NYC travel Guide – My Quick Guide

So I went yesterday with my pal to NYC to get his OCI card.. Yes, you can consider this a continuation of my frustration of not being able to get my OCI..

AM(that’s my pal and me.. since we both have the same initials we are commonly referred to as AM squared) met in NYC Penn station and prepared for our day long adventure. Of course since I’m now a tourist in NYC and a newbie to NYC Penn Station, I immediately got lost as I exited to the promenade level.. Everything has changed since the time when I commuted to NYC for 10 years. Now I’m just a displaced New Yorker calls the suburbs of Central New Jersey  home.

The renovations in NY Penn station are remarkable. Amtrak, NJ Transit are separated and of course, I didn’t know this so I gave the other the wrong location to meet. Fortunately he ignored my advice and showed up in the right place (the aforementioned wrong place! – Get it?)

Now what is the best way to see New York? By the transit system of course! Below are some tips to making your trip to NYC a memorable one…

  • Buy a one day “fun pass” Metrocard (currently $8.25) and you can take the MTA buses and trains to your hearts content. You can buy this at any subway station! This card is your passport to adventure in NYC! You are guaranteed to meet all kinds of interesting characters on the mass transit system of NYC. So both your transportation and entertainment are covered by this metrocard.
  • What’s the only “FREE” thing in NYC that is a tourist hot spot? The Staten Island Ferry. This ferry runs every 1/2 hour and gives you an excellent view of the Statue of Liberty as it goes from Manhattan to Staten Island. This is a must if you visit NYC.
  • Went uptown first via the “E” and got out on 5th ave and 53rd St. Coincidentally this was where I worked on my last job in NYC! This is 666 Fifth Avenue! Here is where your walking tour uptown starts. You hit Fifth Avenue and head Uptown past Trump Tower, Tiffany’s and the other amazing stores on Fifth Avenue. Make sure you watch the cabs, as you don’t want to be a casualty of the taxi’s as they speed across the intersections.
  • Stop at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and 60th street and you have found Nirvana. It’s not called the “happiest place on earth” for nothing. When u enter this huge store.. you just want to open your wallet and say “I’ll take this and this, this.. ” I cam ooh soo close to buying the new Apple Laptop called “MacBook Air“. It’s a good thing I resisted. For Now..
  • Once we finished our Indian Consulate Experience (I’ll leave that experience for our guest blogger AM when he sees this posting), we went downtown to Ground Zero with the “R” train. This is the first time I’ve been here since 911 and my heart was very heavy as I saw the construction taking place where the twin towers once were.  “Never Forget”..  This was the same place I commuted from when I used to work for a few years downtown! Now it’s just a construction site as NYC rebuilds at Ground Zero.
  • We then walked downtown to the Staten Island Ferry for our Free ride to Staten Island. BTW, the Staten Island Ferry is truly a nice ride and you don’t have to wait hours and hours to get to Ellis Island to see Lady Liberty. As you pass the Statue Of Liberty, you take your pictures and then go back inside.. where it’s nice and warm! You go to Staten Island and come back to NYC on the next ferry Launch!
  • Food in NYC is the best! You have your pick of the carts on the streets, fast food, ethnic food or my new fav.. Chipotle! Mexican Fast food like Subway (Eat Fresh!)
  • Get back on the train and get off at either Canal St (China Town and Little Italy), or at west 4th, or Union Square.. If you are truly ambitious, start walking uptown on Broadway and you can  go past City Hall (the office of the Mayor of NYC)!
  • Since I’m not inclined to walk 40 or more blocks, we took the train to Union Square and did some strolling in the outdoor market where little kids were being paraded by their teachers for their annual Halloween walk and the artisans and other vendors were selling their caricatures as well as their fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • When we were relaxing on the steps at Union Square park, we even got a job offer to make $15k per hour by a young man who was keen on getting us our next job!
  • Back on the train we went to the Center of the world — Times Square.. Now the bright lights of Times Square and the stores will absolutely give you a thrill. There is a reason that they call this the center of the civilized world. To sit in Times Square you see the bright lights of Broadway and the intersection of Broadway and 7th avenue as the intersection of all things and absolutely the midtown attraction of NYC. Walk a few block a few blocks and you have Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center which are just off 6th Avenue.
    • Tip for travel on trains: If you miss a train., just wait, another one will come in a few minutes. Be careful that you don’t get on Express trains (#4, #5) if you want to make all stops uptown/downtown.
    • When in Times Square, buy yourself a coffee from any one of the Starbucks that line Broadway and just sit in the pedestrian mall that has become the staple of the Times Square area. Nothing like it in the world to have a cup of hot coffee and sit in the center of Times Square!
    • If you want to see a broadway show, go to the TKTS booth and get discounted broadway tickets.
    • If you want to know why NYC is the city that never sleeps, spend a few minutes in Times Square and you will see why!
  • If you don’t want to travel by train, you can get on any Bus going North/South or East/West.  This is the only way to tour NYC either by bus or by train!
  • If you have the chance, make sure you stroll in Central Park or take a ride on the Hansom horse driven cabs that line Central Park.. Now you are living the high life!

