By Santanu Sengupta
It seemed a foolish and impulsive decision to all and sundry… including me. Travelling to New York from Sacramento for a day and a few more hours…doesnt make sense… does it?
Sure does not.
But I was determined to go… what with the excellent selling Rajnil had done… New York seemed too tempting a package to let go… trust his marketing skills!
The journey was pretty ordinary… nothing special stood out… barring the occasional smell of a pair of smelly feet… the owner of which seemed oblivious to our plight and snored away in blissful slumber! And as usual, the best looking girl in the flight sat just in the seat ahead… Murphy law works for me… everytime!
Anyways… was waiting at the baggage collection when they arrived… Hojo and Rajnil.
A brief description of both, starting with Hojo.
Have you seen a twenty-eight year old kid with chubby, fair, crimson cheeks and a twinkle in the eyes every time he smiles? Or have you seen a koala bear disguised as a human being? Of course not… you have not seen Hojo! He was a senior of mine in college and works here in Long island.
Coming to Rajnil, there are some guys who just look like very nice people. An honest face, an innocent smile and a general friendly air about them. But there are some among these who, when you know them better, reveal their actual selves… cunning, shrewd, plotting and general pains in the asses. Thats Rajnil for you.!
So we exchanged the usual pleasantries and caught up with old times.
The next stop was Starbucks, on the banks of the river Hudson.
That incidentally is the river which separates Manhattan from Jersey city, where Rajnil lives. From where I stood, I could see the Empire State Building, the two buildings which stood adjacent to the Twin Towers and a huge void which the non-existence of the twin towers has now created… and a long, long line of huge skyscrapers. The sky was blue, there was a gentle breeze blowing…the river was calm… the motor boats and yachts looked picture-perfect… and things were just nice and mellow.
After a small Mocha and Bagel, we went to Rajnils apartment… on the 19th floor… with a balcony with a view of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building , a huge Cathedral and other numerous famous stuctures… their names unknown to ignorant me. The view really was breath-taking.
After a quick change and a refreshing bath, we started on our way again. We decided weed take the subway. A ten-minute journey and a five minute walk led us to Wall Street. A small narrow lane, with huge buildings all around. Understatement…?? well… of course… this narrow shady lane playing the simple role of being the financial nerve center of the entire world. In fact, it houses the headquarters of all major financial giants of the world that I know of! And add to that the small matter of the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall, where an individual named George Washington had taken oath in 1889. I was busy taking pictures all around…. and trying to digest everything that I saw at the same time… being the typical desi… with a supposed smiling face and an air of accomplishment… posing in front of the buildings I had only dreamt of seeing till now…
We causually strolled down to Broadway, needs no introduction… does it??:) It occured to us that watching a musical at Broadway would be a nice… in fact a grand idea!! and what with my claim to have an interest in theatre… it seemed just the thing to do… So there was Hojo busy calling up agents trying to book tickets to Beauty and the Beasts. At this time, we were sitting in a very nice, little park with shady trees all around and lush green grass. The other occupants of the seats included a myriad group of people, a precocious suit-clad bangladeshi (who from the looks of him worked as a bartender or waiter)… a huge group of mongoloids (a bit fairer than i am) who generally laughed and giggled at everything they saw… a group of mexicans who looked totally lost… the group including two typical exquisite mexican belles… who made it tough for our eyes to wander elsewhere. And, of course, there was this tramp… a huge Black brother, scouring through the dustbins for some food… and holdi ng a blaring tape recorder… playing the latest rap number i guess…
While Hojo was occupied in his pusrsuit, I walked down and met the famous Bull, the eternal symbol of the New York Stock Exchange. A few snaps and a cigarette later, I returned to the park… to be greeted by the good news that Hojo had managed to grab the tickets finally.
That done, we decided to pay some very deserved attention to our very hungry stomachs. Most downtown restaurants are closed on weekends… so we had to settle for an Indian restaurant… The food was good… barring the gulab jamuns… which pretty much did stink!
Our next item on the agenda was Ground Zero. After a five-ten minute walk, we reached the huge emptiness… which is Ground Zero. The place is still cordoned off and there are cops all around. Because it was a weekend, there was a huge number of tourists who had come here to pay their tributes and just touch history… a very tragic one at that. Rajnil used to work quite close to the WTC. So he was telling me about the trauma of 9-11… and how it had affected everyone profoundly. Standing in front of the void, he was trying to explain to me how it had looked earlier… how busy, colorful and filled with life… I could visibly see his mood change from the jovial, merry person he normally is to a very sombre one. Thats what this place does to everybody now I guess… And seeing the pavements filled with memoribilia, cards, flowers, postcards, photos, articles of clothing… and the names of people who have been forever wiped off from the Earth. I could see people just standing there with tears welling in their eyes…
The atmosphere was so heavy that we decided we needed to get out of there soon…. the next destination being the South City Sea Port.
Continued on the next page… if you arent bored yet….