The World Seen Through Different Eyes

Every day, five million people travel by subway in New York City. There is nothing unusual about going places on a subway, but there are many unusual people you can meet. There is only a slight chance you will ever meet the same person again. I take the subway to Manhattan almost every weekend.

Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by the crowded trains, and it gets on my nerves when I have to squeeze between people. On the other hand, I’m able to experience different performances when waiting for a train at different stations. Some people just sit on the cold ground playing trumpet or guitar, and some of them take my breath away.

The smell of cologne and some old guy eating fries from McDonald’s fills the car. When it’s raining, I can smell the rain dripping down from the city streets. When the doors open, I smell the wind of another train coming or going. The train is busy with sounds of rushing, people talking to themselves, and many different languages I have never heard before. If I close my eyes, I can hear all of the voices and smell all of the smells that keep the train alive.

There is one moment on the subway I remember to this day. I was traveling with my dad to Manhattan as usual. We stopped at Canal Street. A tall man with glasses and a walking stick in his hand stepped onto the train. I started to sweat. He was so young. I was enthusiastic about our trip, until he walked in, and I froze. I noticed that he was blind. One person gave up his seat for him, and when he sat, he took off his glasses. He had the most astonishing blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t stop staring at him, even though I knew I shouldn’t, but I wasn’t the only one staring. At that moment, so many questions went through my mind. I wondered how that man knew when to get off the train.

Does he count the stations? How does he know which way to turn when he walks out of the subway? The blueeyed man then asked someone which station was next. As I glanced at him, I started thinking about my life. I’ve explored the City That Never Sleeps a couple of times already, and I still think I’m the luckiest person alive because I can see the glistening glass of skyscrapers and the huge brown, yellow, and blue bridges connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn whenever I want. I wanted for this man to see the beauty of this city with my eyes. Although he can’t see the city the way I can, I’m sure he experiences the city in his own way. I try to imagine the world he sees every day. I imagine he sees the high buildings in faded colors and the contours of the buildings and bridges. Maybe he only notices shapes and lights. Maybe the city is prettier in his imagination. Maybe he remembers the smell of pasta coming from the restaurant where he has to turn right. Or maybe the sound of jazz coming from a bar informs him that he made it to work. In the end, I realized that he can explore this magnificent city in a way no one else can.



Author portraitVeronika Chillinska, age 19, was born in New York and moved to Poland at one year. After she graduated from high school in Poland, she moved to New York City. She has visited many European countries and a few states in the United States. Her goal is to visit all 50 states. English was always her favorite subject in school, and she recently decided she would like to be an English teacher. She currently studies in Veronica Jordan-Sardi’s CLIP class at CUNY’s College of Staten Island.