I waited for an hour for customs to clear my luggage and I think it was because I had Sharpeville beers and some snacks for Gugu from South Africa in my luggage. I see an ATM at the airport and I withdraw $100 because I need to take the train to Harlem. Now I have to ask around with regards to which train to take and all. The train from the airport to the subway is the easy one to understand actually, it gets messy when you get to the subway. I bump into this white guy who is a musician in Los Angels and he is coming home after a long time. I tell him that I am from Johannesburg, South Africa – he has heard things about Joburg but obviously not good stuff. I tell him that its an amazing place to be and he mustn’t believe everything the media tells him. He tells me where to get off and connect to another train that will take me to Harlem.
Its super hot and sticky in the subway and there are so many people as well, I can imagine how I looked like to everyone else because I looked lost. The one thing I love about the subway is that there is free wifi and the speed is decent as well. I just realized that my accommodation had been cancelled as soon as I got connected online and I start to panic because I don’t know where I am and its gonna get dark soon therefore I need to act quick. Harlem has free wifi everywhere so I ended up walking around looking for the accommodation to figure out why it got cancelled but this place is big, ended up at Maxwell’s restaurant in Harlem. When I discovered that I had no accommodation anymore I considered sleeping on the bench at the subway, I really thought that later that would make a nicer story when i decide to write my book. Accommodation got sorted thanks to Nqobile, I am happy now and tired, not jet legged though and did i mention how hot it is?
The speaking is happening the next day so I need to be well rested. To be honest I can’t believe that I am New York, I have heard of this place for the longest time and now I am here. There is a reason why I am here i just don’t know yet but I am willing to find out. In the morning I go for a run in Central Park (even the park has wifi) it was such a beautiful run because I was just running and people watching. I was thinking about my parents and how proud they are now, I am here to speak about my journey and speak about my company. This was the biggest affirmation, that a young man from Alexandra township is speaking at 150 Broadway on the 20th Floor in New York. I am just day dreaming as I run, about how much bigger I can make Marvin, because if this is possible what else is? Central Park has a lot of white people hey, it was actually overwhelming on the number of white people I was exposed to – I am not used to that.
I need to get to Broadway and I enter the address on my iPhone and for the first time maps actually works, it tells you which train to take and to get off – which is amazing. New York is big you can travel for 3 hours and still be in NY. I get to Broadway and the buildings are big and tall and people are rushing to wherever they need to get to and American people are not that friendly like us South Africans, we are patient people. I arrived at the event and people are starting to come through and the event begins, different young South Africans speaking about different journeys from everywhere else in the world. The organizers Yoliswa and xxxxx did an amazing job at the event, the conversations were enriching to say the least. People from this side appreciate Marvin, which was the most surprising thing for me because I didn’t expect them to relate to South Africans but if you think about it we have similar history, they came out of slavery and we came out of apartheid – hence we relate to their struggles so much. We ended up going for some drinks afterwards which was really cool and refreshing.
Now that the speaking is done, I can start to enjoy the New York, we are finishing of the food and wine with the people we met the previous night at Central Park. I am now familiar with the transport system and I can get anywhere really and the subway is very affordable as well. After the picnic I had a engagement with friends at the Standard Hotel rooftop 4:44 (I was in the lift that Solange kicked Jay Z in). The view is amazing and it seems like one of those places where the cool hangout. Oh yeah you will do a lot of walking in NY, or take an Uber but you will walk, I didn’t even take a yellow cab actually. By the subway there is always someone who is singing their hearts out and they are good, this city is running on ambition.
The following day it was 4th of July holiday and I was going to Brooklyn for the Everyday People gig. I get there and its a dope set up, the music is good (playing all kinds of sets from all over Africa), people are looking fresh and alcohol is flowing. Dope party, definitely you need to check them out when you are in NY and i think its OkayAfrica who does the events. When I left Brooklyn there was a line that went around two blocks, of people wanting to go in and its already packed inside hey. Met up with the guys at the Brooklyn bridge so we can see the fireworks, you can tell that Americans take this holiday very seriously because people are out in their numbers. That night we ended up in Times Square i believe, that part of town doesn’t sleep at all.
Woke and decided to try restaurants in Harlem and see what can they offer a brother with regards to food. Americans don’t care about food hey, they don’t put in any effort at all – I could’ve actually gone to their kitchen and made better food for myself. So I met a dope guy who is my cousins cousin and he has been showing us around because he lives there. So we decide that we have to go to a strip club and see it for ourselves what this American dream is all about. I went to Time Square for a meeting and that place is filled with people, and I mean all kinds of people and its big and everything is a billboard. Its noisy as well but it captures the American dream – you get the sense that anything is possible in this place. We are meeting with the boys around 11pm to go the Bronx to check out a strip club called Sin City, I think we leave around midnight and we get to the Bronx. NY is very safe, people walk around at night and there is no sense of you will get mugged which is impressive, the transport system shuts down at 4am everyday and opens up 5am basically an hour break. Everything is open, you can do grocery shopping at 3am the stores are open, NY doesn’t sleep.
We get to Sin City and we get complimentary drinks and get seated and we order some chicken wings, actually the food from Sin City was better than the food from that fancy restaurant. The dancers begin and we are happy just to see ass nje, all kinds of women are there short, tall, big, tiny all kinds. 1 Dollar notes are thrown all over the place and what you see on tv, thats what was happening but because of the rand and budget we didn’t make it rain. We left Sin City around 3:30am and there were still people at the subway and you realize that NY truly doesn’t sleep.
The next day I went to check out the other side of Harlem and see what this city has to offer before I left. I get some food by the Indian guys on the side of the road and the food is actually better than the restaurant, I am starting to think that the dodgier the place the better the food.
What this trip did for me was to expand my views of the world and what my impact can be to the rest of the world. Now I need to go home and tell the rest of the world about Marvin and how they can understand men better.