Friday, November 2, 2012

It's A Jungle Out There

Here in New York City the devastating after effects of Hurricane Sandy are being felt in many ways, big and small. There is no one who has not been affected in some way. One of the most inconvenient consequences of the storm is the total upheaval of the transit system. Lower Manhattan subway stations are underwater, and buses are operating on an limited basis. Motorists without fuel are faced with either gas stations that have no gas, those that have gas but not the power with which to pump it, or the likelihood of waiting on an impossibly long line at one of the few stations that have gas available for sale. My husband had the foresight to fill our car with gas before the storm hit so we have thankfully been able to avoid this enormous headache for the present time.

Because train and auto travel is severely limited or totally unavailable, the number of passengers taking the bus has doubled. Because the bus fleet is not at full capacity, buses are fewer and farther between. More passengers and fewer buses is a potentially volatile recipe.  I had to take the bus to go to work this afternoon so I got to see firsthand the sort of chaos that is occurring on them. At each stop the number of waiting passengers increased so the bus filled up very quickly and became increasingly crowded. People afraid of not being able to board a bus after waiting nearly an hour stormed the back exit door, pushing their way in and preventing others from getting off. Tempers flared, voices were raised, insults were exchanged and the air was charged for violence.Fortunately, and much to my surprise, no violence occurred but there was a definite "powder keg" tension in the air.

I was lucky. I got on the bus near the beginning of its run while it was still relatively empty so when the crush of people occurred, I was in my seat, somewhat insulated from it all. The same thing occurred on my return trip...crush of people, tempers flaring, yada yada yada, but I had had the foresight to take a seat even further removed from the middle of the mob that boarded further down the line so I was nowhere near the action. I was more of a spectator, watching and listening to the human drama and shaking my head at the unnecessary lack of consideration as I buried my head in a book of sudoku puzzles.

There was one bright spot in all of this. When I got off the bus near my job, I found I had actually gotten off one stop earlier. There was a small neighborhood deli on my way so I stopped in to drown myself in some sugary confection. There were some young Muslim women behind the counter and a haunting a capella song being sung in Arabic filled the air. The lyrical tune mesmerized me and filled me with a sense of calm joy. When I asked for the name of the artist and the song, I was told it was not a song, rather it was a prayer being recited from the Qu'ran. At my insistence, one of the women wrote down the information for me and told me I could find it on YouTube. After my less than relaxing bus ride home, I scarfed down some pizza, headed to my computer room, looked it up and, sure enough I found it, just as promised. I listened to the hypnotic voice of Saad al Ghamdi reciting the Qu'ran and melted into the lyrical drone of his voice.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

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