By Ranna Ramacca
Brooklyn and Manhattan might be neighboring boroughs but the conversations are countries apart.
I’ve spent the last decade in Brooklyn and Manhattan and it’s more than just an accent that tells you where people are from. Everyone says Brooklyn is all about attitude. It’s what makes you Brooklyn – your walk, your talk, but what really separates the two boroughs is the conversations.
In Brooklyn, everyone wants to talk about Brooklyn.
“Which neighborhood do you live in?”
“Where in Brooklyn do you hang out?”
“Who do you know in Brooklyn?”
The Conversations in Brooklyn and Manhattan
In Brooklyn, you have ethnic-centered neighborhoods – like East Williamsburg which is an Orthodox community. You also have local spots, like Bed Stuy, Brighton Beach, or Bensonhurst. “You’re from where you’re from” even though everyone looks different from one another. That’s the Brooklyn way of it
But in Manhattan, the conversations are different; the questions are broader and deeper and about the worldly view. City residents are more curious and they’re not afraid to ask, even if it offends.
“I like your accent, where’s it from?”
“What’s your nationality?”
“What’s your religion?”
It’s like you’re filling out a census form.
I’m not quite sure why New Yorkers feel so emboldened to ask such private and personal questions. I think we’re intrigued by diversity, interested in what’s not familiar, which could be why so many guys in Manhattan are quick to start-up conversations with me even though they might suspect we have nothing in common.
It’s that New York curiosity that makes me love the city life so much. Everyone has a desire and yearning to get to know what they don’t know.
In the city, people are enamored by anything foreign. It’s like the more crazy or different you look, the more interesting and approachable you appear.
Everyone in Manhattan is a Foreigner
The irony is everyone in Manhattan is foreign to one another; it’s the kind of family you have to get used to and accept.
But Manhattan is not the center of the universe, contrary to what city people think. They don’t always have better conversations.
Conversations in Brooklyn are more comforting than Manhattan because somebody always knows somebody from Brooklyn. It’s like we’re only 2-degrees separated from each other.
In Brooklyn, no one asks the Manhattan questions because they don’t really care. Foreign isn’t foreign in Brooklyn, it’s common.
I’m of Sicilian, Irish and Palestinian background, and making it even more complicated, I’m Catholic. If you grew up in Brooklyn, you can see mixtures of backgrounds similar to mine. It’s the melting pot right outside of the city. People there grow up with a worldly view, and don’t ask too much.
In Brooklyn, you have so many cultures and ethnicities that are crammed together. It isn’t like your typical small town, even though we are always overshadowed by our neighboring borough.
Manhattan is just a cocktail of out-of-towners, tourists and locals shaken together in a small glass.