There are some places in the world, the aura of which can leave you gasping for breath. The layout of these cities are just breathtaking and the feeling of I want to see it again does not leave you at all. Paris, one of my favorite cities in the world, got that feeling instilled within me for two whole days a couple of years back. The city is still fresh in my mind and I would love to make a trip to Paris time and again. Now, it was the turn to visit New York, the financial capital of the United States. I would easily place New York in the same bracket as Paris. New York easily is the best place I have been so far, and there is no doubt that I will be visiting NY again and again. It is a place which will keep calling you and there is no choice but to bask in the beauty of Times Square.
Pic: New York Collage
I am not referring to a placement section of an IIT or an IIM. Day zero just happens to be the first day, when we all drove to Shubhika's place at New Jersey. It just so happened that Shubhika happened to be at NJ at the right time, and that was sufficient for me to plan a trip to NY for the memorial day weekend. Rama and Venkatesh(MM) drove in from Pittsburg while I(PM) drove from Boston, and again, Venka was bestowed with a perfect sense of timing. The whole point is, we were there to have fun! We all looked forward to get together yet again, and no prizes for guessing who was the most excited of the lot. It had to be the emotional freak Shubhika (my "sweetheart" if only I wore spectacles!). She was charged up looking forward to our arrival, and we had the good fortune of having lovely food cooked by her - Chole, Dal Makhani, Sev Puri, Roti and rice. Can things get better? I got to NJ earlier than the other two, and so they had the privilege of eating one sev puri each. No points for guessing who ate the remaining!
Pic: New York Collage
We had planned to start early the next day, and luckily, we were able to get ready by 11 am and catch the NJ transit to NY. It was a 45 min journey, and as we arrived at the NY Penn station, the hustle and bustle was clearly visible. The NY effect was beginning to strike us. As we stepped out of the station on Madison square, the look on our faces was telling. There were big buildings all around, and downtown NY, also known as Manhattan, had the tallest buildings in the world. We had never seen something like this before, and automatically, the four cameras were clicking at the speed of light. We took pictures of everything around us. Every spot was a photo spot. There was so much crowd in the area. As we entered the 42nd avenue, there was the pride of being in Times Square. This is totally a breathtaking area. By the way, the streets from 42nd to 47th street on seventh avenue is called as the Times Square, and this place is very famous for the digital advertisements and colourful banners adorning the buildings. NASDAQ has a banner here and the space is leased out to them at 2 million dollars a year. It is an image worth capturing! We took photographs from every possible angle. Actually, there are no words to describe this area. You really have to get into the place to get the real essence of Times Square. No photograph or video can do justice to the feeling of I was there. How can I disappoint Shubhika by not quoting this Aiyooo...This is so nice!
Pic: New York collage
After the Times Square wonder, we took the Subway(oops!!! Am I missing something here?) to Ground zero, the place where the World Trade Center towers were brought down to the ground on that unforgettable morning of 9/11. We saw the memorial with the timeline of events displayed, and the site was readying itself for the new towers to replace the fallen ones. We then found out that the Brooklyn bridge was at a walkable distance. The Brooklyn bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US and stretches over the East river.
Pic: Another pic at Times Square in front of NASDAQ
We headed back to the subway from the Brooklyn bridge, and we took the train to the Grand station. We were looking for pure vegetarian restaurants, and we zeroed in on Saravana Bhavan (thanks to me!). It was located in Lexington avenue, and the number of Indian restaurants between the 26th and 28th street left us stupefied. The guy who took the order had the most scornful face in the world and the dosas were terrible (the dosas had no salt and the sambar was terrible!). We vowed never to return to that place again at least for the quality of service.
Pic: Atop Brooklyn bridge
After the sad lunch, we headed to Empire state building. The queue was quite long for getting the tickets as well as to reach the top. The wait was not entirely bad as we were four of us and gossip is the best form of company for desis and that too for guys from Rolla. We slowly(actually quickly since we took the elevator) found our way to the top. The view from the top was breathtaking to say the least. The NY skyline was simply marvelous. The view of the Manhattan was filled with high rise buildings in all directions. The best part about the view was that we could see the lights slowly take over New York. Daylight slowly gave way to a lovely display of lights. We could catch a minute glimpse of Times square from the top. How can I forget some of the important things atop the Empire State building! We got a terrific view of St. Patrick's cathedral from the top, thanks to Shubhika! It goes like this Praveen, Praveen, can you see those two buildings. I sort of faintly said Yeah. In between those two buildings, can you see those two pillars. I rather skeptically said Yeah. That is St. Pat's cathedral. I was like Oh Wow, that is the most wonderful thing . What can you say about this girl! Thankfully, we took only one audio headset to learn about the surrounding buildings. One itself was disastrous and we were thinking of going in for four headsets. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and we saved 21$.
Pic: Times Square at night
After the view from the top, we again headed back to Times square. The night life at Times Square can just not be described by words. It was brilliant, flashy, breathtaking and the adjectives can simply explode from my mouth. The digital advertisements just did not cease to leave us in awe and amazement. Shubhika was starving and it was really a sight to see her devour the pastry. By the time, we headed back home, we were tired like dogs! Only one thing was on our mind. Head back home and sleep like logs and that's what we did.
Pic: We with Liberty aunty
Day two was planned for Liberty Island to see Liberty aunty. Again, we had to stay in the queue to take the ferry to the island. The ferry ride was really good with a nice breeze keeping us cool. The weather was ideal for such a trip. As we approached the island, it was a sight to see Liberty aunty with her hand pointed in a direction and standing on a foot. All of us took snaps with the aunty. After the Liberty island, we headed to the Ellis island (thanks to Rama). I really don't know why he wanted to see that place. As soon as we arrived at Ellis island, Venka got busy with his relatives and myself and Shubhika immediately stood in the line to take the ferry back. Rama was pretending as if he was really enjoying the place. That's Rama for you!
It was evening by the time we came back from Liberty island. We then headed to a vegan restaurant. Thanks to us, the carnivore Shubhika turned vegetarian except for her kababs in Times Square. The food at the vegan restaurant was totally different compared to the conventional kind of food. It was tasty though. After the food, again we headed to the same place. Times Square it was! How can we not see it again! But this time, we stopped clicking pictures. Obviously, we had got used to the place now! We went to Hard Rock where Rama got some souvenirs. I wanted to see some Swatch watches though Rama ended up buying a couple of them. We went to Hershey's store and stuffed ourselves with chocos to send it back home through Rama.
There was one important thing between day one and day two. I did something on day one which I did not do on day two!
Day three we ended up getting up real late. We just went around NJ to the Indian area and the Menlo park mall. It was evening by the time we got ready to leave.
Pic: Hard Rock at Times Square
I have tried to condense the details as much as possible. It is not just the place that makes the difference. It is important to hang out with the right people. Four of us had awesome fun together. Actually, awesome fun is a big understatement. Four of us know each other so well that none of us had any inhibitions to talk anything or behave in the way we wanted. Who else can burp in restaurants after lunch or dinner or sip up the last drop of juice in the most noisy way (Thanks to me!).
It was a perfect way to end the weekend. We were sorry to be parting, but the point is, reunions are going to happen often in the future and we should be ready to part too! What a way to close out the long weekend! More trips are due in July.
The sad thing about a blog is that not all photos can be uploaded. So, here goes the link for the NY photos.
NY photos - The complete collection
New York I
New York II
New York III
New York IV