Big Ap­ple, Big­ger Heart

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - TRAVEL - By Karan Ma­ha­jan

Fif­teen years after the 9/11 ter­ror at­tacks, NYC is a favourite for lo­cals and visi­tors alike. In fact, the world’s melt­ing pot is more vi­brant than ever

sters pour­ing in from Bush­wick for cheaper cof­fee (this, by the way, is the sort of Whit­ma­nian sen­tence that New York au­to­mat­i­cally in­spires). But Ross wanted us to look – or lis­ten – deeper.

First we vis­ited an old Si­cil­ian club, where 90-year-old ex-fac­tory-work­ers proudly dis­coursed on the Par­tanna di­alect of Si­cil­ian – which they pre­serve through their meet­ings – and pro­fusely of­fered us espresso. A dap­per Ar­gen­tine-Ital­ian man who speaks the reg­u­lar Ital­ian di­alect served as our in­ter­preter; later, when he learned I was from In­dia, he ad­dressed me as aap and chat­ted with me in shudh Al­la­habadi Hindi. I was shocked.

By this point we had shifted lo­ca­tion to a com­mu­nity cen­tre and tav­ern known as the Gottscheer Hall, after the Gottscheer peo­ple who use it as a gath­er­ing place. The Gottscheer are a tiny com­mu­nity of Ger­manic peo­ple from what is now Slove­nia. They speak a

13th cen­tury di­alect of Ger­man. Many of them fled for New York at the end of the First and Sec­ond World Wars; at one point, more than 10,000 lived in Ridge­wood, mak­ing it one of those neigh­bour­hoods that, by his­toric ac­ci­dent, con­tained an en­tire civil­i­sa­tion. Two older Gottscheer men with stately pos­tures and a lady with short blonde hair talked hap­pily about the dances that were held at the Hall for young Gottscheer boys and girls to min­gle; then they in­vited us to the in­ner sanc­tum to give us bratwurst, sauer­kraut and beer. I was famished and pol­ished it all off.

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