Our itinerary for today consists only of catching the vegetarian samosa/dosa cart in Washington Square Park, and meet a couple of Pade’s NY friend. I told Pade I like this kind of unambitious itinerary.
Our AirBnB was less than 5 minutes walk to the nearest subway station on the Dekalb Ave, and I was so looking forward to being able to go places on public transportation again. However, NYC’s subway system has so far been the most complicated system that I have had to navigate.
In the US, I’ve only been on Chicago, LA, and Washington DC’s subway system. Both are newer, and therefore, better. But it is not really about age. Preceding NY just a little over a decade, London’s underground is oldest in the world, but I feel it fares a lot better. If it hadn’t been for Pade (and Google Maps), I would’ve been lost more than necessary and spent most of my time in NYC underground. Even with her (and, Google) guiding me most of the time, we actually ended up on the wrong platforms or exits a few times.
You see, the underground system that I’m accustomed to are those that you can move between opposite platforms. And although there are many connected ones in NY, there are just not enough signs and directions making it, in my opinion, the least tourist-friendly subway system I’ve come across. But it is still a great, if not the best way, to get around the city.
To get to Washington Square Park, we took the subway to 14th Street & Union Square Park that’s located just a few blocks north. And what do you know, on our way there, we passed by Strand, one of the last, and largest surviving independent bookstore in the United States. The home of ‘18 miles of books’.
Washington Sq park is not the biggest, but has a vibe that unique to itself that would be one of the top reasons for me to want to live in New York.
The Dosa Guy
His name is Thiru Kumar. For the last 15 years, he’s been serving South Indian fares on Washington Square Park that include dosas, samosas, idli, and roti. I first saw him interviewed in Munchies’ legendary street food Icons series. And beyond the vegetarian food he whips up, I was hooked by his personality and pride for sending his daughter to college for selling dosas.
I was so nervous that he’d be close for today, it’s ridiculous. So even though google says that he opens at 11, we got to the park as early as 10 am to make sure we didn’t miss his cart, if that’s a possibility.
Then I saw a a big shiny pick up truck pulling in on the curb with a cart behind him. Thiru and an assistant hurriedly set up his cart before having to park his truck somewhere else. It is well-choreographed ritual that only took them minutes. And not long after, after the sight of his cart, a line started to form. Me included.
Thiru is so talkative and emits such a positive vibe that I couldn’t help but talk to him the whole time he was preparing, and he didn’t look bothered, not one bit. He quickly asked where we were from and him that we were originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. He said that he’s spent time in Singapore and even named a dish after the city. Just a really great guy. Sorry I didn’t take a picture of him, but you can check out how energetic he is in my insta post. He even gave both of us T-shirts!
Me and Pade both got the Pondicherry Special; a thin dosa (lentil and rice crepe) filled with vegetables and spiced potatoes, with a side of coconut chutney and.. some kind of clear soup. Not a fan of the soup but the dosa was AWESOME. Definitely a success, and a highlight of this trip! I told Pade that I don’t need to go anywhere else. I’m done.