The city of great diversity

Wandering around the city of New York you get filled up with magnificent impressions wherever you go. It’s not about whether you find yourself roaming around in Williamsburg, or the hectic Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx or Staten Island. It really comes down to the people wandering the same streets as you. A faceted throng of numerous ethnicities, backgrounds, childhood dreams and so much more. A person is not just his/her job. We got to experience all of this on a 14 days’ school trip to the US.

Edwin Dennis, 31, waiter at ‘Le Pan de Quotidien’

                                                                                        How has your day been so far?

I work at ‘Le Pan de Quotidien’ in New York. I’ve worked here for one year. I am 31, born July 29th 1985 on the island of Puerto Rico, San Juan. I became a resident of the United States at the age of 1. Been living here ever since. Always lived in New York. Lived in all of the five boroughs. Currently living in Manhattan.

What is your best birthday memory?
The most wonderful birthday I’ve ever had was very unorthodox. I was 24, and was venturing into the city through many bars with a few friends, and my girlfriend at the time. We ended up visiting one of our favorite bars, ‘Cheap Shots’ which is unfortunately closed. One of the bartenders was also an emergency medical technician, and also a part time dominatrix. She allowed me the opportunity to take a flogger, which I also happened to have in my suitcase. We went outside, while she smoked a cigarette, and I was to continue whipping her until she finished. We had to light the cigarette 3 or 4 times, she was very distracted. That was probably my favorite birthday.

If you could do anything you want other than what you do now, what would it be?
If I were 8 years old, I would say that I wanted to be an adventurer, an explorer, but now that I’m 31 it’s very specific, I’d love to be an anthropologist and an archaeologist. I want to go out there and discover the origin of all our history, all of the cities and various legends. How we discovered astronomy in the first place. And of course the concept of religion. I’m super excited by these things.

If you are down, what do you do to pick yourself up again?
If I’m really down, I wallow for about 30 minutes, and then I realize that I’m being an idiot. I follow by going outside, taking a walk and a nice deep breath, and maybe I’ll even sing a song. I’ll sing loud and clear, so the universe can understand how I feel.

What is the food you hate the most in the world?
That is really easy! Any cooked seafood. Any cooked seafood turns to ash in my mouth. Sushi is wonderful. There is one exception to the rule, and that is eel, I love eel.


 

Mike Underwood, 26, operations manager on a farm

                                                                               How has your day been so far?

I come from Albany, New York originally. I now live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. I am an operations manager for a farm that grows beef and pork in upstate New York. Sun-fed beef.

What is your best birthday memory?
It’s my own birthday, and it’s a pool party. It was the year… I might have been 12 or 13, I don’t remember… but it was the year I stopped worrying about wearing a t-shirt when I was swimming, because I was this chubby, little, fat kid. And so I remember the first year I stopped worrying, and I was so fucking excited.

If you could do anything you want other than what you do now, what would it be?
I would be on the farm raising pork. I live down here and sell for them, but I love animals and I… Killing animals, it’s a complex ethical issue in my opinion, but I feel like there’s people that need to do it, if people are going to continue to eat meat. And I feel like I’ve always wanted to be that person. The one drawing the line between when it’s okay to make an animal suffer. I’ve raised animals in the past, and I want to continue doing it in the future. I actually have a master in ‘music theory and analysis’, but that’s really another wheelhouse of mine, but like, I play music once a day, I eat three times a day.

If you are down, what do you do to pick yourself up again?
I cook, I smoke weed and I play music.

What’s the food you hate the most in the whole world?
Canned vegetables, doesn’t matter what kind. Not that I hate their flavor or need to be snobbish about fresh vegetables. They are indicative of a really weird food relationship that Americans have with producers and what they are eating. I feel really bad, because some people can only afford it, some people prefer it. Taste is one thing I don’t want to make fun of. But like, it’s looked at as the greatest invention in the world and this huge thing for the 20th century food production. But it’s nondescript, doesn’t tell anything about the people that are growing it. And it doesn’t tell the story about food and seasonality, which has become very important to me.
Fuck Trump!


Kalidou, 52, working at a souvenir stand

                                                                                  How has your day been so far?

What is your best birthday memory?
Me, I don’t celebrate birthday. I’m a Muslim, I don’t mind birthdays. Whatever comes every day, it’s a different day, that’s it, all my life.

If you could do anything you want other than what you do now, what would it be?
Do good things, always. Wherever I can help people. I’m better than them, so I always want to help people.

If you are down, what do you do to pick yourself up again?
Just pray and do my best to get up. Don’t lie down, never give up. Always do your best.

What is the food you hate the most in the world?
If you say you hate food, you are not hungry. Food is food, because God gives it to us. Because sometimes, when you’re hungry as hell, and you don’t have no food, you got to eat a bug. Any food comes, I’m happy.


Steven Harris, 56, shoe shiner

                                                                                                      How has your day been so far?

I’m Steven Harris and I live with my wife on Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn. I’m 56. I’ve always lived in New York. Not always Ocean, once we had to move somewhere else.

What is your best birthday memory?
My birthday was just yesterday. My wife took me all the way over to her sister’s house, later we got on the bus and got back home. A nice and cozy birthday, my niece hooked it up for me.

If you could do anything you want other than what you do now, what would it be?
Well, my childhood dream was my dog, haha, yeah I had a dog, and well, I had five dogs. I had a bunch of dogs, and my dream is world peace. That’s it.

If you are down, what do you do to pick yourself up again?
Oh well, my wife takes care of that actually, all of that, haha. She makes sure my health is right, and she makes sure I go to the doctor’s appointment and everything. Well, she’s kind of bossy, but it’s all right, it’s all right. I just say: “Yes, yes, no problem, no problem. Don’t worry about it.” She knows I love her.

What is the food you hate the most in the world?
The food from the truck right there. I’ve eaten it before, but I went to another place afterwards. Same food, but different style, for me it was all one flavor. Yeah that Indian food.


Anna-Maria L. Thomas, 72, retired educator

                                                                                                        How has your day been so far?

I live here in New York City. I was born here 72 years ago. My family came here from Jamaica, West Indies. Made their way to the US by way of Ghana, Africa.
I’m an educator. I taught health and physical education in the New York City public school system for 39 years.

What is your best birthday memory?
My best birthday memory was when I was 5 or 6 years old. I have a sister that is 19 months older than me. It was my birthday, my birthday cake, but she wanted the cake. She could not understand why the cake was for me, so she said: “Since it’s not my cake, I want it to be mine,” and she put her finger in it, and I was so upset at my sister. This is the best memory that I’ve ever had of my sister.

If you could do anything you want other than what you do now, what would it be?
I’d love to be a traveler, traveler and bringing the flavor of life. Wanting to meet and just be with my sisters and brothers all over the world, because that’s basically what we all are, sisters and brothers. We just live in different corners, and so I’d like to meet more of my sisters and brothers.

If you are down, what do you do to pick yourself up again?
The thing is not to be down. And that’s what I work hard on: never getting down. So I have a statement. I always say “It’s all good!”. Because whatever happens, it’s all good!

What is the food you hate the most in the world?
I love to eat! I love food! For me to choose… Oh green peas! I know a lot of people love it, but I love Chinese food, especially when you order vegetarian, but there’s always green peas in it! No green peas!