Columns, Opinion

MAHDI: New York, New York

Whether it is in film, music, television, song, dance, prose or poetry, New York City is easily one of the most prevalent cities in popular culture everywhere.

As a proud Londoner, my relationship with Manhattan has been one of begrudging respect and awe. Enough so that I am not ashamed to admit that I too was victim to being starry-eyed when I first set eyes on the Empire State building or hopped into a yellow cab like I’ve seen in the movies. For a time, I even paraded around in an “I love New York” T-shirt, in between stuffing my face with the succulent sandwiches at Katz’s and burgers at Shake Shack — which, yes, are worth waiting 45 minutes in line for.

I will not drag this on to become a love letter to New York, as the guilt of serenading the “city that never sleeps” would be too great a burden to bear as someone who hails from the rainy English capital and originally from a sprawling city with centuries of history in India.

When U.S. President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address to a very divided audience in Congress earlier this week, between tweeting gleefully about Vice President Joe Biden’s antics, talk of immigration made my mind wander to New York — one of the most infamous passages to the American dream for millions over the course of history.

Even though the city is no longer the capital of America like it was between 1785 and 1790, the city still remains at the heart of the news. Now, even as I write this, the two big stories of the day come from the booming island.

Much to the chagrin of my roommates, I have to admit until a few days ago I had no idea who was playing in the Super Bowl being jointly hosted by New York and New Jersey. My most recent struggle to come to terms with distinctly American sports was during the World Series, when the Boston Red Sox sent the city into a crazed frenzy.

While I was excited to be a part of the celebrations, attempting to explain what was happening during the game was a great struggle. Someone threw something at the top of the fifth what? Bottom of the fifth? Does the fifth have a middle?

More than the specifics of American football, the sheer scale of this grand event itself astounds me. Companies pay in the millions for an advertising spot during the game, and as of 4 p.m. yesterday, 22,000 fans had already taken public transport to the stadium. Despite the sweat and tears getting to the main event, fans are still genuinely happy to be a part of a game — a clear example of the things we do for love. For one team tonight, New York will be the stage in which all their hard work and determination has paid off. While the players fight for victory, I will be curled under a blanket on a sofa looking forward to the half-time show and hoping the commercials live up to the hype.

Amidst the endless tirade of giddy news regarding the Super Bowl in New York, the city also witnessed a somber event last night.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, at just 46-years-old, was found dead in his New York City apartment Sunday evening. I clearly remember seeing him on Broadway in “Death of a Salesman” in 2012, in the very same city where his life has come to an end.

Just as a city and life can lift someone into a giddy frenzy, the intoxication can be the ultimate downfall. Perhaps the world will never know the circumstances of his death, but such senseless tragedy is sad reminder of the delicate nature of life.

As another clamorous day of news comes to a close, I think about my Principles of International Negotiation class at Boston University.

In life, every day, we do not solely negotiate with others, but with ourselves. My professor paces up and down as he explains that when we are with a loved one trying to decide between Chinese or Italian food, the negotiation is not necessarily on cuisine. One could easily go to whichever is preferred alone. The negotiation is in who will compromise to allow you both to spend time with one another.

Whether we are always cognizant or not, we make many more choices than we know. Ultimately, you have to keep in mind how you want to play the game, whether it is professionally, personally or philosophically. This lesson is an acute reminder that life unfolds as we choose to live it, and it’s important to seek support in dire times.

As for the Super Bowl, latest CNN reports detail the halftime show director, who hails from England no less, said, “I’m fairly sure that the lights will stay on for the entire Super Bowl.”


Sofiya Mahdi is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and a former managing editor at The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at [email protected] 

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