In my childhood between the age 4-7 years, I had heard so much about America. My uncle stayed in Miami and my parents would visit very often, but my elder brother and me had never been. To me my whole world meant America, because of Disneyworld and New York City. 25 years ago taking a trip to that part of the world was a big thing and not many people would go.
Since I was 5 years old, I would keep asking my father the question, “when are you taking me ?” I literally would chew his brains every week.
And finally my father decided to take us in the Summer of 1995, when my brother completed his 10th standard board exams (equivalent to O levels). USA was also the first International destination that my father wanted to take us, because he believes Disney is a Pilgrimage for every child and also that was the first place abroad, he had been to do his Fellowship in Mount Sanai Hospital, NYC, only difference at the age of 30 and me at the age of 9.
Tickets done, visa got (I still remember going on sitting at the US Consulate, in Breach Candy, Mumbai for almost 4 hours). It got me thinking, is it so difficult to go America. First lesson to go abroad, you need to have patience and a lot of it. Even more so when you take that 16 hour long flight via some place. So almost 24 hours of travel. We took Air India from Bombay (Mumbai as known today) to New York via London. But I was pretty comfortable with 24 hours of travel, my brother, mother, father and cousin sister’s company for a chatterbox like me worked as well as cartoons on the flight. An airline with a TV, I was so happy.
Finally we landed to New York. It was about 7pm in the evening, IST . I was very tired but wanted to go out and see this huge place I had heard so much about.
My memories of NYC:
I went up the Empire State Building, it was the first time I was seeing such a tall building, and watching the view of this city along with the Brooklyn Bridge. This made me feel “I’m on top of the world”.
I even went inside the World Trade Centre, was one of the lucky few. There were tours in those days that took you inside. Writing this brings a tear to my eye.
In all my 9.5 years, I never ever thought that streets could be fully lit, shops open, so many people and so much noice at midnight, that’s what I experienced when I saw Times Square. I was taken a back by the night life of this city. In all this glitz and crowd I found a Hersheys store open in these wee hours, it absolutely gave me a high, going and buy so much candy at that time, a complete Sugar High. And those Kisses chocolate mascots, first time in my life I had seen characters like that.
The boat ride along Hudson River to Statue of Liberty was something I was literally counting time, to reach the Lady. The island is beautiful. So many people and the lady look Magnificent. I had never come up close to such a large statue. Walking inside in the dark right to the top of the torch was little scary as it was very dark. And I would keep screaming to hear my echo. But when I reached the top, i felt liberated in the open air and the world below me.
My last day in NYC I visited Macy’s, the largest store in the world. Looking at such a huge collection of dresses, I was so confused what to buy myself. I wanted everything. I came out with a lot of clothes.
Another store that made me so happy was Toys R Us. Three floors of toys, games, cars, dolls, cartoon merchandise, chocolates, I just didn’t know where to begin. Finally I came out of the store with 4 bags of shopping.
The magic of Disneyworld:
New York was one big city experience. After that we flew to Miami, Florida and took a bus ride to Orlando. We had all of a week to spend in this magical place. The first place in Disney I saw was magic kingdom, I just couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. Mickey, Donald. Daffy, Goofy. The Disney parade was outstanding, the lights, music and dance. The rides in magic kingdom were not the scary rollercoaster but more experiental, and enjoyment. The thunder mountain ride, with the dip in the water, got me all drenched, but what was very fascinating was those dryers.
MGM Hollywood was interesting to learn about, how movies are made and how cartoons come to life. The Beauty & the Beast show, was one that has been edged in my memory forever.
Epcot center is definitely an interesting place with a lot of learning. I really found the show called “Making of Me” very amusing, and the cracker show very grand. I love fire crackers , and for Diwali go and watch the crackers on Marine Drive, but what I saw here, was out of the world.
2 things in Disney changed my life forever :
A. The ride called “Its a small world” : where the make you sit on a boat, and dolls are shown to you in setting and clothing of different countries in the world.
B. The world showcase at Epcot Center: where this area is divided into different countries from the world, and you see buildings, eat food from there, people walking in the local dress of that country.
Seeing these 2 things at Disney made me realise there’s a whole world out there to explore, and I want to see and experience it.
My trip continued, we visited Miami, Vegas, Niagra and on our return home saw London. But my experience in Disney changed my life and made me want to explore the world forever.
After that trip I’ve gone back to USA 5 times, and Godwilling will keep going for holidaying.
Here are some pictures of my recent trips.