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I got dropped off at Oakland Airport [well in time!] by my manager who, as you'd have guessed by now, is very helpful in matters of transportation [aside of course from the fact that he is really a good boss]. Didnt really have any hassles with the security, except I was asked if my shoes had metal in them. Seeing the quizzical look on my face (which actually meant 'What the hell are you talking about? I've never heard of shoes with metal in them'), I was let go. The flight journey wasn't really uneventful. Just after take-off, one of the passengers a couple of rows ahead of me fainted. I'm not sure why he fainted, but he did. A doctor was located in the passenger list and the patient was given oxygen and made to rest. I flew JetBlue airways, which doesn't give meals on board - just snacks. I'd eaten some cake at the airport, so I wasn't feeling too hungry. We landed in JFK airport around 530 am. I was picked up by my aunts and we went home. I was really feeling sleepy, so after informing folks in Madras that I'd arrived, I just crashed, hoping to wake up around 8 am. It was 10 am when I did.
After lunch, my cousin and I went off to roam around Manhattan. We took the train to Grand Central Station. It really does look good. We then walked to the Empire State building. There was a security check inside. We cleared the test and went off to the combo-tour: The skyride and the observatory. The skyride simulates an aerial view of NYC as if you're riding a helicopter. The seats move according to whether the screen is showing a turning to the left/right/swivel etc. Its quite enjoyable, but it was really short - just 15-20 minutes. I thought it could have lasted at least 1/2 hr. We then went to the observatory, which is nothing but the top floor [86th] of the Empire state building. The view of Manhattan and its surrounding areas was really good, in spite of some fairly murky weather following some showers.
Having done the observation, we walked through Little India and then took a taxi to Battery Park to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, which I suppose is currently the only thing Yanks like to associate with the French. Because of security considerations, there's no docking on Liberty island, you only get to go past it. The harbour cruise we took was quite good. We went past Ellis island, Liberty island, parts of Jersey city and also under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. The narration on the cruise was quite hopeless unfortunately. After alighting from the ferry, we walked to the World Trade Center site. It is MASSIvE, 16 acres apparently. You don't appreciate the actual area covered by the buildings because you're used to seeing just two very tall skyscrapers on TV, the actual area of the entire complex isn't too obvious. Work was underway for the reconstruction using the new model which has been approved. A history of the WTC as well as photos of how Manhattan looked right from the early 20th century till the inauguration of the WTC also can be found on the site. We then took the subway to Times Square. It is an extremely glitzy place, advertising hoardings all around the place. Dinner then followed and it was well past 10 pm when we got home.
The next day, we had lunch with Krithi's parents and her brother-in-law. There was a lot of chatting and good food. In the evening, my cousin and I went to a mall nearby to do some purchases. At night, we tried looking out for Mars. I dont think we quite got to agree on whether the celestial body we saw was Mars or not. It could have been Jupiter or Venus or even Saturn. Does it matter? Oh, I forgot to mention this in the last blog, but I managed to get a snap of Mars on Aug 28, the day after it was closest to the earth.
On Monday, I switched base to where Krithi's parents were staying, with Krithi's sister, brother-in-law and his mother. Krithi's sister has just given birth to a baby, so I took some photos of the baby. Then the usual chatting, food etc. In the evening, we went to a nearby Ganesha temple. It was quite impressive, spick and span. I wonder why temples cannot be maintained similarly in India. I dont imply that temples are unclean in India, but the fact that I didn't step on a single puddle is testimony to the fact that the authorities (obviously the laws of the land do come into the picture here) are ensuring cleanliness.
I caught my flight back to Oakland on Tuesday morning, this time it was uneventful. I landed at Oakland around 1030 am, was picked up by my manager (AGAIN!) and dropped off at the flat ... and that was the end of my 3 day weekend in NYC.
I've reorganized the photos section, by creating folders and using filenames which sound like captions.
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