Thursday, June 26, 2008

New York, New York

A week have we spent in the United States and it has already been packed with hectic activity. We have visited two great metropolitan cities of the Western hemisphere -- Boston and New York – and been much impressed. Though this isn't anything compared to the amount of work, say, a worker ant gets done in a day, for average Indian men like us, it's a lot. We didn’t get any cheap places to stay in in the Big Apple, so we did the only logical thing:- panicked. Then someone with a level head called up cheap places in New Jersey and we stayed in this slightly nominal place in the outskirts of that city. It was being managed by this dragon-like Indian woman who looked down on us because we were from her home country. She kept giving us this look, like a bad smell, a perfidious malodour, was emanating from the floor near her somewhere.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. We haven't even left Chelmsford, this charming, rich little village, yet. We took possibly the most economical, if not the most inconvenient, way of getting to New York. First, getting to the train station in Lowell. Then, a commuter train to Boston(North Station, please. They're too pompous to have everything in one place. They have to have two-to-three stations.). Then, via Boston subway(the fellow operated like an orangutan performing brain surgery. Not well, to make myself clearer.) to Boston South station. Then, the Chinese came along.

Till a few years ago, Greyhound had been the primary and unchallenged bus service operator across America. You would see Greyhound buses crisscrossing the country (insofar as large buses can or have the need to crisscross across a sparsely populated country), virtually unopposed. They had the right to set what prices they would, offer what services they deigned to and smash to bits the skulls of what deer they came across as they sped ruthlessly across the great American landscape.

That all changed. The Chinese came along and said they would be happy to lug people between major cities for just fifteen dollars. Compare this to the fifty-five which Greyhound used to charge passengers for the same distance(Boston-New York). After some quick calculation, most people decided 'Screw luxury, I'm taking the cheap bus.' A wise choice. After all, the buses were good, there were no frills attached but that didn't matter since it wasn't a mammoth journey anyway and the guy stopped in between for ten minutes, and the entire transportation service was efficient. Though the service was named funny, going by the moniker Fung Wah, and the female conductors almost always screamed at you("No no NO! No getting off the bus. We gotta leave now. You sit down, please!" As though I was suddenly going to fill up with helium and sit up, stuck to the ceiling.), there was no complaining about the to-the-point nature of their operation. If you drive fast and fancy cars, it takes you three and a half hours to get to New York from Boston, apparently. But the price of fuel being what it is, fifteen dollars seems a very good bargain, despite the bus taking four-and-a-half hours for the journey.

That's that. We got to New York late at night, since we could leave Chelmsford only after office on Friday night last. Despite exciting events along the way(this woman kept sitting up excitedly and her top kept falling off. She didn't seem too perturbed and neither were we. In other news, an Indian girl was sitting in the last seat with two guys, wearing only a shirt. The girl, not the guys. She was ugly, though.), we slept through most of the journey. As we pulled into the rain-sloshed streets of New York close to midnight, visions of jazz and DeNiro-and-Cybill Shepherd-with-Bernard-Herrmann-playing-sax-in-the-background and Woody Allen filled my head, with the soft lights from the buildings streaming into the bus kaleidoscopically through the raindrops on the windows and making the drops shimmer like fairies' wings.

New York is where you should live if you’re here(unless you’re living in Chelmsford, which is quite the opposite). Shit like California should be banned (or, at the very least, scratched off the map). This magnificent city – the streets, the people, the atmosphere - bewitches you instantly. They call it beauty capital of the world and it truly is. Nowhere have I seen such a huge congregation of stunningly beautiful women as I have in New York. Of course, there is the possibility that they may be visitors but I will leave that cynical speculation to atheists and people with piles.

We followed the first-time-tourists routine strictly. We got on the hop on-hop off New York City tour buses at Port Authority Bus Terminal(PABT) and this British ex-soldier named Keith told us a lot of things about New York. He said he'd been to India twenty-one times and to Bangalore about five times. We wished him well but didn't pay him any money. We're like that:- all heart, no money. He did tell us fascinating stories about New York, though. Showed us Katz's Deli, where the salad scene from "When Harry met Sally" was shot. Also showed us Fiddlesticks, the pub/inn where Jimi Hendrix and his band would mess around in his formative years before he hit big time and time hit back. Bob Dylan was also there for a while, apparently.

The Statue of Liberty. It's nice. A bit old, but still nice. We should ship it to India. How come no one gave us a gift for any anniversary of our Independence? Maybe Italy will on our centenary. Anyway, I bought a bookmark for someone on Liberty Island. You know who you are. We also went up to the top of the Empire State building just before sunset and it offered us a magnificent view. Yes, the night view is even more spectacular but we didn't have the time. Because at night, we were at...

