When I’m asked what my favorite things about NYU and New York City are, what I couldn’t imagine my experience without, what stands out to me… it’s not always the big events or huge moments. More often, it’s the little things. What do I mean? I present: three little stories about little things I love…
In the heart of Washington Square Park, across from the dog run, stands a small, inconspicuous food cart owned by a kind man. It’s my absolute favorite place to eat, in every season of the year; infamous in the foodie community as “the Dosa Cart”. Dosas are a South Indian street food that resemble a crepe, a dish I didn’t know I’d fall in love with until I was captivated by its aroma when I was walking by one day. I decided to give it a try–it was love at first bite. Kumar’s (the Dosa Man) delicious dosas are completely vegan and made to order in his cart. Over my semesters I’ve returned time and time again for a hot pondicherry dosa – a rice and lentil crepe, with an adjustable level of spice, filled with potatoes and veggies, accompanied by a lentil soup and a coconut chutney for dipping. It’s a simple, piping hot, and wholesome meal under $10 and quick (that is, if you beat the long lines of New Yorkers that are all craving a dosa, especially over the summer). I sit in the park and watch dogs as I munch, or I bring it into Bobst Library and chow quickly before studying. While the food is scrumptious, it is the kindness and consistency of Kumar that keeps me coming back. The cart, and Kumar, are a staple in my NYU experience–but had I not walked by the little cart that one day, I would’ve missed out on so many amazing moments (and meals).
In the lobby of every residence hall (and nearly every NYU building) sits a Public Safety Officer. They’re the first face separating the gritty sidewalks of Manhattan from your room. Not that the streets are always cold or scary, but they don’t always feel like home. It’s nice to have a familiar smile greeting you quietly or cheerfully when you walk into your building, especially when you’ve come from a long day of classes or if you’re just looking forward to the comfort of your bed. Schedules do repeat as the weeks go on, and I’ve always somehow gotten to know a lot of these friendly Public Safety Officers in not just my residence halls, but my dance building, the library, the student center, etc. Some days, we share long conversations about current events or catching up, and other days, it’s just sharing exhausted, but knowing glances. I’ve even had nights coming back to my residence hall, where the Officer, learning that I’m not feeling well, had gotten me ginger tea to take up to my room to make and drink! It’s so special to have these connections that make a big city and school feel just a little smaller, and much friendlier. I feel good knowing that I have such kind people looking out for me and my community, and I am glad to be able to call some of them my friends. It’s in these little moments that I really feel grateful that we have so many resources in place for our safety and wellness, and they make my experience living in the city so much better.
The city and the school generates a lot of trash. That’s for sure. As someone who is somewhat aware and vocal about sustainability, I was delighted to see that every NYU building has separate bins for recyclable materials and trash. I was even more delighted that each bin has clear labels with instructions delineating what goes where, and how. It’s clear, and from my experience, it’s effective. What was even more cool for me was seeing compost initiatives at our dining halls, as well as club efforts to eliminate food waste. There are compost bins for food waste and soiled paper products in most dining halls that are then composted. I was part of a club on campus that would deliver leftovers from the day’s meals to missions around the area. With an area of concern like sustainability and understanding environmental impact, it’s really the small actions we can take in our daily lives that will really make a difference. And knowing that there are these systems and programs in place for my school to take part in that initiative is part of the reason why I’m proud to be here.
So there, these are the small, quirky things that make my NYU experience so special and dear to my heart. Quick interactions, daily actions, and small corners of the city… these are the things that will stand out in my memory, because they’ve made big impacts in my life and heart. What’s amazing about this is that I know every student has their own little things that make for an equally enriching and wonderful experience here. What will your little things be?