Wandering in Chinatown without Furilla
We invited Princess Furilla to accompany us to Chinatown, despite the rain and gloomy-gray sky. She declined, preferring to stay dry, warm, nibble snacks and be lazy. Thus she cozied back in her bed of brilliant ribbons. Yes, she is a Princess.
We left without her, knowing she would be happier living in her daydreams than hanging onto a wispy umbrella as the wind and rain buffeted us about.
The day started out fantastic. Being a painter, after Anthropologie, Pearl Paint is the next eye candy experience. VERY STEEP steps take us to four rooms filled from bottom to top with every paint supply one could dream of. Let Furilla dream of fields of catnip, I will fantasize at Pearl Paint! Once you step through the grungy black doors you enter a burgeoning of temptations, all the wants and desires and the overwhelming cravings to try it all!!! RESTRAINT had to be the word for the day. And I managed pretty well, until I spied a travel size Koi Watercolor Set. Tiny little thing, hmm very pretty, a little pricey...just tuck it under the necessary oil paints and pencils and let it be a SURPRISE at the check out counter. The very jolly clerk, after tallying my BILL, gulp!, allowed us to leave the package of "valuables" and return for them later....BEFORE 7:00PM. Of course we would return I said. It took selling one whole painting in order to pay for that small sack of painting supplies (and the Koi Watercolor Set which I forgot to remove, ahem).
Now it was time for the two of us to traipse through the tourist-packed Canal Street...on foot, umbrellas buffeting everyone's umbrellas, my open back shoes filling with rain, jeans soaking up street water like a Slurpee straw and then this sudden urge to stop at McDonalds. McDonalds in Chinatown, you got to be kidding. Nope, it was morning and Howard wanted an ice cream cone and I salivated over a hot fudge sundae with nuts! ENTER. Yuck it was a rather dismal, dirty McDonalds but we stood determined in line, then raced outside with our goodies. Ever tried to eat ice cream, carrying a huge messenger bag, camera and clinging to a wavering umbrella all at the same time? Let's say it was a contortionist's act for sure.
Well all of this sweetness nudged us into a certain feeling, an urge for a moment or two of spiritual repose. Walking the full length of Canal Street we arrived slightly out of breath at the Buddhist Temple. It stands soldier-like wedged between old, teetering buildings. It stands clean, majestic...white, red and gold.
When one enters a Temple from the worldly, noisy, bustle of the outside, one instantly feels the warmth like a wool shawl about their body and spirit. The incense, glowing candles, stillness and reverence calms the mind and body. It is a good place to take respite.
Isn't this a beautiful photograph, the crimson lotus grill framing an altar of fresh flowers, oranges and offerings. Behind this delicate, red screen worshipers bow in prayer.
Soft music wafted through the temple and a clerk kindly let me buy a copy for a friend who is in need. The funny side of the story is that the woman spent half an hour wanting me to listen to other clips of music, all the time she is speaking Chinese. Sweet lady. And speaking of ladies, just outside the temple I tried to discreetly take this photo....another side of NY.
What a revealing picture of determination and concentration. See the ear phones...I wrote previously that most everyone has them selves plugged into something. Wonder what she is listening to or what is in the bags.
Smelling those sweet oranges in the temple reminded us that is was time for lunch.
This is when we got off the tourist track Canal Street and forged anywhere we wanted to go, yes, and it was still raining. So we twisted and turned through the many blocks of shops, vendors, closed down buildings, dry cleaners, tailors, vegetable, fish and meat vendors all that makes a community a community.
Spying a Vietnamese Restaurant, I drug a reluctant husband inside.
When menu is in English you know it isn't quite authentic, and red flags go up. Here is what we dined on. (love to take photos of food with i phone).
You are probably wondering how the bread got on the table, feel the same way. Since when do Asian restaurants serve soft French bread and not rice!!! Howard's
chicken was mild and I expected my curry to be fiery hot, it was mild as baby food! But nourishment it was and I DID succeed in getting my husband into a Vietnamese Restaurant.
It was getting time to go home, we had over an hour to get back to Pearl Paint...remember the treasured Koi Watercolor Set? I was pretty sure that I knew where we were...ahem...but pulled out the gps on the i phone and it went bonkers....got the address to walk back to Pearl Paint...it went double bonkers! So we went the direction I was positive about. After all we only had to get back to Canal Street and all the hawkers and vendors.
The longer we walked, the deeper we got into the Chinese community. Finally in desperation we started asking directions. Where is Pearl Paint, you know the FAMOUS art supply store? Okay then, where is Canal Street? Broken English or no English.
We went into stores, met kids on the block they all sent us in ten different directions. I was ready to stomp on my i phone...Howard was beyond frustrated....and the time had clicked away with each step we took. In desperation we tried to find a cab...guess what, cab drivers take breaks!! Who knew. There we stood next to 20 yellow cabs, the drivers outside chatting. Not one in service. We changed areas, hailed down anything that moved. We had less than half an hour to get to PP. WE DID NOT WANT TO RETURN TO CHINA TOWN TOMORROW, NO WAY!!!!
Truly a beautiful golden chariot pulled up, the driver laughed when we told him where we wanted to go FAST...we told him how we were lost. (typical tourist story I am sure) Then he told us how Canal Street splits in two and THAT is why my i phone looked like a mess of spaghetti! We arrived in front of PP 6:55. I raced up the steep steps found the jolly clerk and he said, Hi, thought you had forgotten to come back and put your things in a storage room. He gave me my blessed package, I bowed a huge thank you. Raced back down the narrow staircase before security locked the doors.
We arrived home, Howard's left over Chinese food slopped out of the Styrofoam box into the thin plastic sack, a huge mess. My shoes and stockings were all the same color from being water logged. We wringed out our pants. My camera was safe and our day was complete.....well after trying out those fun Koi watercolors that is....get this, painted little Indian women in saris. Figure that out if you will.
Until the next adventure...