It was a cold November evening in Brooklyn. My friend and I had spent the day wandering around Williamsburg and having a go on the beautifully restored, 122-year-old Jane's Carousel when he suggested walking across the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan.
I baulked. It was minus 4 deg C. I had my beanie and four layers of clothing on but the walk would take at least 45 minutes and I was not too enamoured of feeling like a human popsicle.
Come on, it'd be fun, he said. I capitulated. From where we stood on the edge of the Hudson in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Manhattan did look stunning, its glamo- rous reflection glittering in the icy river.
I'm glad I did. The water below us, the glare of headlights and the roar of traffic next to us, and the bright lights of the big city ahead of us as we made our way along the pedestrian track conspired to floor me with a sense of wonder and awe quite indescribable.
Halfway through our walk, we stopped and sat on a bench. We talked about songs that reminded us of New York City.
Maureen McGovern's Can You Read My Mind from 1978's Superman when the late Christopher Reeve as the superhero swept his lady love Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) in his arms and flew her above the Big Apple. The theme song from Arthur (1981) where Christopher Cross crooned about being "lost between the moon and New York City".
I mentioned Alicia Keys' Empire State Of Mind. A minute later, he passed me his headphones. I put them on and found myself drowning in her evocative voice waxing soulful about the "concrete jungle where dreams are made of".
I played the song twice walking over that bridge that night. One verse stayed with me long after we made it back to Manhattan, and to Harlem where we were staying with a friend. "Someone sleeps tonight with a hunger far more than from an empty fridge,
"I'm going to make it by any means, I got a pocketful of dreams ..."
I am not sure if it is the same for you but self-reflection is an exercise I do more often when I'm travelling, lying in a strange bed, surrounded by things and experiences new and unfamiliar.
Did I, like Keys or the persona in her song, have a pocketful of dreams? And have I been single-minded and focused in chasing and realising them?
The day after I came back from New York, I left for Kuala Lumpur to attend a cousin's wedding.
After the wedding dinner, I went over to visit JD, an old friend at his new cafe Midsummer Night.