Three Kinds of New Yorkers
by Ashok Nayar
I wanted to write a follow up piece to my posting on my Tumblelog titled “There are three kinds of New Yorkers”. It’s a bit of a tangential post, but I hope you guys don’t mind me sharing. I loved E.B White’s short summary of the three types of New York’s that she has encountered. And primarily because of her laudatory praise of the third kind. The third kind being the people who come here and see New York as a target. As a place to achieve their dreams. A place that will allow them to be the person they’ve dreamed of being.
After reading that quote, I’ve considered myself to be part of that third group. Now thinking back, it was almost out of a process of elimination. I wasn’t born in NYC (first group), I don’t commute to NYC (second group), so I must be part of the third (with the assumption that the three groups cover all of NYC—impossible, but go with it). But there’s another reason I put myself into the third group. It’s because, while I think I can achieve what I’ve set out to achieve much faster and much more efficiently in NYC, it’s that NYC stands as a beacon of hope for so many. It stands as a light in the darkness of all the troubles that people live with. And while I generally don’t like to talk in intangibles, the intangibility of hope is often the single biggest economic driver in a person’s success. It’s that they believe there may be a better tomorrow.
Coming back to NYC from Cambridge, where I spent some time for work, I noticed an older foreign couple on the bus. It being NYC, the multicultural capital that it is, I just assumed they were going home. As we approached the city, coming in from Brooklyn, the woman, who must have been at least 65, actually stood up as the bus was moving to get a better glimpse of the skyline. She actually had to hold on to two of the seats just to keep her balance. At one point, I was going to go over and help her because her husband was sleeping, but she soon sat down. While watching this woman, I saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time. A look that I had only seen once in my cousin’s eyes when he had first moved to NYC from India. I could see in her eyes that she truly believed things would get better for her. That maybe she wouldn’t be so unlucky anymore. That there was a chance. As Thomas Wolfe said, “One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years”.