Grant's Tomb and a New York rat

Anyone else think October and November went by extremely quickly? Now that it's December, I have one more week of classes. It's hard to believe. Yesterday I had some time to kill so I visited the General Grant National Memorial (commonly known as Grant's Tomb) which happens to be near Columbia campus. Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States of America and the leading Union general in the American Civil War.

The interior was inspired by Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides in Paris - like Napoleon's tomb, I think the coffins look like chocolate pralines. Surrounding the building are curved mosaic benches that seem totally out of place with the formal architecture of the tomb. I thought they were designed by Antonio Gaudi but in fact they were inspired by the Spanish architect and
really by the Chilean-born Brooklyn artist Pedro Silva. The mosaics are really weird, depicting subjects ranging from the Inuit to New York taxis to Donald Duck.

I stopped to have a bite to eat on one of the colourful benches and witnessed another first: a New York rat. I was starting to eat a home-packed sandwich when I noticed something crawling in the grass and bushes nearby. I thought it was a squirrel but when it emerged from the grass I quickly realized the furry creature was way too big.

How would you react in this type of situation? I didn't scream or anything - as long as we weren't "hanging out" on the bench together I was fine - but when we made eye contact, the rat, who was more frightened than I was, scurried away.

I came out unscathed from the encounter but as long as I don't run into any C.H.U.D.s in New York, I think I'll be all right.

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