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East Villagers Help a Missing Man Get Back to Chinatown

Mysterious Man on WheelsMichael Lefkovits

On Tuesday, a follower of The Local East Village’s Twitter page tweeted about how some East Villagers had helped a missing man back to his home. Seeing a counterpoint to the tragic death of Eason Alonzio, we asked her to tell us the whole story here.

On Tuesday night, my husband Ben and I settled in at Standings. The low-key sports bar has become the default home for one of our “integrate into America” projects: acquiring a love of baseball, or at the very least starting to work out what all the fuss is about. It’s not the most straightforward endeavor for a couple of Aussies raised to believe cricket is the best game on Earth. Becoming Mets fans has helped, though; we are culturally wired to support the underdog, and they fulfill the role with aplomb.

It was around 10:30 p.m. when we finished watching the Mets throw away their 8th-inning lead against the Marlins. Defeated and more than ready to be home, we crossed Second Avenue over to St. Marks, Ben pushing his bike ahead of me. In my peripheral vision I caught only a fleeting glimpse of what seemed to be a hunched figure leaning up against a tree trunk; it wasn’t until I had gone several feet further that the image even registered.

“Wait up,” I said to Ben, handing him my backpack as I returned to investigate.

An elderly man, perhaps 80 years old, was struggling to reach the walking cane he had dropped on the pavement. I picked up the cane and put it in his hand. He started talking in Mandarin. Within a few moments it became clear he spoke no English, but by this time he was holding my hand.
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More Asian Tenants in Public Housing

Outside Kenka 3Ian Duncan A musician plays outside Kenka, a popular Japanese restaurant on St. Marks Place. Census figures show Asians to be the fastest growing ethnic group in the neighborhood.

Richard Lan’s family moved to the Lillian Wald Houses 14 years ago when he was just a baby. His mother still works in Chinatown as a janitor in a drug store, but his two older sisters led the move to the public housing in search of more space.

City statistics suggest Richard’s family is just one of many who have made the move. Data provided to The Local by the housing authority show that Asians make up almost 20 percent of East Village public housing tenants, and figures from the 2010 census show Asians to be the fastest growing ethnic group in the neighborhood. In the streets immediately north of Houston, the number of Asian residents almost doubled. Is this the beginnings of a China Village to complement Chinatown? Perhaps, but interpreting the numbers is difficult.
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