In this week’s New York magazine, contributing editor Michael Idov chronicles the story of one Nepalese woman’s 53 hours lost on the streets of Queens:
Krishna knew the word home. She also knew help—Anu had taught it to her as part of her emergency-training boot camp. Somehow, from the depths of memory, a third word appeared: mistake. Perhaps these words could be fashioned into something useful. “Help, mistake, home.” No, even better: “Help, home, mistake.” This could work. She approached a friendly looking man with it, but he recoiled. Am I saying it right? “Help, home, mistake.” She tried it again, on a woman with a small child, but got the same reaction, plus a few unintelligible words over the shoulder as the woman speed-walked away, pushing her stroller. This was hopeless. Even if someone understood her, she wouldn’t be able to understand the response.
At about 10 a.m., Krishna saw two girls in tracksuits and sneakers, walking purposefully in front of her down Queens Boulevard. She concluded they were going jogging in the same park she had been headed for. The scale of the city was still incomprehensible to her—she didn’t even ponder the idea that there could be other parks. So she followed the girls around the corner and down Grand Avenue, for a dozen blocks. When Krishna began to lose faith in the effort, a promising thatch of greenery appeared in front of her, and she hurried toward it. But it wasn’t a park. It was a Catholic cemetery. Shocked by the size of it, Krishna missed the moment when her accidental tour guides abruptly disappeared. Steeped in the supernatural lore in Nepal, she assumed the two girls were apparitions. Cemetery ghosts. She kept walking.
Read on at http://nymag.com/news/features/59009/