“Ladies and Gentlemen, We are starting descend into John F. Kennedy airport of New York. We are expected to land at around half past three. Hope you had a great flight. Thanks for flying with us. Cabin crew, please prepare for Landing”
As the captain made this announcement, I immediately lift the shutter of my window with the hope of getting a glimpse of aerial view of New York like they show in the movies when somebody is landing in New York for the first time ;) No, I didn’t see any such glamorous view..
Cut to, I step out of the JFK airport and there it was, the filmy moment, the weather was overcast, it was around 8 degrees, there were those world famous Yellow New York city Cabs lined up and I actually stopped and looked around. I thought soon there will be snow fall and love of my life waiting for me, wearing furry overcoat and leather boots, will run to me and we’ll kiss ;)
No, there was nobody waiting ;) Welcome to New York, I greeted myself.
Took one of those ‘very familiar’ yellow cabs, and hopped in the rear.. (I wonder why only New York cabs has this partition separating you and your cabbie).. “Kahan Jaiyega?” (Where will you go?) he asked, in very friendly Urdu accent, he must be from Pakistan, I thought. He was. 320, Park Avenue, Mid town, Manhattan, I answered and he immediately asked “Kaam se aaye ho?” (Here for work?) I smiled and said “Yes”. He has been a cabbie in NYC since 8 years and I could sense from the authoritative way he was driving, that he was not telling lie.
15 minutes from the airport and amidst the traffic, I saw that first road sign with an arrow. It read “Manhattan” and then there was this long tunnel and voila, we were almost in the city. You can make that out immediately, as you start passing signals, green arrows marked with Street numbers and Names, those typical NY iron staircases descending from homes and those beautiful brown buildings. Further into the city and the “real NYC” starts. Lanes amidst those tall buildings, of which 90% are old structures, yellow cabs all around, frequent cross roads and equally frequent red signals, people dressed at their best, waiting in hordes for the signal to turn “white” to cross roads and then all of them crossing it, Americans, Indians, Chinese, Latinas, Jamaicans and people all over the globe (they say it right, this place indeed is a melting pot of Cultures), then there are avenues, boulevards and numbered streets marked by green and white signposts and there are those narrow stair cases going underground to the Subways.. How can I forget Starbucks which keeps appearing after almost every two or three blocks,. When I got off the cab, it actually took me few seconds to sink in the fact that I was there, in New York, in the streets of Manhattan, about which I had only heard and read of, until that moment.
When you are in New York, you cannot leave without visiting The Times Square, The Empire State Building, The Brooklyn Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, The Raging Bull at NYSE, The 9/11 memorial, Central Park, Modern Art Museum, Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center and the famous NYC skyline, these are just ‘some’ of the ‘must see’ points. One can try and prepare a list, about the things to do and places to see, when visiting the Big Apple, but let me assure you, it will not end. I was not that lucky to visit all of the above mentioned places (this time I’d say) as I had only half day (may be couple of hours over half) to my avail, before I fly out.
After having my share of Cab experience, It was now time to experience the Subway. It helps in two ways, you avoid the mad traffic and you get to be amidst New Yorkers for long. It’s surprising that you don’t find any of the Subway stations in NYC which is ‘modern’ or redone, I think all of them are still maintained in the same way as they were when the Subway system started, years ago. It’s an experience in itself to travel by local transport at any place, NYC was not an exception. It’s like a world in itself which is continuously changing. Right from the moment you step in, you keep observing different kind of people around you and before you are ‘done’ with them, they suddenly get off at their ‘destination’ and there are new subjects, so on and so forth.
I alighted at Times Square and climbed up the stairs leading to the street. I was awestruck when I came out. I was at the world famous, Times Square. Amidst the sky scrapers with their exteriors covered with neon lit sign boards, which remains on 24 7 365. One full day also is not enough to ‘take’ the Times Square in. There is this Spot where you stand and while you take a slow 360 degree spin, I am sure you won’t be able to avoid those goose bumps. It is here where you can really feel, that the New York City actually never sleep..
Next was the WTC memorial. The emotions that you will get while visiting this place in down town Manhattan will only be of Pain, Anger and Belief. You will feel immense Pain, when you will see that empty spot which once bear the sight of the famous, Twin towers of World Trade Center, when you remember that infamous video of two airplanes crashing into each of the Towers and you visualize it happening standing right at that very spot, when you feel what people must have undergone and That’s when you will feel Anger on those people who do such things in name of Religion. When you go around in those busy lanes of Down town Manhattan and when you see a high raised structure being constructed at the place where WTC stood, your belief in Mankind and Humanity stands restored. When I was leaving, I could not stop myself from turning back to have a look at that empty spot amidst other skyscrapers and imagining the Twin Towers still standing tall.
Then it was the Raging Bull at NYSE, the financial Hub of world’s most powerful Country, The Brooklyn Bridge overlooking the city Skyline, brown and various shades of it, that’s what you will find, when u see skyline of the downtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge.
That was it. My time in New York was up. While the flight took off and I saw New York passing by underneath, I whispered, I will be back soon baby and with enough time on hand to Romance you.
I Love NY