What I realized from my day in NYC is that NY never leaves your system, even if you don’t live there anymore, it just lies dormant till your next visit. I noticed that as I walked up and down the streets of NYC, my attitude was reverting back to my NY way of thinking. Nobody has the right of way during rush hour (especially in Penn Station!). If you are walking against the pedestrian flow,  you better be careful not to get pushed to the side!

I realized yesterday that I really miss the fast paced life of  NYC and to visit NYC at least once every few months is the answer to really living and enjoying life!

Now that the holiday season is on us, you MUST visit NYC to see the lights on Broadway and the decoration on Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center. If you go in the early evening hours, this is when NYC comes to life and you will see the spectacular effects of Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Fifth and Sixth Avenue! Of course you can’t forget Herald Square, the Empire State Building. I guess to in order to really see NYC, you have to see it as a native.. on foot!

NYC Visit for OCI retrieval – NOT MINE!

So this Friday, my buddy and I will be visiting NYC. He’s getting his OCI card and I’ll tag along sulking in self misery as I still can’t get mine since I need to get the American Naturalization certificate to get an Indian Overseas Citizen of India Card. I still don’t get the logic behind that. So to get the replacement I’ll have to pay $380 so I can make a copy of it to give it to the Indian Government.

It’ll be my second visit to NYC in the past 2 weeks. To think I grew up in NYC, went to school in NYC, and commuted to NYC, and now I’m just a tourist. Something about NYC just brings out the joy in me. I guess seeing all the masses of humanity and the crowds is just exciting. In the  burbs where I live, seeing people walk around is a rarity, but in NYC, the best way to get around is on Foot.

Last week when I went to NYC, I found myself  looking at people and saying that: “this was me for so many Years”. Now I’m just a docile subarbinite who gets excited in my infrequent visits to the Big Apple.

I’ll write about my visit of course as my buddy and I plan to chill and have a good time.

Later for now,

Dad

Time for change

So after over a year of blogging I decided it’s time for a change. I finally changed the style of my blog. After being a notorious non-creative techie, I settled on the current style. Of course this mean’s that in order for me to change again, will take an act of God.

I went through the 100+ page layouts and and settled on this one. Tell me if you like it.. Because of the number of links I’ve added, I decided to streamline the layout to be more minimalist.

United Way – How much is excessive?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like to write on controversial topics.  Yet this time, I’m going to do just that. The United Way.. or another word for high pressure drives and contributions to a great cause?

Over the past few weeks, at the large company I work at, there has been a massive push for donations to the United way during their annual fund raising drive. I’ve contributed both financially and being a volunteer at company sponsored events to raise funds. Yet what I see at my campus,  is individuals who seem to have taken the United Way donations theory and convert  it to mob or cult levels for chartibable cause contributions.

Everywhere I look, I see the box of $1 candy (of which I admit, I’ve contributed multiple dollars here), to events (movies, raffles, ice cream stands, ping-pong tournaments). I applaud all these events as a charity like the United way is doing a great job for the community. Yet, when is this going to end?  The past day or so, I received multiple emails with tallies on the number of employees that have not “officially” contributed to the united way.

Doesn’t charity count when you contribute via the candies all over the building and participating in events?

