I had my first bite of the Big Apple in 2005. It was there that I found my love for photography.I never had any interest in photography before the trip to Manhattan. In fact, I brought along a camera that was not even mine - it belonged to my sister. It was a Kodak CX 7330, a 3.2 megapixel digital camera which ran on (yes) AA batteries.
I did not have much money back then. My air ticket had cost me more than half of my monthly salary. I couldn’t afford to spend much on shopping. So, I did the next best (free) thing - walking around the city and taking photos. Then, I discovered a whole new world through the viewfinder.
Is the city really a concrete jungle where dreams are made of? I believe so. New York is made up of people who have gone there in search of their dreams. And for me, it was where my dream of becoming a photographer began.
Six years after, I returned to capture the city which inspired me, and the people who made New York New York.
The New York City Subway is one of the world‘s oldest public transit systems, and also one of the busiest. In the city that never sleeps, it runs for 24 hours a day, every single day of the year.
Waiting for the train was never time lost or wasted to me. The metro was perpetually full of interesting characters, adding colour to my rides which would have otherwise been dull.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or Met for short, is one of my all-time favourite museums, not just in New York but among all the cities I have been to. One of the 10 largest art museums in the world, the Met has such an extensive art collection that I would spend almost an entire day at the museum.
Manhattan has some of the most iconic architecture - the Chrysler Building, the Solomon R Guggenheim museum, the Flatiron, the Brooklyn Bridge; the list goes on.
No trip to New York is complete without a visit of the Brooklyn Bridge. Running across the East River, the bridge links the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the States, having been completed in 1883.
I have an unexplained love for bridges and particularly huge massive bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge, despite my fear of heights. I would marvel at the structures and wonder to myself how they were built.
That was why I visited the Brooklyn Bridge again and again.
THE NEW YORKERS
What defines a city? The people, if you ask me.
New York is New York because the New Yorkers give this city its unique character. In this city, I had some of my most pleasant and unpleasant encounters with people, but all of them unforgettable.
I’d never forget the kind old man I met at the eatery in the Met. I was sitting alone, eating all by myself when an old man asked if he could share the table with me, to which I replied yes. Halfway through my meal, the old man pushed a piece of paper across the table to me and asked, “Do you want this?”
I stared at the piece of paper. It was a concert ticket to watch the New York Philharmonic.
I had badly wanted to catch the New York Philharmonic but had no idea how to get a ticket. I then asked the old man, “Don’t you want it?” He replied that he could get free tickets as a senior citizen. I decided to accept the old man’s kindness.
That night, I attended the concert at the Lincoln Centre with the old man and his teenage son. The orchestra performed a wonderful rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, which for some unknown reason moved me to tears. At the end of the concert, the old man gave me his NY Yankees baseball cap as a souvenir.
That was the most beautiful concert I have ever attended to date.
New York remains a subject of my present reverie. One day, I would go back to the city again. Maybe by then, my dream has come true.