They say that if you stand at Times Square long enough, you'll meet everybody in the world. That is exactly how I felt as I stood under the shimmering neon lights and the multiple screens that pitched a world of products on a cool Friday night. If Times Square is the heart of New York City then I am sure I can relate to its every beat.
The crowded streets with cabs and limos in equal measure, the even more packed sidewalks as you keep doing a jig to avoid the free swinging shopping bags, the towering skyscrapers that oversee the arteries spewing out people and cars are all such quintessential images of NYC that there's nothing more than you had seen in your imagination. But sometimes, the great thrill of travelling is in having your imagination confirmed.
"The greatest metropolis in the world" as NYC regularly projects itself isn't even the half of what a description of the city should be. The clean, sanctified streets of the upper city (a far cry from its gang war, mugger happy days) are a treat to the senses what with all the eye candy that pops out of every corner. Venture just a staircase below and the gritty reality of New York City hits you with the vandalised subway system and nauseating heat due to the not-too-efficient air conditioning. It makes you aware of places which are as much real as the tourist oriented destinations within the city. It's a place where the daily grind and struggle for sustenance is not so pretty at all, and the foundation of this huge city is built.
That's what I like best about NYC. Despite the best efforts to make a picture postcard out of it, it's a very real and a very alive city. As you wander the streets with the thousands of other tourists or residents, sampling what is felt by many to be the most typical example of urban living, you might not like everything that you see and the fact that you've got to share everything with somebody or the other. That's the whole idea of what a city should be. You don't have to love your neighbour, nor hate him. Just bear with him because he is doing the same for you.