Times Square, NYC
There was a time when I hated big cities and all that I associated with them was noise, the clutter, the pageantry and hype . I would often get lost there. Given a chance, I preferred wilds or the offbeat , rustic, charming towns or heritage sites in ruins. But of late , I seem to be lured by these big cities..
Maybe its the energy, the sights and sounds or just the romantic past tucked away in them, but certainly my fascination for these sprawling metropolises seems to grow. I’ve always loved Bombay and yes, Delhi too. And Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
In the international scene, New York and London fascinates me . And Rome, SFO, Zurich, Dublin, Munich. I enjoy Singapore and Hong Kong and my memories of Melbourne and Sydney, though very old now, still linger. Yes, there are museums , palaces, castles and several sightseeing spots ; but that’s not all. Although all these cities are different from each other as chalk and cheese, there seems to be certain reasons why they lure me .
The Lyceum Theater, London
The energy – It radiates in your mind as you walk down the roads, absorbing the sights and sounds. Whether its India or abroad, there is so much life everywhere . The trains or the tubes – the city virtually moves to their rhythm.And I am not just referring to the nightlife. Walk on the streets, go to a cafe, go shopping or sightseeing, the energy seeps into you and how !
The streets – They are the living spaces and they are so vibrant. There is so much colour everywhere. You just have to walk down the streets of a city to discover it. Little unknown cafes to bookshops to mega malls and up scale restaurants, to curious signboards and billboards to street performances .. the streets symbolise the city. I hate coach tours for the simple reason you can never feel the pulse of the city. Your feet may get swollen, but you never know what you discover. All those days in NYC, I would just sit in a cafe at Manhattan and see life unfold around me.
Events – Watch out for the live shows or the musicals or the plays . Some of them maybe free or you may get a discount somewhere. And its worth every penny as you bring back an experience that is unique to the place.
Nightlife – Why would anyone visit any of the big cities and not capture an essence of its nightlife ? So,while you are looking for a ” happenning ” place, you may also find some taverns and pubs which have either a lot of history or are quaint and yet full of life. Seek them out. I love Clarke Quay for instance in Singapore and we went to some real old pubs in London which was so lively and fun and the pubs in Dublin which absolutely rocked with some great Irish music
The city within the city – So, you come to every city with a list of sightseeing attractions and monuments that you must see and do .But here is a city often hidden beyond the city we now . I went on the London walks last week, where we saw the London of Dickens and Shakespeare ; we also did see the old London wall. There are many Delhis within Delhi today and Chennai will take you to the fishing hamlet that was once Madras, the settlement formed by the British East India Company. Everything is not just about history – there is art, architecture, literature that forms the cultural ethos of the city. Soak into it !
8 Oct 2011