Saturday, July 23, 2005

My portrait & a Broadway show!

Once out of the UNO, we had a few choices to make.Either go to Central Park and walk around,or go on top of the Empire State Building or hit TimesSquare and a Broadway show.We figured that since we had been doing so much of walking, we will not be able to do full justice to Central Park - it involved a lot of walking inside the Park.So that option was eliminated.That decision reduced the choice of options to Empire State Building or TimesSquare.We picked TimesSquare on this Saturday night,as the ES Building would involve a long wait.And we were too tired to wait anymore.Much rather see TimesSquare on night,that too on a weekend!

We walked back right through midtown,with my neck straining to see the top ends of all the skyscrapers.Was yet to digest the fact that man had managed to erect such concrete towers concentrated in blocks,all huddled together.I did make sincere attempts to capture the entire landscape of a few of the massive structures on film, but they were so huge that they just didn't fit into the camera focus area!I subsequently learnt that the famous picture of the New York skyline was actually a digital mirage, in that, numerous pictures of different parts of the NY skyline were jutted and attached together to make that one single snap!

Anyway,as we walked past 33rd Street for the umpteenth time,I saw the famous caricature artists.They were busy at work, sketching the outlines of numerous tourists like me,absolutely involved in their work,ensuring that even the eyeline and the bend of the nose of these tourists were truly reflected in their works of art. Amazing commitment to a very low profile job,but high attraction value,all the same. Scouted the block for a few of these caricature artists to gauge who would be the best guy around there to make a portrait of myself, and finally stopped at one of those East Asian guys who hardly spoke English.His eyes were narrower than the types I had seen on Jackie Chan movies and his nose rather bent.He had just completely sketching the portrait of a stout blonde and it did appear a lot like her and was looking good. Just as I firmed up my request with him to make my portrait,the NYPD constable made an appearance shooing this artist of the main street into the back alleys.Reminded me so much of the cops back home in India pushing their weight around on the street vendors!

Anyway,we trudged back to the back alley and this quiet Asian made me sit on one of the shortest chairs I have ever sat in my life.I was to sport a grin and keep a happy face nonstop for close to an hour!Ouch!That was painful,but well,I don't get to NY everyday and surely nobody ever makes my portrait everyday!So did manage to grin widely as this artist took out his paper easel,colours,eraser and a host of paraphernalia to decorate an otherwise straight-looking me!He took close to an hour to completely portrait.In this time,Vali sat on a bench behind us and Pawan ran up to the Broadway ticket counter to get hold of a discount ticket.

The artist gave my portrait lot of fine touches,brushes,sketched the tall buildings behind me as the background to my portrait,drew orange strings that reflected the stripes on my shirt....ooo...incredible attention to detail.Well,as with most things in life, this effort to sit static for an hour in the heart of NY,did come at a price.$ 30, along with a photo frame.Well,I wasn't complaining,as I had just made a piece of memorablia for myself,for life!!!Thanked the artist profusely and realised that I was his last customer for the day,now,now now,I can't be that tough to sketch!!!

Vali,Pawan and I then walked the most famous Square in the US(Times Square) and had about 10 minutes to beat the start of the Broadway show, Fiddler on the Roof.We just about made it and I was soon to experience the thrill of the world's oldest theater!

It was a revelation.It was an experience.It was an insight into management.It was a learning curve.It was an evening of being in awe.It was something I would remember for the rest of my life.The show, the artists,the lights,the script,the story,the plot,the smoothness in movements,the synchronisation of music and the artists,the overall co-ordination,the magnificently appreciative audience,(with spellbound members like me!),the lead actor,the support cast,the props and the sets...it was fascinating and captivating to say the least.The story was about an old,poor villager who had 3 daughters and believed in the system of arranged marriages.And all his 3 daughters eventually end up finding their own guy,challenging the traditions and belief systems of this farmer and the village at large.But this farmer(the lead actor) gradually gets convinced that its happiness that matters and it doesn't really matter how his daughters attain them.And finally gives in.Beautiful story line,possibly contemporary in its own way,but incredibly realistic as well.The lead actor is apparently one of the legends of Broadway and he did receive a thunderous applause and a standing ovation!

My hands were clapping and my feet were up automatically when the play ended.Wow!

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