Day 9, MoMA, New York.
Jeet had visited the MoMA when he’d gone to New York the previous year. He averred that I must see it since I’ve always been a sucker for museums (I spent two days at the Salarjung in Hyderabad; dragging a very helpful but flagging Maya from room to room.). It would solve the problem of the incessant drizzle; and we figured since Mia was fighting fit and phlegm-free at last; she would be more receptive to culture and intellectual nourishment than she was at the British Museum a week earlier.
Hope springs eternal in a parent’s breast.
After having gawked at the Fifth Avenue shops (the buildings and the entire avenue apparently designed for extremely fashionable giants), and Rockefeller Centre, we started looking for Moma. We asked a few cops who said they didn’t know. A big guy with tattoos stood on a street corner selling souvenirs. We asked him where it was, and just as he shook his head regretfully that he didn’t know; an artistic-looking guy with a mane of white hair, who was hurrying past, stopped and said, “it’s on the corner of 5th and 12th”, and pointed back in the direction we’d come from.
We retraced our steps and stood dithering on an inside street. A Jeffrey-Archer-type gentleman in a suit and briefcase stopped and asked us, “Do you need directions? Can I help you?”
I could’ve hugged him. How nice can people get? I stop and give directions only if people ask me. I would never dream of actually asking people who look mildly confused if they need help! For all he knew those were our natural expressions. (To be honest, that IS mine on most mornings. Jeet and Mia look fairly together at all times. But the Nice Guy couldn’t know that.)
MoMA was really crowded, but the layout (possibly because it was much smaller than the British Museum) was easier to negotiate. We started at the top, and I spent a thrilling 5 minutes gaping at Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
We quickly agreed that since Jeet had seen it all before, he would look after Mia and I could browse the walls in peace.
We had not accounted for the fact that our daughter had decided she would not have another museum inflicted on her without a fight.
Left to myself I happily pottered from one wall to another. I noticed an incredibly huge bouncer-type person striding purposefully towards somebody out of my line of vision. “Poor wretch” I smirked to myself as I turned towards a beautiful Cezanne.
“You can’t keep the stroller there! You have to take it with you!” I peered around a painting, and saw that my husband had given in to Mia’s pleas and let her trot about the floor while they waited for me, leaving the stroller next to a row of seats. Once the scary man had moved on, I went over and agreed to roll the empty stroller around with me like a crazy bag lady looking for a dumpster. Jeet followed Mia around at a swift trot as she hippety-hopped through the rooms.
It was an admirable arrangement while we looked at the paintings. When we tried to stuff her back into the stroller for the installation art exhibits; she simply stood up and tried to walk around with the stroller strapped to her back; like a cute, pink-green-and-brown tortoise.
So she skipped through the teetering art exhibits; and my already fraying nerves stretched taut at the thought of a pile of crap (I’m sorry, that would be “installation art” – spell-check isn’t as good as it used to be), valued at a sum equal to the GDP of a small third-world nation, crashing to the floor after Mia hippety-hopped too close to it.
We must’ve set some kind of Guinness Book Record getting through each floor (of course we couldn’t simply leave!). We would cry “Done!” and dash to the elevator with a sigh of relief before Mia could touch anything.
On the last floor, (the ground floor, since we were working our way down.) I was finally beginning to relax. Just as we entered a room of photography exhibits, a huge guy with the neck and shoulders of the NYSE bull raised his black-suited arm and beckoned towards us. Visions of exhibits collapsing like dominoes behind us as we proceeded -- unaware and smiling-- from room to room, flashed through my mind.
“Save yourselves!” I hissed to Jeet. “Make sure Mia gets her driving license before her 20th birthday.” I squared my shoulders and walked purposefully up to him. I peered up at the ebony mountain in what I hoped was an innocently enquiring fashion. A mother would do anything to protect her young, even if they are wanton hippety-hoppers.
“I was just saying ‘Hi,’” he explained, gesturing again. “A LOT of people seem to misinterpret it when I do it.”
“Oh haha, imagine that…” I laughed weakly.
“See? Your daughter gets it.”
I turned to see Mia give us a cheery wave, looking for all the world like her mother didn’t just have a brush with Gitmo for destruction of American property.
I called them over and the big man coo-ed and clucked over Mia like a big, fat hen.
“Bye, bye” he crooked his fingers in the same gesture. Mia waved back. “See? SHE can tell I’m waving.”
“I guess she’s the only one without a guilty conscience,” I said, and we sped off.
Jeet and I agreed we’d shown Mia enough museums for the time being. She can visit the next one once she gets her driver’s license.