Published: August 31st 2010August 29th 2010
July 2010 intra month - I get a msg that my global managers want me to visit Delaware to discuss progress on some of the current projects going on in Financial Control space. The visit which was originally planned for a week gets extended by another week. Dates are finalised as Aug 9-20th. After some tussle with Travel desk finally I get booked on Etihad on Mumbai-Abu Dhabi-Newyork-Abu Dhabi-Mumbai route on business class. Like last time, this time also Vinayak comes home to see me off. (He didnt came to the airport thugh as it was pretty late in night!!). I hire Meru Cab & my experience like last time is good this time also. Being Business class, I get priority treatment thruout. Nitesh my colleagues was also booked to travel on the same flight. We met in the lounge.First leg of the flight is of 2.30 hrs.It was scheduled to take off at 4.30 am. We both were quiet slippy so after obboarding, we never realised when we went to sleep, only to get up when we were descending for arrival at abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is the hub of Etihad.It was early morning so we decided to grab
the breakfast at the lounge.To our surprise, we saw famous cricketer Ricky Ponting pass by us couple of times. He was with his wife.Brushing shoulders with celebrities!! I was keen to call Nam & inform her abt my safe arrival but the phone didnt worked. I have lost my hopes as even the WiFI at the lounge didnt connect.Just then I noticed that internet kiosks were set up for free surfing in the hallway.I quickly grabbed vacant one & sent email to Nam about my safe arrival in Abu Dhabi. Next leg was good 14.50 hrs long. I was still sleepy.Once onboard I again went to sleep only to get up after 4-5 hrs, only to realise that I had still 8-9 hrs left before we arrieve at JFK.For rest of the time I enjoyed inflight entertainment & food.By 4.45 pm our flight landed at JFK.After immigration & picking up luggage, we came in the lobby. Our taxi has not arrieved by then. After waiting for 10 mins, finally we were able to locate our driver.He has parked the car just across the street in the carpark. JFK to Newark,DE was another 2.5 hrs journey.We stopped in btw for a
quick bite & finally reached Residence Inn Marriot by 9 pm.
We had office next day on Monday so after reaching the apartments, quickly settled down & went to sleep. First week in office was good, though things got momemtum only post Tuesday.All the interactions/meetings went well. Ideas for weekend, started surfacing as we approached Wednesday.At one stage, we strongly felt like hiring a car. I even reserved a car with Enterprise but ultimately we decided in favour of going to NY. NItesh was flying back from JFK on Saturday. We decided to leverage his drop to get to NY. Driver dropped us at Penn station in NJ. From there we took Path NJ Transit to reach WTC. I had been there multiple times so that came in handy to be on right track for direction. Btw 12 noon & 4 pm we coverd WTC,Wall Street, NYSE, The Bull, Battery Park, Clilton Castle & Staton Island Ferry.I was able to tak good pictures of Lady Liberty as we had great weather that day. Pritesh was accompanying me & I was proving to be a good Guide for him.
Sunday next was good as well. We already have made
plans to be at the Mall.I had already taken note of some local cab companies. When I called the first number, I met a fellow asian from Pakistan. He dropped us at the mall & for the next few days, he became our Mr Reliable for pick up & drop from whereever to wherever. That Sunday I did some shopping..some baby stuff.Funny thing was I called up Nam abt what I saw & found useful.She would then surf online & reply with verdict, if I should buy it or not.That was super!!POst noon, we ate at this joint called "California Pizza Kitchen".For us it was a random choice but it seems that place was patronised by many locals for being a Good Family Restaurant.Food & drinks there were good.Funny thing happened to Pritesh, when he realised that they forgot to take the chicken pieces out of his dish.He was pissed!!Staff tried to make it for it by not charging us for that dish & gifted us with some scratch cards which states "every card has a winner"!!We came home after that & in evening, went to Palace of Asia to try some desi food.Sadly, there was nobody inside except us.We
were not too hungry as well so just ordered one dish & shared among us.This place is on Kirkwood highway & has some good joints nearby.A place to hang around with friedns,in rather dull Newark!!
