New York, New York....
|NYC skyline from the Statue Of Liberty|
One never forgets their first time in New York City. Every sight, every smell and even the first food one has in the city remains embedded in one’s mind forever ( Madison Square Garden, Cheeseburger and Coffee were mine) And one disclaimer - no amount of watching Friends, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, Devil Wears Prada or even Kal Ho Naa Ho can prepare you for this feeling. I realised all this during my first trip to the city a few weeks ago. From New Amsterdam to New York, this city had been through quite a few journeys, and I had just begun mine.
|My first photo in the city - not very aesthetic, photographically!|
The New York skyline shone faintly in the sunlight as our train from New Jersey approached the Hudson river, and the blurred outlines of the Empire State building, the Chrysler building and the One Trade Center began to get clearer and crisper. The skyline which I had, till this point, only seen in pictures, was right in front of me, and I felt adrenaline rushing into my head. This was one of the biggest cities in the world, home to more than a few skyscrapers and around 8 million people and I, a small fry, was here.
|One of the many random photos from the roof of the bus|
‘Buildings with a hundred floors, swinging round revolving doors..’ lyrics from Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway played in my head while my head perpetually stay stuck in the air, trying to look at the apexes of the tall grey buildings from the top of the tourist hop-in-hop-off bus . It seemed incredulous that mankind had the ability to construct these imposing, colossal buildings - they were almost on the verge of giving nature a tough competition.
|See what I mean?|
|Random art on a random building|
|In my head, the FRIENDS building :-p|
The more the tour bus passed through downtown all through its way towards Brooklyn, the more it boggled my mind. I was on the roof of the tourist bus, camera in hand, and for once, did not know what I should focus and take a picture of. Everywhere I looked, there were chic buildings with elaborate pinnacles striking a contrast with the bright blue sky. Click, click, click, the camera went, as images of random buildings from downtown, a piece of graffiti sprayed on a wall in Brooklyn and a building that resembled the exterior of the FRIENDS building made their way behind the lens. But there was one place where my camera shut down out of respect.
|One World Trade Center|
|The names carved on the WTC memorial|
The entire day in NYC, I hadn’t looked at the ground, but this was the one place where my head gravitated down on its own accord. One Trade Center Plaza. Where once two majestic buildings stood, almost kissing the sky, there now lay two pools of ever flowing water, each encased in black marble, with names of the victims engraved on them. Some names had flowers on them, and some, the American flag. As I walked along the perimeter of the pool, my fingers passing on the names, caressing the flowers, I felt goosebumps, and was enveloped by an eerie silence, blanketed only by the sound of the flowing water. The sight of the two buildings collapsing into a pile of dust is something that occupies a part in the permanent section of my brain. As I stood watching the water flow, I said a silent prayer into the air for all the victims’ families – it wasn’t easy to see a loved one pass on, especially in the hands of terror, and it is all the more difficult to go to the exact spot where, once upon a time, they had lain upon. This was a place that had risen from the ashes of the steel reinforced buildings, into an equally tall glass building, which mirrored the pale blue of the sky. In a way, New York was telling me just what Mumbai had often told me in the chugs of its trains and in the drops of its rain – life must go on.
|Somewhere around Times Square|
|The Jacqueline Kennedy Reservoir in Central Perk|
One cannot ignore the vast island of greenery that is Central Park, a segment of nature’s creation to counter man’s own, nor can one barely pass by Times Square without stopping to look at the gigantic advertisement- flashing billboards. I was no different. The glare of the billboards seem to pump up more energy into my tired legs, and the air, which was inhaled in and out of the infinite populace rushing around, seemed to miraculously infuse more oxygen into the air. I went into a delirium of sorts, and images of what all I had seen throughout the day flashed before my eyes, seemingly replacing the advertisements of Neutrogena and Aladdin on the billboards. Pop music seemed to play in my head, and the mixed smells of bagels & hot dogs entered my nostrils. All these sights, sounds and smells descending at the same time on ones’ senses might make one rather irritated, but for me, that feeling was familiar and oddly comforting. This was a city that had witnessed battles, and had emerged victorious. This was a city that had welcomed immigrants who played an important part in building it. This is a city where sharply dressed stock market analysts rub shoulders with bohemian artists in the lurching subway that crawls beneath the city. This is a city of colours, of joy, of food, of basic life itself. This city is an oasis of hustle and bustle in a dreary land. This, my friends, is New York City.