Times Square – the centre of the world. This amazing junction of roads is possibly the greatest place on earth to while away your time. Yes, I know, "you're just saying that because this is your first time abroad and what about MG Road and Brigade road, huh? Bloody, come to Malleshwaram and we'll show you hangout places. Times ante, Square ante. Hogo lo, nin a***n!" But Times Square truly is amazing. There are simply too many places to see/visit/checkout. Most importantly, there's a Hard Rock Cafe and it has very nice seating and good music was heard as I went in for an inspection with a friend. We couldn't find any seating, though, so we walked out, disappointed. But we're going back there again; no worries, children. They light up the place like no place else and you feel so happy for human progress, one of the few times you feel so. Yes, a bunch of bright lights can delight me. I'm like a low-end child or a high-end ape.

Here's a low-res video of Times Square made by one of my colleagues. It makes you wish you had been there, but in better quality.

I occur occasionally in this video, making as video of my own. The other smiling sheepishly at the camera are my colleagues. You will notice:- not one female. We are very angry about that.

Madame Tussaud’s was where we were at the next day(Sunday). Many among us posed ridiculously with wax models of famous people. I can be seen in various bad pictures with Woody Allen, Julia Roberts, Vince and Jules from 'Pulp fiction,' Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin. A large man with a sheepish smile can also be seen in some pictures with Angelina Jolie, Elle Macpherson, Beyonce Knowles, Salma Hayek, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Abraham Lincoln. This is our colleague.

We ate at reasonably small Italian places. It's been easy for some of us vegetarians to survive in the US, if we're not too particular about taste. But we can cook, so that's ok.

Chinatown in New York sucks. Worse than the spaces below the KR Market(Sirsi circle) flyover. And there's nothing that's so great or awesome that it merits a journey to this little world-unto-itself. Skip it, we should have been told. Amusing incident from Chinatown for next post, since this has already become too long. And so, I will end abruptly.


a million different people said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
a million different people said...

You're just saying that because this is your first time abroad and what about MG Road and Brigade road, huh? Bloody, come to Malleshwaram and we'll show you hangout places. Times ante, Square ante. Hogo lo!


Looks like you're having fun, no? Yes.

El said...

life hit back haha, awesome ya, you're in NY!!

*lucky* and make the most of it and blog away sonny..

Anonymous said...

Yay to NY !! Times Square rocks match to our Malleshwaram maga! Jennifer Aniston is so artificial, I felt....doesnt look like her and just for the love for her I posed! Salma is ok-ok and Brad Pitt is 'SAD'!! Dint you pose with Madonna and Shakira? My husband posed 'shamelessly' with all of them! Huchha avnu!

tangled said...

You have an alternate career in travel-writing, boy.

Arjun Sharma said...

[a million different people] I am. It's a nice country.

[el] He he, "sonny"? What're you, 52?

Yeah, New York was awesome. I'm near Boston now, I'll visit NY once again.

[snippetsnscribbles] Houdu, there's no CT in Times Square. Iddiddre, ottge evict maadbidtiddru avrna, health hazard posed by brown people anta.

Jennifer Aniston and Salma Hayek look so fake. But yeah, stood next to her only because of the universal love everyone has for her. Why's there no Courteney Cox here? She's the best Friend.

Shakira iddlu, but I was off cavorting with other girls. The fat man posed next to her too.

Ushyooo, husband-ge "avnu" antella antiya?? Shantam papam! "Avru" anbeku. 'Bidtu' annu, 'bidtu' annu. He he, anyway, shame yaakirbeku avr jote pose maadakke? Camera and raging libido iddre saaku.

[tangled] Thank you thank you thank you.

NyTyne said...

majaa madthidiya loo:)
ille we are all getting bugged after shifting to new cubicles :(

Anonymous said...

Saayi. California chennagide. KD iro place chennagilla (it's inside CA, but in suburbia. Ugh.)

You should see SF.

Arjun Sharma said...

[nytyne] Yeah, maja ide. You're in the Estate building?

[Arvind] Yeah, suburbia is so '80s. It's all either rural or urban nowadays. Why doesn't KD ever keep up?

Anonymous said...

where is the blog for the "Amusing incident from Chinatown " ? You have mentioned that you would write about it :) - Asha

Anonymous said...

moments 1:42 and 2:16 in the video were nice :p

I agree with Arvind - see SF
(nothing against NYC though, just don't dismiss SF (as part of your dismissal of CA))

Arjun Sharma said...

[Anonymous Asha] Amusing incident is just that this guy took us to his shop saying he had the iPhone, cracked and without the AT&T contract required. We went in all eager, only to find it slightly heavier than the usual iPhone and coarser to the touch as well. We flipped it over to find it was the hiPhone, and the guy said he didn't have Apple's iPhone but this one was as good. We bid him goodbye and exited, stage left.

Yeah, it isn't really that amusing.

[freak] I'll visit SF, then. Maybe I have been too hasty in my judgement of the city.

I hear Sandeep is going at you now with his essays.