Sunday, June 05, 2011

Silver, Bubbles, and Chinese manipulations

Before I launch into my story, I should probably explain the radio silence we've been experiencing on this here website.

I have been away for the past few weeks back in Australia for a combination of work and private reasons. Work-wise I had the great fortune to participate in a week-long induction course for overseas-based employees of my agency. So not only did I get to meet my counterparts from some of our wonderful offices around the world (Vanuatu, PNG, Burma, Nairobi - to name a few), I also got to say hello to some Australia-based contacts who had, up until that time, only been names on the bottom of an email. I got a lot out of that exhausting week of training, but especially the confidence that I have made another career move in the right direction.

Another positive outcome of the training week was that it afforded me the chance to visit Canberra, our nation's capital and a city that I have not visited since a school bus trip in 1992. Oh my God was it THAT long ago? And yet I'm only's a maths miracle! Canberra is a confusing city - at street level anyway. I'm assured that if you climb up Mount Ainslie you get a birds-eye view of the metro area which actually makes the city look like a feat of architectural genius. Something that would have been useful to know beforehand, perhaps. But I will not slag off Canberra, because I really can't. I'm just used to grid cities, that's all. Canberra is laid out in a seashell shape, as far as I could tell. Once we found them, the restaurants and bars were fantastic - Tongue and Groove, Cream, Milk and Honey took my money but they were totally worth it. Canberra is also home to some wonderful cultural institutions - The National Gallery of Australia, The National Portrait Gallery, and the Australian War Memorial - all of which are within walking distance of one another, and definitely worth a visit. Breaking up the walk with a constitutional around Lake Burley Griffin was also really fun.

Then I spent a week at home with my family, which is always a plus. No real tourism potential this time around, though I did get to call into the Haighs factory and replenish some much-depleted chocolate stocks.

Before I knew it, it was back to real life in NY and I have to say I really did miss the City. Even getting off the plane at midnight at JFK (after a flight path from Adelaide to Canberra to Sydney to LA to New York), I was really pleased to be "home". But I have to tell you, when I got back to Australia, the Customs & Immigration guy said "welcome home" to me - and then when I got back to the States and went through Customs in LA, the dude there said the same thing. Total spin out, to be "welcome home"-d in two places. I remember thinking that was weird and yet kinda cool at the same time.

So yes, back to yesterday and what was quite possibly the most girly-girl day I have had in a long time.

The beautiful summer weather has arrived in NY and with it comes the bright sunshine at ridiculous times of the morning. It's not unusual to have searing light burn your retinas at 6am and sure it's my own fault because my bedroom windows are wide open; a) because I am clearly an exhibitionist; and b) because the weather has also been so humid lately that I need as much fresh air as I can get. So I've been sleeping with my QANTAS eye mask on and feeling very in the manner of Audrey Hepburn - though admittedly my mask is plain black, and not satin with fake eyelashes glued onto the front.

So in a very Hepburn way, I got up yesterday and decided to walk to Tiffanys to get my necklace fixed. My chain has had a knot in it for some time and I have neither the patience nor the dexterity to untangle it myself. So after breakfast I put on this dress with a simple pair of black ballet flats, and set off on my walk to Tiffanys. En route I stopped off at Culture, a fantastic coffee place that serves strong flat whites - just the way we make them back home. Excellent fuel for walking the New York streets on a busy Saturday morning.

By the time I got to Tiffany's, 5th Avenue was already swarming with tourists. Once safely inside the gem-filled inner sanctum, I marched straight to the elevators at the back of the store and got some lovely compliments on my dress from the elevator dude and some Tiffany's customers alike. Blush. In the repairs department, I bonded instantly with the staff who were not only able to untangle my necklace chain, but they also talked me into paying for a polish (they are so smooth). While I waited for my necklace to get all sparkly-like, I chatted with one of the sales staff and learned about his apartment, his recently-deceased cat, his previous career with Ralph Lauren, and his advice for where I might spend fantastic holidays with incredibly rich people (Nantucket, anyone??). By the time my necklace was ready, me and the good fellow were best friends and he gave me a bunch of free stuff to keep my necklace in tip-top condition. Blush. I swear, nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany's.

After that, I took my new sparkly jewellery out for a walk and headed for home. On the way past Grand Central Station I thought it might be nice to have a glass of bubbles and an oyster or two. As you do. I usually get a bit "thingo" about eating seafood so far from the ocean, but the Grand Central Oyster Bar is supposed to be fantastic. Unfortunately with all the crowds around in the terminal, I got all turned around and couldn't find the damn bar so I just wandered upstairs to Cipriani Dolci and had lunch there instead. The little restaurant looks over the Main Concourse of the iconic train station, but you're high enough up that you don't feel part of the rushing madness. My bellini and mini steak tartare rolls were just delicious.

Heading for home, I looked down at my hands and realised that my nails and cuticles were truly in a disgusting state. Oh sure, they've been in a disgusting state for a long time but I've never really been too inspired to fix them. Heading down my street I literally walked past a nail salon so I didn't have to go out of my way or anything. Looking inside the shop I could see a few empty chairs so I just took the chance and went on in. The Chinese ladies know a non girly-girl when they see one, and instantly they swung into helpful mode. Welcome, Come In, Sit Down bla bla. So I played my part and pretended to be completely useless, muttering something about ugly hands, weak nails, liking French manicure tips etc etc. Next thing I know I have not one, not two, but three sales assistants peering down at my hands, getting stuck in to fitting me for some false French nails. Sort of like the ones you can buy at the chemist but the prep they did beforehand was really thorough and the nail glue they used is a lot stronger. The end result is a set of talons that are well-fitted, feel really secure and don't make me look like a Vegas stripper. The Chinese girls told me never to get acrylics because those nails will give me cancer. At least that's what I think they said. I was too distracted by the post-manicure shoulder massage that all three of them insisted on giving me after the appointment. Most distracting.

After an early night, I've awoken to a sunny Sunday and a strong desire to get outdoors again. I have some reading to do for work so I think I might have to scope out a spot early and set up camp somewhere close to clean toilets and an ice cream stand. Not that I'm picky or anything.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of when I went to Canberra as a kid with my family. We couldn't get to my uncles house because the map we had was printed before they had finished building the roads. So we had to ring him and say this is where we are, come and get us. Rockin'