After returning from the Chocolate Factory visit, athimber gave me a quick overview of NYC and printed out a map for me. I booked my tour online on the City Sights NY bus – it got me tickets to the ferry that goes to the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building Observatory Deck so I could avoid the queues. Athimber dropped me off at the railway station (train station as it is called in the US) on the morning of June 1st 2010. Can’t thank him enough for all the help and guidance!
The train from Jersey Avenue to New York Penn Station takes an hour. Often I have tried to concentrate on something particular only to find my mind wandering along the streets of my thoughts, aimlessly peeping through forbidden windows and entering unwanted realms. In the train however I made no effort but my mind was filled with only one thought – New York City. Such is the attraction that the place holds. I had no reason to feel affection or love towards New York City. I had no one there. I hadn’t grown up there. After all, there were only a couple of statues and some tall buildings. I have had enough of statues in Chennai and I have seen skyscrapers and amazing modern world architecture in London. I didn’t know why at the time but excitement filled me to the brim! I wanted to jump with joy because I was going to New York!
The train pulled up and as I walked out of New York Penn Station and set foot in New York City, I saw something that I hadn’t seen in the past few months. People. They walked the streets, disappeared into subways and popped up from them going about their daily jobs. It was a typical New York workday morning crowd. I milled into the crowd and walked on – to nowhere in particular – for a few minutes. I felt joy erupting within me like some dormant volcano – I felt at home, I felt happy. It is the people that maketh a city, it is the cities that give the world "life". I felt part of them, I felt good.
After a few minutes, I walked over to Madame Tussauds and got my email exchanged for a ticket (to the City Sights bus). The bus arrived in a few minutes and I got on to the top deck. The conductor gave us various inputs about the buildings and streets of New York as we traversed the city. A few cities in the world can build a couple of towers and claim that they have the tallest tower, but a city full of skyscarpers – only NYC! New York is characterised by multi cultural population, subways and skyscarpers. I beheld the buildings with a sense of awe and astonishment – I doubt if this sense will ever leave me. 🙂
I got down at Battery Park and waited in queue for the ferry to the Liberty Statue. I just wanted to go the Statue of Liberty because I wanted to show people that I had gone there – just boast you know…. 🙂 But as the ferry neared the Liberty Island and I saw the statue, the Ellis Island and NYC in an arc, I was filled with thoughts and good feelings about the US (? 🙂 ). The Statue of Liberty has been a beacon of shining hope for centuries. Countless people have felt hope, confidence and have had the feeling of "a new beginning" when they saw her from their ships. Today, people immigrate by flight and land in many ports but back in those centuries, she was the only welcomer of every soul that came in search of opportunities, in search of a new life. As I walked around the Statue of Liberty, and looked at the New York skyline, it gave me a fresh lease of hope and goodness. Back in those days of immigration, people had to register their names in the Ellis Island and sail to New York. With what feelings they would have waited! With what bated breath would they have set sail to New York! Now, Ellis Island is no longer used for immigration. There is a museum showcasing the early immigration and a wall on which the current generation can write their grandparents’ name on it (if they know it that is …. :)) I went round and round the Statue of Liberty and took pictures. After a while, NYC beckoned! So I set sail….