Michael Che, a “Daily Show” alum who is now a “Weekend Update” anchor on “Saturday Night Live,” was pushing for his high-rise in Hell’s Kitchen, if for no other reason than its proximity to the 11th Avenue studio where “The Daily Show” is taped.
“He was like, ‘Hey, man, I can literally see work from here,’” said Mr. Minhaj, who could appreciate the value in a commute that consisted mostly of rolling out of bed. But while he ended up taking Mr. Che’s recommendation and moving into his building, Mr. Minhaj did want to see what else the neighborhood had to offer.
“There were certain places where we walked in, and the lobby and leasing office had this sort of thumping and pulsing club vibe,” Mr. Minhaj said. “And I thought, ‘I don’t want my life to be like this every day, to walk in and feel I have to pay a cover. I don’t want that.’”
He continued: “It sounds so clichéd, but when we walked in our building it really was, ‘this just feels right.’”
The serene lobby was one of several lures, including the great gym, the on-site cafe and the choice of views. Apartments on the east side of the building look out on Midtown, and tenants on the upper floors can see down the length of Lower Manhattan to One World Trade Center. “I really wanted that city view,” Mr. Minhaj said. But his wife lobbied successfully for the west side of the building, where they could watch the Hudson roll by.
“Beena said it would be nice to come home and see the water, that it would be really calm and peaceful,” he said. “And when the sun is setting, it’s really nice. It actually is relaxing.”
But he’s not going to lie: New York apartment living has required ingenuity. “In California, you can stretch your arms out and not be touching another person. You get space, sun and, in general, dignity,” Mr. Minhaj said. “And I was like, ‘Which of those am I going to get here?’”
A two-bedroom apartment was beyond the couple’s budget, so a walk-in closet became an office for the very game Ms. Minhaj, 31, who is a management consultant. (The two met in college and were married two years ago.) “All our New York friends go, like, ‘Oooh, that was so clever,’” Mr. Minhaj said. “And all our California friends are like, ‘Why are you living in a closet? You don’t deserve this, Beena.’”
But to hear Mr. Minhaj tell it, his wife isn’t the only one who’s had to adjust. “As a single guy, the baseline of what I needed was so low. I just needed an air mattress, food and rent money,” he said.
“Beena and I didn’t move in together until we got married. We kept it very traditional — Mom, Dad, if you’re reading this — so I had to evolve very quickly. I went from ‘Scarface’ photos to family photos,” he said, pointing affectionately to the engagement and wedding pictures on the wall opposite the kitchen. “I’d never had throw pillows in my life, but I’ve now become accustomed to them. And I will say that scented candles are really nice.”
It’s unclear if those touches of gracious living are adequate compensation for a fellow who, because of space constraints, was forced to winnow his precious collection of basketball footwear — from more than 50 pairs to about half that. While he has held onto special treasures like his Air Jordan 1s, 3s and 4s, he did have to jettison all the shoe boxes.
“For sneakerheads, that’s a big deal,” he said. “They’re like, ‘You’re letting oxygen touch your shoes?’ To which I say, ‘Life is about sacrifices, man.’”