The second Saturday of December, the gang i.e. Daniel, Kaitlin, Neal, Lorenzo, Yvonne and I were itching to do something different. We were, to be frank, quite bored of doing the usual social circles, parties and night outs for drinks. We were, in simple terms, hitting an enjoyment plateau and we had to do something, fast. In my case especially, too fast as I knew all too well what would happen if Yvonne’s enjoyment plateau turned a downward spiral. Trust me; no one wants to be around her when she’s in that mood. After slouching on the couch and changing the channels on the idiot box for what felt like eternity, none of us had any idea. Kaitlin commented that it was so pathetic that we lived in the biggest and most happening city in the world and yet none of us had any idea. And viola! In her sentence she gave the best idea. We were going to be tourists in New York.
Everyone agreed to the ridiculous idea and we even set the ground rules, which were rather simple; we would behave exactly as tourist, like go sightseeing, asking for directions and even take the public transit. We packed the bare necessities like a camera, a travel pouch and as a cherry on the top, a New York City guidebook and we headed out. Our first stop was going to be Grand Central.
When we got off the taxi, we thought that it would be the good old, same Grand Central; however when we stepped in we felt as if we had been hit by a bout of hot air. The Grand Central was the same, but this time, our point of view was different. We saw people move in a flurry while we, the tourists just observed them; and not only them, we were able to observe the small details of the place. We marveled at what all we had missed during the years and we simply bustled through the place without drinking in its beauty. The girls wanted to eat at the famous Oyster Bar but we were short of time and hence we promised them that we’d bring them some other day.
We stepped out and were surprised for the second time of the day. Right in front of us was a vintage bus of the MTA and without any thought we got into it and very shamelessly asked the driver as to where it would be going. When he told us that it would be going to Circle Line, our next destination was therein set. Luckily, Neal was carrying enough change for paying for our tickets. As we settled down for our journey, we marveled at the bus and how comfortable it was. We later learned that it was part of the MTA’s Nostalgia Special for the holiday season. There were even vintage subway cars.
We got off the bus and booked tickets for our next destination – the Liberty Island. On the cruise, when we passed the Elis Island, Yvonne told me of a family story connected with the place. Not many non-New Yorkers know the connection of Elis Island with immigration during the early 1900’s. The Statue of Liberty was not that fascinating to me, maybe because I am a lawyer!?
The major attraction of New York was still pending and we headed straight for it as we made landfall. But this time we took mixed transport as we wanted to see the vintage subway cars. We did manage to get into one and noticed that just like the bus, the wicker seats of these cars were comfortable as well; albeit not so much for the ladies if they were torn with the wicker popping out. It really felt as if I was in the previous century, all I needed was a double breasted coat and a pipe to go with. Alas! I don’t smoke.
The Empire State Building. Once the tallest building in the world the building has once again become the jewel in New York’s crown as the tallest building in the city (after the fall of World Trade Center towers). The view it presents of the city is unmatchable and sheer feeling of being on top of the city is something in itself. We all stood there, just bathing in its glory for some time and then began to head back.
We got down and went on to Union Square for some snacks and rest and I really enjoyed just sitting there and watching people, the incidents and everything. This was the calm New York. While the girls went on a souvenir shopping, we guys just sat there talking about life in the city and how, even in this fast life, we haven’t lost each other. Time passed by and the ladies still had a hidden agenda for the evening. When they told us, Neal and Lorenzo decided to skip that part of the tour and meet us directly at the apartment.
It seemed like Yvonne had told Kaitlin about our last Christmas’s hansom cab ride at the Central Park and now she wanted one too with Daniel. So we just tagged along to Central Park for the ride. Odd enough, the ride didn’t feel the same; in fact I felt that there was a strong odor of horse crap in most of the places. Maybe the circumstances in which I met Yvonne that Christmas was what had made the ride special.
The tour was a lot fruitful in the end, all of us agreed on that. It gave us a slightly different perspective of the city and its people as we found that in most cases, the people were kind to help us, the tourists. There is a lot we can learn by becoming tourists in our own city. We reached home and simply crashed on anything soft that we found. It was a tiring day and hence, we decided to skip cooking and order the old American way; pizza and bear.