Dubai, United Arab Emirates -- Welcome to another jam-packed misery and yet another brouhaha in which I will make a series of: "New York, New York" series! (It's surprisingly original)
While on-board Emirates flight 334 (DXB-JFK) I made sure that I was landing at the correct seat. The goal was to see the New York skyline 15 minutes before landing. But since I'm too much of an awesome person, I woke up just when the plane landed! (definitely not awesome) Such a shame but I got enough sleep so I'll just let it pass.
Suddenly, I felt nauseous. After 22 gruesome hours in the air I've finally landed. Do you know that feeling when you're about to step on the stage? Mustering all that courage and stress? That's how I exactly felt! It was me stepping in the Big Apple! Alone! It was 10 in the evening and I just got out of the arrival area. Oh well, same with my other airport escapades, I'm pretty much a lost sheep every single time. So when I found the NYC information desk, it felt like heaven sent. She was super friendly and she told me to get the airport train to line E - Jamaica station. Then transfer to the B train to Times Square. The 42 Port Authority Bus Terminal was supposed to be right across the street.
When I got out to the open tracks (Long Island Rail Road), I'm now officially breathing the New York air! I was screaming like a small girl inside. I had to run since it was already 11pm. I got to the place where there's ton of trucks for boarding. It was confusing! But any traveler would rather ask a local than try to be a daredevil searching for directions themselves. While my dullness was reaching greater heights, I was that daredevil.
I was too shy to ask and so what happened was I went to the elevator and went down. Then thought it was wrong so I jumped right back in and went to the other floor. It went up and it was stupefying. I'm sure I had at least 5 trips at the elevator trying to figure out what level should I be in.
Long story short: I asked the guy beside me. I took an elevator to the ground floor and transferred to the light rail part of the subway (ironic).
Off I went to the train and was supposed to pay 5 dollars but then the first disaster came. I only had 50 dollar bills and the machine only accepted up to 10 dollars. You're supposed to get and swipe the Metrocard at the gates to go out. Apparently, I forgot to get smaller denominations and I'm now stuck inside the train station. The operator told me he could get me out for while and buy something at the snack bar to get change. But then I saw a credit card sign at the Metrocard dispenser! I tried swiping my card and got a 10-dollar metro card in less than a minute! Holy guacamole! God is good!
While at the Jamaica station, I began asking some NY folks about the B train to Times Square. Contrary to what many people say, New Yorkers are actually very accommodating and they actually take their time to fully explain to you your destination. (real or not) Yep, that's the twist though.
I was finally at the Sutphin Blvd- Archer Av Station from JFK airport and got on-board the freakishly familiar train I used to see at the movies. I went sheepishly at the corner and heard some Russians talking at the other side. There wasn't any seat until we've reached a few more stations. When I got a seat, another Uzbek sat at my left and asked if I knew where's the Port Authority Bus Terminal was. I was dumbfounded since I knew it sounded familiar not realizing that it was also the same place I was bound to go! I honestly felt a divine intervention at that very moment! Out of all the people in New York.. I mean really?! You've got to be kidding me!
What happened next was a series of running underground the concrete jungle. I actually felt like I was in the Amazing Race! Except we have a fully loaded XL suitcases that took all the fun away. We were almost at the end of the exit. This is it, I whispered. I'm ready to take on ze Big Apple!
There it was! A dark silhouette of gargantuan buildings. You'll feel like an ant trying to catch your breath (well that's because you lifted a ton of suitcases up to the second floor)
I felt the first breeze at the back of Times Square. I already felt half ill. Indeed, I could hear Frank Sinatra's voice in my left ear! It came in too soon. At this point, to be real honest, I was just following my friend in whichever direction he would go. Man, was I exhausted! We were rushing to the left block from the exit and all I could hear was sirens, traffic, arabic/persian language on my right and plain old english but in a different accent. It was truly different yet it felt familiar. Everything became slow as I observed and internalized my first New York encounter.