Ask a New Yorker

Over the last few months, everywhere I go, all that people want to talk about is the upcoming election. Even people I don’t know (who overhear my accent) have approached me in the grocery store and at cafes. Even my taxi driver wanted to talk about it and did, for the entire ride from Sharjah to Dubai.

I figured, why not let more people ask? A dialogue is a good thing. I announced on social media, and in my social circle, that I was collecting questions on all topics. Anything they’d like to “Ask a New Yorker.”

Questions from Sam Moult (Comedian)

Other than family and food, what are the home comforts you miss the most?

I miss walking for hours on end through the streets of New York City and people watching in Central Park. Four seasons (the weather not the hotel) especially Fall for its foliage. I don’t drive here but I do in America. I sometimes miss driving in Upstate New York along Lake Ontario with the windows rolled down and the music turned up. Comedy Clubs. Jazz Cafes. Street art and Museums. Broadway; the lights, the energy, the shows!

On the flip side, what are some things you wish New York had?

Shatafas and bidets. Lower crime rate and more air conditioning. Cleanliness.

As a New Yorker who has lived abroad, what advice would you give to New Yorkers who haven’t lived elsewhere?

Travel more. Even if it’s short road-trips, it’s important to take breaks from the city grind and see life from a different perspective.

Question from Hala Al G (University Student)

Why do Americans love Halloween?

It’s an excuse to wear a costume in public (all day and night) and you get free candy. This year, Halloween seems to have been more popular in the UAE. Traditionally Halloween started to ward off roaming ghosts in Ireland. This year I think we’re trying to ward off the Trump apocalypse!

Question from Leila Amini (Floral Designer)

Why has Trump come this far? 

At first I thought it was just a ploy to ensure Hillary got elected. Trump was a Democrat in the past and even friends with Hillary. I don’t think anyone expected him to come this far. Perhaps because he’s white, rich and a man. Also, there are sadly a large number of ignorant and angry Americans whose backward way of thinking is being validated by his behavior.

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Photo by Ali Al Sayed

Question from Mary Smith (Retired Teacher)

Generalizing I know, but are New Yorkers as rude as the stereotypical claims? 

New Yorkers will be the first to open the door for anyone but then get annoyed if you don’t walk through the door fast enough. Manhattan is known as a rat race, and it’s true, people are always in a hurry. I don’t think New Yorkers are rude, I think they are impatient and rather than wasting time prefer to cut through the crap and be direct. I appreciate it when someone is upfront with me. I like knowing where I stand from the get-go. If you look at someone who first moves to New York City they have stars in their eyes and are in love with the city buzz. Two months later, after riding the subway everyday, that same person is in a hurry and cranky. It’s a city that toughens you up.

Questions from Nivriti Butalia (Journalist) 

A Friday brunch for an American in UAE is what…?

I’m married to an Arab. His family’s house is Friday brunch! The best in town! One of my favorite all day breakfast spots, that is American influenced, is The Hampton’s Café on Jumeriah Beach Road.

What do you think are typical American traits?

I’ve been told (by many) that Americans are loud. Ok fine, yea, I’m loud. Even when I try to whisper I’m still loud. We also enjoy a good discount, buy 1 get one free deals, wholesale clubs and coupons! Bring on the sales!

Question from Yasmin El Rouby (Eye Doctor)

What do you think is going to happen with the election? 

I think the best WOMAN is going to win. Hillary is the better candidate and person. None of the (living) former American presidents support Trump but Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and the Ku Klux Klan do! He is a morally (and 4-6 time financially depending upon the source) bankrupt man. He is egotistical, sexist, racist, Xenophobic and only cares about himself. How can he lead our country and be a good role model? Call me a naive hopeful but I just don’t think our nation can vote someone like him in. I got to have faith that there are still more goodhearted, intelligent people than close-minded bigots. No matter who “wins,” America sadly “loses” because the damage from Trump’s campaign is going to last a long time. The nation is divided. Perhaps that was the bigger plan? God be with us.


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