NYC, Oxford | 2502-030319

New York Mornings. Monday‘s breakfast is a green smoothie made fresh by Sanoop’s brother, and I share it with Sanoop’s niece, who came down to my room sometime in the early hours of the day to sleep next to me, melting my heart, hehe. Reading what’s left of the Sunday Times while drinking freshly ground coffee and the smoothie. Sanoop’s brother drops us off; the kids at school, me at the station. The view of the Hudson and the Manhattan skyline from the platform. Boarding the train into Grand Central together with all of my fellow commuters, really feeling like one of them, soon immersed in the Midtown busyness as I stride along 42nd Street in bright, crisp air, experiencing the usual thrill when passing by the Library and Bryant Park. Turn to walk down 8th Avenue to the office. 🍎Tuesday: wake up at 4am in the Gansevoort Hotel, read in bed, do my 5 Tibetans. Gorgeous chilly sunrise walk in Hudson River Park. Blue Bottle coffee by Chelsea Market. Walk over to SoulCycle to meet my colleague for a class. Would never have gone if she hadn’t suggested it, and we’re both sceptical and scared, but from the moment the class starts and all the way throughout, we’re so happy we did it. Can see why people find it addictive. As with so many other exercise fads, the quality obviously depends on the instructor, the general vibe of the studio and the playlist. We’re fortunate — this is energising, energetic. Exuding a yogic aura of zen and health, the charismatic instructor is having a rhythmic dance party in front of and around us while simultaneously being super good at guiding and motivating us in the glow of myriad candlelights. The class is very focused on posture and breathing. A soothing, intense full-body workout. Le Labo products in the shower. Walking next door to the office for a delicious breakfast of bagels with lox, capers and onion and fruit. 🍎 Wednesday: meet the same colleague again, at her hotel, The Maritime, just next to the office, and walk with a cup of coffee in refreshing -4 degrees celcius, over to Humming Puppy for a flowy, stretchy, soothing Dynamic Hum class. Stop by Murray’s Bagels on our way back downtown for the most delicious bagel and decent coffee (La Columbe) before heading back to our respective hotels for a shower before heading over to the office. 🍎 Thursday: wake up to thin layer of pure white snow covering New York in a fairytale. Clear, blue sky, glorious morning light, magical quiet. Long walk zigzagging through the West Village and Greenwich Village. Pick up an oat flat white from Third Rail Coffee right by the winter wonderland version of Washington Square Park, followed by a long black from Bluestone Lane. Roam around for two divine hours. How I love these pretty streets full of delightfully looking boutiques, eateries and homes. Feels like home.

NYUX Fest. We’re in town for a UX conference revolving around themes of inclusion, accessibility and localisation.

New York Evenings. Monday: riverside walk, team dinner near Chelsea Market, early to bed with a book. 🍎 Tuesday: walk all along the Highline in bright, cool sunset with two colleagues, and then we have drinks and nibbles at the Standard rooftop bar, which is just so beautiful, iconic. Nice chat, nice decor and ambiance, nice treats, champagne cocktails and oysters, and stunning downtown and river views. 🍎 Wednesday: catch up on work in the early evening quiet of the rooftop bar at Gansevoort. Walk in the cold, dark, cheerful night with two colleagues, from Meatpacking to Union Square for wonderful Mexican food and mezcal margaritas at Cosme. 🍎 Thursday: leave the office after my final meeting at 3pm; walk all the way up to Columbia University, where I meet Sanoop’s sister-in-law, who is an alumni, at the imposing grounds. While chatting about the impression #becomingmichelleobama made on us last Sunday, I’d told her that I’d saved the final chapter and epilogue of  for this trip. Nearly done reading it as well, she asked, why don’t we pick a special place and finish it together? Columbia was one of the top special spots that sprang to mind for both of us — seeing as Princeton and Harvard were a bit out of reach geographically and we know how much Obama loves a lot of the things that this grand place represents as well (and, very fittingly, her book and poster were on display right above our comfy chairs in the campus bookstore while we were reading, haha)… and we’ve both, a decade ago, one as a pregnant, full-time working business degree student here and the other as a tourist, wandered around these grounds contemplating our own voice and story and growth as well. What a lovely end to an intense week in this city of stories ❤️ …. after finishing the book, we get up, smiles and tears in our eyes, nod at Paul Auster and RBG smiling gravely from posters above us, and walk a few streets down Broadway for dinner, wine and decompression at a bar. The best bonding time I’ve ever had with her. We then share a cab — she gets off at the nearest subway station to head back north to the family in Hastings; I get off at JFK.

Hampstead Love. When I arrive in London on Friday morning, I go straight home for a long shower. Unpack while Sanoop is out for a meeting. When he gets back in around 11am, we enjoy a lovely idyllic day and evening in our nest. Saturday, we’re out all day. Sunday, we’re at home all day, only leaving the house for a pilates class, grocery shopping, and a short walk around the Heath and Hampstead Village in a light drizzle. Admire the cherry blossoms in front of Keats House — enter the house to check out the nicely curated exhibition of his work and furniture, hoping that he somehow, somewhere knows how recognised and valued his work is now.  Other than that, we spend the day at home, reading the FT Weekend and Rivers of London, cooking food brimming with seasonal health (I always crave homemade food after weeks of eating out on a daily basis), drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee, video chatting with both sets of parents, watching Roma on Netflix.

Oxford. Saturday is adventure time. On the bus ride to Oxford, we get the special spot on the double-decker bus: top, front. We’re going there to visit one of Sanoop’s childhood friends from New Jersey and his lovely English wife and their two sweet, fun kids. Lunch at the Soho House group’s new hip Mollie’s Diner, trek around the Blenheim Palace Grounds, spend the evening at their house, drawing with the girl, playing football with the boy, drinking wine, chatting and laughing until it gets late and we have to get going. Wonderful fresh day in England — I love getting out of London and being reminded that there is something beyond the island of the metropolis 😉

In the Queen’s Footsteps — a virtual journey I created.

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