The Big Apple

As most of you by now most probably already know, we are currently in New York. What an experience, so far! Wow. I never was particularly interested in visiting the US, but had the attitude that given the chance, I would go. And now, here I am in New York.

Before leaving, our biggest concern was Lily’s well-being and Hilkka being ’fit enough’ to travel. Luckily for us all the doctor found everything to be in order. As a matter of fact, we are quite ecstatic that the pregnancy has gone so well, so smoothly and so beautifully.

The flight over here was eight hours long. Eight hours of being wedged in-between a pregnant woman and a very quiet American. The seats were not uncomfortable, but I tried my best to give Hilkka as much space as I could and at the same time had to make sure I didn’t encroach on the other guy. At least I was mildly amused by the cabin crew’s apparent disorientation and unpreparedness. I had enough time to almost finish my book too.

The stewardesses were forever running up and own the aisles, pushing those cumbersome trolleys and leaning over to assist and serve passengers. They were very good at that. What amused me though was that they never seemed to have enough of anything on their trolley. This resulted in an endless race by one of the poor ladies between the galley and the trolley. I am not exaggerating when I say there was a constant flow. And for some or other odd coincidence, every time they came to fill up our water cups, they would run out after having filled Hilkka’s.

We landed at JFK early in the afternoon in temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius. The walk from the plane to the passport control point was very long. Once in the queue we moved quickly, though. The staff here were efficient, but cold, distant. They worked more like robots than people, but I suppose that is inevitable working in this environment where tempers often fray and immigration officials are tested and despised more than what most people can handle.

Our customs official was a young fella with an attitude. We tried to behave friendly, he was blunt. And he was incessantly chewing on a wad of gum with his mouth open. ANNOYING! Fingerprints were taken,  then photos and eventually the passports stamped. Throughout this entire process he never smiled or assisted us in any way. Just chewing that irritating gum,  talking to us in a bored monotone, making very little eye contact and not smiling. What a cold and unsettling welcome to the country. Truth be told though, I was expecting more hassle than we got.

After Gummyboy it was off to collect the bags. These in tow, we eased through customs, through the arrival hall and out onto the streets of New York. Finally, we had arrived. We had arrived in a hot, stuffy, stinking mass of chaos, noise and bustle. Stress and anxiety almost immediately kicked in as a result of the frenetic pace at which everything around us suddenly moved, screamed, whistled, chattered.

We again queued, this time for a taxi (I later discovered how much queues form a part of everyday life here). After about 20 minutes in that hot and stinking line we got a taxi and were off to Manhattan. At last a little respite in an air-conditioned high-speed New York yellow taxi.

Well, now the three of us are in the USA (even if it is only NYC). I believe it will be an interesting next 3 weeks.

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