Sunday, January 20, 2008

Travelogue: Atlantic city here I come...

It was around a 3 hours journey by bus from New York to Atlantic city. There are numerous bus services running right through the night back and forth between Atlantic city and the New York bus terminal. We booked a couple of tickets for the 9pm bus. We had a couple of hours to kill – thought of squeezing a movie but found it wouldn’t be possible. And so we just loitered around the streets near Times Square. There was a guy on the street showing off his skills in spray painting – the kind of stuff that you get in email forwards. In less than ten minutes he finished drawing a beautiful picture of New York at night. There were a lot of people watching him but unfortunately no one was willing to buy the painting for $20. He set it aside near the others he had made and continued on to the next one.

We had dinner in the bus terminal before hopping onto the bus. It wasn’t long before I was fast asleep. When I woke up I saw lights all around outside the bus. We had reached the city of night life. We were heading to a casino called Taj Mahal. There were many others like Caesar’s and so on. We got off at the Taj Mahal and my first disappointment was to discover that I couldn’t claim a $20 worth coupon because I didn’t have my passport or copy of it. The $20 coupon was part of the bus fare itself – you pay some $30 or so out of which $20 is given back to you in the form of a coupon; kind of like forcing you to play something. My colleague got his coupon.

The first few minutes were spent studying the place; it was fascinating – it was the middle of the night but inside it was lights everywhere – bright and colourful as if it were the middle of the day. People of all ages were to be found and most people seemed to play alone (probably to keep their winnings and losses a secret!). The tourist groups were in pairs laughing and having a good time. My colleague explained the different types of games that were around – slot machines were in plenty, then you had the board games like roulette and then the famous card games (like blackjack).

The slot machine was something where you spun a wheel and waited for the result. Wherever the wheel stopped, that combination would yield you something (or nothing) depending on the rules of the game (combination would be formed out of 3 or 5 columns depending on the game). All machines had a electronic spin button – you push a button to start and stop the spin. In each spin you can increase your odds of winning by asking the machine to consider more combinations as winning combinations – but for this you have to pay more for the round. My colleague asked me to play but I was a little hesitant and so he used his coupon on a slot machine. And voila, after spinning a few times he made around $100 in profit! Talk about making a quick buck! You could pull out your money from a slot machine whenever you wanted to; there was no mandatory number of rounds to be played; want to stop then stop. But wanting to stop was difficult!

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