Manhattan Musings – Part 1 – The Dancing Man


As I walk down the 6th avenue to the 32nd street intersection, waiting for the white walking man to appear on the traffic light, I saw him for the first time. He was sitting silently by a big green trash can, a common sight at almost all intersections in Manhattan. As the cars whizzed past him, he seemed to stare across the street with a sullen face, perhaps looking beyond the rushing pedestrians into oblivion. He was dressed rather heavily for an uncharacteristically hot and humid day in May. His unruly hair was tied rather awkwardly like a pot smoking “saint” at Banaras, India. When the light changed to “walk”, I started to cross the road along with a flurry of pedestrian traffic rushing towards the other end. I reached the middle of the road and turned back to take one last look at him. That’s when I saw him stand up take of his fur coat and walk across the street, with his hands waving. Suspecting something to be wrong, I decided to turn around and watch what happened as soon as I got to the other side. I saw him pause in the middle, breaking into a rather unrhythmic, yet corrdinated movement of his arms and legs. He was well build for a homeless person on the streets, perhaps working out on the iron construction bars which are yet another common sight on the streets of Manhattan. The line of cars in front of him stood watching as he finagled his way from one bank to the other and back. As the lights turned green, he calmly retreated to his seat by the trash, going back to staring unto oblivion. Since the day I first noticed him, I’ve seen him almost every day, sitting at the same spot, day and night, summer and winter, dancing his way through the red lights

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~ by Niranjan Nandakumar on July 21, 2017.

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