America Through My Eyes- California – North-2

Telugu Original : Dr K.Geeta 

English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar

East Coast of America- Day-2

 New York City Tour (Part-2)

The guide left us near the Rockefeller Center at twelve o’clock for lunch and told us to come back after lunch in an hour and a half.

Rockefeller Center: The surroundings were crowded by people even in that severe winter too.  For the first time in America I saw food being sold on a cart. Limited number of food items were sold there like Pretzels, Hot dogs etc.

I noticed as we passed them that at the third and fourth carts some Indians were there.

The sunlight wasn’t falling anywhere as the surroundings were thwarted by those Skyscrapers. We walked to the Rockefeller Center almost running in the cold air freezing our ears and hands.

Flags of various countries stood in salute at the Open Snow Center, accessible from all four sides. While the children were skiing in the cold, parents and visitors were standing around the railing.  We headed towards the tall Rockefeller building adjacent to the underground restaurant and lined up for the elevator. As the cold was unbearable outside, we wished we could rush into the glass chamber waiting for the elevator.  

Even in the row shops of the underground food centers, people swarmed everywhere. I bought pizza from a shop that caught my eye at first sight, and squatted there, me and Siri. They all roamed back and forth and bought and ate whatever they liked. There were lengthy lines near  wash rooms.  After this, we ran out as we did not have enough time to watch the city  from the Rockefeller Center. We had to take $ 17 ticket to go up to the Rockefeller Center and we needed to stand in line the whole evening there. As the bus approached we were the last ones to catch it, and our guide was already waving at us to come quickly.

Times Square: Our next stop was Times Square.  We got off at the McDonald’s Museum and walked to the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” museum, as our guide already bought us tickets.  In fact there was still a lot to see in Times Square, as the bus tour was  timebound, we didn’t move inside to see all that they had offered.  It’s a museum dedicated to the wonders of the world. There everything was unbelievable and really amazing.  The tallest giraffe statue in the world, the most expensive elephant ambari, the two-headed cow, the magic mirrors, the pictures made with stamps impressed the children a great deal.  The illusionary effect while passing out through it was really awe inspiring to the children, but, I felt, at least it would be nice if they had another exit for the adults. Siri headed two steps ahead and ran back.  I never like such things.  But there was no other way out except that.  So I closed my eyes and walked out while Varu gripped my hand.  Satya ran through that passage while Siri closed her eyes tightly on his shoulders. 

As we had to take the bus to the said location in exactly an hour and a half,  we got out without wasting the time. But there was still time for the arrival of the bus. We went into the McDonald’s as we could not bear the cold outside. There were also plenty of gatherings.   Kids ordered hot chocolate. Our guide became impatient at us as the bus arrived there already. 

The place was crowded with shops and big hoardings looking like a Hollywood setting. Satya and Varu liked it well. The children and Satya insisted, saying, “We must come here again the day before we leave.”  As we had already reserved a day at the end of our trip  to see New York, I said with a smile to them “OK.”

In another five minutes our bus moved from there.

 Empire State Building: We’d planned to watch New York City from the top of the famous Empire State Building before the sunset.

It was terribly cold outside and the daytime temperature tripled.  Tickets for the Empire State visit had already been taken by our Guide, so we dashed inside straight away.   If we want to reach directly, we need to pay $ 27 ticket per person  to the Main Deck on the 86th floor of the elevator.  It costs $ 44 to go to a total of 102 floors. If it’s express, it’s $ 60 dollars. Indeed it’s rather awesome charging just for lifting up in the elevator such a great amount. We had our combo tickets with the accessibility to the “Sky Ride” on the second floor.  It cost $ 49 for adults and $ 34 for children.

 The “Sky Ride” show was finished before going up the line. That’s a virtual show.  Really we had enjoyed the fantasy of visiting New York City flying in the air. As the performance was a fast moving show our eyes reeled. I and Siri at such times close our eyes as usual when we are scared of something like this.  Varu loves something like this. She rides alone on gigantic roller coasters  without fear.  When asked how she was when she came out, she said, “Not a great thrill, if there is a little more speed, it would be a more thrilling experience.” Komal used to ride when he was a child but recently he started saying that he does not feel quite well.

Through the fast operating lift we zoomed all the floors briskly. There’s a round shaped glass corridor. Adjacent to it was a round open corridor with railings on the outside. Visitors to New York  come  to see the breathtaking view of the city from there.

As soon as we stepped outside from the glass doors, we were surrounded by a freezing chill. Despite that, people are crowded everywhere. Making our way there, we went to the railing and saw that the New York City metropolis was awe-inspiring in the evening, with skyscrapers piercing the earth everywhere and streams of water  across  the land hither and thither. The difference between our cities and the cities there was obviously shown here.  Everywhere the sky was clear as much as our eyes could see. No smoke emitting chimneys,no polluted clouds looming over the city. I think the industries are strictly following the pollution rules here.

