Saturday, September 19, 2009

City Crazy

You can travel further by car, but you don't see as much. What with going 25 mph, and paying attention to stop lights, and looking for parking spaces, and all. So I have been exploring Providence on foot. Today I walked north on Hope because I'd heard there was a little shopping district in that direction.

Between here and there, Hope Street reminded me of Willetts Street, where my grandparents lived when I was a kid. It was a street lined with up-down duplexes in old houses. (Now I hear it has deteriorated, as has much of Schenectady NY, but it lives on unchanged in my memory.)

Other veritable institutions were interspersed. The pubic library, with people playing chess outside. The YMCA which was having a neighborhood rummage sale. The Jewish Welcome Center, with a quote from Allen Feinstein posted out front. Hope High School, an imposing structure, also -- oddly -- with a quote from Allen Feinstein posted. Who is Allen Feinstein?

And then I arrived at the commercial district, with gas stations, pizza places, a children's store, dry cleaners...all the things of day to day life. I liked this area even a bit more than Thayer Street. Thayer is a highly concentrated restaurant-coffee house-boutique district for Brown students. I like that just fine! But north on Hope was business for the people, including a bakery called Seven Stars (with a fabulous blueberry pastry) and something called Not Just Snacks. Had I not know what it was, I probably would have passed it by. But a friend had told me that Not Just Snacks had really good Indian food.

So I stopped by and asked if I could be served some vegetable and meat samosas on the front deck (there is lots of outside restaurant seating in Providence). I had my mid-afternoon snack right there on Hope Street, watching the people go by. The couple overloaded with dry cleaning. The woman in the cross walk who was understandably alarmed by the car that sped towards her. The mother and her child who wandered by. The Jewish families going to Roshashona services. All the things that happen in a city.

Maybe some people don't like this: long walks on urban streets, buses roaring by, hoards of teenagers celebrating the end of the school day, the grimy settledness of the city. But I'm crazy about it.

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