We arrived back in New York in the aftermath of a torrential rainstorm that had backed up traffic on the runways at JFK. We sat for about an hour in a double queue of aircraft, all slowly inching their way towards their respective gates. It took almost another hour to get from the airport to the Howard Beach subway. In the darkness, the rows of lightless cars in the long-stay car parks looked like lines of mussels clinging to a wet black rock.
Seen through the dazed mental state that comes from a twenty-hour flight and a twelve-hour time difference (plus a light fever due to some minor infection or other), Manhattan appears even more inexplicable than usual. The New Yorkers appear almost freakish in their variety. My feelings towards the city are more ambivalent than ever, and it seems almost more alien to me than Bangkok or Hong Kong. I feel like a refugee.