Encounters With the Other: Brief Field Notes From the City of the “Ground Zero Mosque”

1. West 65th Street: a young man is walking west, wearing flowing clean white robes and a white Saudi-style headscarf. He stops a man in jeans and a black t-shirt, heading east, and asks him for a cigarette. The gift is made, and the two keep walking, each one smoking.

2. Times Square: a middle-aged man and woman, accompanied by a boy of nine or 10, are getting onto the last car of a downtown Q train. It is their first foray into the subway system, at least on this trip. Does this train stop at Ground Zero? they ask. In their hands are stage bills from Mary Poppins.