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New York City!!

I thought I’ll describe the BIG APPLE to you!! If I described Washington DC as Like Delhi, NYC was undoubtedly like Bombay…The ambience of the city was so much like Mumbai that I felt immediately at home….But I think I am putting the cart before the horse…. We started at 11 p.m. on Friday night… The van was a 15 seater van .By the time we picked up everybody it was almost 12 ..We were just about to say “NYC HERE WE COME” when some smart fellow reminded us that we needed our passports/driving license to enter any bar…”ofcourse how can you miss the swinging night life in NYC…and you say you want to got to NY?. Seemed like a valid point to me so Seejo had to turn all the way back home so that Neelima and I could collect our passports… The start itself was quite disappointing ..We were only half an hour on our way..The music still had not reached full blast and our singing had not yet peaked..but the the holiday mood seemed to have rattled Seejo’s normally calm composure…The van’s speedometer touched 80mph…and lo and behold there were the cops..It was really funny at first for me ‘cos this was the first time the guy was speeding in his life…there was nothing to do but pull over and wait for the emerge from their van..They were polite to begin with ..We wished each other a good day and exchanged how have you beens…Then very politely asked us whether we knew why we had been stopped. Seejo, unfortunately, was in no mood for guessing games so out came the answer at the first guess..”we were speeding a little ” ,he says blandly..The cop didn’t like the choice of the adjective..”A little Hmmmmm.?.his eyebrows are raised…? You were touching 86 mph? ,We did not think that that deserved any answer so we sat silent..The cop then decided to check on the rest of the occupants in the car..asked if there were any minors…and very sweetly asked Seejo to appear in court one day…Seejo was disappointed..”here goes my first parking ticket? he thought..No no he asked “whats the fine?” The cop decided it was the time for a few lessons on speeding and proceeded to give a fine homily on the effects of speeding in as he put it in “such a vehicle”..and he ended with a ” the fine depends on the judge .you might even get a few days in jail”.Stunned silence from all of us

Well that over we proceeded on our way…The talk then mainly revolved around cops and speeding tickets and jali hour or so later decided enough was enough and we started –what we play on all picnics–anthakshari…We slept a bit, chatted a little and before we knew it was New Jersey metro station at 5.30 in the morning.. It was cold and the temperature was around -2 ..After we spent some time freshening up…we boarded a train to New York Penn station..Had breakfast at Burger king …and caught another bus to NYC down town… Our first destination was NYC Liberty island…Believe it or not the place seemed to me like gateway of India..It had some kind of a fort or something overlooking the sea..from where you could catch a boat to go to the Liberty Island (like elephanta caves) Hawkers were there on the roadside selling imported watches and stuff…..and a few beggars too ( I swear seeing those beggars made me feel very nice…,America ke bhikari!!!!)The queues were long and it was almost an hour when we boarded the boat that took us to liberty island..The statue of Liberty is Green in color not white as you might have thought It is hollow on the inside ..The copper sheets were designed and shipped over from France and then reassembled in America..You can actually see that it was cut…and joint…From Liberty island we could see Ellis Island which was actually the immigration center for America..In the 1850’s -1890 ppl used to come to America by boat ,pass Statue of liberty and land at Ellis Island where they were given Citizenship or turned away. Just 2% of the entire ppl who came were turned away… From statue of Liberty our next destination was World Trade centre….We passed Wall Street ,Woolworth Building ,Macys ( it was an entire block!)and several other “known” buldings on our way…NYC by the way is so familiar!!!

On top of the world is what they call the ride to the top of the WTC ..and it really is amazing..From the 108 floor we could see the entire view of NYC..and it was spectacular..I could see the Manhattan bridge ,the Brooklyn Bridge ,Bronx,Brooklyn …I really wanted to go to Brooklyn but the moment I voiced this idea,, the responses ranges from ” are you crazy?,”do you want to be killed?…to blank stares.. PPL I must say have no sense of adventure…!!! By the time we finished the WTC it was past 4 and we were all hungry and cold and tired..What to do next was the question ? An Indian restaurant topped the list of choices…so we headed to a place called Jackson heights…If I told you NYC was like India then Jackson heights was -India,,The moment we came out of the suburban railway station the sights and smells seemed so familiar ..there was the familiar stench of urine at the railway platform, pan stalls ,all the ppl around seemed Indians…(may have been Pakistanis and Bangladeshis ) there were rows and rows of stores selling sarees, salwar kameezes were on display, Indian jewelry stores, sabji mandi…restaurants even a computer training center..Those in India may not really understand what we felt but all those who are here will surely guess how excited we were….All of us was like wow…ppl honking ,talking hindi..for 2 delicious minutes we were all back home…. Anyway we went to an restaurant ..the waiters spoke Hindi!!! I immedietly thought of apna shagun ka waiters!! They had the same uniform…!!!Stuffed ourself with food,,,Amazingly each item tasted different …It was buffet with atlest 12 different kinds of bhajis (veg and non veg) lassi, mangoes(!!!) gulab jamun,raita chutneys…(drool drool drool)..

After which we al l had pan and were too tired to walk… Anyway back to Times Square, NYC to see the dazzling New York at was just 6.30 but it was already so dark that it seemed way into the night. Times square is exactly how they picturize New York …Tons of dazzling neon signs, ppl rushing about…cabs honking …wow!! We walked through Broadway street. it is this big street which has a lot of theatres ..There was Les miserables going on in one…Kiss me Kate in another, Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde in yet another, I was staring open mouthed. Another funny thing I felt about Broadway was there were to types of cars in front of any theatre, either ordinary yellow New York cabs or streeeetttcccch limos…!!! New York streets are so much like Bombay ..Incredibly there were roadside hawkers selling chana,(only they also had cashewnuts to sell too), candyfloss, etc…Of course I bought some.. Siddharth and I kept muttering to each other so much like bbay..When we passed times square ( it was oh! Dadar) ,near Liberty Island( it was this is Gateway) and near the WTC it was (..FORT!!) We then went to the Rockefeller centre and saw the open air ice skating rink…Took a look around the nearby Chrysler building, St.Peters( I think) cathedral…and would you believe it there was a tangawala asking whether we wanted a ride (Nariman point Siddharth and I chorused!!!!) center is a incredibly huge building since most of the city was already in the festive season and decorated for Christmas it all looked very pretty…

During this time a few adventurous guys among us decided seeing such places are not enough was time for action !! So they sped away to see a strip bar..before you ask”why didn?t you go?? The answer is I didn?t know they were going…or try keep me away!!!!… Our last stop for the day was the empire state building. It has this golden top, which looked marvelous at night..I think what I ?ll always like of NYC is the way the Empire State building looked… By this time we were all tired and those who had to drive ( Avneesh and Seejo were already looking askance at any new plans ..kept reminding us that they had to drive ) totally vetoed a night club( Blow all our pass port collection in vain!!)…So we headed back…back to New York Penn station and then to New Jersey. A lot of amusing things happened on the way like ,,,Ppl kept losing themselves in he train ,got off the wrong platforms, the cold winds that made us chilly ,static electricity due to the cold weather and lots of small things…We started back at 1 in the night ,the drive was rather uneventful because most of us slept peacefully…Reached back home at 7.45!! All in all it was really good…Kept thinking of the fact ?Oh I have been to New York!!? Now its time to put my head down and study…don’t plan to lift my head or sleep for the next 15 days….

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