Tag Archives: #cities

Concrete Jungle

A visit to Hong Kong reminded me how much I miss living in a city – a real city with lots of people and buildings so tall that you cannot see the sky.

There are two kinds of people in the world: City dwellers and non-city dwellers. They are very distinct breeds. As a city dweller you would resonate with the following:

Skyline: I prefer watching the skyline at night than sunset or sunrise. There is something very mesmerizing in the lights that shimmer in all the buildings. They tell a story of their own. Transformers was shot in Hong Kong, and now I know why. Hong Kong has one of the coolest skylines – The whole city is a skyline, and it has two of them one on the HK island and one on Kowloon side.

Muggers: City dwellers automatically move their purses/bags to the front in crowded areas to prevent mugging. This is a very natural instinct that they have. You will notice that most of them always have a hand on their valuables.

Getting in trains: This is an art especially in crowded cities like Mumbai. Not only in trains but any overcrowded situations like buses, functions. There is a way to use your elbows and wriggle through crowds, and if you want to take it a step further, you also know how to hold seats for others.

Crowd Management: I noticed that after 2-3 days I was getting into the rhythm of HK. Walk on one side where a line of people is moving in the same direction as yours, look at the ground. There are etiquettes here too – when to bypass somebody etc.

Click this link to see the fast pace in cities

People in cities are not polite – not because they are not friendly people but because there are other high priority tasks – mere politeness is useless. Like we got a ticket from customer service in the subway in Hong Kong and before I could even say Thank You he had moved over to the other window to help another customer. He glanced at our window, and when he found us standing there, he asked if everything was ok. Because people don’t wait around at his windows unless something goes wrong.

People do not smile at each other like how they do in other less crowded places. Here if you smile at each other, it is considered suspicious behavior. Again, not because they are not friendly people because when there are other things at stake like getting home – such niceties take a back seat.

All this does not mean those city dwellers are not connected. On the contrary, there is an intense bond which comes by sharing the city together, elbowing to get into the train, bypassing the tourist who is wasting everybody’s time, shared looks when subway breaks down, shared the joy when lights come up on a tall skyscraper. This connection goes beyond words and mannerisms that the rest of the world seems to follow.

Living in a city makes me feel connected even if I do not smile at strangers or say Thank You to everybody. Somethings run more in-depth, and you have to experience them to know it.

Happy New Year. #Sydnye

Happy New Year All.
This year we were in Sydney for the New Years and decided to do what we never did even once in the seven-year we lived in London. Watch the fireworks in person. A well-organized event in Sydney. There are different vantage points. The one we chose was the McMahons point – it opens from 8 am – 1 pm but capacity is limited to 15000. We reached there at 4:00 – the place was packed. We managed to squeeze in our three chairs somehow and just sat there ignoring the irritated looks of the people next to us. We could see the Opera house on the left, Harbour Bridge in front of us and then a sea of people with humongous colorful umbrellas and tents.

Around 4:00 pm it was still hot in Sydney, so everybody was applying sunscreen on a regular basis, but as the evening cooled down, tents come down, people wore sweatshirts to protect themselves from the chilly winds. And by that time we had practically become family to our initially unfriendly neighbors. The huge crowd of thirteen teenagers and one mom who was parked in front of us were asking us to move closer as their tent come down. I was tapping my feet to their music. We even sang happy birthday to somebody in the group at midnight. Somethings happen only in cities – where strangers share intimate, private moments and then go back to being strangers.

I was quite impressed by the portable toilets. There were about 20 toilets at the lower level and maybe another five male toilets at the upper level. That meant roughly one bathroom for 600 people. The queues were thirty minutes to one hour long. But they were all clean and operational even at 11:30 pm. Now that is an impossible feat if you ask me – hats off to the planners.

As we started getting closer to midnight, I could feel the excitement building up in the air. People got their glow necklaces, bracelets, and headbands. Now that it was dark we noticed the projections on the wall on the two sides of the bridge. And as a teaser, they release fireworks for five minutes at 8:30 and at 10:30 pm. People would gather and stand up as it neared those times.

Fireworks were shot from the boats behind the bridge, and they lighted up the bridge. It looked as if the bridge itself was a silent spectator enhancing the beauty of the fireworks. The way wind was blowing all the smoke shifted towards opera house which looked like three priests looking out from their cowls in the darkness. The display for five minutes was so dazzling that I found myself looking forward to the twelve-minute show at midnight.

And soon enough after a surprisingly quick 8 hours, the final countdown started from 75 seconds. And there was silence as the fireworks exploded like there was no tomorrow (which was true for 2017). There were different types of fireworks with varied colors. Some were concentric circles of different colors. Kids immediately labeled it as a rainbow. Then there was golden rocket which sprouted a dozen others as it fizzled out. And they made full use of the bridge. They shot upwards from the top of the bridge; there even was a golden waterfall at the end from the bottom of the bridge. The trains still going across the bridge just made the experience even more surreal. Crowds Oohed and Aahed with the rhythm of the fireworks. Little kids perched on their dad’s shoulder watched with their mouths open, finger pointed, but no voice came from them. As the frenzy grew so did the fireworks, it was like without a break.

When it was all done we made our way back home taking the miracle of the fireworks – Thank you #Sydnye (Syd New Year’s Eve). We could not have found a better way to usher in the New Year.