For the last 3 days, I stayed with my daughter who had a baby 5 months ago, and was going back to work. I was watching her baby Pasha, while she and her husband went to work. Staying for a few days in Tribeca and watching the melange of people mingling and walking around all hours of morning and night was an awesome experience. First of all, it reminded me of human resilience. As I looked up at the almost completed Freedom Tower, I could not wrap my mind around the horrible fact of what happened on 9/11. Did tall buildings really tumble down. Yes, I have seen movies and film clips, but did it really happen? It is impossible to even imagine it. It is hard to feel the pain of all at that great crime in history, and even harder to acknowledge the greater pain our planet is in all around. Every Muslim country at least seems to be in turmoil and being torn apart with terrible human costs and suffering, leaving us as sad, resigned spectators unable to do anything to help and change this course of history.
And yet, twelve years later, Tribeca is thriving all around, peaceful and full of energy. I also thought back to the fight for what some called “Ground Zero Mosque” many years later, and how our family went down practically every day to help the mosque fight for its existence and its overarching message of peace and contribution. It was not to be, but yet I felt that the idea and vision were a good one, and hopefully the NYC Muslims and their supporters will find another way to express that vision. Being close to Imam Feisal and Daisy Khan, I only wish them well as they search for other venues in Manhattan. As for the ugliness and hate that showed up at the door of Tribeca, many Tribecans claim it was outside influence, and they as residents had no issue. So be it…hate shows its face throughout history, and many times hate is funded well.
In the early morning, I would take the baby for a walk alongside the beautiful river/ocean walk. Starting at the Tribeca bridge, which crosses the West Side Highway, and the piers I would walk south along the water watching the boats rock gently in the marina, or saunter out gently as their owners enjoyed these last few weeks of summer. The scene on a weekday morning is just wonderful: young career people jogging before going to work; early bird career people in their suits on phones rushing to get to the office at 7am, coffee cup in hand; retired couples slowly walking and talking; and of course, a stroller brigade of nannies more than mothers taking babies out for fresh air while the weather allows it. It is so busy even at 7am, which is delightful. It is as if people cannot wait to wake up and greet the bright day and thank God to be alive and active! The friendliness of people, unlike the reputation of Manhattanites, surprised me. My grandson’s dimply smile attracted so many well wishers who struck up a conversation spontaneously, which was so welcoming! One woman, upon ending the conversation said to Pasha: “have a great life!”- how sweet.
The views of Jersey City are lovely. We had just been at my daughter-in-law Amna’s brother’s wedding at Jersey City Hyatt. Among all the waterfront hotels, it gleams across the river, and as I saw it from the other side, I remembered the loveliest black-tie wedding reception for Manny and Mashal only a few days before fondly! I also remembered how decades ago, none of this existed. When I worked on Wall Street in the 80’s and early 90’s, the waterfront was landfill slowly being built up, with nothing but trucks coming in and out of West Side Highway. There were no residential neighborhoods west of the West Side Highway, no bridges over the highway, and certainly, none of the classy lofts, brownstone and luxury buildings, like my daughter’s, at that time. It was strictly office buildings, and practically a ghost town at night. I remember being surprised at a colleague, who worked with me at Shearson Lehman Hutton (which of course does not exist anymore thanks to the short life of corporations today), who had just bought a loft in Tribeca. I think it wasn’t even called Tribeca then. I wonder if Robert DiNiro- Don of Tribeca – coined that term? Now you hear new terms like Noho (North of Houston) in addition to SoHo (South of Houston). How fast neighborhoods change in Manhattan, and yet how they preserve the ancient tradition of human community as well!