When you are out on your own in a new city, the best way to explore the place is by foot and as much as possible, by using the local transport. In a funny way, I think it also helps you understand yourself.
The first step is always scary. You are not sure if you can do this by yourself and look for people to help you out; but you also learn that they cannot be with you every step of the way and sometimes you are your own best friend. It can be a very satisfying journey. When you are constantly surrounded by a web of faces, you just want to tear away from the routine of life, breakaway and find something else.
I have seen 69th street possibly just once when I had to accompany my previous roommate to the salon. I also found out that 69th street has a few Indian stores where you can shop for your key ingredients. The vegetables are another story; most often, they don't seem fresh or you need to find out from the shop keeper when the fresh stock will arrive. However, since I traveled to New Jersey quite often, I made it a point to wrap up my grocery shopping in Edison. NJ stores have fresh stock of veggies and products and the prices are also reasonable. I absolutely love shopping there.
Once my trips to NJ started declining, I had to find an alternative. I looked up the travel to 69th Street Transportation Centre. For some reason, I held back and postponed the trip every time I looked it up on google maps. Most often, I depend on my friends for a ride there. I usually go for my afternoon walk post lunch with Manu or by myself to see the city on foot. Since Manu was having lunch at her desk, I suddenly decided to take the train today to the 69th Street Transportation Centre. I had a direct train from Suburban station and I never realized how easy it was to get there. If only I had let go of whatever anxiety was holding me back. I had to walk towards 15th street and take the Westbound subway line on Market-Frankford to 69th street. The entire journey takes about 15 minutes.
Walking down 69th street was a little uncomfortable because of the crowd; nevertheless I also had a sense of relief now that I knew how to get there. Also, there is a decent Indian presence, which offers you a bit of comfort. It may not be the safest late evenings I think, but mid noon seemed alright. I went to Subzi Mandi, which is run by a Punjabi family and picked up a few items to make vadas and kheer for Ganesh Chaturthi tomorrow. I also asked them if they knew of a Gurudwara nearby and to my luck, they told me it was right across the street, behind Dollar Tree. I plan to go there tomorrow afternoon during lunch since I don't have a temple nearby and moreover, since I am having dinner at Spasso - The Italian Grill, as part of Media's Dining Under the Stars theme, I will not have time to go anywhere in the evening.
Whether it is moving into a new place or going out to a new place, the first step is always the scariest. Sometimes like the child learning to walk, we need to keep going at it; then it becomes a habit. You never have to worry or fear again.