Historical Trip to NYC


Trip to NYC:

This was going to be my first Christmas in US and guess what it was also my first Christmas eve :). So here was the plan for the Friday the 24th. We were clueless of even going out somewhere coz most of my friends have been to NYC on number of occasions. But then my friend Sardha who also happens to be my sis was very firm that even if no one comes with us, we would still be going. So finally in the morning of this Friday we decided that we would indeed be going for NYC and we had one more friend to accompany, our own Sudhendu. So we were just three, going to NYC as it is in the movie NewYork :). I still believe I am John, no arguments guys 🙂

At around 10:00AM I got a call from Sardha that we would be leaving at around 1:15 in the afternoon. So beginning 12:30 I ate a banana, put eggs to boil, made sure that I have enough battery and space in my camera (my only priced possession). While the eggs were boiling I googled information about the place we would be visiting including the train arrival and departure timings. At sharp 1:10 I again got call from Sardha to be ready and come down, this was the time when one complete egg was inside my mouth, I nodded and said I would be there. I quickly finished the other egg, arranged my stuff the camera, hand gloves, skull cap, train time table and the piece of information gathered through google. The car was already waiting for me, I rushed down and we headed towards the Hamilton station. Luckily couple of other common friends was also going out for the weekend so we got a ride till the station.

In next 20mins we were at the parking lot of the station and we could see 1:37 train heading off from there. The next train was at 2:05 so we went to the waiting area after removing the ticket to NYC (to and fro – 30$). Other than us there were 5-6 other from our company whom we met at the station, they too were headed towards NYC, so kind of TCS gang now, although we decided to go our own way, just three of us. I officially mark my fantastic trip to NYC from this moment on.

Waiting for the train, behind us was a lady, beautifully dressed but hey there was something drastically odd about her behavior. She was wearing a heavy make up and dressed elegantly, sitting crossed legs STILL. I mean she was not moving at all, there wasn’t any motion from her. To be very frank I first thought she was a DOLL, really. I was in fact going to take her picture, I am not kidding, she had a fake look on her, but then my friends told me that she was actually moving but her movement was subtle. I observed minutely and I did see here eyes and lips move. Till date I don’t know the reason behind her behavior. The other interesting thing was that just in front row there was this two ladies chatting and whispering close to each other. Then guess what after few minutes they started kissing each other, mind you both of them were ladies! I told one of my friend to see what was happening, (I know that was private thing, but then it was a public place :)). He saw and then scoffed at by asking “haven’t you seen this in Mumbai, Band stand and all” only to correct himself coz he mistook one of them as a guy :). With just 15 mins left for the train I decided to go to the platform and take few snaps.

As I took off my camera and was adjusting my self for a good shot, here was a guy who came to me and asked about the camera I was carrying. I showed him the camera and soon we were into a conversation. He was originally from Russia and was going to Romania. He too was interested in photography and in fact showed me his camera. He asked me where was I from. Then he started telling me about himself. Apparently he had worked in Marines and had come to US when he was 10. He was a cool dude, only thing was that he was smoking while we were chatting. Anyway, he suggested me few good places to visit in NYC. It seemed he had left marine so that he could go around the world and enjoy life. He was a bachelor and wanted to be the same all his life so that there was nothing stopping him from being a freelancer. He in fact told me that he has a huge map with him and whenever he feels like going somewhere he just throws a dart from a distance and wherever the dart lands is the place he would be visiting next….coooool isn’t it. I always dream of this life, going around the world enjoying each and every place, I really think that the life would be a waste staying at one place for ever, this in one time opportunity that we should be utilizing to its entirety. The only thing about it is the Finance or money, where would that come from…..I wanted to ask him but then deterred.

Finally the train arrived too, I bid the guy goodbye. I really learnt a lot from him in that short span of time. The train was bang on time, the doors opened, we entered and our journey took off even faster. Coincidentally the Russian guy was sitting behind me, it felt bit awkward since I was with my friends this time, I just smiled. One of my friend offered me the window seat (else I would have preferred sitting alone :)). It was a 6 seater, 3 either side specially made for people who love gossiping….like us! Through out the journey of over an hour we were the only group making that much of noise. Any way the trains here are half full most of the time, so nobody cares. We reached the Penn station (NYC) at around 3:15PM. I said final adieu to the Russian, wished him luck for Romania, put on my jacket, and left the train.

