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A New York State of mind

At this time of the year, New York is abuzz with old traditions and new ideas

travel Updated: Nov 24, 2010 10:49 IST

It is autumn in New York, and the leaves in Central Park are turning orange, yellow, red and purple. As people crumple them underfoot on long walks, it's hard not to be are arrested by the beauty. The shop windows festively reflect the autumn colours. Just a few days to Thanksgiving and Christmas ... 

The arctic winds swirl in. Shopping, wrapping, eating, tapping. Hang the mistletoe, prop the fir-tree. Condensed breath from carol-clusters wafts into the night air. A homeless guy holds a cheeky banner, "Give me a dollar. I need to make a down payment on my apartment." Coins clink into his bucket.

Highline Park
While the old traditions continue, New York's trademark dynamism is apparent in the new ideas that take root and flourish here. A disused, aerial railway track has been converted into the city's newest park. In the Meatpacking district where chic boutiques jostle for space, and people spill out of packed restaurants, the Highline Park has been a welcome addition as it not only creates an oasis for those who work and live around there, it also brings visitors to New York's highly acclaimed and hugely successful installation. We walk the long, narrow park that floats between buildings on the west side highway, taking in its wispy grasses, carefully selected plants and cutting-edge effects.

At lunchtime, New Yorkers are locating their favourite food trucks. Some of the most delicious and reasonable priced homemade food can be found at food truck windows. While hot dogs, pizza and falafel have their following, Austrian schnitzel, Indian dosa, Vietnamese pho and Malaysian curries are fast becoming comfort foods for New Yorkers. The trucks tend to be large, well-kitted contraptions, often with names such as Asia Dog (serving hot dogs with Japanese curry) and Rickshaw Dumpling Truck. Although many trucks have permanent locations, for New Yorkers, hunting them down is half the fun!