Walking home through the East Village and Lower East Side is a calming, strangely peaceful experience. It ain’t no star-lit stroll, but it has its moments. The fluorescent bodega lights and neon signs give off a warm glow and people walk at a slightly more relaxed pace. And it’s a bit easier to think without all the distractions of day.
Not everyone agrees with me about the East Village as a calming experience. Last week, while stopped at the street corner, the gentleman next to me lamented “New York these days… it’s crazy…so many cars and bikes and people. It wasn’t like this 40 years ago.” I readily agreed with him, excited that a “real,” native New Yorker was confiding in me. Though of course I really have no idea what New York City was like 40 years ago, and, in fact, I quite like the new New York. But I grumbled along just the same, and hopefully in the dark he couldn’t actually tell what decade I was born into.
I felt a tad suspicious taking photos of these bodegas and storefronts in the dark, but I think they’re awfully pretty:
New York City truly does not sleep. If at 3 a.m. in the morning I fancied an eggplant and at 4 a.m. a pineapple? Well, I’d just dash downstairs and pluck one out of a perfect tower of produce. What peace of mind! What freedom!All year long these two fellows try to entice passersby into their respective restaurants. Though they appear to be in competition, rumor is that the same kitchen supplies all three different Indian restaurants and the fighting for customers is just a show. Regardless, eating in either of them is great fun because naan and curry tastes even better when you’re in a cocoon of blinking Christmas lights.If someday I decide to start smoking cigars, this is where I will go. (Hadn’t noticed ’til now that man in the window, partially hidden by window sill flowers and a half-heartedly drawn curtain. An East Village writer in his natural habitat.)
Russ & Daughters keeps its lights on all night so you can peek in at their old-fashioned shop and windows stocked with dried apricots and macaroons. This bodega will always have a special place in my heart. After losing power to Hurricane Sandy, the owners led customers through by candlelight and sold me a pint of coconut sherbet for half price. (Come to think of it, I really could’ve haggled that pint down to a quarter or so. A wall full of ice cream + no electricity = a buyer’s market). I then, of course, had to eat the entire thing on the walk home because I had no working freezer.
And now, off to enjoy another night in New York City.