Next week in office was more eventful than what I thought it would be. Pritesh had 2 days till Tuesday & I have to cover all that was left in next 5 days.It becomes tricky especially when you have people on vacation & nobody is keen to stay in office beyond 4 pm.PLus the daily stuff stays irrespective of which office you are working.My challange was to address those daily BAU issues in morning (India is half way thru their day so my mailbox is already showing me 100 unread mails) & simuktaneously work with Delaware folks to set meetings up.At the end of the week, when I looked back & put summary of takeaways I thought I did a good job.I think all my interactions with al senior controllers & their teams in last 2 weeks were very productive.Thanx to their cooperation, I was happy with myself on covering my agenda successfully. On Thursday that week, Su Amaratungs, one of m colleagues from
CUrrencies team, invited me to her place for dinner.She is pregnant & her due dates are same as Nam.She was excited about it & so was I.On the way she cordially took me to Baby R Us & even suggested some stuff that would be useful for our baby.Very sweet on her part.She extended the same courtsey at her place.She & Her husband played a excellent host during the evening.She has specially ordered some Indian food for dinner that evening And it was good. I mean it.Honestly I was a bit skeptical abt it ever since she invited me last week.I have light stomoch when eating food that Iam not used to.But that evening was special.Aafan her husband, who works with Citigroup now, has origins in India.He shared a good insight into US lifesytles, their values.Overall, a very good evening. Aafan was also kind enough to drop me back at the apartments.In that week, post office hours, we also expericed some local dining at few places, mainly on Main Steert,Kirkwood highway.Once Pritesh left on Wednesday, I managed to spend remaining 2 days without getting bored.In a place like Delaware, its a good achievement, given that you dont have a car!!
View Restaurant @ The Marriot, Times Square
This is on 50th floor & a revolving Restaurant
ON Friday, Ed Black, one of the Sr Controllers whom I support, took me along with Jason Lee for lunch. He wanted to have Happy Hours with all in the team, but changed the plans when I told him that we already had one last week & I have personal committments in the eveining.We went to Mexican joint just across the street called "EAT".Typically I end up with only eating half a dish but this time, whetever I ordered was good so I managed to finish it.That evening, I went on to meet on my contacts in Delaware office & say bye.It feel nice to know that almost everybody across al levels there knows you & what you do.I think its outcome of my associaion with them in various roles over lasr 6 & half years with JP Morgan.I managed to get the drop that evening from Marriot. Last 2 days of my visit are the only 2 days when I actually managed to get it. All other days it was someone from office or taxi.
For Saturday, I had my return flight from JFK at 10.50 pm.This means that I have almost entire day to spend before
I board the flight. And I wanted it to be the best of time.Amey & me have been touch ever since I told him about my trip to US a months back. Plan was for him to come down to NY on Friday night. He was going to stay at his friend Amrish's house on East 31st Street on Lexington.He reached there as planned. And I reached there on Monday morning by 10.30 am.We put up my stuff at Amrish'splace & left to fetch Broadway Show tickets at Times Square.Things were going as planned. We stood in the queue & managed to secure tickets for Broadway Show called "West Side Story". A story set up in 1960's US when ethnic rivalary was at its peak between native Americans & immigrants coming from all oevr the world. Afetr securing the tickets, we headed for a restaurants on East River 1st Ave where Amrish & his friend Madhura were waiting.Its called Crucked
place & is well known French Joint.Amey & his friends are reguler there.We had variery of food in both veg & non veg.Its kind of served in a rap which looks similer to Indian Dosa.Food was nice & so is
the time that we spent.Madhura has gifted a new poloroid camera to Amrish.We clicked a few snaps on it that day. All 3 of them are my best souveniers of the time I spent with those dudes!!At the palace Theatre on Wst 42nd where the show was slated, we were joined by Amrish's elder bro.The theatre as Amey told me was one of the smaller in size but definitely royal in its interiors.Sort of thing that you see in B & W movies of the 1950's.Mazzine & orchestra floors, with designer walls.Place to play live music for the play.The story as mentioned earlier is set on 1960's social background, as a love story btw a boy & a girl who hail from diverse groups whose leaders are always fighting against each other. This was my first ever broadway show so ofcouse I was excited.What made it even more special is the company that I had & the spectaculer light , sound effects along with some superb acting.It was too good a experience. How the hell did I mised it in my all previous visits!!The way they present the play is incomparable with anytyhing that I have seen in same genre in the past. Even in Marathi arts, the only show that I can think of, which comes close is "Mararhi Bana" but it will stilllook pale in contrast to what we saw that afternoon. It was well worth its billing as a "Broadway Show".Nam would liked it immensely. We missed her!
It was around 5 pm when the show got over.We were wondering what to do next when Amrish's bro suggested that we go the Marriot Coffie Shop in Times Square.It was just across the street. What they sell there? The View.Its a 360 degree revolving restaurant on the 48th floor with fantastic views of the New York City & nearby New Jersey.I remember when I came here with my another friend Chirag back in 2005, we wanted to eat & drink at a a restaurant which will offer us great views of the city.I got exactly what I was looking for this time & with a equally good company.Its a bit funny set up at the Marriot there though. First you catch a lift to get to 3rd floor & from there another one to get to 48th floor.Since we were 4 (Amrish, Madhura, Amey & me- Amorish's bro had some other committments), the attendant there offered us a table for 4 which was a bit away from the glass walls.But nonetheless, it was good.We had one round of our favouratr drinks in that magnificient place. Iam sure rest 3 who were there with me, will differ on this as they found it little incomfortable to drink at a place which is moving.I liked it though. Now I have been to revolving restaurants at 3 places globally. Ambassador Hotel in Mumbai, Jaipur & Marriot in New York.It was fun there and equal fun in the lift that took us down form 48th to 3rd floor in like 10 seconds!!Super fast it was!!
