Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Welsh Alien in New York..." by Emma Smith

Emma Smith is a featured blogger on Big Apple Brits

Tuesday 1st September 2009. My glamorous new life in New York begins with me arguing in a Queens branch of Subway over a tuna mayonnaise footlong.

I ask the woman for tuna mayonnaise, but she looks at me blankly, so I ask for it again and point to the tuna, but her expression remains. So I say it again...
'Tuna. TUNA MAYO'.
She exchanges confused glances with her colleague. I am hungry and jet lagged and want my $5 footlong.
''Tuna? Tuna? TUNA?'' I say pleadingly
''Ahhhhhhh." says the man smiling 'You mean TU-na?'
"CHOO-na." I say
"TU-na!" he trills
"CHOO-na." I shout
"TUUUUUU-na." he enunciates in his Indian accent ''We call it Tuuuuuuu-na here.''
''It's a fish.'' says the girl
"Are you Australian?'' the man asks cheerily
''No! I am British! And I know it's a bloody fish. And we call in Choo-na.''
"Just give the woman her goddamn footlong!'' interrupts a native New Yorker in the queue.
''Thank you.'' I sigh.
"You should get some To-may-toes on that.'' she suggests
I don't even start.

By Thursday morning we are in Manhattan enrolling the Teenager for school in a kind of NY city educational sausage factory. I forget the passports, so we can't even progress past stage one. The American gives me evils while I protest that no one actually told me I had to bring passports. He then has to go all the way back to our temporary pied a terre in Queens and is gone for over and hour.

When we finally get to progress to stage two they tell us we need a sworn affidavit to confirm that we are living together. And it has to be signed by a notary. I am not even entirely sure what a notary is, but The American seems to know so we all follow him as he goes careering off down the street in search of one. This being New York there is a notary just one block away. So we pay a bespeckled Jewish man $2 to put a stamp on the affidavit and then it's all apparently official in the eyes of the New York city that The American and I are co-habiting.

When we return to we have to get back in line to wait for a 125 year old woman to single finger type into a laptop. It's ok though, because she loves my accent and is pretending to know where Wales is.

The Teenager is finally in the system after 4 hours and I learn that bureaucracy is not the sole preserve of the British.

On the weekend we go to the cinema. Except I have to call it the 'movies' now. As we pay $36 for tickets for the three of us, I lament the loss of my cineworld card and it's unlimited films for 13 quid a month. There is no American equivalent. What with this and marmite and Coronation Street I have a sudden pang for the homeland. It lasts about 30 seconds until I see a tranny in a micro mini queuing for popcorn, then I love New York again.

We see District 9, a film about aliens in South Africa. They nickname them Prawns. More fish. There is a theme emerging here. No one understands the Aliens or knows where they are from. I know how they feel.

I am, after all... a Welsh Alien in New York.

For more Brit blogs check out Big Apple Brits - Keeping British Expats Connected in New York City

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