A city so nice they named it twice – Part I

A city so nice they named it twice. What city has the same name as that of its state? Duh. Why would anyone try to do that? Maybe to confuse the people. Had they run out of names? If you are still confused as most people outside the United States are, I am referring to New York. The city. No, the State. Whatever. It does not matter what they choose to call it. As put by the not-so-famous writer (William Shakespeare) in his, even more, not-so-famous play (Romeo and Juliet), “A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”. New York by any other name would be just as magical.

So, finally, after months of deliberation and consideration, we finally decided to go to NYC. It is often said that the best trips are impromptu and ours was no different. A casual group chitchat suddenly turned into a frenzied planning discussion. I decided to ask my friend, Sanket Gandhi if we could crash at his place for a couple of days and he was more than happy to let us. Special thanks to him because without him the trip would not have been so enjoyable. But we will get to that later. So, after the accommodation was sorted for all of us, we looked for our bus tickets and we got a reasonable price for our tickets. The problem was that the bus was in less than 20 hours and we were nowhere close to packing our bags. But we didn’t bother giving it much thought. We were just happy that we were finally going to a worthwhile place. And so just like that our trip was planned, staying accommodations done and everyone was brimming with new found excitement. We were finally going to go out of this rat hole, the place where we had been cooped up for the entire year.

The daily chores of the next day were carried out with one common goal. Our bus was to leave at 11 pm tonight and would reach NYC early next morning. Our bags were packed without much hassle. That is the best thing about guys. They pack so much so efficiently. The clothes stay in the bag based on whether they are clean or not. No thought is given to how they would when worn. If a T-shirt could be worn for an extended period and still look reasonably good, that T-shirt would go right at the top. 3 pair of clothes for 3 days. Packing done and dusted. And as boys who had never packed their own bags independently, thanks to the wonderful creatures called Mothers, I could say with a swell in my chest that we packed reasonably well and got everything covered. Before we knew we were at the dining table having our dinner at 9. And soon enough with not-so-heavy hearts, we locked our apartment for one final time. The drive to the bus station was relatively quiet. I guess everyone was forming their own ideas about how NYC would be. At the bus station, we met an old man with his wife who had come to drop off a student who had been staying at his place. The bus arrived in the midst of his wonderful stories about NYC and sadly we had to wave goodbye to our new friend.

We stored our luggage in the luggage compartment. I kept mine under my seat since it was just a backpack. The bus driver announced that the bus would halt at Syracuse next and then finally at NYC. We made ourselves comfortable in the upper deck. After chitchatting with Ketan, who was beside me in the window seat (*damn*), I began to doze off. And just as I was about to go into dreamland, the bus driver made another announcement saying that we would take a 10-minute break at the petrol station. I looked at my watch and to my surprise, it was just 30 minutes ago that we had left Rochester. Eventually, we resumed our journey. I was drifting in and out of my sleep when to my dismay I was woken up anew by the crackling sound of the speaker. The overhead lights seemed to shine more brightly and made everyone flinch. The driver announced we had reached Syracuse. By this time, I could feel the grogginess of the passengers and like me, everyone just wished the lights would turn off. After what seemed an eternity, we got back on the road. As I vehemently prayed that I not be disturbed from my sleep again, I dozed off dreaming of the magical city that awaited us.

I was woken yet again. This time by Darryl. I looked at him with groggy eyes and saw he was wide awake. He told me we had reached Manhattan. I looked at my watch and saw it was just 5.30 am. And just like that, I was fully attentive to the surroundings. The tall skyscrapers that passed us validated Darryl’s point. Our gaze lingered at each building and we marveled at the architecture like loony fanatics. The tops were shrouded in early morning mist. The streets were filled with people and there was commotion at signals. People hurried off to catch buses and cabs to head to their corporate offices one last time that week. I was pleasantly surprised at the ruckus. A welcome change from the quietness of Rochester. By now almost all the passengers had woken up to the Oohs and Aahs of other starry-eyed riders.

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