When I planned my US visit this time it was for a very short two weeks and I would be mostly in Cleveland ,go for a five day trip to the Canyons and Vegas arranged by my daughter and her friends .
It was stark winter and both New York and Cleveland was in a spell of snow and extreme cold .
But I still decided to make a flying trip to the Big Apple as to be so near I could not miss it .
So on a late night Greyhound I travelled to new York and reached there in the morning .
As I came out of the bus station onto 8 th avenue I knew walking along the streets as I planned wasn't going to be that easy in the chilly wind .
the cold got into my bones knawed it and came out leaving me a huddled wreck
I tried to fill up all exposed skin with the clothing's I had like muffler cap hood of my coat and gloves of course and now only my face was exposed partly but that was enough .
My plan was not to stay in New York as I would have to wait to mid afternoon for a check in and the next day check out early instead I thought I would get into a hop on hop off and see the most important sites in Manhattan and leave the rest to the next time
After all this was my first time and something told me I would be back again to this city
certain cities have that dynamism in them and you feel its your kind of place Mumbai was one I always felt so ,KL,Hong Kong strangely Not Singapore ,Paris too .
Manhattan island is lined by skyscrapers and you feel deep down in a gully street ,the roads are all perpendicular to each other and designated as street and Avenues ,it wasn't difficult to trace a path because f this grid design .
I had a 10 minute walk to Big bus place and I was already exhausted trying to beat the chill
and then in front of me as if a genie ordered it there was the office of life line another famous hop on company
I went inside forgetting my loyalty to Big bus ,such cold one is allowed to be unfaithful after all it wasn't to your wife
I found a bargain ticket of Down town middle town with an Empire state building ticket thrown in and took it for 64 $
Empire state building has always been a child hood fascination to me .
I walked across to the waiting double decker went up to its cellophane covered roof and sat in a chair ,the camera picture through this cellophane would be horrible but the cold made it stay
for once I agreed with my children who always ask me to look not with camera but with my eyes .
"I wud go to the big apple again "
Fitz used this label whenever he mentioned New York in his posts and thus big apple became its acronym
For there's that something that makes New York different
Something very palpable
The city is like a being
One can feel its beats
We do have such cities with such magic ,
Mumbai our own has it
Many more as I havent been to so many cities yet .
New York never sleeps
Its a seething mass of concreted forests an example of mans ingenuity in building places of stay .
In the thirties New York was in a mad rush to build higher and higher towering iron and steel staccatos that changed the face of the city .
Those spires would dwarf the streets of Manhattan .
It was nicely represented by the Manhattan cocktail I sloshed in a downtown bar the vermouth blending with the rye whisky on loads of ice .
Sitting on a high stool listening to slang around the men the women the waitresses the bustle I was reminded of all the Hollywood films I had watched .
Now I was part of one !
A character in a live Hollywood set ,
All around me were the very scenes I had seen
And as I sipped on the bitter cocktail I felt New york was best seen in the bar.
It was free
It was unobtrusive
A man is left alone to ruminate to himself sipping his drink lost to his thoughts and no one is bothered as long as he keeps to himself
They are polite but non interfering .
And as I people watched them I felt the ethos of New york was you carry on , life carries on and I liked that ethos a lot .
The only thing I wished wasnt true on this 12 hour run to the big apple was the weather.
That hampered me
It was not cold alone but bitterly so !!
The wind would sneak its way through any gaps and reach my soul licking it with cold fire and the spirit of my looking feeling was all lost in searching for some warmth !
The downtown point covered all the iconic points like the legendary Times square .
This is actually a city junction with neon lighted brilliance happening crowd and a living example of that magical realism of the city
It was like living in the pages of a Salman Rushdie .
The milling crowds were crowding on the pavements
Selfies were taken in hundreds
A bride and groom had come for their photo session
The tall neon tower blinked its preferences
I heard the tower was otherwise empty and earned its keep by being in the costliest space on earth .
The very cradle of capitalism the likeable decadence of consumerism the Times sqaure had it all .
The place was safe despite all this crowd .
The landmark iron horse skyscrapers were dutifully detailed by our guide in the bus the millionaires row
Trump the present American President hails from New York where he raised its fortunes
The Presbyterian st Pauls church loomed near the 9/11 memorial and as I walked into its vast space of memories I felt that the disaster struck on the soul of Americanism the Trade centre itself symbolic of the hatred of fundamental fanaticism the very opposite of the spirit of the city of freedom and goodness.
I went into the church too for a peep and walked on to the famous Brooklyn bridge from where I got a good view of the island .
But it was from the 86 floor of the Empire state building I really got a glimpse of the miracle Manhattan was ,no is , and will be forever .
Getting into the building itself was tedious with long depressing ques and security but was worth the effort .
I skipped the uptown tour and so missed out central park ,several universities ,etc but for a daytime roaming of such a big city I saw parts of Manhattan that justified it to be the big apple .
Maybe I will be back another day to sip my cocktail sitting in a bar high above its concrete towers
The symbol of man and his making