Located on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, The New York Public Library with its two stone lions guarding the entrance is an iconic building. I’d seen pictures of the library, and being book obsessed, I knew that it would make it to my list of places to visit in New York City.
I knew that the library was the second largest public library in the US and third largest in the world, and Wikipedia told me it had nearly 53 million items and two research branches in NYC. But nothing prepared me for the sheer size and beauty of the interiors.
This postcard, people, features the foyer of the library. The entrance. With a million rabbit holes into which a book obsessed person can disappear. Like the library’s famous Rose Main Reading Room, a majestic 78 foot wide by 297 foot long room, with a ceiling that is 52 feet high! Its walls are lined with thousands of reference books on open shelves. The room is lit by massive windows and grand chandeliers, furnished with sturdy wood tables, comfortable chairs and brass lamps. It is also equipped with computers and docking facilities for laptops. And that’s just one of the rooms in the library.
Contrast that with India, where we hardly have any public libraries. The ones we do have are dusty old buildings that no one would really go into. In Gurgaon, for example, there’s only one library I know of – it’s a private library run from a shop in Supermart 1. Shame!
But…I am so, so thankful for my school library and my wonderful librarian who encouraged me to read to my heart’s content, even allowing me to borrow more books than was allowed in a week. I owe my love for reading, in part, to her.
Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. – Broadcaster Walter Cronkite
So, which is your favorite library?
More travel postcards
There’s something in the air of New York. A certain joi de verve – a love for life. In the many parks and squares that dot the city, you’ll find people sitting around, reading, having a cup of coffee…a group of people skateboarding while the rest of the people watch and applaud…and in Central Park, you come across different sights – a fashion shoot, free tango dancing, rollerblading, musicians, a group of drummers with random strangers stopping and dancing. It’s exhilarating. Vibrant. Alive. Joyful.
And it’s something I sorely miss back home in India. That spirit that lets people dare to be different. To march to their own drum beat.
Which city do you associate with joie de vivre?
It was a bright, sunny day. I was walking through Madison Square Park, when a 40-foot tall sculpture stopped me in my tracks. Something about the tranquility and other-worldliness on that face compelled me to stop, stare, and reflect. At that point, and every time I look at this picture, actually, I fell a sense of peace wash over me.
The name of the sculpture was Echo, and it was created by renowned Spanish sculpture Jaume Plensa.
From the plaque accompanying the sculpture:
“Inspired by the myth of the Greek nymph Echo, the sculpture depicts the artist’s 9-year old neighbor in Barcelona, lost in a state of thoughts and dreams. Both monumental in size and inviting in subject, the peaceful visage of Echo creates a tranquil and introspective atmosphere amid the cacophony of central Manhattan.”
A short ferry ride away from Mumabi is the Elephanta Island, home to the caves of the same name. The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves dating back to between the 5th and 8th century. There are two groups of caves—the first a large group of five Hindu caves, the second, a smaller group of two Buddhist caves. The statues are hewn from solid basalt rock and were originally painted, though now only traces remain.
The sculptures are beautiful, though a lot of them show signs of wind erosion and are broken in places. The interior of the caves is quite dark though, making photography really difficult. Add the jostling crowds of tourists, and it can be tedious at times. But it is well worth the visit – if for nothing else than the ferry ride and the sea gulls that fly alongside the boat!
There are so many lovely photographs we take on holidays, a lot of which just end up on our computers. I’ve been wanting to start a series of Travel Postcards – one picture with a short little write-up – since a while now. What better way to kick-start it than with the A to Z challenge?
New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, was originally designed to carry horse-drawn and rail traffic with a separate elevated walkway along the center line for pedestrians and bicycles. That’s one of the biggest differences between the US and India – the culture of walking and cycling freely. There are wide open spaces where people can walk, play, cycle, skateboard, sit and read all around the city.
This is in stark contrast to India, where we have bridges and flyovers solely for vehicular traffic (which, admittedly, is much higher than in New York), with scant attention paid to pedestrians and cyclists. So bad is the situation that various cities have designated areas on Sunday where vehicular traffic isn’t allowed – the space is opened up to people, allowing them to walk or cycle without fear.
But one day a week does not a culture build. Will we ever get to the stage when people will eschew their cars in favor of cycling or walking short distances? I wonder…