veen on the road: new york city adventures.

my love for new york is very well known. i love the energy and the people and the food and the public transit and the museums and the parks. i have enjoyed many wonderful visits to new york over the years, most recently just a few weeks ago.

i was only in town for 4 days, so instead of spending my time cooped up in museums, i took the opportunity to catch up with friends, try out a few new restaurants, and scamper to my heart’s content. this post is going to be a little rambling because much of my visit consisted of rambling about town, so settle in and let’s get started.

after getting to maggie’s apartment in queens on wednesday morning, we grabbed bagels at chakra café [ocean bagel for me and peace bagel for maggie] while we decided what we wanted to do with our day. eventually we landed on a visit to bryant park and a quick peek inside the main branch of the new york public library [my first time inside, if you can believe it].

we met our friends lili and matt to watch the england-denmark soccer match before hitting up xi’an famous foods for dumplings. luckily for me maggie loves dumplings as much as i do so i never have to twist her arm too much to partake, and these were delicious. maggie ordered the spinach dumplings, i had the lamb dumplings, and we ordered the vegetarian hand-ripped noodles to share. the dumplings were the size of my face and absolutely delectable, and it took all of my willpower not to lick my plate. pro tip: be prepared for long wait times, especially at their chinatown location

cousins. new york, new york. july 2021.

and then we spent the rest of the night at the bar in the new renaissance chelsea hotel. abi’s husband is the manager of the bar and restaurant, so we parked ourselves there with a couple of bottles of wine and gabbed and drank. lili and matt joined us after they had dinner, and before we knew it we had been there 5 hours and it was time to head home and get some sleep.

maggie had an interview on thursday, so while i slept in she went over to mad café to prep. once i was up and showered i joined her for some pastries and to go through some questions with her. while she went home and got ready, i went over to brookside to get some tea and read in their courtyard for a bit.

once she finished, we met up at the moms momos truck that parks on her street. i had told her that my two requests for my time in new york were momos and thai food, and luckily for me there were momos practically at our doorstep. maggie had the veggie and i had the beef and we scarfed them down. one mission complete. pro tip: they have two trucks in queens; follow their instagram for the most up-to-date information

many of our best photos together are on new york subways. new york, new york. july 2021.

from there we made our way to manhattan and chelsea market. since i was last there in march 2020 they have built out the basement level, so we wandered through and spent some time perusing the bookshop [where all i bought was some postcards. that’s some real willpower for me].

old friends and new friends who are all now friends. new york, new york. july 2021.

we were due to meet naudia, an instagram-friend-turned-real-life-friend, and walk the high line, but just as we got to the stairs to walk up the rain started and we decided margaritas were a better option. we holed up in dos caminos, ordered a pitcher and some chips and salsa, and had a great time getting to know one another. my friend casey joined us after a bit, just in time for the second pitcher of margaritas, and we spent a lot of time regaling maggie and naudia with our undergrad adventures.

when it was time to wrap up, we all headed our separate ways and maggie and i set out in search of thai food. there are a number of restaurants in a row on 8th ave, so we peeked in a few and eventually settled on charms. it was nice and relaxed and not crowded, and we had ourselves a lovely little romantic dinner before heading home.

molly was flying in that night and wasn’t due to land until about 10pm, so we decided to watch plan b while we waited for her. we both really liked it, and we finished it just as molly’s cab pulled up in front of the building. plan b is available to stream on hulu

we spent some time getting molly’s luggage arranged and chatting and then promptly passed out.

punjabi grocery and deli. new york, new york. july 2021.

maggie got up early on friday morning to do some work for her class at brookside while molly and i slept in, and then she brought us pastries and coffee for breakfast. we had been wanting to check out the dosa man who sets up in washington square park, but he wasn’t there so we decided to check out punjabi grocery and deli instead. i first read about them in roads & kingdoms a few years ago and then was reminded of them last year when oneika did a story on them, so it felt like the perfect time to pay a visit.

we got lucky and were the only ones in there when we visited for a late friday lunch, but it is easy to see how it can get crowded. we took advantage and ate at the counters, which came in handy because we could order extra as we wanted. i had two aloo parathas with chana and aloo gobi and molly and maggie shared two rotis with saag paneer and cabbage palya, and we finished every last bite. i also had a thums up, and we shared one of the desserts to round things out. we loved every second of our experience, including my attempts at following the hindi being spoken at me and our photo shoot after our meal. pro tip: it was empty when we went, but be prepared for a long wait at peak hours // there is limited space inside to stand and eat, but it looks like most people get it to go and eat in one of the many nearby parks // they only accept cash so come prepared or stop at the atm outside

we all felt like a walk after all that food, so since we were close we decided a stroll through little italy and chinatown was in order. we wandered up and down streets, looked in a few storefronts, posed with murals, noted restaurants and bars to hit up on future visits, and generally went wherever the wind blew us.

in chinatown there is an alley on doyers street that has been painted over with an awesome mural, affectionately dubbed rainbow road by maggie, so we slowly made our way there to people watch and take photos. there was a man there taking hundreds – and i mean hundreds – of photos and looking very disgruntled with all of them, so we entertained ourselves with watching him.

when we tired of that we decided to head home to relax before dinner. we all rested and read for a bit, and somehow or another i wound up playing a bunch of hindi dance songs on youtube for maggie and molly which was a lot of fun.

for dinner we went over to minji and don’s apartment in astoria. minji and molly used to work together, and molly, minji, and don all lived together for a time before minji and don moved into their own place. it was so fun to have a relaxing evening at their place without the stress and expense of eating out on a friday night, and it had the added benefit of the company of their dog hodu who is now one of my best friends.

i woke up on saturday morning and met meg and charlie at the diana ross playground in central park where meg and i were able to catch up while charlie scampered around. when it was time for snacks we made our way over to where a band was playing in the park and settled on a rock to enjoy the music.

maggie joined us after a time and then we went to fred’s for lunch. i first ate at fred’s on a 2014 visit with bianca and her friends, and it has been one of my favorite places ever since. they apparently no longer have the strawberry butter, which i take great offense to, but the food continues to be delicious and the service fantastic, and if i have a teeny crush on the owner, all the better.

meg and charlie headed out after lunch, and after a quick stop by the strand’s upper west side location maggie and i met abi at café select. what was initially intended as a drink or two turned into 5 hours of drinking and snacking and making friends with servers and regaling maggie with stories of our childhood exploits in coimbatore. we talked about work and relationships and travel and family and everything in between, and it was so nice to have that time for the three of us. one of the best things i ever did was introduce them all those years ago, and it has been such fun to watch their friendship blossom.

upon our return home i made maggi noodles for maggie, molly, and myself, and we watched the first half of silsila before calling it a night.

as you can see, it wasn’t a trip where i did a lot of things, but it was still a fantastic visit. i got to spend quality time with many of my favorite people, i ate a lot of delicious food, and i had my first trip outside of tennessee since march 2020 [coincidentally, also to new york].

new york remains at the top of my list for cities where i would like to move, but regardless of whether or not that works out it will forever be one of my favorite places to visit.


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