When I made plans to visit the United States of America last year, there was one city that I was going to include in my schedule, come hell or high water. A city so famous for its rush hours, the attractions, its culture, and most importantly, its roadside food! It would be sheer idiocy if I had, not only not entertained the thought of setting foot in this amazing city, but also not actually visited it while in the States. And now, New York City owns me, heart and soul!
If you head over to my Instagram (@voyagersdabade), you’ll see that I’ve been posting pictures of New York City and ranting, raving, and wishing that I was back there in that mind-numbingly gorgeous city. I call it gorgeous not because of my love for the hullabaloo amidst the concrete, but because of my love for the serenity that it allows amidst all the chaos.
I had three places that I wanted to visit without fail when I planned to visit NYC: Times Square (because it was so hyped), the Statue of Liberty (because when in New York City, you don’t not visit the lady), and Grand Central Station (just to check whether it was really as grand as its name!) There were other things to do and places to visit on my list which I didn’t give much importance to. And that would probably be one reason why I kick myself to this day for not taking out enough time to explore all of them.
For example, Central Park.
Maybe because we had such less time to cover everything, we got only a couple of hours that we could spend at this gorgeous, sprawling expanse of greenery. But once I had experienced Central Park in all its glory, with a more mellowed version of the NYC skyline looming in the distance, I knew what I was going to remember New York City the most with. For me, Central Park now defines calm NYC, by being a Paradise full of calm and lush greens in the middle of a hustling, bustling metropolis.
On the other hand, I did in fact go to Times Square. (Because when in NYC…) It’s difficult to put in words the emotions and reactions that erupted inside me when I saw the crazy mish-mash of cultures, lights flashing at you from the gazillion billboards around the Square, the almost visible cacophony of thousands and thousands of people talking and laughing with each other in awe, and the knowledge that I was standing in a place that had more history than I could possibly dream of, brought me to my knees in awe (metaphorically speaking!)
It is one thing to love being in the middle of people and enjoy their company; a whole other thing to fall in love with a force that is a hundred times more potent than a mere crowd. And that for me, makes Times Square the definition of the New York City that’s always on its feet.
With its contrasting ways of life, New York City allows you to be at peace with yourself while keeping yourself busy with the diverse crowds that surround you at almost all times of the day. Its roadside food stalls that give you the yummiest falafels and bagels, stand there in silence, knowing that they are attractive enough to bring customers to them. And flock we do, because nowhere else will we get to taste the culture of a city as we taste NYC in its street food.
New York City isn’t just about the Statue of Liberty. It is about the crowds milling through the streets even at 3 AM. It is about walking through Central Park and taking in the peace that the greenery hands out to you with every step. It is about walking through the hundreds of avenues that are lined by the skyscrapers and enjoying the visual treat that the architecture bestows on you. It is about looking at the yellow taxis that zoom by on the roads and acknowledging the surreal feeling that comes with it. It is about grabbing a cup of coffee and a bagel from the roadside stall and walking around leisurely, watching the city move as if in a time lapse video. New York City is about Port Authority Bus Terminal, about confusing the streets and avenues with one another, about finding home away from home (try Saravana Bhavan!), about finding a city that you know you can never forget, and about keeping those memories preciously tucked away so that one day, you can proudly share them and say, “I was there!”
And THAT is why, the ache to revisit New York City keeps growing stronger with every passing day!