SoHo & Surprise Bowling In Suburban NYC | 14-200119

I Kondo’ed My Instragram, one of my colleagues said the other day. Everyone is talking about the life-changing phenomenon that is Marie Kondo; her biblical book and her woo-woo Netflix show – and how we should also apply minimalism to our work: rather than creating new features just for the sake of it, we ought to think about creating an uncluttered consumer experience. It is all very eye-opening to me … but for slightly other reasons than all of the people around me at work, in America, in London and in Singapore, who’re obsessed with the therapeutic Kondo effect. What baffling to me is the notion of acquiring and accumulating anything without considering whether it will bring you joy and whether you really need it. As that’s always been second nature to me. Not just because I’ve moved from one country to another several times, but also just because it’s incorporated deeply within in me … maybe because I’m Danish, maybe because my parents are extremely orderly and quality-aware, maybe because of the growing focus on sustainability and dire climate consequences of our consumerism … maybe because that’s just how I am. Even as a child: nothing sparked dopamine in me as the act of decluttering. I would declutter other kids’ rooms because there never was anything to declutter in my own. Nothing clouds my mind more than being confronted with things or features that are superfluous. Right… that was just a small thought. Now – let’s move on to the highlights of this week:

Monday’s Highlight: Morning yoga at work. The sweet, thorough, caring, attentive teacher. The flow and depth of the workout.

Tuesday’s Highlight: Team dinner at Sri Lankan Hoppers in St Christopher’s Place. Food, ambiance, conversation, general energy – everything is sublime.

Wednesday’s Highlight: Life Drawing at the Hampstead Community Centre, a weekly affair, 7-9pm. A thoroughly enjoyable evening! All of the different approaches! I noticed that I tend to start out with the broader outline because I worry about getting the proportions right, and once I’ve got the loose imprint of the body (as I see it) and its planes and curves, I relax more and start thinking about details and shadings, while others immediately dedicated an entire A2 sheet to one single curve of a limb or minute lines and circles of an eye. It was so much fun, so deeply satisfying and enjoyable to immerse myself in. Surrounded by local regulars, men and women of all ages, some shy and quiet and others more talkative and willing to show (off) their work. Someone noted that my sketches were quite stylised – and it occurred to me how a lot of people’s works were, some exaggeratedly curvy, some super simplistic or abstract even, with an older or younger expression and emphasis – and how it’s an art to either perfect your own ‘style’ or aspire to let go of the comfort and restrictions of this habit and rather try to ‘sketch the body as it is’ – and then the fact that everyone was literally seeing it from different angles as well! To which other aspects of life might you apply all of this, haha? Very fascinating!

Thursday’s Highlight: Being back at my all-time favourite hair salon, Taylor Taylor in Shoreditch, for a perfect wash, in their gold-tile-clad basement designated hair wash room, and head massage, perfect haircut, by a super competent, efficient and kind and not too chatty hairdresser, who understands me perfectly when I say that I want as much of a chunk off as is required to make my mane healthy again, but not more than that, and that I want it cut in a straight line, and also … a perfect espresso martini. Yay. Such a lovely after-work treat.

Friday’s Highlight: Drinks with an old Norwegian colleague in Soho and Covent Garden.

Saturday’s Highlight: Arriving in NYC 11am. Excitement start spreading through my body in the taxi, when Manhattan’s skyline becomes apparent, and by the time we cross Manhattan Bridge and head over to 11 Howard Street, where I am meeting one of my best friends in the world, whom I used to live with in Shoreditch back in the day, in front of her chic boutique hotel, I am completely full of this old familiar feeling: I am in New York City! I miss Sanoop, who is still in Singapore applying for his British visa, and I miss my parents, with whom I always associate being in this city, BUT apart from that, I am pretty stoked. My friend and I have lunch at one hip spot, pick up a coffee from another, buy the same pair of pale purple Vapor Max kicks in Nike, and then we walk back to the hotel, from where she heads to the airport. Short and sweet overlap between two work trips – we’re both sad she couldn’t stay longer, but happy we even got to hang out for a few hours – in general and in New York in particular, haha. I spend all afternoon wandering around SoHo and the Village, eventually meeting a colleague for a delightful early dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. We’re both staying at 11 Howard, and after a brief post-dinner walk around Little Italy, we call it a night at… 9pm, haha! I hop in a luxurious shower, call Sanoop and then fall asleep with a view of the brightly lit tip of Empire State Building through my window. That image will just always feel magical! The first time I was in NYC, in 1997, tagging along on my dad’s business trip and seriously deeply scared to the bones at my life’s first encounter with homelessness in the streets, skyscrapers and real noise, busy crowds and trash all over, ESB was also visible in all its glittery splendour through the hotel window. Back then, if someone had told me that I’d be returning frequently to the City for fun and even going here for work myself a few decades later, I think I’d have laughed and cried and freaked out even more intensely than I did when watching Cats on Broadway on that trip.

Sunday’s Highlight: The excitement from yesterday intensifies throughout the day, haha. It’s a beautiful, crisp and clear day. Negative 13 degrees, blue skies, sun beams colouring the castiron buildings of SoHo orange. My colleague and I head over to Sadelle’s for bagels with beautifully presented smears in a tiered contraption at 8:30am (we both woke up at around 5am and did yoga in our rooms and called Asia – she spoke with her sister in Jakarta; I with Sanoop in Singapore). Black coffee, fresh grapefruit juice, deep talk getting to know each other as we chew our way through the seriously yummy Everything bagels. More coffee – from hipster-hip Everyman Espresso down the road. We then go separate ways – she hits the shops on Broadway, while I head over to Barre3 West Village for a fun, intensive class in a small, damp studio filled with smiling, energetic girls my age (seemingly). Finding familiarity in new places, among other things by trying out new barre methods all over the world – I love it so much! After lunch at a hippie happy vegan place, I get picked up by Sanoop’s brother and his wife, who take me up through the city and out to Hastings-on-Hudson where they live with their two kids. I last saw all of them for Christmas and New Year’s a year ago in Kerala, and the kids again in the summer, also in Kerala. They moved here from Atlanta in September. We are all so happy that this is possible, meeting here, and especially today: in the evening, we throw a surprise bowling birthday party for Sanoop’s sister-in-law, who turns 40 tomorrow. Diverting her attention with drinks, we manage to decorate the bowling alley with all sorts of festive decorations and get her friends and relatives squeezed into our little booth, ready to sing Happy Birthday when she appears. She starts crying when she sees it all… a success criterion, haha! When we return to their giant river-facing villa in the evening, we light a fire and huddle up on the couch in front of it, fighting to stay awake to behold the Super Blood Moon eclipse just after midnight.

 

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