New York’s always been an electrifying experience; yet when I look back, I like to think of the time I lived in the Bronx. I was shacking up with my then boyfriend, who worked as resident doctor in a Children’s hospital near Van Cortland Park. We lived in a colorful neighborhood populated largely by immigrants from Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic. Those four months possibly color coded my world view and changed everything thereafter.
There I was at the centre of the universe, next to Manhattan, devouring each day like a hungry horse. Every day I’d walk on Gun Hill Road past boys, girls, uncles, aunts, grandmas and grandpas who’d inevitably nod their heads, talk to me in Espanol and generally greet me with tremendous fervor and affection. To them I was probably viewed as Latino, one of their kind and I never attempted to correct and explain where I’m coming from. In turn I learnt a few words of Espanol and threw back the occasional Hola! Como Esta Usted!
There were times I’d take the D train to Manhattan; spend an entire day devouring the sights and sounds of the megalopolis, hang out at Barnes and Nobles, take photographs in Central park and be back in the evening to the Bronx. Right outside the subway there was a Caribbean restaurant that my boyfriend and me frequented once in a while, a little down the street were a few Chinese takeaways and of course the regular Bodega selling cigarettes and sandwiches. At times I felt I’d entered another world and it did feel like being somewhere in mid- Central America with all the ambient street noises. Groups of boys and girls would stand outside with their guitars and cigarettes, women huddled around corners discussing the latest Mexican soap and generally participating in the evening mayhem reeking of stories from Deep America.
Below I've listed the few main attractions in the Bronx.
The Bronx named after Jonas Bronck is one of the oldest boroughs of New York City and received many immigrant groups in the early 18th and 19th century, first from European countries particularly Ireland, Germany and Italy and later from the Caribbean region namely Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic as well as many African American immigrants from the American South. This cultural mix made the Bronx a wellspring of both Latin Music and Pop; Rap being the central attraction.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Manhattan I strangely felt at home in the Bronx. For one thing I was never bored. I’d made a few friends and among them was a cleaning lady from Puerto Rico who’d come and take the garbage every morning. She was super animated, talking about the fashion in New York and how she enjoyed all the ramp shows on TV. When we first met, she expressed her liking for my ‘Ithaca is Gorges’ T shirt and asked me if she could ‘have’ it. I was bit taken aback but then she laughed aloud and I figured she was kidding. She’d then compliment me on my skinny jeans and top which I wore everyday like a uniform and asked me to try the color Olive green as it would really suit my ‘olive skin’ tone. The banter was all good and when I left New York I left a few goodies behind for her.