“What is going on, it is 11:30 a.m.,” I screamed. Usually, I am not late in the morning. The previous night was tiring with a late night typical American party at my cousin’s tiny apartment in Manhattan. It was shocking for me to find that even 11:30 a.m. was serene and quiet in one of the world’s busiest cities when back home in India, 7:30 a.m. in the morning would mean hustles and bustles all around the streets. I rolled up the blinds to see the skyscrapers that were overshadowing the winter morning sky.
For me at that point of time, a visit to New York was a dream come true. I decided to lie back on the couch and inhale the sights I was dying to see. Then the realization dawned on me that I just had three days in New York and I had to hurry for sight seeing. By the time I woke up, my cousin was out to work. I was already given an orientation of how the city has been designed and how to commute between places. I was ready in half an hour. It was February but the snow had not taken over the ground. Fortunately, I was not freezing and could walk without much difficulty. I headed straight to 8th Avenue between 49 and 50 Street. I chose for the cheapest means of conveyance, which was walking. Soon I ran into a huge African American guy who was wearing a red jacket advertising the New York City hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus service. Since I was alone, he hardly left any leaves unturned about the major landmarks in the city. By the time I began with my sight seeing, I was fairly conversant with all significant locations and directions in the city.
My first stop was Empire State Building. There was a cool breeze as I climbed to the top of America’s tallest building. Tourists from around the globe had crowded around the observatory. As I stood watching Statue of Liberty from Empire State Building, I overheard a mother explaining to her twin daughters the history of American migrants. Their ancestors were migrants from Poland and Hungary. “America is truly a melting pot”, I thought. I was a wee bit confused as to where to head next. Since it was now late to get to Statue of Liberty, I headed toward Ground Zero. There at Ground Zero, an overriding surge of emotions caught hold of me. Somehow, the fact that there once stood world’s tallest buildings, World Trade Centre, did not sink in me. The photographs that were put up in the memory of the innocent victims of the terrorist attack brought tears to my eyes. As I searched for some Kleenex in my pocket, someone placed a hand over my shoulder. I turned back to see a man in his twenties. Bleary eyed, I tried to hide my emotions from this stranger. He then said, “I appreciate your concern for my land and my people. I am extremely thankful to you.” I was dumbfounded. I did not know how to react. Everyone had told me that New Yorkers are tight lipped. I immediately wiped the tears and said, “My concern is for the humanity. We live under the constant threat of terrorism and so we understand the pain caused by this brutality, probably than any other nation.” I almost spent three hours at Ground Zero listening to the stories of volunteers who had lost their loved ones in the attack and their attitude towards the government of the US while watching the gradual construction process that was being undertaken. Even in the cab that took me to the United Nations Building, I was trying to figure out the mindset of those who indulge in such subversive activities. How could they murder these many innocent people for an ideology, which does not respect and regard humanity? In a few moments, I was standing in front of the umbrella that works to maintain peace, tranquility and cooperation in the world. Paradoxical, but that is the truth of this world.
Times Square in the evening was sparkling with the lighted skyscrapers. After a short walk around the streets, I was in the hop-on, hop-off double-decker for the night loop. By evening I got acquainted with other tourists in the bus. There was a woman from Ireland, a couple from Venezuela, an old couple from England and a woman from France. We were truly a global family. Those faces will always be etched in my memory forever.