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18 May, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Safari Across America: New York

By Dr Shamim Ahmed

Our first port of call was New York City. After an almost 12 hour flight from Dubai, we landed at John F Kennedy International Airport. We were lodged on Long Island, almost a two-hour drive from the city centre. The great metropolis of New York is the nerve centre of the United States. It is the hub of manufacturing, foreign trade, commerce, banking, publishing and theatrical productions. It is also one of the leading seaports of the world.

The very first morning, we dashed to the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park. We availed a short ferry cruise to the colossal statue on Liberty Island from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. The cruise provided a panoramic view of New York harbour and Lower Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the USA from France to memorialise the alliance of the two countries in the American Revolution and it remains a famous symbol of freedom.

We disembarked at Ellis Island to visit the immigration museum. We were moved when we read and heard the tragic tales of the millions of immigrants who entered America through the island’s ‘golden door’. The museum's self-guided exhibits chronicle Ellis Island's role in immigration history and include artifacts, photographs, prints, videos, interactive displays, oral histories and temporary exhibits.

One afternoon, we walked across the Central Park to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or The Met as it is commonly known. We were impressed by the rich collection of works of art. Highlights of the collection include American decorative arts, Egyptian archaeological findings and musical instruments.

Central Park, being the ‘lung’ of the city centre, is one place that makes New York such a beautiful city. Within the forested park, we came across strawberry fields, a zoo and a mesmerizing lake. It was great to have wayside yummy dishes from food trucks lined along the park. I was surprised to find many vendors selling halal food. Most of the food-sellers were from Arab and former Soviet countries, while most of the vendors selling souvenirs, confectionaries, ice-cream and drinks were from Bangladesh.

Strolling along Fifth Avenue, New York's premier shopping area, is an experience in itself. Many top-end designers have their flagship stores there. Cartier, Tiffany, Apple Store as well as many others line the posh avenue. We visited Trinity Church, a historic parish church in lower Manhattan. Its soaring Neo-Gothic spire, surmounted by a gilded cross, dominate the skyline.

We also dropped by the Rockefeller Center for snacks. The Center is a vast entertainment and shopping complex in the middle of Manhattan. Inside are shops, restaurants and an observation deck. In front of the International Building is a famous sculpture of Atlas.

Nearby is the world famous Wall Street. The street and the surrounding area are home to some of the most important bourses in the world, including the New York Stock Exchange. It is a popular tourist destination and it is common to see a large number of people walking around craning their necks, looking up at the impressive skyscrapers.

One afternoon, we visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Midtown Manhattan. MoMA is known for developing and collecting modernist art, and it is often identified as one of the most influential museums of modern art in the world. The museum’s collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art. Simply amazing!

Along the way, we did not miss to drop by the iconic Empire State Building, another famous New York landmark. The 102-story building has two observatories, on the 86th and 102nd floors.

Another day, we found time to browse the Brooklyn Museum. Its inventory includes antiquities, particularly Egyptian artifacts spanning over 3,000 years, and collections of  European, African, Oceanic and Japanese artworks and antiquities. The museum also has a Memorial Sculpture Garden.

Visiting and strolling in Queens is always fun. The borough’s Jackson Heights neighbourhood is home to a large number of South Asians, mostly from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.  Grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, beauty salons and specialty stores, including sari and jewellery shops and Hindi and Bangla music and movie retailers, cater to the large Asian population there. On 73rd Street, there is ‘Little Bangladesh’ and ‘Little Pakistan’, while ‘Little India’ is on 74th Street. Nostalgia took over as we gobbled fish curry, mixed vegetables, and ‘daal-bhorta’ (lentils and mashed vegetables) for lunch at one of the Bangladeshi restaurants.  

On the weekend, our tour took us to Jones Beach in Nassau County, renowned for its beaches and popular summer resorts. We took a day to visit Montauk, a tourist destination known as ‘The End’ with parks that provide panoramic views of the Atlantic. We relished a sumptuous lunch at a resort restaurant.

Then we left New York by road for Maryland, our next port of call.

Photos: Writer

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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