Times Square has to be the high point of any first time visit to New York, right? The boring answer to the question is, Yes. I mean if I was staying for a longer period in New York I would perhaps spend more hours on the quieter streets of Greenwich Village and the laid back benches of Washington Square Park. But nothing can beat the shot of adrenalin rush that one gets as one disembarks from the subway station and lands in the celebration of colour, light and energy of 42nd Street ,Times Square.
One might have seen them in movies and photos, but the power of those giant billboards with razor-sharp images is something else when you actually see them. For someone like me who can spend hours studying faces of people, Times Square is a giant library comprising all kinds of human species. And the best part is it is all so celebratory. Even the beggars on the sidewalk appeal to your sense of humour than pity with signs like “ I need the money for the weed. Honestly.” The street performers too seem to be seeking for recognition and respect as genuine artistes rather than your condescension even as they lay the hat out for your dollars of appreciation.
In fact the mood is set from the subway station itself with bands playing Beatles , jazz standards or instrumental versions of pop numbers on exotic instruments; edgy wall art and some sharp ad campaigns. The new one on Diet Coke was quite neat: ‘ YOU MOVED TO NEW YORK WITH A PORTFOLIO, A PAIR OF SKINNY JEANS AND STRONG OPINION ON HEMLINES. YOU’RE ON DIET COKE.’ ‘‘ YOU MOVED TO NEW YORK WITH THE CLOTHES ON YOUR BACK, THE CASH IN YOUR POCKET AND YOUR EYES ON THE BIG PRIZE. YOU’RE ON DIET COKE.’
Since the ‘Diet’ is kind of painted into the background, to some of us that the punch line may read as ‘ YOU’RE ON COKE.’
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