Sunday, August 3, 2014

New York, baby!!

'New York, duniya ka sabse bada shaher...' - so begins Kal Ho Na Ho, followed by a montage of Preity Zinta jogging through various famous neighborhoods in New York - defying logic, obviously, her morning run takes her from Queens to Brooklyn to Manhattan - nevertheless, the film manages to capture the heady magic of New York. As did Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and many other Bollywood films that have shaped my perception of New York!! American sitcoms - starting with Seinfeld and Friends, all the way up to the recent How I Met Your Mother - have brought NY home, made it so familiar, that going to NY was like visiting an old friend!!

The train from Princeton took us to New York Penn station - it was Sunday, so no express trains - which meant that it was a slow ride, stopping at all stations. Right outside Penn Station is Madison Square Garden - and the first thing we did here was buy a map. Seriously, all the places we've travelled, never had to pay for a map - oh well! We had a kind of rough plan of what we wanted to do - high on the list was the Statue of Liberty - so once we got our bearing, that's where we headed - Line 1 all the way to Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan.

The first sight of the Statue of Liberty was thrilling - but it was going to be another day before we got to see her up close. Lines for the ticket, lines for the ferry were absolutely horrendous, and after waiting about 30 minutes in the scorching sun to get through the 'airport style security', we decided a strategic retreat was in order - our tickets were valid for 3 days, so we would be back first thing the next day - couldn't have made a better choice!! Back to the subway, this way all the way up to Central Park. I wish we had walked a little further into the Park, but just a short stroll had to suffice - tired and hungry, we were happy to get lunch from a falafel vendor, and watch a couple of mimes and street shows, New York style!! By the way, how is it that street food always tastes so much better than the best of restaurants??

From Central Park, we walked towards Fifth Avenue - admiring all the fashionable stores - Coach, Louis Vuitton, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, this is after all the mecca for shopping!! For me a walk through the Apple store - would have been sweet to buy an Apple in the Big Apple! - and F.A.O. Schwarz for Manasi, of course!! We made our way down to Rockefeller Centre - the Christmas tree scene from Home Alone? - of course, it's summer, so the famous ice rink is a fancy seafood restaurant, but the GE building and the statue of Prometheus in the Plaza are exactly as seen in so many films - well, duh!

Louis Vuitton

Prometheus, Rockefeller Plaza

What's a day in New York City without a ride in a New York yellow cab - took a cab down to Empire State Building - staying firmly on our touristy path!! Everyone knows I'm a sucker for going up tall buildings - and come on, Empire State Building, how can I miss this one?!! Of course, Ajey and Manasi didn't really see it that way - in the end, it was the crowds that made the decision for us - even I didn't really have the energy to wait in line for who knows how long! So after getting ice-cream and souvenirs, Times Square it was!! Along the way, a place close to my heart, the New York Public Library - what an absolutely amazing building, and a glimpse of another Mid-town landmark, the Chrysler building!

New York cabs

Empire State Building

New York Public Library

Chrysler building

Finally, Times Square!! The song from Annie running through my head - NYC, the shimmers of Times Square! We were a little early for the full effect of the shimmers, but even then, it was still pretty dazzling - could have done without the construction, although it was cool to see our Cat machines at work!! Again, Times Square was exactly as I thought it would be - didn't I say NYC is like an old friend - my first time here, and still everything was so familiar!! Our original plan had been to hang around Times Square till it got dark, see the city lights - but the full day of walking had completely exhausted us - nothing seemed better than heading back to Princeton, so that's what we did - even managed to catch an earlier train back!

Quite exciting, huh? I actually had to pinch myself a couple of times - I was in NEW YORK!! You would think that after having seen so much of the world, I would be a bit more nonchalant - but hey, New York is New York!! And I still had one more entire day to spend in this wonderful city!! Another day, another post though! Coming up soon!!

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