Michaela Merz

In New York at the UN general assembly

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I was in New York. Once landed in Newark, a chauffeur was waiting for me. No, I am not part of the rich and beautiful who can afford an own chauffeur. And this time (or for the time being) I was not an invited guest to the UN general assembly but I had discovered that if I order the private chauffeur in advance, it costs the same as a taxi and is cleaner and more pleasant.

The chauffeur guided me to the parking place and from his pronunciation I recognised a Slavic accent. I asked him where he was from. Originally he was from Omsk in Russia and we thus continued our conversation in Russian. I received a lot of praise for my Russian. Which in principle is very enjoyable but at the same time frustrating because I did not manage to speak Russian without accent.

Then he asked me to wait. I was only waiting for a short moment and out of nowhere appeared this celebrity road cruiser. I have never been driving in such limousine before. Wow, I thought, this is a good start and was very exciting to see how it is to drive with such overlong vehicle in New York’s traffic. I happily denied the offer that all alcoholic beverages were included in the price and enjoyed the drive without whisky.

When booking the hotel one week earlier I had almost received goose bumps because the prices were so exorbitantly high. I know that New York is expensive but these offers were like robbery in bright daylight. I searched and searched until I found a very expensive but in comparison inexpensive offer. I did not know the hotel and was curious whether I would be punished, for example by a missing bathroom.

But what was essential was the fact that this week not only the pope was visiting New York but also the UN general assembly took place. My hotel was 200m from the UN building. This sounds exciting and it also was. The reason for the excitement were the many road closures and all possible and impossible security measures. This lead to traffic chaos and very long waiting times.

My limousine could not pass the road closures. Since my hotel was in the exclusion zone, I had to walk the last metres with my suitcase. This would not have been problematic but there were so many grid barriers that I felt like in a labyrinth until I found the exit.

The hotel was great, my window faced the UN building and to the river and in the evening I could watch how peopled exited the building and walked over to my hotel. That way I became part of this year’s UN general assembly. I was indeed in the middle of it.

My working week in New York was wonderful, inspiring and like always very intense. This time not as full member of the 2015 UN general assembly.

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