Monday, October 5, 2009
Sharing Tea with Asare at Tea House Productions
So on Friday at 4:00 I started to set up my Tea Cart at the corner of Irving Place and 14th with the help of Hani, the owner of the Cart. While setting up, Asare a local officer for the Union Square Partnership, came over and started telling us that we could not set up the cart on that corner and that we would have to move across the street. We asked him why, and the only thing he kept on saying was that vendors are not allowed to set up on the east side of the street in front of Con Edison because if one vendor does, then all these other vendors will and Con Edison does not want this. But I tried to tell him that I am working with Con Edison and that I have permission to temporarily set up at that corner only over the weekend for the Art Festival. Asare would not give up and just kept telling us to move. And I kept saying I had a permit to be there. He said that did not matter, I just could not start such a new precedent. Now mind you he has a very think African accent so it was a challenge to understand him, and he was practically barking the orders to us. But I asked him to call his boss, while I called my Con Ed representative to explain my side of the story. In the mean time another guard from the Partnership came over and also told me I had to leave, and when I discussed options we realized there was no other corner at Irving that I could go to due to various ordinances, and I did not want to move to another street because the maps had already been printed with my location. Finally Asare's boss came along with my representative from Con Ed who up until that point was suggesting that I just move so as to not cause any problems, and when we explained to the boss that I was an artist only doing a performance and not selling anything for only two weekends he just took a gander at the map and easily said sure fine, no problem. Whew....
Then go figure the next day while I am setting up Asare comes over and decides to share a cup of tea with me. He wanted to apologize for being so hard on me and was impressed with my strong points of view and unwillingness to back down on my plans. He congratulated me on being such a strong person. And on top of that he really like the Jasmine tea I served him, and told me how it reminded him of the tea he used to drink in Gahana to help his stomach when he was not feeling well. That it tasted much better than Lipton, which he drinks all the time. He worried if the tea was expensive and I said he could buy it for rather cheap down in China Town.
The rest of my time on 14th Street went well, despite being caught in the rain. A friend stopped by and we sipped tea inside the cart with the gas furnace burning to heat both us and the water. It is nice to know I now have a friend working in the neighborhood, and hope he drops by for a tea again when I am set up the weekend of the 17th.