The very feeling of seeing so many people around made me happy, coz this is so rare at the place where we stay, in fact you see people only in major cities like this one. We came out of the subway and were greeted with the vibrancy of the city, it felt as if we were in entirely different part of the world (which actually it is :)). Standing just outside the Madison Square we took few snaps and moved towards our first destination the “Empire State” building. We knew that it was close to this place. We were at the 6th avenue and had to go to the 5th avenue, street number 33. This was the first time ever for each one of us to be traveling without a person having knowledge of the place. But it was fun, we crossed streets, asked couple of people the direction, believed our intuition on couple of occasions, crossed the Empire state building, went away from our destination….YES we crossed the Empire state building but didn’t recognize coz it was from the side and the top was not visible due to the height and the angle. But as we moved away, Saradha pointed to the building and asked if that is the one, I was so happy to see that coz I recognized at once that this is it….I had only seen it in the movies, TV or in the pics but this was live. It was gorgeous; we quickly moved towards the building, in fact traced back our way and soon were standing just opposite the mammoth structure. A clean inscription “The Empire State”, the top of the building, the place….everything looked so surreal. We crossed the street, and entered inside the building with the crowd. Yes it was crowded….so much crowded. There was a serpentine queue for the ticket and then the security too was very tight. Weirdly the security here was more than what I saw at the NY Airport when I landed. We had to go through the scanner with our belongings through conveyer belt and then to the scanner. After that was the ticket counter, 21$ for the 85th floor which has the observatory and 15 extra bucks if someone wants to view things from the summit, it was 102nd floor if remember well, which I actually I don’t. I took the tickets and we went ahead for the elevator. Again there was a big queue, but the people around didn’t made it feel bore. Just for the record the couple immediately ahead of me were kissing each other every 23 seconds or so. I mean I observed….i mean not the kiss but their chemistry…this girl used to touch the guy’s thigh and then they used to kiss, and sometimes the guy says something funny and then they used to kiss. There were countless gals who were not only brilliant looking but simple awesome, flawless…I was living the moment only to get sad when the thing strike me that most of them were couples :).

Anyway our turn came and we were let into the elevator. From 2-3-5-10-15-20-30-50-70-77-79, we wondered why only till this, we have to go to 85th floor. But nothing was in our control the lifts were programmed that way. We came out and again saw a serpentine queue. The queue was for another “programmed” elevator that would take us to the 85th floor. But looking at the unexpected flow of visitors the guards there made an announcement saying volunteers are free to take the stairs and climb up 6 floors or wait for their turn for next 15minutes in the queue. Half of the crowd dispersed and took the stairs; we belonged to that half…better half….better people…you know!! The stair space was narrow, we moved ahead chatting and there were many like us….guess what in the elevator everybody were quiet but now there was buzz everywhere, this is the fun with taking the stairs :).

So we reached the observatory point in no time, never felt we climbed 6 floors. There were people all around the circumference (observatory was circular is shape) with their cameras on. It was almost sunset now and too perfect for the view. As we stepped out to the open, we could not stop admiring the beauty of the city. It was too perfect a view, the sky in reddish-orange color just enhanced the glimmer, with all the city lights turned on and we viewing this from such a height was really an experience. The Hudson River looked calm from the top, the cloudless sky made the view even more enticing, the lights from the towers and far away were twinkling with grace. I was lost in the moment; I took my camera and started capturing this lifetime experience moment. There were so many people that it was difficult to get a place to steadily take snaps but I managed anyhow. I took a complete view from all over the point and after about 20mins or so when I could not bear the biting cold anymore and that I had viewed and captured views from all the directions or should I say angles.
Now this was the funny part; in the midst of all these I lost Shardha and Sudhendu, or should I say, they lost me. So here I was searching for my friends and they were searching for me, I went complete 3 circles but couldn’t find them. I am not sure how much circle did they go or how many times did we cross each other coz it was dark and to complement the dark each one of us were completely packed into jackets, caps, and gloves, so that made even for difficult to recognize someone. I then decided to just stand in the middle with my camera on, so that my friends who were searching for me could recognize, as expected Sudhendu came from behind and we were back together.

