The Ice Breakers

January 15, 2010 § 32 Comments

We are gathered around the glass table, lounging on a white L-shaped couch. Few of us are just beginning to dig into the hors d’oeuvres spread out on the table between us, while others are making a dive for that lone last piece of calamari clinging to a white plate. With a spiked and very hot apple cider warming my hands, I am busy eying my neighbor’s cup of Irish cream whiskey.

Once in a while, we’d glance around us, checking out the people milling in and out of the tables next to us. Finally, one of us speaks, breaking the ice:

“There’s one simple way to tell a group of New Yorkers and a group of visitors apart.”

He quickly wags a finger at us, stopping us in our tracks, sparing us a dumb quip.

“No, it’s not the clothes! Hell, I like wearing something other than black sometimes!”

He’s got our attention.

“And it’s not the body language. Well, let’s just say that that is not the fool-proof way.”

We nod in agreement. Take this for example: We do like to have an invisible shield protecting our personal space wherever we go, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. A few drinks down and that boundary blurs a little.

“It’s always the group with diversity. Those are the true New Yorkers. The rest of those lookalikes are just visitors.”

I am surprised and amazed at this observation. We nod our heads and smile in agreement. Some raise their glasses as if to applaud him. The food and drinks take a back seat. Conversation has begun.

We are sitting in Bryant Park, in a make shift open-air bar, that’s set up here only in the Winters. In front of us is the white ice skating rink, The Pond. It’s full of people. It’s also Friday evening, so I figure that most of them are tourists. Especially the ones clicking away or walking in their skates, hanging by the rails.

Do they see New York? I wonder. Do they see us – an American-Honduran-Indian medley, straight and gay; peering from the lit up corner, trying to read their visitors who keep sliding and and falling on cold winter ice? And if they do, how do they see us?

Perhaps, my friend is right.

It’s pitch dark and I am tired. As my camera gathers dust in my big graphic print bag, I think of the long way back home. No, I am not excited about shooting tight knit groups of squealing snap shooters. Posing, laughing. They are happy, I see. But something is amiss. My friend has just unraveled a thread in my head.

* * *

I am back the next week.

Somehow I knew there were New Yorkers hidden in that crowd that evening, waiting to shine. New Yorkers who lived here or just visited. For there’s one thing that I did not agree with my erstwhile friend on. New York City is about the spirit you bring with you, and it longs for those that bring with them open arms and an open mind. It is virtually impossible to tell those people apart. Because in essence, they belong to New York.

New Yorkers are not cold. No, sir they are not. In fact, they are the Ice Breakers. Swiveling, moving and dancing to life’s tune, wherever they may come from. Red heads, blondes, brunettes, all alike.

All these myriad faces that surround us, are the many identities of this schizophrenic city.

– The Juicer at work

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§ 32 Responses to The Ice Breakers

  • Alan McBride says:

    Always candidly good;-)


  • Love the expression on their faces. I think that’s how they will look when they have constipation or orgasm!

  • Simone says:

    Hello Shipra, as always captures the moments with your beautiful photographs, it’s nice to see all these people having fun on skates. As I would be there. Good weekend…!!! ;-)))

    • The Juicer says:

      It was tough, as they do not allow cameras within the skating rink (that would have helped me get sharper images), certainly not a big very visible monster like mine. But it was fun! I am sure you’d be ice skating here if you were in NY:)

  • cathryn says:

    What an excellent piece and amazing photographs. Thanks for this! It really tells a story about an appreciation of New York (and makes me want to go ice skating!).

  • seanfraser says:

    Lots of swizzles going on there. You say ‘…..New York City is about the spirit you bring with you, and it longs for those that bring with them open arms and an open mind…..’

    I agree with you Juicer and when I read this and look at the pictures I feel a sense of belonging.

    perhaps ‘skating on thin ice’ is the metaphor for a multicultural nation but security does not depend on making some feel isolated. Everyone should feel included in the life of our great world.

    You do this, New Yorkers do this and I think ice skating should be compulsory because everyone should be sat on their arse in public at least once in their life.

    • The Juicer says:

      Wonderfully put Sean. It’s not easy, being secular, being multicultural. And still, diversity is where true homogeneity is. Because then our humanity surpasses all differences!
      Oh yes, ice skating should be mandatory and for the very valid reason you note! Down on one’s arse in public, ice splattered, feet half plopped in the air, can be a very liberating moment. Haha. Yes, I speak from experience!:)

  • Neil Reid says:

    Breaking the ice, that would be fair to say. Allowing the human face to be seen (that’s just what you do eloquently) regardless of the township they inhabit.

    The very notion of NYC has some seemed intimidating to me (just too big, too much perhaps) but you are changing that. Worthy enough compliment I’ll hope. And sincere.

    What Sean said. What you said too. All of it. Your words, like honey from bees, your pictures, like the flowers they seek, and nectar found. Yea! You see people really good! I love your eyes. Thank you Shipra.

    • The Juicer says:

      NYC is intimidating at first glance. But we get fooled- by the skyscrapers, the traffic, the busy sidewalks, the impatient and outspoken inhabitants. Get distracted by the frills and the colors. It’s fast paced, yes. But that doesn’t take away from the rich fabric of life it weaves, the cauldron of many races, faces, languages, ways of living, beliefs. When you get to experience that, it gets mind bogglingly endearing.
      I am glad I have been able to bring that face to you.
      Thanks for the thumbs up, always!:)

  • Feanare says:

    Your words and images always put the reader in the middle of the setting. And suddely I find myself ice-skating in the middle of NYC, even though I was sitting quietly drinking my tea a couple of moments ago.

    Life can take unexpected turns every now and then, even without blades underneath your feet ;)

  • Gérard says:

    Attractive serie and beautiful expressions !

  • kkhphotos says:

    Great post, I really get a feeling of being there. One of these days I’ll make it out there!

  • Justin says:

    hey shipra! been a while since ive visited… or updated mine haha actually there is a photo update on my other blog

    check it out =D Hope your having a great start to 2010!

  • Evocative words and images, as usual Juicer. I enjoy your ‘take’ on the world. Cheers.

  • bahman says:

    great photo shoot.

  • See, see if ever there was to be a campaign for diversity that these corporates insist on so much they’d know whom to look up.

    Also I like schizophrenic cities more than I like bipolar ones. NYC vs LA? I know I’d choose NYC.

    • The Juicer says:

      Corporates and their carefully wrapped public images! They need to get out of their cubicles and walk the streets once in a while! Inherently be who they project they are.
      So you would describe LA as bipolar?:) I am liking the idea of syndrom-ish description of cities! They do behave like individuals.

  • Chris says:

    Hi Shipra.

    Lovely photos, you have taken here.

    I am particularly drawn to one, third from the bottom. I notice the girl in the gray coat, outside the rink, with a look of longing.

    I wonder what is on her mind. Is she longing to be with the others, laughing happily together? Is she there because the place reminds her of happier times with a loved one who has moved on from this physical realm?

    Or maybe she just wants to go skating and wished she brought her own skates, because they fit better. :)

    One wonders…

    • The Juicer says:

      That’s a clever observation Chris! I think she is longing to break some ice but is waiting for her skating date to show up. And I sure hope she wasn’t stood-up. A photograph can launch so many stories!
      Thanks for visiting, and for sharing your thoughts: they are lovely and poetic.
      A warm welcome to my space! It is no small wonder to me that I get to meet so many interesting and creative people here. Hope to see you again, soon!

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