Time Travelling Postcards From: Christmas in New York, 2002

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It’s damp season here in Hanoi. The moldy months are in full swing and I’m feeling super protective of my electronics and my reams of ephemeral life data.

Hanoi, like Shanghai before it,  kills electronics.

I’m quietly doing multiple back ups, fully aware of the three external hard drives and two laptops that Shanghai’s humidity helped to kill over the course of five years. I’m not keen to lose proof of whole decades of my life.

In doing so, I’m going through hundreds and thousands of old photos, starting from around 2002 when I got my first digital camera shortly before moving to Turkey. I haven’t even looked at most of them in years. They just sit there in my bulging iPhoto folder.

Looking at some of them now, I can’t remember that person that I was then, or the people who were with me, or what was pressing on my mind. It occurred to me that I ought to go back and actually look at them instead of just shuffling them from storage device to storage device.

These are overwhelmingly from my pre-blogging days- or at least pre-anyone-noticing-my-blog days (I signed up for my notorious LiveJournal in 2004, which was read by maybe 8 people over the next 6 years).

This first instalment brings us to New York City in December, 2002.

At the time, I was working in a private school in the middle of Turkey, on the fringes of Kapadokya, teaching grades 5 through 7. A deeply Muslim city but an avowedly secular school. One of the perks of the job was the week off for Christmas that foreign teachers were given, with our classes covered by the generous Turkish staff who knew how important it is to be at home for the holidays.

Unfortunately for me, going home would involve so many days of travel that it wasn’t worth the time or the effort, with only 9 days available.

So I went to New York on a whim. I knew good people there, people I had known well in South Africa years before and Turkish Airlines had direct flights from blizzardy Istanbul for under $500.

My first Turkish Christmas was therefore spent in frigid New York, dining on bobotie and melktert, drinking wine from Paarl and trying to keep up in rusty Afrikaans.

Look, blue skies! Snow! Christmas!


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Central Park, inevitably.


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Rockefeller Center, with my Istanbul bazaar 15 (million) lira possibly leather coat.


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Good people I haven’t seen for over a decade. And bobotie and melk tert.

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About MaryAnne

I live in Hanoi. I used to live in Shanghai (hence this blog's title) but I left in 2013. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.