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As all the surrounding buildings were smaller than the Empire State building that we climbed, the floors are just as toy buildings down there looking funny.  But the roads did not seem to have been built according to a proper plan. Or due to the  overcrowding of buildings of various sizes perhaps made such an impression on me.

It was sunset. As the day wore on, the wings of the day fluttered, playing hide and seek amidst the fluffy clouds the whole day, now getting ready to get back on its destiny. When the sky was dressed in a light orange attire at that moment, the people around there disappeared.  There was no sense of my feet on the building where I was standing.  It’s an infinite journey of transcending away from the physical sense of feeling, leaving an indelible mark on the scene over scene.

In fact it was hard to stay in the cold even for five minutes upstairs, so we ran out and took two photos and ran inside the glass chamber. But who can control the overflowing mind, at least a moment?

As Siri was terribly chilled and frozen we watched everything only through the sunset glasses. We spend there until the lights go on and then get down.

We need to pick up our bus again soon.

But at that time, as many people were coming down, we had to wait for the vacant elevator for a long time. In addition, we have to change the elevator again near the 80th floor. There were operators near the elevators and they sent the crowd in a line without a hitch between those going up and those going down. We came downstairs and walked in the exact opposite direction to where the bus was parked, looking at the glass toys selling on the footpath. We revolved around the entire Empire State Building. It’s terribly cold outside and moreover we got lost and very tired. Our bus had not been found and somehow we arrived at the location. We thought that we missed it. Meanwhile our guide waved us from the crowd. Then he drove us  quickly to the bus, as he had to stop the bus on another road due to the delay.

I began to ponder about those wanderers on the streets. If this short time exposure to cold makes us feel like hell, what’s the situation of those who are wandering around on the footpaths selling these things?

The situation of homeless people everywhere is still miserable. I was overwhelmed with grief. New York City is not as beautiful from the above as it looks on the roads. Ever since this morning, whenever I have seen people in such a miserable state, I could not help not experiencing any thrill seeing New York City, either because of this state of mind, or because of my troubles with our small kid. Something unfamiliar grief surrounded me. In fact, the wealth of the rich in this country is high. Why don’t these millionaires and billionaires  think about the unfortunate people sleeping on the roads in their own country before they feel sorry for third world countries? I thought for a while.

The night halt: That night we will have to end our first day New York bus tour and spend the night in New Jersey.  On the way the bus stopped for lunch.

It was dark by 5 o’clock because of winter.

We departed from New York at about 6 o’clock, and it was 7 o’clock just by crossing on the outskirts of the city.We traveled for another hour and a half. We fell asleep as we were completely exhausted. We were brought to a “Pure Chinese hotel” for dinner. There the buffet system was followed.  $ 15 ticket per head.  There were so many types of dishes, yet, very limited to be consumed.

Siri ate some small fish fry as she liked. Varu dislikes non-veg, so seafood was kept away.  She closed her nose in aversion and preferred only plain noodles.

When the items of  “Soups”  were found, we went there and bought the  “Rice soup” and we put it in the cup and tasted it. That is nothing but our starch liquid. Adding a little salt makes it taste good. We had to laugh at what was being eaten on such an expensive meal ticket.  The other 6 non-Chinese passengers on the  bus with us  sat gravely in a corner without  lunch. We ate some boiled maize corn flakes, embedded lentils, and  smeared with lotus seed powdered rice agglomerated balls, pieces of fruits and cakes to fill our stomachs. No one of us  didn’t dare to go for boiled snails, raw prawns and meat specials.

Another hour later we traveled half an hour and reached our inn on the New Jersey state border. As we chose the deluxe rooms there, we were dropped off at the Hilton Group Hotel and the rest of us were sent to another hotel. 

The guide told us to get ready in the morning and handed over the room keys.  After we took cozy baths in the indoor swimming pool, sitting around the pool view, we chatted all together. Siri began to turn back and forth as the middle door slammed into the adjoining suite. On the way the children slept well and so now they turned on the TV. I was too exhausted to put them to sleep again at night. Siri in particular started jumping on the bed in good spirits just in time for everyone to fall asleep.

We had to check out of our hotel at 6 pm and wait in the lobby.  We were about to go to Philadelphia and Washington DC. that day. I slouched back and forth on the indoor balcony until the baby fell asleep.  I’d to get up at five o’clock in the morning. However, we had to stay awake until twelve. However, over the years, I have become accustomed to this and do not feel tired. We’re glad that the first day of the bus tour was completed successfully.

*****

Photos & Telugu Original

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