A Love Story with New York City – 1

The grey, cracked & decrepit sidewalks, the swarm of people scurrying past, their minds as crammed as the streets. The million food trucks & hot dog stands suffusing the air with wafts of warm food that  admittedly I’m not a fan of, being a vegetarian but saw myself yearning for the same warmth in the crisp New York winter. The roads choked with teeming traffic, the sunshine-bright-chrome-yellow taxis not just driving but blazing by, they probably imagine they’re part of a race car event. The subway stations: the most efficient of labyrinths so much so, we’ve ended up in the wrong destinations at times more than once. Having said that, they make for the best escape from the winter winds & will let you revel in the best musical entertainment in those few minutes of wait time. The steam grates aka plumes of steam arising from manholes. Throw in some rain, a man in a hat & trench coat and voila!, you’re on the sets of a 1950’s suspense thriller. Later I learnt that the steam is actually the by product of electricity generation. The Pizzas, oh the Pizzas!, slices as big as the  paper plates they come in but sinful, cheesy, greasy & divine.
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The glorious Empire State Building (West 33rd & 34th street). Aside from standing proud amid all the hustle bustle, also the reason for an everyday ritual at our home in Jersey City: spotting the colors it drapes on itself, red, pink, purple, the Indian tricolors on August 15th. If it happened to be a lucky day, then fireworks lit up the skies against the backdrop of the glittery New York skyline. We didn’t just admire it from afar, we rid the elevators to the 86th floor one afternoon & treated ourselves to sweeping views of Midtown Manhattan, the green of Central Park, the blue of the Hudson River, ant-people & toy-cars. Along with a burgeon of skyscrapers that compete to see “Who’s the tallest?” & conjoined with a sparse breathing space, there are some that stand out with hardly any effort aka, the ornamented spire of The Chrysler Building.
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If you’re visiting/live close to NYC, then you go to Central Park. You go in the 100 degree Fahrenheit summers to get some respite in the calming lush of greens. You go to ride the bicycle along it’s vast expanses and realize it’s so much bigger than your imagination can fathom, you realize by the end of it you’ve arrived at another corner of the city. You walk, jog, get some exercise and then go to listen to musicians whilst gulping ice cream after ice cream. Then, after 3 months of hot & humid, fall arrives and you had no clue the beauty of this place could triple in a trice. Seas of ochre & sienna brushed dried leaves cover the ground and the slightest breeze can beguile you into being on the sets of a Karan Johar movie.
(On a side note, if you to appreciate jaw dropping views of Central Park, watch Gossip Girl!XOXO)
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Image Source: Google
Summers in New York City are synonymous with outdoor movies at Bryant Park on the 40th Street. A weekday evening, with a couple of friends we sat back, relaxed & watched Audrey Hepburn in the Roman Holiday. Although, I have to confess, we arrived late because we had to have the Margarita Pizza from Pronto’s (obviously!) and were forced to sit way back. We spent the next 2 hours craning our necks trying to comprehend bits of the movie but we still had our fun and made a plan to visit again. Never happened. 3 years later, I watched the movie on my laptop & fell in love with Audrey.

The Grand Central Station on 42nd Street  as the name perfectly defines has never been a train terminal for us but rather a place to delve in grandeur & history. We would go to repeatedly admire the sprawling blue astronomical ceiling with stars & constellations,to whisper in the Whispering Arch, where whispers from afar can be heard crystal clear.( To learn more about the the secrets of the Grand central, go HERE )
One of these casual visits, we also witnessed a romantic proposal, the man organizing a mini flash mob to woo his lady into marrying him…needless to say, she said YES!
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Clearly, I can’t stop! The little things, the big things, there’s so much more. I can go on & on & I will…Stay tuned for Part- 2.

O Canada at Ottawa

The summer of 2015, saturated with a searing yet welcome heat, led us to explore the capital of Canada, among other places. Ottawa, which is about a 4 hour drive from Toronto, Ontario, was more than just a weekend getaway. Being month old Canadian residents, we were glad to be able to imbibe local history and what better place to do that than at the capital. We had ensured we had more than enough time to check off popular spots, stroll around the off beaten paths & scour the food scene at the Byward market. Continue reading “O Canada at Ottawa”

Black Creek Pioneer Village

History like many other subjects, fascinates, piques curiosity and thereby encourages learning. In my opinion, also the easiest means to achieve time travel. It’s almost silly to consider it redundant in the present times considering it renders a clear perspective into the challenging times of the days gone by, invoking a deep sense of gratitude & humility. I personally,  jump at any chance that demands turning back the tapes of time and reliving the glories of a labyrinthine past.”Living vicariously”, they say. I was constantly enwrapped in an unfathomable awe whether it was when I stepped into the colossal halls of the Mysore Palace (in South India) or as we strolled across rows and rows of crystal ware from Belgium in the Udaipur Palace in Rajasthan, leaching out questions like how they lived or how they cooked or how they dressed. Even the simplest of things like spotting an old brass utensil or an intricately painted Minakari ceiling can be riveting. Well preserved chunks of the past coupled with a figment of one’s imagination is capable of doing wonders.(Now that I think about it, that’s probably the only reason I watch Downton Abbey. The beaded “tea” length dresses, cloche hats & headbands were enough reason for me to tune in every week. ) Continue reading “Black Creek Pioneer Village”

CASA LOMA

Sir Henry Pellatt, a business visionary & philanthropist from Ontario, Canada, began the construction of a dream home, CASA LOMA (Spanish for Hill House),  in midtown Toronto in 1911. Years later, it would become a famous landmark with a ticket counter guarding the entrance and a grey stone monument that countless tourists would check off from a “must see” list.
Reeling back into history, the camelot built for 3.5 million dollars, took 3 years of labor and was ornamented with artwork from around the world. Tall ceilings, oak floorings,mahogany & walnut walls, glorious chandeliers, rooms painted with wedgewood blue, a wine cellar in the basement and a pre requisite for any castle: secret passages….they’re all there and more.  Continue reading “CASA LOMA”

BADAMI & AIHOLE…a stint with history & heritage

The cave temples of Badami, in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India, boast of the architecture of the Chalukya Dynasty in the 6th century.Carved out of hill cliffs hued with the rouge of sandstone they are home to numerous, intricate carvings of the many avatars of Lord Vishnu & Lord Shiva. If you pick a day when the crowds are scant (weekdays or maybe when the kids are slogging it out with exams in February & March!), the tranquility of River Agastya, the magnanimity of the cave temples, and the pleasant breeze that cruises through at the top of the hillock take you back to an era gone by, an era of grandeur, ancient culture & royalty. Continue reading “BADAMI & AIHOLE…a stint with history & heritage”