The epical scenes were behind us now, and we were feeling hungry. So we stopped by a burger king outlet and had some food, fuelled our selves and went ahead with our journey. The best part with the NYC is that there are so many shops, so many people, so much of energy that it make you feel comfortable being there. You can anytime stop by a shop to have food, buy things from the stalls on the roads, walk aimlessly until you drop and above all be the part of the hustle-bustle of the city.

Our next destination was the Brooklyn bridge, the same bridge we have seen in so many movies include Bollywood ones. We knew that it was to the south of NYC and we had the address too but didn’t know how to go about it. So I called up one of my friend who stays in NYC and whom I had never called in decades, to give me the direction :). He generously guided me, we took the subway (for the first time again in my life) near by. This is again a good thing about the planning of this City; you have subway entries and exit on almost every steet\avenues. Soon we were inside the train heading towards Brooklyn. Again for the first time inside the subway train, I could relate this to many of the Hollywood movies that I have seen. In next 15 mins or so we were at the Brooklyn station, we came out, read the direction, followed our instinct and went ahead. Sudhendu was leading us this time, just after couple of minutes of walk we were witness to a beautiful and a grand bridge quaintly illuminating in the darkness of the pleasant night . The pavement was aptly laid between the two busy roads, in next 10 minutes we were right at the center of the bridge. It was again an exhilarating experience to be on the bridge and see the East River underneath it and Atlantic Ocean far away, couple of more bridges were seen at a far distance. We took a lot of snaps there, acted foolishly sometimes, and tried couple of weird pose. Btw one thing striking about this area was that all the people we met on the bridge were like the “Chinese\Japanes\Koreans”. All means all. Still don’t know the reason behind this. Again btw one funny incident happened there when we asked two gorgeous looking girls (most probably Koreans) to take our snaps. Now one of the girl in white jacket, long straight hairs and perfect figure was more that happy to click for us. But hey, the way she posed, I mean posed to take our snap was so weird but definitely hot!! She took the camera, bent towards her right at almost 90 degrees and tried taking snap….i could not comprehend why would she have to bend and take snap, it is we who were posing not her. But anyway she could not get a good pic of us which even she admitted to, so she handed over the camera to her other friend, she looked more practical, stood perfectly and clicked, and bingo it was a nice pic. We thanked them both, they replied with their killing smiles and that white jacket girl…OMG…less said the better…still have that picture of her in my mind…absolute beauty :). But this thing really annoys me, why do beautiful girls have to act idiot, the way she did :).

After about spending 30mins or so we trace back the same lane, with vehicles both the sides and clean walkway at the center. Mind you the sub zero temperature was in no way helping our cause, it made us move all the time, we could not stay at a single place for long, we needed to walk to keep ourselves warn enough, and if we have people like those Koreans then should I say hot enough :). It was around half past 7, we moved towards our next destination that was the Wall Street. Although it was quite a distance from here, we decided to go walking till there. This was the time when Sudhendu felt like relieving himself, and due to contagious effect I too felt like rushing to loo ASAP. Sudhendu spotted a pharmacy we went inside and started the search for the loo but to our disappointment we couldn’t find any, I was anyway not convinced at first place that there would be any loo there, we might get diapers though ;). We came out, and rushed to our next destination that was loo. I regret not using the bridge in better way, nobody would have come to know I am sure :). But to the pleasure of our eyes we saw our own McDonalds outlet few meters ahead, we rushed towards it and directly went into the loo, it was amazing that we could find the location for the loo in that big outlet that quickly, that was intuitive I guess. I tell you with all the jackets, gloves, skull caps, mufflers etc Loo is definitely not a preferred place. So finally we were relieved and then moved ahead for the big bull. In next 5 minutes or so we were at the Wall Street. It really looked dull in the night; there were hardly any people out there. No buy, sell calls or puts. Most of them who were present were actually cops and security since that place was a sensitive one. Disappointingly we could not find the big bull even after going round and round about the street, perhaps that bull was being guarded since there were few streets that were closed for entry due to security reasons. Anyway we saw the surrounding, and without wasting any time took the subway (again found it nearby) and moved towards the famous Rockefeller Center. The subway station was completely deserted and it felt we were the only people out there, in fact there was a moment were we were speaking loudly while removing the tickets and then I saw two pair of legs entering the subway station taking the stairs, but then the legs took a halt. It seemed our voice scared those two ladies (legs are enough to distinguish the gender, isn’t it :)), but after few seconds when they realized that it was an innocuous sound (perhaps listening to Sardha speak) they moved in and I was almost laughing at them :). The train came in next 10minutes, and we hopped in. Each time we took the train, I and Sudhendu used to gasp at the metro map and follow the directions that we take. Believe me; the system is so well organized that you can travel alone without a fear of losing direction. Anyway we did lose direction when we reached the 95th street in search of Rockefeller center which is actually situated at the 47-50th street. With the help of a very generous lady we got the correct address, so we hopped back into the subway and moved down town to the 50th street, it was actually our bad and not the system’s fault btw.

