By Vincent Lyn
Today was a sunny Saturday afternoon in New York City. A week has gone by since I returned from Syria and Lebanon. A friend had stopped by and so together with Charlotte we decided to go out for lunch and try a new local Chinese eatery. It was pretty bad. I had made a point of not taking my iPhone and just trying to enjoy quality time with friends. Afterwards we walked to Korea Town on 32nd Street and 5th Avenue to buy some pastries. As usual the area is bustling with people of all stereotypes, from Gen Z’s to Millennials, elderly couples walking their dogs, the chic stylish dressers to the downtrodden. It’s always a distinct array of vibrant New Yorkers. Halfway down the block a lively venue with a dozen or so lunch counter type snack shops teeming with people was the dynamite place to go. Pierre and Charlotte walked in and I said I would pass and sit outside on a park bench that was lined up alongside the sidewalk. Pierre beckoned a second time for me to come in but again I declined to go in. I sat there and gazed at the swarms of people walking to and fro. There was a young guy sitting on another park bench to my left petting his dog. The buzz of the eatery was all too much for me, people scurrying from one counter to another gorging their stomachs on multiple dessert filled pastries.
I felt detached, miles away, looking at these entitled New Yorkers overindulging themselves in their safe little bubble. Obviously a reality that I cannot presently relate to. I mean I just returned from a country where people are wondering where the next meal is coming from, if it comes at all. Not to think about whether or not they’ll get to see the sun come up. I couldn’t help but also think about the families being bombarded and torn apart in Ukraine, another senseless war like Syria. I felt a heavy feeling and as I gazed from one passing couple to another smiling family walking by I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. Because, it’s not a matter of if but when, things they take for granted will be gone. People are in for a helluva a wake up.
Pierre and Charlotte came out with a bag of goodies and we made our way further down the block to a local Korean Supermarket. Again, it was overcrowded and it made me feel edgy. Charlotte wanted to buy me a Yuzu, a delicious Japanese bottled drink she knows I like. Normally I don’t quibble about the price but for $4.49 I thought it was highway robbery. I said, “No way”. But Charlotte insisted. The store shelves were stocked from floor to ceiling stuffed with items in every available crevice, and everything in the store was overpriced by three times the norm. I’ve been in the store many times before but today it really bothered me, perhaps it was just sensory overload, the array of bright colors, too many items, the cacophony. I just needed to get out of there, and fast, and get back home.
I’m home now and feel calm and relaxed and won’t be doing that again anytime soon. Maybe I’m just not ready to be around people. But, by the time I’m ready it’ll be time for me to leave again and head out on another mission…
CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children
Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization
Economic & Social Council at United Nations
Middle East Correspondent at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts