Sunday, September 23, 2007

Travelogue: Promise broken!

Since I didn’t have a camera I didn’t really take too long to complete the trip past all the wax figures; I was soon out on the streets having busted $30 within an hour and without any pictures to treasure later in life! I kept up my promise and walked to Central Park – it was a good 25 plus streets away but I didn’t have any choice. I really wanted to take the metro but didn’t want to break my promise. I was fatigued when I reached the entrance to Central Park and I knew there was no way I could complete a stroll inside the Park – it was just too huge an area to cover. The place was crowded and this was another area for public display of affection and love! Since it was a little sunny today some people used the park like a beach to tan themselves. Skating, walking, jogging, bicycling, etc. were all to be seen in this Park. There was also an ice rink somewhere inside but I decided to come back another day. One thing I really admired in New York was the availability of so much of green space in the heart of the city. Even with all the bustling around it was a beautiful atmosphere to work in – or even study in one of the parks. And all the parks were very well maintained. People might say this is a hectic bustling city but if you wanted to spend some quality time then the city did provide you with ample space for it. I wished our house were closer to the city – I would have spent most of my time in these parks!

It was almost 5pm and I was far away from the bus terminus – my legs became very stiff just thinking of walking all the way back. I had to take the metro; I had to break my promise; my body just wouldn’t be able to walk back – the mind is willing but the flesh is weak!

When you enter the metro (subway), you need to swipe an electronic pass in which $2 would be deducted. Each entry into the subway costs $2. I had to go downtown but found all directions leading uptown. For a minute I was worried that probably for downtown I had to get into some other subway entry – but walking a few yards further in the tiny subway station I found a board which read “downtown”. What a relief!

My first metro ride alone was pleasant and enjoyable. It hardly took 5 minutes to return back to Times Square. I spent some time in the huge Toys R US shop before heading back home. It was a three storey shop with some fascinating lego structures as well as a small Ferris wheel. Toys are always fun irrespective of age!

Though I was alone in the bus ride back home I still couldn’t prevent myself from dozing off! But fortunately it was for just a few minutes. What a day – I had traveled alone by walk, by bus and by train. Yipee…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Travelogue: In Madame Tussads

I strolled around in the bus terminal trying to get a feel of how the place was set up. I discovered a shop “Hudson news” which was present in every nook and corner of the terminal and was staffed with Indians (almost every outlet of this store was run by Indians!). I flipped through a few city maps and picked one which had a huge blow up of the New York city roads. Armed with a map I had a lot of confidence to explore the city. First stop was Bryant park which was filled with people, singles, couples and kids. I found a vacant chair in one corner of the park. After spending five minutes studying the map I was in a dilemma.

I had promised not to use the metro and so my radius of coverage would be severely limited today. I could go to Madame Tussads as planned or stroll over a few streets to Central Park – it was a huge park even on the map. All other areas in my sightseeing list were not within walking distance. It was bad being in a dilemma because I ended up doing nothing – I loitered around Times Square with no purpose and finally when I discovered that I had wasted an hour I decided to at least finish off my visit to Madame Tussads.

And I had committed a big blunder in not carrying a camera with me – not exactly my blunder because I was yet to buy a camera and my roomie didn’t have one. But in Madame Tussads the thrill lies in taking snaps with celebrities and I was probably the only person in those four floors who didn’t have a camera! Ah well; a few years down the line perhaps people would be clicking snaps standing next to my wax figure!

The wax figures were awesome; very realistic be it man or lady – so real and so life like each and every one. There were film celebrities, music stars, politicians and scientists. Gandhiji was the only representative from India (‘don’t worry Gandhiji; I’ll soon give you company here’). In between there was a horror area which the weak hearted could bypass. Thinking myself as not belonging to that category I boldly stepped into the dark room. Most of the setup was from the “Texas chainsaw massacre” movie – I vividly remember watching this movie alone at night (if you haven’t then try it!). The horror room had a few rooms from where real people jumped at you screaming with a chainsaw in hand – just like in the movie. And boy it was really frightening when you are alone in a dark room and someone jumps out from nowhere screaming like mad. I was amused to think of what would happen if someone were to panic and punch one of those models (or were they just dummy robots?).

The tour basically starts right from the top floor and you keep working your way down the building. The cost is roughly $30 for one person. And as usual there was the memorabilia shop to signal the end of the trip. I’m sure all these tourist attractions make much more money from the memorabilia merchandise than from the entry tickets – a nice way to boost income and something that we Indians had to learn. The marketing and packaging of things was awesome.