September 12, 2007
As the week drew on I found it harder and harder to find an event that was appropriate for my Understanding Literature Class. Panic was flowing through my veins as Monday night was coming to an unsuccessful close. A half hearted “google” search of poetry readings in Baltimore was the only path that seemed to have a faint light at the end of the tunnel. Tosti Pot is holding a “Cultural Shock” open mic poetry reading in the city of Baltimore Tuesday evening. The breath I was holding in is let out; out of relief that I was no longer panicking that I found a legitimate event. The description of Tosti Pot’s Cultural Shock was “open mic: poetry, singing, and rapping…” given with an updated address and phone number, my event was a forty dollar cab ride away.
As Tuesday came around, the next day, I convinced a friend to accompany me into the city for this event, hoping to be culturally shocked. Excitedly talking to our cab driver about our event we are going to he pulls up to the “Tosti Pot”; but in reality it is the Bangkok Ethnic Restaurant. All three of us, my friend, the cab driver, and I, are thoroughly confused at the sudden disappearance of the Tosti Pot, I get out of the cab with my friend to inspect the location. Once in the restaurant the owner comes out from behind the counter and tells us that the Tosti Pot is not longer here. Obviously we found that out from the moment we pulled up in the cab and saw the sign no longer said Tosti Pot. He did not know whether they had moved to a different location or they went out of business. The owner offered to call the landlord to find the number to the Tosti Pot, fore the number given on their website was a constant busy line, in exchange for my own personal cell phone number. Even though he might have been truly going to call my number with the new number for Tosti Pot, I felt compelled not to give him my number. Whether it is intuition, my environment of a big city, or just plain stubbornness, I did not give my number out. Frustrated we went back into the cab to try and find another location, another coffee house; but our cab drive was not very knowledgeable.
Walking back into my dorm room with a forty dollar hole in my wallet, I realized even though I did not get to experience Baltimore in a literary sense I still took it upon myself to go out into the city, ask the locals for directions, and just be independent; which is what I’m learning to do in college. I went out into the city, not the inner harbor, and saw the so-called nightlife of this one particular section of Baltimore. Unlike Rochester, NY, people are still outside at 9 o’clock at night. It is great to see a different view from the plain suburbs of Rochester. Also I finally felt like I put the old saying never talk to strangers into practice; in this case never give out personal information to strangers not matter how nice and helpful they may seem. I’m sure this individual, the owner of the restaurant, truly wanted to help, but I didn’t want to take any chances. There are different lifestyles that are accustomed to city and rural settings that I was not aware of. The lurking in the dark alley’s, not being seen by the tourists, watching, waiting for the next victim, picture was painted in my mind, mainly by the media. It is an informative way to wipe away that picture, by actually experiencing a big city and taking all opportunities and putting them to use. This indeed was a culture shock that, even if it did not result in the poetic culture shock I was expecting.