Saturday, November 19, 2005

NYC Baby

Last Sunday, I left for New York City for an interview and, like every journey worth taking, I began my adventure by heading in the opposite direction. Yes, thanks to the friendly folks at Northwest Airlines, my odyssey would begin by going west, to the exotic confines of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

I was, actually, somewhat curious to see the great state of Minnesota, for I had no reason to ever go there before and a stopover on a flight to NYC seemed like as good a reason as any to visit the state of 10,000 lakes. I was particularly curious to see what it would look like from overhead, as I imagined the aerial view of thousands of lakes would simply catch my breath and thus entrance me never to leave Minnesota.

Of course, I slept all the way on the flight over. So I never saw the panoramas I envisioned, groggily arising to realize I had better get off the plane before they decided to go to Tulsa or something.


I will say, however, that Minneapolis/St. Paul has a rather impressive airport, MSP International, complete with tram and an expansive shopping center area. There were several boutique shops including ones called, appropriately enough, Minnesota. Seemed like an upscale souvenir shop, which usually means you end up paying $30 for a t-shirt that says something creative like, "Minnesota." I meant to get a shot of one of the stores with a big moose in front of it, but had to settle for this one that had two bears. But perhaps the best feature of the MSP Airport is the fact that it has a large replica of Snoopy, who I guess pays the bills these days by endorsing Mall of America and the MSP International Airport. It's always the sponsorships that pay the bills...you go Snoop...


From Minnesota, my next destination was New York City and I made it to LaGuardia Airport and hopped on the M60 bus to Manhattan and then the subway to Tareq's place, where I would be staying. Tareq is one of my homies from U of C and is in his second year of law school. It was great to see him and hang out like we used to do back in Chitown. He has a nice place right next to the subway, which I discovered is absolutely vital in NYC.

After settling in, we went out to grab a late lunch at Patsy's, a well-known pizza joint. We were met up by two other U of C alums and good friends, Murtaza and Yazen. Murtaza is working for a hedge fund company while Yazen is in his fourth-year of medical school, looking to go into med-peds.

When we were at Patsy's, and deciding on toppings, I confidently told the waiter that I wanted spinach and mushrooms, without even looking at the menu. The waiter replied, "where do you see spinach on the menu?". Of course, I then looked down at the menu and realized, with total shock, that they did not, in fact, offer spinach on their pizzas.

Let's stop for a moment here and ask ourselves an important question: what kind of self-respecting pizza joint doesn't offer spinach? I know you can't get it at Pizza Hut, Domino's or Little Caesar's but any classy sit-down pizzeria in Chicago will give you pizza. Giordano's, Gino's East, Pizzeria Uno, Edwardo's. I just didn't know what to say at this point, so I just left it to Murtaza to pick the other topping...Chicago pizza is undoubtedly the best...

Afterwards, Tareq and I did a little walking tour of his neighborhood and I got to see some of NYU's campus, which has a nice Parisian-style "Arc de Triomphe" at its entrance, and stopped off to eat at a small restaurant called Istanbul Cafe, which makes unbelievable kefta kebob sandwiches. I mean, home-made good. This place easily made my top-ten list of restaurants and the sandwich was quite filling. Not a bad deal...

Later that night, we decided to have dessert and meet up with my cousin Nadia and her fiancee Omar at a place called Cafeteria. We were also joined by another good friend of mine, Fares, who also went to U of C and is a lawyer practicing in NYC. I wasn't particularly impressed with the restaurant, but it was great to catch up with friends and family and have a non-medical discussion for once...

It was getting late, but late takes on a whole new meaning in New York, where I think the air is caffeinated. So Nadia graciously offered to take me down to see Times Square, since I had never been before and it was amazing to see it at night. The place was so lit up, it could have been the middle of an overcast afternoon. And the other thing that was amazing to me was that there was much heavier traffic than I would have expected for a Sunday night and street vendors out peddling their wares and stores open like it was 2 in the afternoon. I mean, really, this city never sleeps...

After getting back to Tareq's place, (Nadia was nice enough to call to make sure I didn't get lost on the way), Tareq and I spent most of the night catching up on things, and what our futures might hold. Luckily, he didn't have class until midmorning and my interview was scheduled for after lunch.

The rest of the trip, and interview, almost seem anti-climactic compared to my Sunday/early Monday. The interview went well, thank God, and afterwards I was taking the subway to go to the airport. I realized that I had left my coat at Tareq's place and, after calling him, he left his place right away and took the subway all the way to where I was, to make sure I had it before I left. It was quite kind of him, especially since, when I got to Chicago, it was freezing and I wouldn't have had a coat unless he did that...

A great whirlwind of a trip, I was thoroughly exhausted afterwards (I reached home near midnight--had a layover in Detroit--on Monday and had to get up bright and early for another day at the ICU) but had a great time.

Thanks to all my family and friends for making it so much fun!

2 comments:

shakdude said...

Oh no! Umar could not get Spinach on his pizza! Only he would complain about this. There are other toppings to put on a pizza anyway.

M. Imran Abd Ash-Shakur Rana said...

Dude. Spinach is the bomb when it comes to pizza (deep dish). Fricken NY. It's got nothing on the Chi...

Well, I'm glad that you mentioned the sacrifice and loyalty of the youngest brother. That sexy guy Imran. I mean, if it wasn't for HIM, you wouldn't've even 1) got to the airport to leave on an EARLY, EARLY Sunday or 2) got back home on a LATE, LATE Monday. Thanks a lot for thanking all the other people. Punk.