Tuesday, July 24, 2007


New York City, from its humble beginnings as New Amsterdam in the 17th century to the cosmopolitan magnanimity that it is today, has weathered many a storm and floods of immigrants and ofcourse the infamy of 9/11. One couldn’t possibly come to America, and not take a bite of the Big Apple. Miguel, with quite a reputation of being a fantastic NYC guide, took us out to savour the sights and sounds of downtown Manhattan. Manhattan was a concrete rainforest, skyscrapers everywhere as we drove towards Ground Zero. We drove past the Intrepid, now of course a maritime museum and the old meat market, and past all of Donald Trump’s constructions.
Ground Zero was poignant and it is mute testimony to all those who perished in the brutal attack on that fateful Tuesday. It is all rubble now and construction work has just begun on a 1776 feet high Freedom Tower that will stand tall where the Twin Towers once stood proud. The posh and opulent World Financial Centre was just next door. The memorial to 9/11 listed out all those martyrs of the tragedy while street hawkers tried to make a quick buck by offering postcards and photographs of the burning towers for sale. It was touching to see a marine being re-enlisted at Ground Zero. Thousands had perished that day but it had stirred a resting eagle and today Al-Qaeda forces are facing wrath of the eagle’s talons in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We walked on toward the Trinity Church and its incredibly ornate altar where George Washington once offered his prayers. The streets teemed with hawkers and hand-carts vending the famed New York hot-dog. Wall Street was just round the corner and after posing with the famed Merrill Lynch bull; we strolled about the NYSE and admired its fabulously carved façade. A stars and stripes fluttered gently, draped over the building. Opposite was the hall where George Washington had been sworn in as the first President of the Union. Further down, was bustling South Street Seaport, with its pubs, cafes and bistros where people could enjoy a refreshing pint and tuck into some seafood too. The Manhattan, Brooklyn and Verazzano Bridges looked hung across the misty waters of the Hudson.
We were enlightened by Miguel’s astute commentaries about every place and finally it was time to head back to the Bronx where there was dinner at the Grandas. The warm welcomes and Serrano ham was followed by some chilled seviche. Home-style Latino cooking with Cuban and Ecuadorian influences was food for the body and soul. Roast Turkey, salsa, onion salad, black beans and steamed rice was the order of the evening, rounded off with some smooth Boniato. Alejandro was the star of the evening, as he contentedly suckled milk alternately between his mother Cecilia’s arms and uncle Miguel’s oblivious to the hullabaloo around. Some traditional liqueurs went around post dinner before Mrs. Granda sang and played the piano to everyone’s delight and pleasure. Miguel too joined his mother in a duet that raised eye-brows for he was so good and usually he restricted himself to the bathroom or the car. Miguel’s aunt was a pianist par excellence and she serenaded us with some of her pieces. It could well have been at a concert.
The next evening, Mr.Granda arrived at Ramsey in his Ford Focus, focussed to show us around NYC at night, the beauty of Times Square with its blinding lights. We set off in the evening and traversed the underwater Lincoln Tunnel and arrived at NYC. Times Square is stunning at night with the huge screens and shining lights. The CNN Tower, Empire State Building and Chrysler Building stood tall and imposing. The shining lights of Broadway were alluring while Madame Tussaud’s beckoned. We were spellbound by the glowing brightness of Times Square whose neon lit beauty we had only vicariously enjoyed through the television.
A fabulous evening spent he headed back to Ramsey. We stopped by at Jersey City to get a view of the neon lights of Manhattan from across the Hudson. Mr. Granda was overjoyed at being able to take us out to enjoy the wondrous sights and marvel at a bejewelled NYC at night. It was certainly an evening to remember.


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