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Tropical Storm in Malaysia

My friends have all told me: what a funny time to come to New York! Have you lost your mind? Have you come especially for the hurricane? And so on, and so forth.
So let me make something clear. So far, it is simply perfect. We did all the things tourists usually do: Horse ride in Central Park, 5th Avenue, Time Square and the look in my daughters’ eyes was worth more than all the reproaches we have had so far. The only drawback is the lack of an open Starbucks around our hotel. That said, it made us discover a really nice corner bakery. Every cloud has its silver lining, right?
Knowing that hurricane Irene was coming, I didn’t really want to go – my husband called me a wimp-, but our flight to New York wasn’t cancelled and yesterday was a truly magnificent summer day. The only thing we risk now is to have our flight back cancelled, which would mean that we could stay longer (actually, I could live with that!). We have been through tropical storms in Malaysia and monsoons in Jakarta. And frankly, as long as you stay indoors and at a higher level, you are reasonably safe (I would know, we were once caught on a tropical storm on a plane and believe me, I thought I was going to die –either from a crash or a heart attack).

New York tonight: no rain, no wind so far!

Despite the weather being actually quite nice (a few wet spells today, but nothing frightening, especially if you are used to living in London), hurricane Irene has hijacked the news. It is simply everywhere. Everybody is talking about mandatory evacuations and the metro has stopped, which means that not a lot of businesses are open. On the bright side, we have stocked up on crisps, water and biscuits and it feels very nice to have so much junk food in our hotel room. I haven’t heard anything about Libya for a couple of days (have they caught Gaddafi yet?) and the motto here is “prepare for the worst, hope for the best”. I am struggling to understand what is going on. This is a tropical storm, a type 1 hurricane (i.e., the weakest one) and even in upper Manhattan some stores have put anti-flood sand bags. Nothing else matters except Irene.
I had forgotten about New York and despite everything happening, it is good to be back. The portions in restaurants are simply huge (I had to go for a run twice today to try to burn the extra food). People are nice (guests in the hotel are talking to each other, in the lobby or on the lifts, which would not happen in London. Definitely not. Simply impossible. Even at work I wasn’t talking in the lifts). The service in restaurants can be a bit aggressive: this morning, I found what seemed to be an open place at 6am to get a much-needed coffee. So I politely asked whether the place was opened. The response I got was “What does it look like?”, a far cry from what I would have had in London (It would more have been around “Of course madam, what would you like?”).
Well, it is good to be back to New York.

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • Glad you are still haven’t a fun time. Yep, Gadaffi probably found his perfect time to move!

  • Oh, gosh, Muriel, how funny! If you get bored or tired of junkfood, come visit me in Texas! The food portions are even bigger, everyone who talks to you will call you honey or sweetie when they bring you your coffee or groceries or whatever (in fact, here people would call new yorkers rude…. No offense… just saying what people
    would say).
    Have a great time!!!!!

  • Perfect timing 🙂

    Having never experienced mother nature that way, I can’t imagine the anxiety going on there. At least, I would be filled with it.

    No, I’ve not heard anything about the ousted Libyan leader. He’s probably relieved for the distraction.

  • How exciting to be in New York today! The tail end of Irene is just now passing us here in southeastern Virginia and it was nothing but stiff wind and rain (surprise surprise). My husband and I were just wondering what might have been on the news if the hurricane weren’t happening. You’re right. We’ve all forgotten all about Gadaffi…. Tomorrow we will walk around the neighborhood and talk to some of our neighbors and everyone will oooh and aaugh over every downed tree and flattened fence. Have a great time in NYC! I love that city.

  • Amanda

    Muriel you will have to give me pointers on where to go and where to stay in NYC!! Good luck with Irene, I hear she’s picking up speed.

  • Glad you’re having a good time! I saw Times Square on the news a little while and it was absolutely empty. Except well, maybe the Naked Cowboy is still there strumming his guitar! ha

  • Good to have an on the spot report on the eye of the storm from our roving correspondent, France’s answer to Kate Adie! Enjoy biting the Big Apple. My friend who lives in Broad Channel – in the middle of Jamaica Bay by JFK Airport – has been subject to a mandatory evacuation. You’ll know things are back to normal when the hot dog carts reappear.

  • Glad you are safe and having a great time enjoying your unemployment, and gaining more stories to write about!

  • NYC – the American Jerusalem. It’s a very schizophrenic city – it’s two cities depending on your bank account or heritage. Always fun for tourists though.

  • Ahh, New York. People will talk to you, but not always politely! ;p I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself. Stay safe and dry!

  • Oh my! You are New York! I missed that ! Glad you are having fun after leaving that dreaded job 🙂 So some American stories to follow?

  • Pleased to hear you’re all safe and haven’t been swept away by Irene. Blogging in the face of extreme weather! Hope you get a chance to get out and about now Irene’s blown herself out a bit…Have a great holiday!

  • Muriel,
    I always feel as if I get a reality check from you. My son is also in New York and I/m not the least bit concerned – knowing how hurricanes tend to be downgraded to tropical storms, knowing how the media loves to exaggerate and work up everyone into a state of frenzied paranoia, and knowing how NY, so often a target in disaster films, makes the ideal setting for a true life one. I almost hope that it would happen – just to prove to doubters that global warming is a fact and not made up – especially after the earthquake that rattled the Eastern seaboard.
    Enjoy your time in New York and keep up the commentary.

  • I found the same, Muriel! =) I thought I would hate New York when I explored it for the first time last year, but I loved it! =) Someone once explained that you either get the super friendly people or the super mean ones. =P Since I’m an all-or-nothing kinda girl, it works for me. =)

    I also love the idea of stocking up on snacks in a hotel room. That sounds like an ideal addition to vacations! =) Hope you stay safe! =)

  • I loved your post and your view of New Yorkers. And I have flown through a few storms that had me wondering if we would make it…my plane karma.

    I have never been to New York, and although I would love to go, I am fearful of it, because being crammed into such crowds makes me a bit claustrophobic (the result of growing up in a small town and living in a rural area for 40 years I suspect). But you make it sound…inviting.


  • I think rude people are everywhere. I believe it was someone who was interviewed on the news that said if they didn’t prepare people in NY would complain and if they did prepare they still would complain. Which is very true. We (in Philadelphia) did not get hit too bad. A lot of flooding and thousands of people without power but very few injuries. The news people were getting on my nerves so bad and it seemed like every station had Irene related coverage. It was a great excuse to turn the television off and read.

  • So how’d you guys do during Irene, Muriel? Your husband sounds like mine; his dream is to be stranded in a cabin in the mountains in the middle of extreme weather conditions.

    I laughed out loud about the contrast in conversational occurrences between London and NY lifts. Never knew that about Londoners. Being in California, I have the stereotype of NY abruptness uppermost in mind. But I’ve also heard lots of moaning from American tourists about the lack of customer service abroad, so it’s funny to hear that the response to “Are you open?” in NY was “What does it look like?” Someone was having a bad day!