New York city with her Statue of Liberty is synonymous with United States of America to immigrants like me. America to the rest of the world was defined by New York, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles. While Los Angeles is home to Hollywood, New York skyline defined America to foreigners like me. So after living in America for eleven years, we decided to visit New York. On a warm fall morning in 2012, I reached New York and was welcomed by nature’s orange reddish carpet. The beautiful fall colors against the tall buildings, food trucks on the street, well dressed people- New York at first glance felt like America to the Californian girl.
We were in New York for four days, and we had a packed agenda. Our first stop in New York was to visit the famous Brooklyn Bridge. After extensive research and intense planning I believed I could walk to Brooklyn Bridge from my hotel. We were going to take subways, cars and buses to get around New York. It was supposed to be a 1 hour and 15 minutes walk but it took us over 2 hours to get to Brooklyn Bridge. My mom was complaining and I think I might have officially screwed up my husband’s foot with my “walk through the pain” attitude. We reached Brooklyn Bridge at 8pm , and it was worth the effort. It was lit up beautiful and we walked the entire stretch of the bridge. While walking the bridge, I experienced the New York attitude where a biker yelled at me for walking on the bike lane. I set out to see Brooklyn bridge and got some NY attitude for free.
Our next day began with a visit to the world trade center memorial. The World Trade Center memorial stood as a symbol of that dreadful day when the world changed, and yet it showed the strength of a city that survived. I had reached America a month before 9/11 and I remember watching it on TV. Standing there amidst the names of the people who were sacrificed on that day was beyond humbling. A beautiful and solemn tribute to the strength of New York and it’s people.
We went to Grand Station Terminal and stood witness to the iconic scenes from movies. Our next stop was the magnificent Times Square. It felt too familiar walking down Times Square having watched it on TV on so many occasions. The hustle and bustle of times square echoed to the city girl in me. At one place I saw several of my fellow Indians taking pictures with their phones huddling in a circle. I went over and witnessed the shooting of an Indian movie. I did what I was supposed to do at that instant: take pictures of the actors. As if the day wasn’t long enough, we stopped by broadway and caught a showing of wicked. It was my first live theatre musical and it was spectacular.
We began our next day with the ferry ride to ellis island to see America. Statue of Liberty symbolized America to people like me for the longest. My motion sickness was in full gear as we made it to Ellis Island without throwing up. We couldn’t go to the top of the Statue, but we joined millions of tourists in taking pictures and walking around the statue. As our ferry departed, we bid farewell to the very poignant and elegant Ms Liberty. We visited Rockefeller center and Empire State building. The New York skyline was spectacular, and we tried to take pictures among the selfie crowds. We tasted our first New York Pizza, and lounged around in Times Square until midnight.
We ended our New York trip with the relaxing central park. I did not realize how big central park was until I got there. Central Park was beautiful with the iconic skyline in the background, fall leaves on the ground and relaxed people enjoying the weather. We relaxed at Central park, sometimes walking and sometimes enjoying an ice-cream on the bench. We went to iconic Manhattan and Wall Streets. I had my Sex in the city moment at Manhattan as I crossed the street. I may not have my prada’s and jimmy choo’s like Carrie, but I still felt like a New Yorker. We walked around fifth avenue, and did not dare to visit a store. We knew bargain shopping ain’t fifth avenue’s forte! We ended the day with a steak dinner at Peter Luger Steakhouse. While the steak was good, their bacon was excellent.
The ambience of New York fed the city girl in me. I loved the food trucks on the streets, and hustle and bustle of times square. The fall colors fascinated me, the new york pizza did not disappoint and the energy of the city was infectious. Although I had never been to New York before, the city resonated with me and I felt an ease being in New York. For the first time in my life, I was in America- the America I grew up watching on TV!