What I have a problem is with:

  • The managers, directors and executive directors sending emails flagging the fact that unless you are counted with payroll deductions, you have really not contributed to the United Way.
  • The employees (especially the college hires) that go around the campus and knock on peoples doors and do what I call “pressure and guilt sales”.
  • The number of man hours that seem to be wasted with employees spending hours and hours doing “charity work”. Ok.. I admit, I’ve spent about 3 hours at an event as a master of ceremonies and just helping out with the event.

A friend of mine who happens to have his office near the employees that I outlined in bullet 2 above, told me of where these college hires (the future of my company), who gather every morning and have cheerleading and strategy sessions to make sure every box of candy in his building is stocked to the hilt with snickers, Hershey bars, and other high caloric items.

These same employees go around to other employees door-to-door and basically pressure individuals to contributeIt’s not just one person that goes around, they go in gangs from office to office asking for cash contributions. I know that if someone came to my door, my guilt would take over and I’d open my wallet just from the pressure!

I can almost guarantee that the during the upcoming week, I will be getting multiple targeted emails from the leadership “encouraging” us to open our hearts and wallets. Yet if we contributed via alternative methods (candy sales, ice cream, etc.. ), doesn’t that count to the bottom line?

There, I feel much better now.. Now I can go enjoy my Snickers and Hershey’s without the Guilt!  I realize that I’ll be subjected to flames with this posting, but hey I haven’t ruffled some feathers in a long time!

 

Verizon iPhone impacts and questions

 

can you hear me now?
Will we be seeing this in the near future?

Over the past few days, I’ve read multiple articles about the iPhone going to Verizon at the beginning of 2011. As I happen to work for the company that has the exclusive rights to this phone, I have some questions that will make you say.. Hm..

  • What will happen to all those people that are going to T because of the iPhone?  Are they going to break their T contracts and go BACK to Verizon for a better experience
  • What about those people that are currently with VZ will they wait till Jan and jump on the iPhone bandwagon when VZ starts to offer the iPhone
  • What will be the overall impact of Verizon selling the iPhone to the mobility sales impact at T? will there be a small exodus of customers or will it be a gusher?
  • Will Verizon’s LTE network be able to handle the immediate increase in data volume?

In my opinion, people that are with AT&T will stay with AT&T and the Verizon customers that are thinking of moving to AT&T will NOT move over, but get the iPhone at Verizon.

What about the numbers? How many will stay? How many will move from AT&T back to Verizon?

AT&T predicts a 2% to 3% churn.  In my opinion, this number is too conservative.  I would go with anywhere up to 10%.

Going from Verizon to AT&T the numbers will be much much larger. Over 30% of the VZ customers will clamor for the bandwidth hog of the iPhone when it is offered.

Another question that is on my mind.. Will the CDMA or LTE iPhone how different will it be from the current iPhone 4?

The Social Netwoork – Facebook Movie

Thus past weekend, I had the opportunity to see a movie that I actually and really enjoyed from start to finish. For the past few years (and many parents will attest to this),  I only go to movies that my kids take me to. So most of the movies I see are animated or made for kids. Worse than that is when I end up going to movies selected for me by my kids!

I’ve become notorious for falling asleep in the movies and getting poked in the ribs to wake up.

I actually enjoyed The Social Network from the opening frame to the end.  When I left the movie on Sunday, I honestly felt that the $24 that I spent was worth every penny of it!

What I liked about this movie was the pace at which the movie progressed in showing the character development. Each of the principals involved with what Facebook were shown as down to earth humans that happened to be in the right place at the right time.

As my friends know, my friend and I are working on a social portal for the Indian Community.  I could identify with the characters in The Social Network. I found myself  imagining myself as if BharatBeat was as successful as Facebook, where would I be in 10 years?

Before I went to the movie, I had not even seen a preview of the move, nor had I read any reviews related to the movie.  I’m glad the title of the movie doesn’t have “Facebook” in it. That would have alienated me from even going to see the movie.  The move traces from birth of an idea to the implementation of a unique idea to the conflicts success brings to ever random person associated with making “Facebook” the multi-billion venture that it currently is!