I was conscious of leaving for JFK to ensure that I dont miss the flight.(I would have loved to stay there with those wonderful folks though!!).It was already around 6 pm. But we all were hungry.Again it was the NY resident whose taste of Good things came in handy. Amrish took us to a Tibetian restaurant in midtown manhattan.He said he loved it there. And soon we found out why!The smell as we entered was good.They were playing some sort of Tibetian chants in the background.First we had Momos.Its chicken wrapped in wheat similer to modak that we prepare at the time of Ganapati Utsav. This was followed by the main course, which consisted of veg dish for Madhura, Some Fish dish for Amrish & chicken varieties for me & Amey. I remember how we teased Amrish abt Tibetian Fish dishes which he was bragging abt, when Tibet doesn't have a Sea any where within or on its borders.It appeared that Amrish has never given it a thought in the past!!
It was good that we had dinner at time, especially for me b'use I was flying that night.We hired cab to come back at Amrish's place. I was expected to carry some stuff that Amey had bought. Initially we struggled as my bags were a bit small to contain those.Then we decided to switch our bags, which did the trick. Amey came down to see me off.Though the traffic was expected, luckily for me, it took us just 45 mins to reach JFK. After checking inn, I went & relaxed in the Lounge.The 18 hour long travel back to Mumbai has just started!!
When I came here 2 weeks back, I have never imagined that next 2 weeks are going to be so much fun.I thought that we will keep indoors, cook food, chat, go to mall over weekend and thats abt it.But it turned out to be exactly opposite. I dont think I ate at apartments more than twice.All remaining 10 -12 days, we ate at different place each time, right from Pizza Hut, Calofornia Chicken, Taste Of Asia,Mexican, Tibetian, French.Been to few nice bars including Hooters on Kickwood highway.And not to foregt my favourate Chicken CHeese Stakes at the office cagetaria.I dont think I ate anything different on all those 10 days for the lunch.Icing on the cake was the last day that I spent in NY with Amey & his friends.
Top 10 experiences of this visit (has some clues on what to do in Delaware & NY on your next visit, if you have not done it already)
1) Dont miss Broadway Show. Discount tickets are available at TKTS in Times Square. Discounts of upto 50-60 % on average tickets of $ 120 onwards.Try Wicked/Lion King.They are best running shows for years & years now.
2) If you want a view of NY Skyline, drink at the View Restaurant & Bar in Marriot in Times Square.
3) For good food. try some of the global cuisine located on East River.Ask a local friend on whats best.
4) For long distance travel with ease & comfort, opt for Mega Bus. It runs btw select cities in US.I heard its great.
5) In Delaware, for Baby Stuff & Toys, best bets are "Toys R US" and "Baby's R Us".You think of it & they have it.
6) Dont Miss grabbing a beer/drink at Main Street in Delaware.Its one of the top (& few) happening areas in Delaware.
7) Other happening ares is Wilmington Riverfront. "Firestone" on the Riverfront there is great for evening with friends.
8) See if possible to take cell number of a local cab driver.Once you know where you want to go, those folks come in handy,especially they know you.
9) For comfy stay at decent price, try "Residence Inn by Marriot" on route 273 south at Chapman Road. Around $ 80-100 /day, includes breakfast/dinner/Complimentary pick up and drop in surrounding areas/WiFi Free Internet.
Dont miss shooping at the CHristian Mall.It houses Macy's, JC Penny & Target plus n number of other speciality shops.It all tax free in State of Delaware.
10) For local US number withut a contract, you have Verizon, AT & T & others for "Pay as you Go" Cards. I opted for AT & T.$ 25 card. Is enough for 8 days unlimited calls.$ 3 /day once you use it in a day,irresctive of your calls on that day.Top it up with a International Calling card.My cost for 2 weeks with accessibility to India was not more than $ 30.If you dont have a car in a State like Delaware, its quiet handy.
Things to remember always - If you are booking Greyhound bus for online tickets,never forget to print the tickets.They come in seperate email & is not the same as booking confirmation. I paid $ 100 extra on taxi & lot of stress when returning to Delaware from NY on weekend.Staff at the counter at NY Penn station can get extremely non cooperative at times!!