We reached at the 55th street but before going to the Rockerfeller center we had something very important to do….fill our empty belly. My friend from NYC had recommended me to this Halal food center which is more of a “dhaba” kind of shop which was at the 48th street and opposite the Hilton towers. So we directly went to “Halal”, to our amazement there was a huge serpentine queue and most of them were either Indians or from Pakistan not sure. They all looked similar; it felt like home a very similar feeling of eating in night at “Bade miya” in Churchgate – Mumbai. For the first time today we heard people speaking in Hindi although there were few who spoke English in a very annoying accent, Americans have a great accent but these people were totally ruining it. Anyway we had the option of not to stand in the queue and that too when the temperature is 4 degrees below freezing, but since this was a very famous “dhaba” we stood there wasting our time gossiping over gibberish things. After about 40 minutes our turn came and we took the hot served food plate and started filling our tummies. The hot vapors out from the food felt like heaven over our naked hands. We were given two sauces that we were supposed to mix and eat but it was too cold outside to resist that much of time just to mix stuffs. The food was not that great, at least for us, may be the sauces would have increase the taste but anyway we could not finish the food since it was heavy and the quantity was good enough for two meals. After the food we went ahead to the Rockerfeller center, by now more than the tiredness it was the chill that was hindering our progress. Battering the chill wind we reached the Rockerfiller center, it was a sight to be seen to be admired. With three tall towers surrounding a central block, the block with a beautifully arranged Christmas tree and an ice skating pond it all looked perfect. There were a lot of people already there to witness the arrival of Christmas. A feeling of joy was in the ambience with Christmas just an hour away. We took few snaps of this place and moved to our last destination that was the ice skating at the Bryant’s Park. I wanted to experience the Ice-Skating thing for the first time in my life, and what better place than the Rockerfeller center but my friend from NYC suggested me this park which was just couple of street away and was bigger in size and with relatively few people and less costlier. So we moved to this park, it was indeed close by and there were indeed fewer people as compared to the Rockerfeller but good enough. It was 11:30 and I and Sardha decided to buckle up the skating shoes. Sudhendu was totally against it coz he didn’t had that pleasant an experience with the ice skating when he did it last time. Sardha too was bit apprehensive coz it was going to be her first such experience too but I anyhow convinced her that nothing would happen and there is nothing to fear, as I will be always there. Little did she knew that I actually wanted someone to just lift me up if I had needed to :). We went to the main entrance but again to our surprise (we don’t live without surprises) it was closed. On asking about it, we were told by this lady that the park would be closing in next 30mins that is midnight so the entries are closed, we however told them that we just need to go in there; we are good with 30 mins. The cute lady allowed us and then there was nothing stopping us. As I was putting on the skating shoes I was wondering how I would go to the skating arena from this place, I mean we had to walk few steps to reach there and this thing in my feet only had a blade beneath, so how could I walk as if I was sure to skate. While I was pondering on this thought Sardha stood up and started walking, Oooo I said we could actually balance on that blade. I too stood up and with little wobble was able to reach the skating arena. Now was the moment.

