With one last look at the Statue of Liberty, I walked into New York again and got on the City Sights bus. Like little Harry, I tried to see everything at once and felt that I should have had more pairs of eyes.
The bus waded through Greenwich village and entered Chinatown! I enjoyed Chinatown like a child enjoys a new toy. The buildings were super cool – like the ones we see in the Jackie Chan movies. What impressed me most was the staircases. To get to the top floor, buildings had ladders and steel or wood staircases jutting out of the building – even upto the 4th floor! People dont use them these days – they use the lifts or stairs within the buildings but they still have the stairs as a part of their building. New York City has the largest chinese population outside of Mainland China and Taiwan. Chinatown has the largest number of banks in New York. It was hard to find English letters in Chinatown. Most of the shops and bill boards were in Chinese!
From Chinatown, the bus moved to Little Italy and Little India. Little India was not a settlement, it was just a row of Indian shops and restaurants. Further from there, we moved on to Rockefeller Centre and the United Nations buildings. Rockefeller – the name brought with it a sense of respect and memories of Saavi’s “Washington il thirumanam”. The Rockefeller Centre has a tall observatory deck (taller than Empire State Building) and also has an ice skating ring during Christmas. People come from far and wide to see the ice skating ring and the Christmas tree at RC, NYC. The UN HQ building has the flags of all countries around it.
From there, we went around Carnegie Hall and Macy’s passing the Woldorf Hotel. I got down at the Empire State Building and used the automatic lifts to the 86th floor. The roof had high fencing and it made me feel safe even though I am scared of heights. 🙂 I walked around taking pictures in each of the directions. I marvelled once again at the skyscrapers of NYC which looked small from the roof of the Empire State Building!! I decided to go down after a while. I was shovelled into the lift by a guard and it was a few seconds before I realized that I was alone on a rocking lift in one of the tallest buildings in the world. 🙂 🙂 I felt a mixture of excitement and fear. When the lift opened up and I stepped outside, I was relieved. 🙂
Out on the streets of New York again, I decided to experience its subways. Nothing exceptional there, it didn’t have the magic of the London Underground. A few broken down escalators and speeding trains and people attracted me. 🙂 I bought my ticket at the machine and took a train to Wall Street. There I was, at the place where it all happens – the NYSE where trillions of dollars are traded everyday, where capital flourished a few years ago, where the world economy is decided, where Lehmann Bros. had a humpty dumpty fall, where the economy is now being resurrected. A walk down Wall Street led me to the statue of The Bull. Further from there, I walked to the WTC – the site of 9/11. It is being reconstructed after that cruel disaster and hopefully it will come up bigger than before.
From the WTC, I took the subway to Times Square. It was 3:45 PM when I reached Times Square. It was a cloudy sort of afternoon and they had switched on the lights. Times Square with lights is a treat to the eyes. The New York Times building gives its name to the square. One, Times Square is an empty building and it generates the largest revenue in New York for a building. (Ads ofcourse!). Every tiny inch of space on buildings is utilized for colourful display of moving advertisements. I walked on drinking in the scene and taking a look at the “hi tech” city. It was 3:58 PM when I reached NASDAQ. It was time for the closing bell at 4 PM. I waited and heard the digital bell go off signalling the closure of yet another day of stock capital trade. What a moment! And then I walked on and on along Times Square – restaurants, companies and other buildings threw light into the sky for ads. As it got darker, it just grew brighter and the colours flashed wildly across the evening sky. One could walk on Times Square at midnight as though it were mid day!
I had to wrench myself from Times Square and take the subway to the Grand Central station – the oldest in the US. It has been refurbished and appeals amazingly to a newcomer. After a few pictures at the balconies and near the Grand Central Terminal (it is just a clock), I walked out to the magical Times Square again. I just stood facing the colours and experiencing the joy that is New York City. Youth is the brightest colour in the rainbow of life. This best part of life is to be lived and experienced and what better place to do it than in a lively city. A city that is livelier than New York, I doubt we will ever build.
I started my trip to the East Coast with the lights from the Aurora Borealis and ended it with the colours of The Times Square. With these feelings, I cast one final look at the Times Square, at the buildings, at the streets and smiled at the people who were walking on the streets – at the New Yorkers. Many of them even returned it – so much for the rude New Yorker! I offerred a silent thanks to all those hands that granted my request for a photograph and turned back to the Grand Central. From here, I went to New York Penn by subway (needless expense – I could have walked, but I felt like using the subway).
I boarded the train to Jersey Avenue and as the train chugged out of the subway into daylight, I kept looking out the glass window until I lost sight of the wonderful city of New York. After a great dinner cooked by akka, I went to bed, sleep being the last thing on my mind and New York City being the first. Thoughts of that wonderful city kept flashing across until I drifted to the land of dreams. Starting to the Philadelphia airport next day morning was a hurried affair. I thanked akka and athimber – without them the trip wouldnt have been possible. They did not know how much it meant to me and I couldn’t say that either. I managed only a “Thanks!”.
Back from my trip to the East Coast the next morning, the roads and crowd of Seattle seemed BLAND. The dull grey Seattle sky added to the blandness. I realized that I have actually travelled from the US to the underdeveloped west. Once in office, I logged on – [oh what a tiring thing to do] 🙂 to a news channel site – Europe had reeled in debt and was saved by trillions of dollars (of more debt), Federer had just lost in the French open, BP was still struggling with the oil spill, South Africa was working tirelessly to host the FIFA World Cup and so on and so forth…. Ah, how mundane!