>New York – I



The year is drawing to a close and the holidays are upon us. Holiday season is truly the funnest time in the US of A, with all the food, gifts and discount products, not to mention the maxed out credit cards and depleted bank accounts. The festivities start with Thanks Giving Weekend (TGW). It is an incredible four-day-weekend starting at every fourth Thursday of November each year and extends till Sunday. The whole country turns into a big carnival for the four days with all the lights and sounds sponsored by corporate America which set the tone for the spending spree that continues till the week after New Year and the souvenirs are measured in terms of retail sales percentage for the businesses and the number of anti-depressants taken to overcome the sickening feeling of being poor for the consumers. But if you are good at managing your wallet, TGW could be the most profitable time of the year, along with being the happiest. A major portion of fun that could be had on a TGW is directly proportional to the money you have and hence, needless to say, when you are in college or don’t have a rich parent or a good job or too much confidence in the future, a TGW might as well be a series of Mondays. Imagine a soul who is pressed with all those predicaments and on top of that, must finish the final documentation of his thesis paper which is only marginally exciting than a suicide. As you might have already guessed, that soul was me on TGW 2007.

Thankfully, things have turned around and now I have some of the safety nets mentioned earilier and as TGW approached in 2008, I was ready to get goin. So I gathered up my friends and began deliberating the possible venues where we could spend this year’s TGW.

This is not an easy decision, for we have waited too long to be rash. This cannot be something simple. It must be something special, something never seen, something never tasted or smelled before, but only dreamed in the quite comfort of being not practical, even dillusional. It must be grand in ways only the word ‘grandeur’ can be. It must be historical; In other words it must be un-simple.

After I had finished the high pitched proclaimation of the above brave-heart style speech, some one in the room said, How about New York City?

YES!!, How about NEW YORK CITY!!!

Disclaimer: All names, places, accounts and events mentioned in the narration can be partially or entirely false. Reading this narrative can cause severe diarrehea of the brain and reverse bowel movements. Other Side effects include loss of time, increased knowledge, read rage and erectile dysfunction.


November 27: The Arrivals

Our travel gang, this time, consisted of four people. Me, a college friend who lives in the same city as I- codename Muan, another college friend from Las Vegas- codename Sen and finally a resident of New Jersey and a college senior of mine, codename N10. We saved some money by deciding to stay in Nat’s place and not take a hotel room. Given New York City’s (NYC) excellent mass transit train system, we calculated we could save up some more by not renting a car. Money is one of the most important factors when visiting NYC, any tour for that matter, and once we calculated and deemed NYC as financially feasible, the next step is to decide the itinerary. As I had decided to enjoy this TGW to the fullest, I proposed a traditional Thanks Giving Dinner on TG Day in an NYC restaurant, which was accepted by our tour planning committee. I also proposed a visit to one of the Broadway Theaters for stage drama, a long time wish of mine, and this was accepted as well. The third activity I proposed, to climb up Statue of Liberty and do a Micheal Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ style dance, was instantly rejected, but two out of three is more than what I am used to. We made necessary reservations, bought the required tickets and purchased extra clothing to suit up to NYC’s style, charm and cold weather. The air-fare to the Big Apple, unexpectedly, cost me more than what I expected. While purchasing the tickets online, the air-fare kept moving north of 250 bucks with every passing minute and at one point increasing by almost a hundred dollars between me clicking ‘purchase’ and the final ‘confirm’ button. I was determined to embark on this trip and no over priced ticket was going to stop me.

As the travel day inched closer, I was getting more and more excited. I packed up well before 48 hours and checked and double checked it. I called up every one of my friends who were not doing anything for TGW and proudly gloated over the fact that I will spending my TGW in a city that is referred as ‘The capitol city of the World’. Like I always do, I begged everyone I know who had a car to give me a ride to the airport, and one of my office colleagues, finally, agreed.

The flight was scheduled mid morning, so I took the day off from work and headed out to the airport early and the plane took off on time. While waiting at the gate, during the scheduled stop over at Cincinnati airport, I learned of the terrorist attack in Mumbai which was in progress. The images of men totting armed weapons and hysterical public running amok were flashed repeatedly in the airport TV and the actual information that was provided was patchy. Even though I was thousands of miles from the attack, I felt as if it was happening right outside the airport. Praying for the safety of those involved in those attacks and hoping that the tragedy would end soon, I boarded the connecting flight and after about 40 minutes we were flying over Manhattan, New York. There was relatively less fog and we could clearly see the bright array lights from the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and other sky scrapers that give the Manhattan skyline its splendor and soon the ground came closer and the plane touched down smoothly. Nat, who lives very close to Newark International Airport, picked us up and after dropping our luggage at his home we headed out for dinner. The night was colder than I expected and after parking the car in an area which Nat calls ‘not the safest neighborhood’ we walked down a sparsely crowded street which looked like an Indian version of ‘China town’. Stores selling all kinds of Indian food, spices, clothes and even Indian brand tobacco were tightly packed next each other and since it was close to midnight most of the establishments were closed. We kept walking until we finally found a small eatery and had limited but tasty dinner. We took the food home and finished it up over the News reports about the Mumbai Terrorist situation which was still going on. They had the same incomplete news repeated over and over again in all the news outlets and after we couldn’t take it any more we went to bed. I was pretty tired and before I knew it, I was dreaming about the next day.

Coming Up : Our first day in the Big Apple. I’ll tell you all about the Macy’s day parade and Statue of Liberty and NYC weather. Please be sure to check back soon.