Friday, March 11, 2011

Tuesday Train Day - Chinatown

Two weeks in a row of train trips to Target had left us feeling culturally bereft. So this Tuesday we went to Chinatown. Like most Tuesdays, Percy accompanied us. Waiting for the train, we discussed whether or not Percy could go on the track. I thought the tracks were too big for him. You thought he would fit just fine. It's an ongoing debate that will never be resolved.

It's a quick ride to Chinatown, which is just over the Manhattan bridge. We climbed out of the station and walked east on Canal, straight into the sun. Our first stop was the Mahayana Buddist Temple. You were all over the lions at the entrance, and were put out when I made you turn around to snap a photo, until you spotted a bus in the distance.

Inside the temple is a huge golden Buddha. Also, the Buddha had lipstick on. I don't know much about Buddhism so I don't know if this is normal. We paid a dollar to pick out our fortunes, scraps of paper rolled into tight scrolls, put them in our pockets and left.

We turned south down the Bowery and you started whining. What was your problem? I wanted to know. You already wanted to go back on the train. And you were oriented enough to know we weren't going that way. You seem to have a sixth sense about where the subway stations are.

We walked down Pell and Doyer, two small pedestrian streets with a lot of hair salons and barber shops. This was what impressed you most about Chinatown - it wasn't the stalls selling gaudy trinkets and toys, it wasn't the fish markets, or the spice baskets, or the strange fruit, or the gigantic Buddha, it wasn't even the toy taxi cabs and airplanes stacked neatly in a box, being constantly dusted by a doting old man. It was the barber poles. They were lit up and spinning. You were entranced. You would only leave one if I promised there would be another. This was your big cultural takeaway.

We took a variety of trains homes because unlike you, I find Chinatown disorienting and always get lost. My original plan was to eat in Chinatown, but you were too eager to get back on the train. We took the 6 to the 5 to the R, and walked up the hill to eat lunch at home. While we were eating I remembered our fortunes. Mine was pretty good, something about no one going hungry and strong men getting stronger, and then, the last two lines advised: "stay awake a little longer, and you will sure look much younger."

Your fortune was not good. For someone who doesn't put much stock in this stuff, I was upset. How could you possibly have a bad fortune? Then I read it again a couple days later, and decided that for a 2-year-old it might not be so bad:

“The world is full of traps / Which cause many mishaps. /Don’t sail and get aground, /Or run circling around.”

I mean, you love to run around in circles. And if you were literally sailing, in a boat, by yourself, getting aground would probably be the best thing, since you don't know how to swim. I'm really trying to find the silver lining here.

Here's what I'd rather remember from this Tuesday: you at home, tugging on the door, yelling for the train, then running down the hill full tilt. You tripped and fell twice, but you are so insulated in your winter clothes that you weren't hurt or even bothered. After your nap you said, "want Mommy to say hi to trains?" so I greeted all your trains, one by one. Then we walked to Judah's house. We had just started up the hill when you stopped and said, "wait! I forgot a train!" So we went back inside and you deliberated for five minutes about which train to bring. Ultimately you decided to leave them all at home.

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