So New York City met IBM for the 2nd time and it turned out to be more nostalgic than anything else. Saw some of the great old places that I’d been to before – Broadway, Grand Central, Statue of Liberty, so bustling with life and energy.. and Times Square which really has a special something to it – with the lights and the glamour and the sexy people. Looks like everyone is there, yet you can get lost in your own thoughts and pretend to be a super model, all sassy and in high heels. Sigh, what a vivid imagination I have, and what an amazing place NYC is!
The highlight was the Broadway play I saw – ‘Anything Goes’, mind blowing, crazy awesome and what talent! Being insanely in love with musicals has always been a thing, but these shows are definitely in a spectacular league altogether! It’s a magical feeling with the stage so close, you feel a real connection! I kept imagining being on the stage, or even behind the curtains. How the boy meets the girl secretly at night, and how the gangster helps them and how the comedy is just right. You’re praying for the girl to come to her senses, you feel like warning them when the mother arrives and tell them to hide behind that other door instead. It’s like you’re right there, like you’re an intruder in someone’s personal story, like you just can’t help but want to know everything about every character!
New York is very similar to Bombay (and I’m serious here) just replace the blonde heads with black, and the USD with INR and you have Mumbai No 2 right there on the east coast. The same tall buildings, the same narrow roads, the same Malabar Hill / Marine Drive-esque places mixed with the Malads and the Khars, the same energy, the same, the same! So its really easy to move around, that know-all attitude just flows and I was completely at home. I really felt a kinship to the city, I could identify with everyone, right from the suits to the crazies to the hotties and everyone in between. It’s really all so familiar and yet so new and exciting! But what a city, I think my love for Bombay overflows into NYC and makes me grin like an idiot everytime!
NYC has come to mean a lot to me, and hence it did demand we spend a whole lotta time together, but I wanted to see someplace new as well this time, and I zeroed in on Washington DC. Multiple reasons – close to where I was staying making a day trip possible, easy to reach, was dying to see the American capital and the only other option was Boston (= boring)
Did a proper touristy “tour” of DC complete with a bus full of tourists ooohing and aahing at everything the guide was saying. DC turned out to be a small complex of all the famous buildings you see in movies… everything is within walking distance from each other which made it easier for the lazy me, for sure! But what a fabulous feeling to actually see the White House, the Lincoln memorial or the Capitol Hill building, not to miss the ‘National Treasure’ Library of Congress and even the infamous J Edgar Hoover building (office of the FBI – gave me the jitters like they were watching me and I may have done something wrong) There is definitely a sense of majesty in these buildings (more like monuments than anything else), and they got us invoked of some awe.
They’re very fond of their wars and proud of their soldiers, these Americans. They have gorgeous memorials for almost every war they’ve been in - Vietnam war, the Korea war and even the Civil war & WWII. And even though I felt it was kind of excessive and boastful, they did a pretty good job commemorating and recognizing the sacrifices that were made. I read somewhere – ‘Freedom is not Free’, and that really struck a chord with me. It makes me wonder how they can say such beautiful / meaningful things but then turn around and just start another war.
Best part of the day though – the visit to Madame Tussauds! Pictures with Obama in his office, or with Shakespeare & Elton John, sitting for a romantic dinner with George Clooney, staring at Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, and meeting Babe Ruth, Oprah and hugging Capt'n Jack Sparrow like there’s no tomorrow!
And the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum! From the original air craft flown by the Wright brothers & their entire story, to Amelia Earhart’s plane, right down to the real Apollo 11 & a walk through model of exactly how astronauts live in space and how they pilot their space-crafts! Sigh, a little boys dream come true - well, mine too.
You know, the lasting impressions I took with me as I left the place were the way things are run there. Not the glitz of NYC or the majesty of DC (which of course will always be there) but the discipline on the roads, or the sincerity of the people I met, or even the cleanliness I saw everywhere. Not that they are perfect, but they definitely have it right – the old Economics theory we learnt - the one about how the common good is more important than the individual makes a whole lot of sense and I wish I could somehow carry it forward here. Coming back here and fighting the traffuck jams of Bangalore is so not something anyone would look forward to.