I put my left leg into the pond and GOOOOOOOODDDDDDDD it was so slippery, never in my dreams did I thought it would skid that much. Holding the rails on the edges I moved my second foot and GOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDDDDDD this too was so slippery. I did nothing but held the rails and stood firmly. Now was Sardha’s turn, she too put her left leg and screamed OOOOOOOO….i thought that was in excitement but actually it was NOOOOOOOOOOO….brave lady she is, she put her second foot and then started screaming, “No I can’t do this”….i was like “you don’t have to do anything, just grasp the railing and stand like I am doing”. She did, but hey now we had to do something at least for the sake of 13 bucks each that we paid for just 30 minutes, so I took my first baby step in the history of my Ice-Skating (please engrave these words with golden “akshar”), still holding the rails I moved little ahead. Then she too followed the baby step. This gave me little bit of confidence and I moved two baby steps ahead still holding the rails. She did too, but but but…..heyyyy what was that…I was watching something in slow motion, still very fresh in my mind….Sardha was screaming, her lower body moving ahead but the law of inertia was acting on the upper half of the body, in fact her upper half was moving backward…and all I could do was “No No NOOOOO” still holding her hand. Meanwhile the law of inertia and momentum were playing well with her lower half of the body and I could only see her falling right in front of me…..I could have gone to save her…but I had no Idea who would have come to save me…..coz my feet were firm, one hand was still clasped to the rails and other hand was quickly slipping away from Sardha’s clutch.

Finally everything was over, she was lying on the ice, half crying and half laughing, even now I was in no position to lift her up, only if my one hand had all the Austin powers, I was very adamant not to move an inch else someone else would have been writing my slow motion fall in his\her blog. There was then a lady who came from behind and just lifted her with one hand…would you believe it, one hand! Within no time Sardha was out of the pond and with all the madness over me in her eyes….I was like “Meri Pyaari Behna” I was HELPLESS….i tried a lot to convince her to be back in the battleground but she simply refused. Now I realized why Shudhenu didn’t join us…hmmmm. Now I was all alone here, in fact I asked one of the skating guards if he can help me learn skating, at least the basics, and he very politely refused. Now I was in front of so many people, from little kids to adorable ladies all were skating as if it is a piece of cake. I was still holding the rails and moving slowly on the edge of the pond disturbing lot of couples having a private moment or others who were just resting. I was carefully watching people around me as in how they were moving so swiftly. Slowly and very importantly steadily! I too was now moving but for most of the time helping my self with the rails but on fewer occasions I did manage to be on my own. I was simply unaware of the surrounding and only concentrating on my skating and my balance. Slowly I moved towards the spot where Sudhenu was ready with the camera, I tried posing (without holding the rails) and succeeded too. He had a cunning smile on him, he asked about Sardha but I was too busy concentrating on my balance, he asked few other thing too which in really don’t remember. Gaining confidence with every baby steps for the first time I noticed the crowd around the place, there were so many strikingly good looking gals, but how helpless was I that I had to concentrate on my balance.
Moving close to the rails, I saw two pretty looking gals looking at me with a smile, the smile similar to what Sudendhu had put on. One of the girl with a smile told me “you can do it” :). I replied “Yes I can, but this is my first time you know”, both smiled back. I took a complete round of the pound and was really happy to do that. Loving adventures, this had to be among the top for me. I still had some time for another round, again with bit more of confidence and most of the time without holding the rails I was moving faster now, crossed Sudhendu with a smile, then met those two pretty gals again, this time they just smiled but didn’t say anything, but I did. “Better that the first round, right:)”…one of them said “yup, this is better”, smile exchanged, wanted to exchange numbers too but thought concentrating on balance is more important. I did had a moment when I wobbled a lot and lost my balance a bit and was down on the ground but then it was definitely nowhere close to what Sardha had experienced or what Sudhendu might have experienced :). As soon as I completed my second round it was midnight, everybody greeted “Merry Christmas”, kissed their loved once….all this time I was too focused on moving out of the pond…and as soon as I did I jumped and thumped the air, this was really a great sense of achievement for me and I plan to perfect my self in this sport and may be I will have time to exchange numbers then :).

That was it, we took the train back to our place, all exhausted, but the memory of this trip will never exhaust. I rate it among my personal top 5 “days to remember” :). Special thanks to Sudhu and Sardha for being such a good company :).

Cheers………

 

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