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2004-01-25 - 10:47 a.m.

Returning to Society...

Hurray! I have broken the pattern of sitting-at-home-and-waiting-for-things! Yesterday Brunhilda invited me to the lower East Side for Indian food in Little India - we went on from there to see Return of the King in Union Square.

Dinner was as usual fantastic - Indian food has the power to make you eat until you need to roll over in pain, but fortunately I maintained some restraint. And this particular restaurant is wonderful because of the live musicians (friends-of-Brunhilda, Brunhilda is so incredibly networked into the city music scene - we actually run into friends of hers as we walk down the streets in this city of 10 million people.)

Also joining us was a friend-of-Brunhilda Paulo, whom she met from her Joni Mitchell internet chat group. He was quite a pleasant guy, but rather shocking - His voice has one volume: LOUD. You know those people in restaurants who make you turn around and stare? That was Paulo. I was a little bit stunned into silence, sitting across from him. He and Brunhilda went on a 30-minute unrehearsed diatribe about the evils of the Bush administration.

It was highly fascinating to me and still very culturally shocking. (a) the loud voices that no one else in the room seemed to notice. (b) I've heard much criticism of Bush (of course), but not from two New Yorkers. (c) I realize exactly how completely isolated I am from US media, perhaps from any media at all.

I could barely contribute - I mostly sat and listened, soaking up the opinions, soaking up the criticisms of US media, and feeling a little depressed because I am so completely isolated from the US and face it the ENTIRE outside world. I have been staring at my own navel for the past few weeks. Before that I knew the European news. But for now my entire life has revolved around furniture, food, wine, hair products, and step-up transformers. Seeing real people again was really eye-opening. I was stunned into silence, and made to think about how I am going to get back in touch with the world of news without American television, the Guardian, or the BBC. I am listening now to National Public Radio, and they are doing a piece about a traditional Pennsylvania wedding, except for the difficulties of finding an interracial couple for the top of their wedding cake, and the injustice of it all...ugh.

Anyway, after dinner we took a cab five blocks up to the cinema (too cold and too late to walk), where we had excellent seats for Return of the King. I probably cannot add anything new to the discussion and critique of this film - safe to say, I love it. I recognize that it is different from the book (and annoyed Brunhilda everytime I informed her of this obvious fact during the film, because I was disturbing her passionate lust after Viggo; didn't dare disturb Paulo who sat on my other side lusting after Legolas), but I think the producers did a phenomenal job of capturing my mental images from Tolkien - I found it great entertainment and I want to see it again.

At the end of the evening I was introduced to another New York concept: hailing a cab when the temperature is 10 below zero. I decided that I was not quite up to facing a 45 minute subway ride across Queens, alone at 1am. I opted for hailing a cab. This is a vicious process. They were all full. Thank God for Brunhilda and her solid NY confidence (and operatic voice) - she finally got me into one, and I was home shortly before 2am (traffic jam on FDR Drive - my Pakistani taxi driver informed me that I should take the Midtown Tunnel to the LIE next time - I'm getting the lingo down.). But I was safely delivered to my door, and I KNOW that my family slept better knowing that I wasn't on the subway at this hour.

The total cost of the evening - simple dinner and a movie - was 70 dollars. I will never cease to be astounded by this. At least hair products are cheaper in the US...

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