#1954 From CDG to JFK and my first day in New York

It’s amazing how much your current location can affect your state of mind. Yesterday I was in Paris – disillusioned, frustrated and cold; today I’m in New York – hot, happy and energised. Don’t get me wrong – I had a great time in Paris, but after a while things like the language/culture barrier, the food and the fact that everything is closed for August started to build up. The Charles de Gaulle airport experience yesterday was a perfect example. I waited in a queue for 90 minutes just to check into my flight, and watched as at least seven passengers threw actual fits of rage due to the abysmal customer service. At one point a well-dressed young American guy turned around from the counter and announced to the 150 or so passengers still waiting that they should never fly that airline again.

When I got through security I sat down next to the American guy in the waiting bay. We started talking about what had happened – turns out he was carrying something like 5.5 kilograms of carry-on luggage and 5 kilograms was the limit. He was given two options: leave something behind in Paris or don’t take the flight. That’s it. After a 15 minute argument with the guy at the counter it was revealed that if he paid a paltry sum the extra weight wouldn’t be a problem. That’s the sort of nonsensical thing that is so commonplace in Paris and that drives me absolutely crazy.

Anyway, his carry-on contained a Canon 5d (good reason to not leave it behind) and he’d been in Paris to shoot a story for L’Officiel magazine. We swapped details and I think we might do some work together here in New York.

I’m staying in the Financial District three blocks from Ground Zero and the Brooklyn Bridge. Last night I caught a cab from JFK to my friend’s apartment and when I went to pay the guy, I asked him what was potentially a silly question: “How much should I tip on this cab fare?” He said, “Most people would give two or three dollars.” What a champion. He even got out and helped me with my suitcase in the pouring rain.

Today I spent three hours apartment hunting with my friend Jenny. We walked around the Lower East Side with this Israeli guy called Shawn looking at third floor walk-ups and studios and hole-in-the-walls, until we found this absolute gem on the corner of Allen and Houston. Here’s where things get tricky: in order to get a house, you have to provide a full credit background, your previous year’s tax statement and annual income report, guarantors, letters from your bank, references from past landlords and all this other crazy stuff that I’ve never even heard of. Daunting, to say the least.

I went up to B&H to buy a camera this afternoon. It’s this world-famous camera store that is literally the size of an average The Warehouse location. Besides the actual purchase, the most exciting bit for me was that 90% of the staff were Hasidic Jews. The guy who served me had a strong non-American accent so I asked him if he was from Israel. He said that all the Hasidic Jews working there were born in New York but grew up speaking Yiddish as a first language. Amazing. I walked out the door with a Canon Rebel T1i and a 50mm 1.8 lens. The battery’s charging right now but from tomorrow onwards, expect my image quality to dramatically improve.

Until then.


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  1. nataliecantell.blogspot.com says

    yes! how long you sticking around? i’m excited to take photos of each other taking photos of each other in apartments with exposed brick interiors x

  2. isaaclikes says

    Haha that sounds amazing. I’ll be here at least till Fashion Week finishes. Sent using my BlackBerry® smartphone powered by Telecom New Zealand

  3. isaaclikes says

    Wow I cannot believe that is a real thing. I’m fascinated. I guess if there is such an idealised version of France presented in advertisements and then the reality is 100% different it must be quite a shock to the system (if you believe everything you see in advertisements). The communication difficulties are definitely the worst. And not just from a language point of view – that feeling where you’re trying to say something and people just don’t GET where you’re coming from is the worst.

  4. AAA says

    Affirmative! It was highs and lows for me.. I was there in ’06 and went to the Printemps sale (a shock in itself) and tried on the 06 ss Dior collection (prob their best) and had ‘a moment’. that night went to the strokes at Le Zenith, had another ‘moment’, left on a high in a heat wave.. to meet my friend at a bar, tried to communicate with her friends in my apologetic franclish… my french wasn’t cutting it and they turned away! Friend says ”oh they can speak english, but cant be bothered”. Definitely alienating, and that vibe ran through a lot of interactions, but not all.

    As you say ‘your current location can affect your state of mind’ – very true, and it makes some mega cutures like NYC the most mind opening of experiences! best of luck!

  5. says

    You took a cab from JFK to FiDi and you only tipped “two or three dollars”? On a $45 fare? Oh, Isaac. That poor cabbie. It’s not that hard to figure out 15%.

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