Doin’ the Street-Cleaner Dance

Getting the kids ready for school each morning–breakfast eaten, bags packed, dressed, socks located and on, teeth brushed (you remembered today right Scott?) coats on and out the door, wait for the elevator (only the down button Kevin), everybody  in, everybody out  and then out the door–can feel like a bit of an undertaking. On Friday’s though, as we make our way outside, I am often consumed with that smug little feeling of having arrived before the bus, until we walk out the door and I see the East 86 party is about to begin.

When we first arrived in NYC, I’d see people hanging out in their cars, having a coffee, eating a bagel and reading the newspaper. All of these things seemed New Yorkish enough, so I didn’t really consider why people would be in their cars at 8:00 in the morning. Then one morning, Kevin’s bus was late and it happened….

Here’s how it goes: people in their cars doing their Friday-morning thing, read the paper, check rear-view mirror, sip coffee, bite bagel, check the rear-view mirror, repeat, repeat, repeat, until…wait for it, waaaait for it…PEOPLE START YOUR ENGINES! Traffic officer arrives and checks whether there are any no-shows to the party. Then comes the whirring sound and it’s time…the officer passes by in her car and then you pull your car forward at just the right angle, at that precise moment, just far enough so the street cleaner can pass by. Don’t make her honk you down if you haven’t given her enough space because it looks like it could get ugly. Once the street cleaner passes by, then the real jockeying begins. People begin their backup ritual, pretty much at the same time, feeling only slightly aware that they are blocking morning traffic. Back up, back up, hit the curb, that’s close enough, pull forward, a little bit more, wait for the car in front of you to settle, back up again, inch forward slightly until it feels just right. And that’s what I call DOIN’ THE STREET-CLEANER DANCE!

On our side of the street the dance takes place on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 8 to 8:30, and the other side of the street has its parties on Monday and Thursday from 7:30 to 8:00. The cost of a ticket on the days you are late to the party is $115. How do I know you ask? Many of you who know Vikas and his history of tickets have already said his name out loud. Suffice to say, there is more than one way to remember the parking restrictions than to read the signs posted every few blocks.

For whatever reason, the Street-Cleaner Dance makes me smile every time. Maybe it means that the novelty of New York has not yet worn off, perhaps this scene will stay a fond first impression, or it could be because us driveway types cannot imagine such manuevers.  What I know for sure is that the dance is one of those unique New York moments that you just don’t see in a movie.


A Sharmed Life…NYC one block at a time!

We are the Sharma (and Bell) family. We are Kathy and Vikas, Sarah, Kevin and Scott. Our hometown is Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and as of the beginning of September, we live in New York City.

We have had many great chapters in our life: we have lived in Kanata, Caracas, Washington and Manor Park. This is the beginning of our new chapter, pounding the pavement on the sidewalks of the Upper East side.

Not too long ago my dad gave me a binder with the emails that we had sent my parents when we lived in Venezuela. Reading back, it reminded me how much I forgot about our time there, and how happy it made me to have written memories of this unique chapter in our life. The purpose of this blog is just that: I needed a New York kind of way to share some of our adventures with family and friends and a way to capture some good times and reflect on aspects of everyday life here. We want to remember what I am sure will be an interesting chapter in our life.

The blog is a way to include Sarah in our NYC experience. Sarah attends university and no longer lives with us everyday. We miss having her with us and we look to build the excitement for her when she joins us for holidays and during the summer.

Kevin brings people under his spell wherever he goes. When he moves away, his wide circle of family and friends miss his joy of life and look for ways to keep in touch with him. I hope to share some of Kevin’s favourite photos and videos here so that his crew can see what he is up to.

Scott at nine is taking it all in. In such a few short weeks he became a subway-knowing, cab-hailing, New York kind of guy. He promises that he can hail a cab better than his Dad and he will tell this story to his kids one day when he shows them where he used to live. I want to remember the little things like when he says, “Come here mom. The cab driver needs to see you because they are not going to think that a kid like me has any money.”

For Vikas and me, we try to take it all in. Capturing these moments will help us reflect on the simple things in life, scenes in this big city and how we view them through our Canadian eyes. This is us and it’s a SHARMED LIFE!