A lovely Saturday morning..Bright and sunny with "Bangalore" weather..Not a usual occurrence for New Jersey/New York at this time of the year..The thought of catching a bus right outside my hotel doorstep in NJ and being dropped off at the Port of Authority Terminal near Times Square in New York City(NYC) was refreshing, after a week of intense work pressure..
My plan of going there with 2 friends changed (they couldn't make it) and I ended up going alone to NYC..I was apprehensive. One whole day alone at the Big Apple? Given that I prefer being around friends, this was a slightly intimidating thought..
11:40 AM, I hopped on the bus to NYC..The day started off on a usual note, with someone trying to speak to me in Spanish, "knowing" I am Mexican/Spanish and not guessing..I have stopped looking perplexed now and simply say "No Spanish"..
Plugged my iPod and let "Munni Badnaam" rip..Saw the first sight of NYC from the bus..With NYC, it was love at first sight in 2008. I was/am/will always be in awe of that place...
Got off the bus at 42nd street and wandered around confused for a few minutes, cos both sides of the road seemed inviting...I could see New York Times office and Madame Tussauds already inviting me to come have a look.. :)
The subway is the lifeline of NYC, akin to our Mumbai local trains. Took an all day pass and off I went to Central Park..The place is beautiful..It is not awe-inspiring, but it gets the job done. If you love seeing nature, Central Park offers that on a platter..Came across a really talented person dishing out melodies with guitar/vocals on the lawns and the lyrics of his songs were meaningful and soul searching..Headed to the Sheep Meadow, literally a place to rest on your back as you see huge Manhattan Skyscrapers..A place for all the romantics :)
Next stop was Ground zero and Wall street..Ground zero is peculiar..It is one of the places I can't seem to connect to, despite knowing the significance..May be I will after the memorial comes up in 2012..Right now, all I see there is rubble, construction and hoardings that salute people who left us on 9/11...RESPECT!!
Wall Street was next..Clicked pics outside the NY Stock Exchange..The "Bull" skipped my mind..Since I was alone and could do as I pleased, walked a few miles back to see the "Bull"..Feels nice to do things out of the routine :)
After listening to more music on the street, decided to go downtown to Brooklyn..Picked up a Chicken Shawarma and decided to walk on Brooklyn Bridge end to end(unlike 2008, when I just saw one part), admiring skyscrapers and observing Statue of Liberty appearing like a small toy somewhere to the right of Manhattan..
NYC is different..You notice South Asian street vendors selling mouth watering food and it is so unlike the America I know..I saw some awesomely tempting Chicken Biryani, but had to pass considering the amount of walking I had planned to cover all places in one day.. Some chicken, somewhere will pay for this :)
Got off at Grand Central Station, a very grandiose and well constructed station, which has featured in Hindi movies..It was 8 pm and I was kinda tired after walking non-stop from noon..Met an African-American officer at the Station and queried "Sir, what time does the shuttle leave to Times Square??"
He said "Shuttle? You are young..You can easily walk down my friend..It is just 8 blocks down the road" ..I felt like I had consumed a bottle of Powerade..I HAD to walk to Times Square after that and I did :)
I was waiting for light to fade and "lights" to kick in, so as to walk down Times Square..Tremendous sight is that Times Square..Cannot miss the Hard Rock Cafe building at the back and the huge Yahoo signboards along with the NASDAQ updates.. Walked to Rockefeller center and relaxed besides the fountain, clicked some cool snaps...
Then for the highlight of the day..Empire state Building under lights (I still donno which one I like better, Sears Chicago or Empire NYC!) Wow what a sight..
Sigh, the digital cameras of this age aren't good enough to capture these night views..Hope technology improves and we see clarity (without blurring effect) for night shots soon without a tripod..
Also disappointing was that I couldn't upgrade to the 102nd floor view due to a problem with the elevator..The officer dint help by saying, "Hey, till 1 hour ago people went to the 102nd floor" ..Too much information, bud :)
I then walked back to the Port of Authority terminal on 42nd street just in time for the 11:30 PM bus to Jersey...Saw a group of Desis chatting away..It was probably after 10 hours I had really heard people chatter...I was almost in a trance in NYC...
So that ended a day well spent. The next time you get a chance, quickly make a trip to NYC..Chuck the long drives, subway is the way to go..Walk down the street and "feel" New York culture first hand...
I simply love New York City...It is therapeutic..