Friday, July 22, 2005

First evening in New York- Manhattan & Brooklyn

I wasn't really ready for it.It was almost as if it was still too good to be true.The reason I am saying that is,Vali chalked out my program for the next 3 days in NY city.It was unbelievable.The different landmarks in the city were all clogged together in different belts.So if I were to leave home from Jersey city and head in a particular direction,I could cover almost all the major landmarks in that part of New York.Organised chaos,as it were!

Left home in the evening at around 5.30 p.m.First stop was at River Street in New Jersey.Lovely spot,with a great walkway and overlooking the entire NY skyline and the Hudson river.This was an overview of what I was going to see at much closer range later.Really nice start to the trip from this spot,actually.Almost etched a mental picture in me,before getting to the nitty-gritty of the trip!

We had decided to go towards the very name that defines the skylines of New York.The very name where former GE supremo Jack Welch bought a house with every amenity imaginable after his retirement.The vicinity that houses the biggest names in the financial world.The very place,where some absurd,insane anti-social elements demolished two pulsating skyscrapers in 2001 using a bunch of planes.The area that is the pulse of New York city on the global map - Manhattan!

Got onto the Path train again at Hoboken and still was staring stunned outside the train windows at the dark tunnels and feeling the speed of the ripping train.We got off at World Trade Center station.Oh!The venue brought back the memories and televised pictures of people scurrying for their lives near this station back in 2001.When I saw the actual venue of the erstwhile World Trade Center,I swallowed hard.Possibly my heart skipped a beat even.Even though I am not an American,I could feel the solemness in that place.It was renamed as Ground Zero,with a challenge thrown by the American authorities, that they would erect an even bigger building at the same place.But the rings around the devastated venue,the dug up sand,the hurled and shattered rocks and cement were all ringing in my ears and running in my mental eye.Was trying to imagine how people would have jumped off the 83rd floor of that WTC tower back in 2001.There could not have been a choice of living for them then.It was death all the way.Took a snap at the WTC station,and this was possibly the only snap where I felt genuinely sad in my trip.

Went to J & R electronics store and bought a 512 MB memory stick for my new Sony camera.I had just 32 MB,which would've just gotten over in less then half an hour!

But just like in life,we moved on,into the heart of Manhattan.For the first time in my life,I watched in awe,the huge,famous skyscrapers of New York,with my own eyes.Saw some great landmarks there - Trinity Church(gave me the feel of a haunted house!),St.Paul's Cathedral(wanted to go in,but it was closed).And then,the big moment arrived.I saw a small little board a few blocks ahead,between those tall buildings.The board read,Wall Street.

So this is it!This is where it happens all the time.This is where the famous investment bankers make or break,or at least contribute in making or breaking,so many lives.This is where the pulse of millions of human beings is tested.Stood under the board of Wall Street and took possibly one of the most memorable snaps of the trip.I was vibrating,and was thinking of the condition of the people who work on that street!We walked ahead into Manhattan and I saw one of the most symbolic structures that I had ever set my eyes on.It was a mad,raging,wild bull!What a brilliant piece of imagination and metaphor!To have the statue of a bull right near Wall Street spoke volumes of the reach of this Street and the sentiments emanating from it.It could have been a stag,or a bear or whatever else.But no,NY runs on energy and the BULL typified it for me!

Beside the bull, stood the American Museum of Financial History.Had it been open and had I entered it,I would've simply gotten lost there!This is one of the many museums in NY,and just,yet another attraction!This museum,as the name suggests,has tracked the evolution of the financial pulse of NY in Manhattan!

Backtracked into Wall Street and saw the massive(in every sense of the term!)New York Stock Exchange!How many lives were made or broken here.Vali told me that he had been on a full tour of the NYSE and had even reached the trading floor, but not traded there!Diagonally opposite the NYSE stood the memorial of George Washington.That is what struck me the most.The choice,placement and symbolisation of key landmarks in New York city!

We then just walked down the aisles of Wall Street,stopped by at a Starbucks Coffee, and trudged along to the Brooklyn bridge.Along the way saw the offices of one of the numerous investment banking houses, most notably, Vali's office - Goldman Sachs!Felt great that our man was working in one of the most renowned firms in the world!

Twilight had set in by now and we walked out of Wall Street and reached the Brooklyn Bridge.It was a sight to behold.The sun setting, the ripples on the river Hudson,the music near the Bridge,the colour and splendour of the place sure did make me feel that I was attending a festival!I just stood by the edge of the grills overlooking the Hudson river and the Brooklyn Bridge and watched the landscape in awe.It was a rather romantic setting,if I may add!Brooklyn Bridge,another of those names I had heard and seen on TV.Wow!

Didn't have the heart to get back,as the lights came on the bridge,once the sun set and it was looking absolutely beautiful.But we had to get back.I saw a bunch of boats going on the water and managed to con and pull Vali into taking me back to Hoboken by ferry!It was to turn out to be one of the good decisions of my trip,as I would get to see the entire NY skyline,a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty on one side and the Brooklyn Bridge on the other,and get hit by a stiff breeze on the ferry ride from Brooklyn to Jersey!It was really a great start to the trip!And was raring to go for more!

Came back home, had dinner,uploaded the snaps into the computer and went to sleep at around 2 a.m.