A family wedding in Vancouver saw the four of us heading for North America towards the end of June through to mid July 2016.
The three-week trip was divided equally between New York, the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver and for me the focus was photography and if you don’t believe me this image should clear all doubts!
First stop: New York City!
We booked into the Belvedere Hotel situated on west 48th street between 8th and 9th avenue. The location was fantastically central with Times Square and Central Park within walking distance. The hotel had an old world charm and from the moment you step in you got the feeling you were back in the 70’s.
Our last trip to the Big Apple in 2014 was a disaster. We spent most of our time on the hop-on-hop-off bus, the only lasting memories I have was craning to look up at the skyscrapers and the resulting pain in the neck I got in doing so.
This time around we resolved to take in the city on foot. The 80 kilometres of walking clocked during that 7-day period on my iphone will bear testimony to our success in achieving that goal!
We arrived on the 25th of June, a day before the Copa America soccer final between Argentina and Chile. Times Square was packed with Argentinian fans and with their star Messi in prime form they appeared to be in very high spirits.
Looking back I feel someone should have told them the one about the eggs, the chickens and the unpredictable process of hatching!
Early each morning we’d walk the couple of blocks towards Columbus circle and into Central park.
Central Park is beautiful at this time of the day. Devoid of human activity, simply walking through the park with the sun streaming through the trees against a towering backdrop of concrete is a must-do experience in itself.
The fact that it gave rise to an infinite number of photo opportunities was an added bonus.
Or vice versa!
As the sun rose so did the level of human activity turning Central Park into one high-octane photogenic package.
If photography was my personal priority, food was one that was universally high on the trip agenda for all four of us!
In fact right through our week long stay in New York City we sampled a wide variety or truly super cuisine.
A few that bear mentioning were Brenner’s Chocolate Factory at Union Park and Sylvia’s in Harlem. The latter has live Gospel music on particular days that we unfortunately missed. Also the street food stalls around the city and restaurants at Chelsea Market are definitely worth checking out.
When the hotel’s front desk informed us on our very first day that there was a street food festival and a gay parade walking distance from the hotel we first made a beeline for the food!
An entire street was cordoned off to traffic and dedicated to food carts with interesting offerings of both familiar and exotic fare.
Bellies full we made our way towards the Gay Parade.
Expecting a small smattering of people we were in for a shock – this was HUGE!
The parade began at 36th street and 5th Ave and went all the way down to Greenwich Village.
Hailing from Mumbai huge crowds are part and parcel of our daily lives. Yet, we were totally blown by the waves of humanity that thronged 5th Avenue as far as the eye could see. The 6 colored rainbow of LGBT was on display everywhere and in the most imaginative ways. Often in the most improbable places and by the most unlikely of people.
Except for a tiny group of peaceful protesters the parade exuded a sense of togetherness and harmony. Each float being cheered loudly by both gay and non-gay alike.
This was a street photographer’s Nirvana and I will simply let a small selection of the hundreds of images I took that day do the talking…
That Sunday morning the barriers of sexual preference, caste, creed or colour did not seem to exist. It was a unified, humongous mass of humanity celebrating freedom and tolerance in one no-holds-barred carnival and it came – not as a breath – but as a huge, heart-warming blast of fresh air in this increasingly intolerant world.
No photo blog on New York is complete without a shot of the iconic Manhatten skyline. These two were shot from across the East River and were taken minutes apart.
The setting sun in the first gives the city an ethereal halo showcasing it as it were as the great city that it is- safe, friendly and tolerant.
The fiery clouds in the other with the slightly turbulent waters of the East River appear to reveal the metropolis in a more sinful light. Though some would argue that it’s the more ‘fun’ side of the city.
And there was very little in my week-long stay that gave me cause to disagree with either of the two views.
PS. The header image is also a shot of the Manhattan Skyline taken at night. It was a 30 second exposure and the streak of an airliner dotted at intervals with it’s flashing lights and centred almost perfectly across the night sky was, I must admit, a complete fluke!