Tag Archives: Park Avenue

It’s a Grand Old Flag

Long gone are the days when I walked with my dad north along Park Avenue from Grand Central Terminal en route to his place of work and then mine. One of the games we’d play, yup, it was a game, though I was in my early 20s, he in his 50s, was to try to guess the country of origin of the flags that adorned the exterior of the Waldorf Astoria.

I had warm feelings of remembrance as I trekked south this week, sun on my face, hop in my step. The heels of my shoes made a clip-clopping sound as I passed other New Yorker’s in the summer finery and admired the green and blue of the flag that flew beside our own red, white and blue stars and stripes. I guessed the former was the flag of Brazil.

Flag of Brazil

Flag of Brazil

Back in the day there was a plaque on the Waldorf facade that confirmed or clarified our guesses. Yesterday, there wasn’t a plaque but thanks to google images, I confirmed my speculation.

I haven’t been to Brazil but hope some day to get there. In the meanwhile, most days, New York City offers plenty of international flair, by no means does this replace the first hand experience of travel but it’s what I’ve got.

The one word I know, thanks to dear sweet Gi and Lu in LA is kisses. So to my friends, beijos (Bay-zho). xoxo

Salaam, City Dwellers

No sooner had I dodged nearly 15 black clad male paparazzi who were hot on the trail of Kate Hudson as she, together with two friends, exited Barneys on Madison Ave at 61st Street did I hear the chants of men img_3509 marching northbound on Park Avenue between 61st and 65th Streets.

I recalled a similar procession this time last year, when a group of Shiite observers, both men and women, gathered together, albeit the fairer sex stands at the tail end or along the perimeter, in memory of the death of Hussein, the grandson of Islamic prophet, Mohammed. Many of the male participants beat their chests as a display of their devotion to Imam Husayn and in remembrance of his suffering during the Battle of Karbala. Most of the people are dressed in black for mourning, there is a ceremonial white horse clad in colorful regalia and young boys carry signs and ceremonial banners. img_3484

A group of four or five men offered me a cup of tea from their truck img_3479when I asked what was in their cauldron. I accepted and learned that the procession takes place in Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar and serves as a way to remember the loss of a leader.

Bystanders from the toney upper east side neighborhood are used to seeing parades that flow along Fifth Avenue. There’s the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and last year, we watched the Pope in his Pope Mobile roll merrily along.

Because the procession spanned a space of four blocks, the police cars and their blinking red lights could be seen at the beginning and the end of the gathering. Larger gatherings, like the ones that residents from the tony upper east side are more familiar with, are also led and concluded by squad cars. Similarly, we watch the parades and observe differences, as in the German Day parade where Alpine men where lederhosen march to the tune of an oompah band.

One lady in her 70’s, who wasn’t Muslim, remarked that she’d never seen anything like this before in all her years in the ‘hood. A man in his 50’s explained that it wasn’t new, that they were Shias and that in other parts of the world, processions like the one today happen with regularity. A doorman told me that the procession ran along the Avenue up to the Pakistani consul’s office on East 65th Street. I didn’t stick around to follow the trail. Suffice it to say, for some the sight is new. For our children, it is their multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world.

May we all live together in peace and prosperity.