Monday, April 26, 2010

Cherry Blossoms, Turtle Thoughts

Tourists don't usually come to Brooklyn. That's one of the many reasons that I like living here. Before I came to New York, I'd spent three years in Waikiki, in the heart of the tourist ghetto. It was like living in a train station (no offense or levity meant to the people who actually live in Penn Station or Grand Central). Strangers coming and going all the time, never the same face twice, cameras everywhere. Sometimes I wonder how many photo albums I'm in.

The first time I was in New York, me mum and sister and I were trying to get to the United Nations. We were scheduled to have lunch in the diplomat cafeteria and were dolled up in our native dress. Aloha attire is, indeed, always appropriate. But we got on the L train and ended up in Queens by mistake. As soon as we popped up streetside and took a look around--"Crap, not in Manhattan. Back on the train, troops! Don't make eye contact."

I expect most visitors to New York feel this way. Manhattan is pretty easy to figure out, geographically, and even getting lost isn't so bad because there's really no place to go that doesn't have a lot of tourists walking three abreast and blocking the sidewalk. Not so, the outer boroughs, where there be dragons. LOCAL dragons. I think that most tourists have a tourist-radar, or perhaps give off pheromones to demarcate their safe zones. If they stray, they know it instantly, like a little crab scuttling across open sand, horribly exposed to predators.

Incidentally, this is why the ideal party situation is slightly too many people in slightly too small a space. Otherwise, your guests get the scuttle-crab feeling as they go from the bar to the bathroom. Very bad for party morale.

I digress. Tourists. In Brooklyn. Not so common, except at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where the BF and I went last Saturday to view the cherry blossoms. Free hours are on Saturdays from 10 to noon, and the weather was as perfect as the acoustics in St. Vitus's Cathedral in Prague, so everyone and their same sex partner was out enjoying the foliage, including more Japanese and Chinese tourists than I've ever seen in any part of New York. I felt like I was back in Waikiki.

The tulips were lovely as well, but the most crowded exhibit was the Japanese garden, constructed in 1916, where the BF and I stood transfixed on a wooden bridge for ten minutes, staring at the turtles sunning themselves in the koi pond. They were so fascinating I forgot to take pictures. Made me wish that I was a turtle, no cares in the world, sunning and swimming and thinking my turtle thoughts...