Saturday, October 03, 2009

Compass for navigating New York

Over the time I've lived on Manhattan, I may have made one too many cracks about needing a compass to find my way over the East River and thence around Brooklyn. My friend, the erudite and somewhat barking, Mr Avocado met me for dinner last week (in Brooklyn) and brought me a present:


I particularly like how its strapline reads: "Replacing luck". Thing is, as I don't possess an iPhone, which apparently has a compass facility, this may actually prove more useful in Brooklyn than Mr Avocado realises. The single most irritating thing about the New York subway system is that there are usually several exits, which aren't always marked with the direction.

In a city like London, where the streets aren't on a grid system, it's paradoxically easier to work out where you are going upon exiting the Tube. Whereas here, if there are no landmarks around you, the grid system gives you no way of knowing which way is north.

It's not uncommon to emerge blinking mole-like from the subterranean depths and have absolutely no idea which way is north. I have both collared and been collared by passers-by, desperate to know which way they or I should be walking.

As I don't know Brooklyn as well as Manhattan, a compass should prove invaluable as I explore the borough. Thank you Mr Avocado: your joke may well be my gain.