Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Charlie Galina

For a few days, my cousin Charlie Galina is visiting New York, a rare occurrence because he is finishing up his degree at Mexico City’s ITAM, El Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. He is originally from Puebla, three hours from the university, where part of our family, the Pérez Safady clan, lives. A short story: my grandmother’s sister Irene (Safady) moved to Mexico, married a man named José (Perez), and they had three daughters: Triana, Julieta, and Vivianne, who is Charlie’s mother. So, fun fact, there is an enclave of Mexican Jews in Puebla, and overall Jews are about .0384% of Mexico’s population.

Charlie is in the States visiting universities in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., deciding which he will attend for his Master’s Degree in the fall. You see, Charlie won a Fulbright Scholarship, which in Mexico means either his Master’s or Ph.D. will be paid in full. He wants to study the American Conservative Party--while Charlie himself identifies as “U.S. Moderate/Mexican Liberal,” he hopes to study the right in order to inform the Mexican government and its citizens about the changes happening here in the States, how those changes affect them, and what they can do about it.

Charlie tells me in Mexico it’s often difficult to get some people motivated to understand what’s going on in American politics because there’s so much corruption in Mexican politics that people sometimes can’t be bothered. Young people like Charlie are starting to try to change this, however, especially since so much of U.S. politics is directly affecting Mexico. When back in Mexico after his Master’s, Charlie hopes to be a news analyst or expert who can unravel the American political system for Mexicans and get them to care so they can make change in their own government if need be.

Charlie gets to relax for a few days in the city before he goes home and defends his (250 page!) thesis on the American Tea Party. Today, though, he is hanging out with me and I am trying to earn all the Cousin Points so I can be his favorite. (Read: Cousin Points are not actually a thing). Except my Cousin Point-gathering activities are failing miserably because, apparently, of Easter tourists, who are clogging the iconic spots I wanted to take him. We do find some other cool ones, however--when Charlie got up that morning he messaged me that he wanted a hamburger, so I ultimately decided to take him to the legendary P.J. Clarke’s on 3rd Avenue. We then get Alice’s Tea Cup to go, but when we sit on a stoop to drink our tea and eat our scone it starts to rain, so we hang out in a Pier 1, of all things, waiting for it to let up. I worry this has affected my overall Cousin Points score, but we’re laughing a lot, especially about the use of plastic lemons and plates with drawings of sad cats on them.

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