Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Digs - and just in time!

On Tuesday I went to see a place that was advertised in Gramercy, on the second floor in a walk-up building (no elevator). To us Australians, the third floor is actually the second floor. So, I got there and while the apartment he showed me wasn't quite right, there was one on the next floor up that was more suitable, quite spacious and really quiet as it wasn't facing the street. So I took it on the spot (I was so sick of apartment shopping) and moved in that day, checking out of my hotel a day early.

The apartment is actually on the border of Gramercy and Murray Hill in an area nicknamed "Curry Hill" ie. Little India. Ironically, Indian is the one cuisine that I absolutely refuse to eat and here I am living right in the middle of a couple blocks filled with Indian Restaurants! My door is indicated by the arrow in the photo to the right.
That night I decided to walk around my neighbourhood and explore. I am one block away from Park Avenue South and a short walk to Madison Square Park (not to be confused with Madison Square Garden). On my walk I had my first (minor) celebrity sighting - Ilan, the winner of last season's Top Chef!
My first morning in my new apartment there was flash flooding, but I had an empty fridge so I had no choice but to brave the wet and head out to get some food. Despite having an umbrella, my shoes were soaked right through and I could feel the water sloshing in my shoes.

Later (the rain had stopped), I was walking home from the grocery store and I noticed a whole lot of people standing in the middle of the street, most on their mobile phones, looking northward up Lexington Avenue (my street). I wondered what was going on and turned to see huge clouds of smoke billowing from the ground 15 blocks away on 41st and Lexington.
Being in New York, I automatically assumed an act of terrorism had occurred, as was feared by most New Yorkers. I checked to make sure that the smoke wasn't getting closer, (ie. it wasn't a building that had collapsed). I tried to call my friend, Dani, who lives 4 blocks away from the site of the explosion, but all the phone lines were jammed. I went upstairs to my new apartment to see what the local news channels were reporting but it was a good 25 minutes before anything was mentioned about it! (Isn't that bizarre?)
Anyway, it turned out to be a steam pipe explosion underground and one person died (of a heart attack) and there were a significant number of people injured, mainly with burns from the steam. It disrupted the public transport system and they cordoned off quite a number of blocks surrounding the blast site, where no-one could go in or out due to the risk of asbestos in the air. I was quite lucky I had checked out of my hotel early, as my hotel was in this cordoned off area!

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