I got just a day to spend in New York, but that was good enough to feel the energy of this most coveted city in the world. Cliché is that if you stand in the streets of New York long enough you will people from every nationality, and I can assure you, you would not have to stand for too long. I remember it as a vibrant place with everyone moving at a great speed.
I did the usual tourist things in New York, visited the Statue of Liberty island, Ellis Island Museum, went up the Empire Estate building, looked at ground Zero (I did go after 9/11) and roamed around the streets and took the subway train to reach my friend’s place. It turned out to be a hectic day but when you travel solo you enjoy those hectic travels when you have no time to think and you are just moving from place to another – absorbing all that you can.
On top of the list was of course the island that has the most famous icon of America – the green lady that stands in the middle of the ocean – Statue of Liberty. I remember taking a ferry to the island and as you go closer to the island the statue just keeps getting bigger. On the island you have to almost stretch your neck to look at it. Looking back I think it was the ride to the island that I enjoyed more – for it not only gives you the statue in perspective, it gives you the vantage point to admire the famous skyline of New York.
Ellis island museum marks the site that served as first port of entry into America and I remember the various presentations of faces that migrated to this land to make it their home. They would eventually make this a country worth envy for the rest of the world – an aspiration place for the next few generations. I particularly remember an installation that had the American flag that manifests into faces when seen from the other angle – I thought that was a very good representation of this migrant nation.
Next I remember going up on the empire Estate building. After admiring some bright wall art on the ground floor at the waiting area, I found myself on top of the tallest building in New York. It is an experience to be on such a height, specially when there is a tall and dense city all around you. The city seems like the game of tetris with tall blocks trying to fit into each other. The streets look like mere lines with moving atoms on them. The view of the city is so different from what you get from the ground that you cannot describe it in words. It almost feels like you are in Lego factory except that the blocks are not as colorful. The wind at top cuts through you and temperature drops a few degrees. Height scares and at the same time excites you. More than anything else what left me wondering about Empire estate building was that it was constructed in just about 400 days – 102-storey structure constructed in little over a year, and it is still standing strong after 85 add years. I look at all the construction work going around me, and wonder if these people should take some inspiration.
Taking a subway train at the Grand Central station was a new experience for me though I had traveled enough in London tubes by then but was yet to experience our own Delhi Metro.
I am sure I did not even scratch the surface of what New York has to offer, but it was a short rendezvous that would remain in my memory for the longest time.