Upon my return from 5 months abroad volunteering and traveling, in Nepal and India I expected a bit of culture shock. I’ve had some minor incidences in my three weeks being back. I almost freaked out at a restaurant when a large glass of water, packed with ice so high it would make the Titanic weep, was placed in front of me. I had spent 5 months absolutely terrified of ice and tap water, so it took me a moment to realize where I was. The biggest adjustment has been prices. I had just spent months spending money at the equivalent of a rap mogul in these countries, and here I am back in New York pinching pennies so hard that if you fingerprinted me it would resemble Abe Lincoln.
However, I’m an old pro at frugality. Over the past couple weeks I have been re-acquainting myself with old haunts that aren’t too taxing on my bank account, as well as some new discoveries that I have made. In India I spent the majority of my money on the following things: Food, Beer, Entertainment, Mangoes, and Scarves (I came back with 17…ridic). So here are some places where you can get third world prices in one of the most expensive cities in the world:
236 7th Avenue (Between 4th and 5th Streets)[ Park Slope]
Sushi rolls for $2.75 each sounds like a joke, right? But no, nested in Park Slope is a sushi Shangri-La where most rolls are super reasonable, all day long. Both veggie and fish rolls are under $3 and most importantly delicious. The selection is plentiful, so there’s no doubt your stomach and your wallet will achieve nirvana.
204 Avenue B (Between East 13th and East 12th) [East Village]
In the spirit of reverse Manifest Destiny, go east! A favorite place for myself and my bar buddies is B-Side. It is a fantastic dive with classic low lighting that shuns UV rays at the door. The music is fab and the bartenders notoriously friendly. For day drinkers, such as myself, it has half off well drinks ($2.50 rum & cokes for me!) and $2 off beers, it is ideal. I quit drinking towards the end of my trip because Kingfisher is AWFUL, the only redeeming thing being that it comes in 650ml bottles. However, I’m back in the good ol’ US of A where the taps are plentiful and there is nary a blue bird in sight.
Casual Sketch at Identity Bar
511 East 6th Street (Between 1st and Ave A) [East Village], every Monday night at 8pm
Okay, shameless plug time. My hobby is stand-up comedy. Yes…most people would rather die than get up in front of a lot of people and tell jokes, but I do it willingly. I think it’s an attention-seeking only child thing. However, Casual Sketch is where I got my start. It’s a great open mic with a plethora of comedians pouring in weekly to try out new stuff. There is a one drink minimum, but it won’t set you back more than 5 or 6 dollars. The show itself is FREE, and it’s a great opportunity to see the future of comedy today.
Chinese Grocery Stores on Grand Street in Chinatown & Fei Long Market 45th & 8th Avenue, [Sunset Park]
When I was in Nepal & India I ate kilos and kilos of mangoes. They are just so damn cheap. I could buy 6 of them for $1.20. Now I’m back in New York where one mango can cost you that much. For those of you prone to scurvy, having cheap fruit is essential. That’s why I like to go to the Chinese grocery stores in either of New York’s Chinatowns. There is of course the famous one in Manhattan, but I used to live in Sunset Park which has the second biggest Chinese community in the 5 boros. Although it is not mango season anymore, there is a wide variety of cheap fruits and vegetables for purchase. I rarely spend more than $5 on a week’s worth of produce.
92 5th Avenue (Between Park Pl and Prospect Pl) [Park Slope]
Now, Beacon’s Closet at this point is an institution, so it’s no secret, but there’s a reason for that. I found silk scarves at a variety of prices but nothing unreasonable. They started at around $8 dollars, which is a wee bit more than what I paid on average in India but their coolness factor balances out the sticker shock.
Photo Credit- May S