Big B or not Big B

BadaBangBadaBoom

Since New York City reminds me so much of Bombay, I’m convinced, just like in Bombay, anything could happen here. Last night I saw a man bearing uncanny resemblance to India’s biggest superstar – Amitabh Bachchan (Big B/AB) on the subway. Other than why would AB be riding an NYC underground train on a Monday night, I was convinced it was him.  The face, the height, the slight stoop, the stubble, even the glasses were the similar. The likeness was so striking that I went up to him and started a random conversation just so that I could hear his voice. There is no mistaking that baritone. It wasn’t him.

Supper Songs

In the subways, and occasionally on the subways of NYC I see musicians playing.Some play  strings like the guitar or the violin; some play percussion instruments; some the flute and others the trumpet or the saxophone. I have seen a variety of instruments being played. Commuters who not in hurry, pause to listen and sometimes drop a dollar into the tips jar.

Say Cheeeeeeese

What are friends for?

To share the guilt of eating super greasy sandwiches and to share the profits making them!

We discovered this, eating at the Melt Mobile outside RBS last week. The Melt Mobile is an food truck started by 2 friends on the the lines of the gourmet food trucks of NYC. Their sandwiches are the closest I’ve had on this side of the Atlantic to the *yummilacious cheese grilled sandwiches you get on the streets on Bombay. Just, a whole lot greasier.

* yummilacious = yummy + delicious

Financier

Grabbing a bite

Grabbing a bite

I tried the Grand Central outlet of the highly acclaimed Financier Patisserie a few days ago. Frankly, I was disappointed. The Hazelnut macaroon, one of those recommended by the shop girl was nothing worth writing about. Yet, here I am writing about it – irony! Theobroma‘s back home does a better job. The real surprise was the lime juice. I was expecting lemonade, it turned out to be freshly squeezed Sweet Lime Juice, as good as the Mosambi juice you can have on the streets in India.

Chugga chugga chugga

Every year, the New York Transit Museum, at the Grand Central Terminal puts up a Holiday Train Show. This exhibit is generally open Nov 16 through Dec 24. I thought I had missed it this year, so I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in yesterday and found it was still there.

Image

Holiday Train Show at Grand Central

The wall mural for this season are characters from Maira Kalman’s Next Stop Grand Central.The display has been extended upto  Feb 23, 2014 this year. The museum has a gift shop which could be a great place to pick up some not so common souvenirs and gifts.

During the holiday season, Grand Central is also host to the expensive but delightful and quirky Vanderbilt holiday market. They also had a wonderful Centennial Market during the holiday season in 2013. I have not seen that market before or after, so I am not quite sure if it was a recurring holiday special or a part of the centennial celebrations or is a regular market held on specific days.

*Sorry about the picture quality. They were taken on a phone.

Grand Canyon and Death Valley Road Trip Plan

*Alert* – This grand plan was stolen off the internet with a few minor additions. If it belongs to you, please let me know, I would like to give credit and thank you.

Day 1: Leave San Diego on I-8, moderately scenic until you hit Imperial Valley. When you cross the state line into Arizona at exit 2 take US95 towards Quartzsite. I-10 and US60 will bring you to the old ‘dude’ town of Wickenburg, and overnight here. Make sure you eat at the Horse Shoe Cafe. Has to be one of the best diners in the Southwest. Try www.arizonaguide.com for help with lodgings.

Day 2: North on US93, then take AZ89 towards Prescott. Beyond Prescott turn off onto scenic AZ89A and have break at Jerome , and lunch at the oldest restaurant in Arizona, the English Kitchen. Continue on scenic AZ89A through the stunning Red Rocks of Sedona and along beautiful Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. Head north on US89 to Cameron and overnight at the lodge at the trading post . Good shopping, excellent restaurant. If you have time you can do a scenic loop, off US89, to Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki Nat Mon’s.

Day 3: Take scenic AZ64 to enter Grand Canyon Nat Park, stopping at the Watchtower at Desert View for your initial “WOW”. Continue towards Grand Canyon Village, enjoying the many overlooks, then take AZ64 and I-40 to Kingman and overnight here.

Day 4:  Check out the sunrise over the Canyons. Continue on I-40, then at exit 44 turn off onto Historic Route 66, over scenic Sitgreaves Pass to the ‘ghost town’ of Oatman. CoRd153, AZ95, NV163 and US95 will then bring you to Las Vegas. Plenty of places to stay here. Enjoy an evening on the Strip. Go for Phantom of the Opera if playing and if possible. If not, go for a stand-up comedy.

Day 5: Head south from Las Vegas on I-15, then take NV160 to Pahrump. NV372, which becomes CA178 will bring you to insane Death Valley Nat Park. Drive through the park, then CA180 and CA178 will bring you to Ridgecrest and overnight here. If possible camp in the desert. Stargaze.

Day 6: Wake up to a spectacular sunrise. Head back to San Diego/Vegas

Ice!Ice!Baby!

When I think about it, I am genuinely surprised at the number of items we ticked off last year, when I was visiting the Husband over Christmas. We spent just 4 days in NYC, but we did so much more than we got around doing this year. Most of the NYC-Holiday activities ticked off my list are from last year. One of our last year’s holiday specials was going ice skating. Central Park has a great rink, but the lines are just too long. A little bit of research showed me two alternatives – Rockefeller Centre and Bryant Park.

At the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

At the Rockefeller Christmas Tree

We went down to Rockfeller’s to check out the wonderfully lit tree, but passed on skating there as it was very expensive and packed. Another to-do on our list was to visit a holiday market. I had picked the one at Columbus Circle, but when I realized Bryant Park has one too there was a quick change of plans. We decided to combine the two and spend an evening at Bryant Park. A pleasant evening it was!

Holiday Market at Bryant Park

Holiday Market at Bryant Park

The holiday market was charming. I fell in love so many times over, in so many different stores, with so many cute/odd/quirky objects – only to take one look at their price tags and quickly put them down. On this account, it completely reminded me of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival each February in Bombay’s Art District. After taking in the market, we watched people skate and stumble on the ice, before venturing to do so ourselves. One of the reasons we picked Bryant Park for skating was also that the rink is free, but there is an entry fee for faster entry, skate rentals and locker costs, so it wasn’t really free. Also there is a looooong line to get the fast entry passes and then another line to enter, so its not like we didn’t have to wait.

Ice Skating at Bryant Park

Ice Skating at Bryant Park

Once on the ice, it was much harder than it would have otherwise been, because of all the people around. Many gliding along gracefully, other clutching the railing and taking awkward steps like us. I managed to go around the rink twice – without falling, before they shooed us off to clean the ice. I loved being there so much, I knew I had to learn ice skating. No wonder, my  birthday gift this year was a private ice-skating lesson. I felt so much more confident after that lesson that I’ve signed up for a set of group lessons.

Once we decided we were done on the ice, we went and grabbed warm apple cider in the market. Bryant Park has a beautifully lit Christmas tree. The fountain in the front adds to the magic of the market. The happy voices, tinkling of the fountain, twinkling lights, the cold  air and the aroma of Christmas delicacies wafting through it, it was enchanting. An evening or an afternoon at Bryant Park is a great way to experience the holiday spirit in NYC.