The film retraces the steps  of the  people it took to invent, expand, sustain, and make a confirmed success out of the concept of Facebook. What I learned that it takes if you have an idea, in order to succeed, the idea has to have some kind of uniqueness that people will comeback asking for more. This is the formula for success that BharatBeat needs to cultivate.

Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg played by Jesse Eisenberg, Facebook creator Zuckerberg comes across as an obsessed college student , so consumed with his website idea that despite making Facebook about socializing with people, that his last concern in the world is actually having real friends. He really didn’t care to have friends. He just was driven to succeed at his dream of creating a social Network. What started out as revenge at being spurned by his girl-friend, turned into a multi-billion dollar goliath.

I was fascinated  to see how the  Zuckerberg  character maintains his focus through the entire movie, constantly finding creative ways to improve Facebook, making and losing friends along the way. The way he absorbed ideas from his friends and added these ideas to his quickly popular website was masterful.  Honestly, until I saw the movie, I did not know much of Zuckerberg, nor did I have an inkling that Napster creator Sean Parker (convincingly played by Justin Timberlake), was behind the concept of changing the name from “The Facebook” to just “Facebook”.  Sean Parker’s brilliance and dogged influence on Zuckerberg is what put Facebook over the top both financially and globally.

The Social Network struggles to maintain its PG-13 rating, it could have easily been an R-rated Movie. The movie’s theme is without a doubt not meant for kids under 13-year-old, even thought many teenager’s live on Facebook starting at ages much younger than thirteen years old.

The Social Network is simply an addictive  drama,  once it catches you, it does not let go.   I was hooked from beginning to end. I will not be surprised, if this movie sweeps the Oscars.

There was no real  beginning, middle and End, … very similar to Facebook.  Rashida Jones’s sympathetic role portrayal was really a scene stealer. In my opinion she stole the scenes she was in.   The Social Network, from begin to end, is a constantly evolving product.  For me, the whole movie was a continual plot line and climax. The  unusual  formula of The Social Network is in itself the reason that the Facebook site is so successful..

For me to say that The Social Network is the movie of the year and a “must see” is quite unusual. I’m very critical of every movie I see.  The  perfectly executed acting, timing and fast  pace of The Social Network kept my mind and eyes riveted to the screen (as opposed to dozing off!).  Any movie that can keep my attention for a solid two hours plus deserves an award.

When I came out of the theatre, I was enthused that in order for me to succeed with BharatBeat, I need to focus and determine what is my end game? You tell me something, when was the last time you came out of a movie theater with jolt of energy to go out and make something of yourself?

I will give this movie 4 of 4 stars without any reservations!

Bharatbeat Relaunched

And

Dad’s Taxi and BharatBeat is proud to announce the re-launch of Bharatbeat, your first stop on the web for the Global South Asian.

Bharatbeat is your first stop for the Global Indian.  Regardless of where you are, we try to provide you with a one stop source for all things related India (Forums, Movie Reviews, Gossip, Indo-Links, Travel).

Our newest venue is a Forums site which is  a chai-time based site where our members post  questions on a variety of topics, read interesting articles and find answers to anything and everything. We are looking for volunteers to take an active role in monitoring and responding to issues/questions to enable a global discussion that impact the South-Asian community

In the  BharatBeat Genie Forums, you can post feedback  related to:

  • Community Cafe  – Debate, ReelTalk, NewsRoom, Cooking Recipes, and Tips and tricks for life!
  • Moni Cafe – Savings and Deals Galore. Who doesn’t want a bargain?
  • Tech Cafe – Brilliant solutions to your technology questions and of course Tips and techniques, Free Software and tools, Smartphone Lounge and Ringtones for your smartphone.

The forums site is your site to provide your feedback and start an active conversation with each other on a global scale!

With this relaunch we celebrate the one year anniversary of BharatBeat in which we have seen over 10,000 unique visitors!

BharatBeat is designed to showcase the  diversity that defines today’s Global Beat of  India and the South-Asian community!

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FYI: I’ve had a new directory category on my side bar for sites where you can see various directory related information.

BharatBeat’s goal is be a community site where you the visitor can leave your input and be a contributor to our site. Email your suggestions on content and we will respond to you!