Reality in New York

Food for Thought @ Çka Ka Qellu

I recently read “The Hidden Life of Trees” as recommended by Stefan. I was rather shocked to learn that trees are social. The artificially planted ones in city parks are essentially like caged chickens. They grew up without parents, never learned how to grow properly, and are feeling lonely and unhappy. Being surrounded by such trees may even have a negative impact on our mood because they release unhappy chemicals. If you are looking to breathe some fresh air, you need to find what are essentially free-range trees, that is, trees in their native habitat. There aren’t many left in the city. The Thain Forest in the New York Botanical Garden is one of the few. Many of its trees are several centuries old. So, I’m pretty sure they are relatively happy.

Last weekend, my wife and I took the D train up there because she requires a regular dose of forest air, even though she grew up in Manhattan. Because the Bronx River runs through it, you get both the tree-infused air and the sound of the water streaming. We sat on a bench for a while and took it all in.

But I’m actually fine breathing the air that comes out of my MacBook Pro. What I do need, however, is a regular dose of interesting food. We checked out Çka Ka Qëllu, the Albanian restaurant in the Bronx’s Little Italy. Everything we ordered was excellent. I particularly liked the creamy, pickled pepper and the bread.

Towards the end of the meal, a woman walked into the restaurant and went around to every table begging for money. In an attempt to get her out, the waiter kept giving her money as if she was a topless dancer. The customers too were practically throwing money at her. But she skipped us. I suspect because I look unapproachable; she had no clue what I was thinking and she didn’t want to find out.

On the way back to the subway station, we walked through a public housing because Google Maps told us to. It’s strange that it directs us to walk through private properties. Trash was strewn all over the place.

The forest, fine restaurant, panhandler, Google Maps to the trash-strewn public housing; I’m not sure what “reality” is in New York City.