October 22, 2014

Crossroads of the world!

It’s bright. IT’s shiny.  It’s loud. It’s Times Square. It’s an assault on the senses. It’s like being inside a loud television. And it can be completely enticing and overwhelming for tourist or newcomer that sets foot in it.

I landed up at Times Square (actually, I pretty much planned to “land up” since I was in town anyway) the day the Indian Prime Minister was speaking at Madison Square Garden.  I wasn’t sure what to expect really. An Indian Prime Minister was speaking to a packed Madison Square Garden (capacity 18,000), everyone was talking about it and the speech was going to be broadcasted in Times Square.

 
As I reached Times Square, it wasn’t hard to spot the screen where the speech would be telecast.  As I know now, the speech was shown on one of the screens on One Times Square, a 25 storey skyscraper and the focal point of the Times Square (Did you know that it is supposedly one of the most precious, possibly expensive advertising locations in the world?!)

 

A tiny island (more like a demarcated area at the base of the building) right below the screen had been taken over by Indians in the USA. There were tourists, NRIs, students. There were Indian news crews and journalists standing by to take interviews. There were people carrying and waving India’s flag, women all dressed up, people wearing clothes in the colours of the Indian tricolour and I am pretty sure I saw a couple with the Indian flag painted on their cheek. 


I wandered around Times Square for a while, taking it all in, the energy, the sights, the sounds until the program began. After a series of ads by the Government of India and a short cultural program, the Indian PM walked into Madison Square Garden. The crowd at Times Square went berserk. There was whistling, shouting, applauding! I could hear people singing Vande Matram somewhere in the back. Others exclaimed “Bharat Mata ki Jai!” Every time the PM appeared on screen, the crowd cheered. Other tourists who were walking by, all stopped to take a look at what was going on. Some even came up and asked, “What’s going on?” and “Who’s that on the screen?” When told, they were pleasantly surprised, “Oh the Indian Prime Minister? Wow!"




Just before the PM began his speech, the National Anthems of both the countries were played out. As they started playing Jana Gana Mana, the crowd watching the speech at Times Square slowly stood up. It was quite a sight. And then, right there, in the middle of thriving throbbing Times Square, a small of group of Indians started singing the National Anthem in tandem with the one on the screen.

The speech went on for an hour, and for the full 60 minutes, the crowd was enthralled. It was almost like watching a cricket match! Just a few minutes before the speech ended, I looked around again. For me, this was a new experience, a new feeling. There was sense of pride. Here were people from all over the country, united by the fact they were Indians, cheering the speech of a political leader no less! And it made me think, Times Square is a lot more Indian than you Think!


Note: This was an entry to the Indiblogger and Lufthansa contest More Indian than you think