Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blogging from NYC, Day 2 (When we didn't follow the Chinese lady down the stairs)

At YSOP, we were joined by Susan Nayowith, the Director of Office of Client Advocacy at the NYC Department of Homeless Services.  She told us that last Friday night, the city of New York sheltered over 43,000 individuals.  New York has a right-to-shelter law, which means that if you can prove you're homeless, the city will make sure that you have a place to stay.  A recent census showed that roughly 4,000-5,000 New Yorkers spend the night on the street regularly. Lisa told us at the beginning of the week that 40% of New Yorkers are hungry at any given time.  Those numbers were staggering. Susan was gregarious and passionate.  Most of all she was hopeless.  In the face of such overwhelming statistics, she doesn't give up advocating for the least of these in the city.

After Susan left, we headed to Chinatown.  When I was in Chinatown 20 years ago, all the fake stuff was right out on the sidewalks.  Fake bags, fake watches, fake whatever you could want.  Recently, however, the police have been cracking down on the counterfeit industry.  So now you have to stand around looking clueless and hope a Chinese lady comes to take you to her secret basement stash of counterfeits.  

When our Chinese lady approached we followed without much thought.  But when she opened to secret door to the basement I panicked.  I hollered for the girls to come back up, which really hacked off our would-be saleslady (and some of my girls), but I figure that if you can't do your business out in the open then I shouldn't do business with you. 

On the way to Chinatown we walked through the East Village and ate at Congee.  Not wanting to miss out on other ethnic flavors, and sad that we left without purses, we moved along to Little Italy and had dessert at Ferrara's.  It was a little pricey but did not disappoint.

The highlight of the day, after the purse disappointment, was the discovery of rats in the subway.  I'm sure they've been there every time we've ridden the train, but tonight was the first time we noticed them. And took pictures of them.  And yelled at them to get down when the train was coming.  But I'm sure no one knew we were tourists.

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