklyn. I saw chaos similar to Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, where the 7 train runs elevated.
I followed Bushwick Avenue and the scenery changed to residential. Bushwick Avenue and its side streets are lined by several types of houses, most of them not in best condition, but ok. Most side streets appear peaceful and the more I got into Bushwick the more Puerto Rican flags I saw. Bushwick is very Hispanic, mainly Puerto Rican.
It was lunchtime. The airbnb neighborhood guide had promised the best Latino food in New York, so I started to look for a restaurant. I came across lots of Deli Groceries and Barber shops – but no restaurants except some Chinese ones. As well I did not find the artsy part of Bushwick, with artists, galleries and cafés. My conclusion was that Bushwick is a neighborhood that is not easy to explore. It needs kind of guidance. I will come back but look for guided walks or at least more information.
I finally found a little restaurant near Myrtle-Wyckoff station. Some people were eating in so I confidentially entered. The waitress told me what today’s choice was – in Spanish. I asked her if she could repeat it in English, she could not. We agreed upon ‘un poco mas despacio’ – a little bit slower – and I understood she had soup with either fish or chicken and fried chicken on rice and potatoes. Ok. The soup was really good with lots of vegetables in it, except the strange piece of fried fish that was much too dry. The chicken was nothing special, but I could give it some taste with a sauce that was offered on every table. Well, it was an experience.
On my way home I made a stop in Williamsburg, walked up Bedford Avenue again and finally found the Café again, Fabiane’s. I had a Latte there and then took the bus home to Greenpoint. It started raining when I got out of the bus. I didn’t care and walked up Manhattan Avenue where I finally entered one of these Polish bakeries to see what they are selling. They have good looking bread, several types of rolls and bagels with poppy seeds. I took a roll with seeds. Poppy seed bagels will be next. Then I tried to find proper yoghurt again – very difficult in the US. Apparently people only buy non-fat. I don’t like non-fat. The upscale supermarket has Greek low-fat yoghurt that is really good. But none of the Delis does.
Tonight I had program. I went – through pouring rain – to the bookstore to join the International Crime Night. Three publishers talked about crime writing. They mainly talked about European crime writing. When it came to asking questions I revealed myself as a European and asked what is typical about American crime writing. They did not agree on one specific element, just the ‘lone wolf’ as a character and that all American crime writers are drinking.
Events like this are really good to train my ears for spoken American English. So I will go to as many as possible.
What I learned today: not all neighborhoods are easy to explore.