Independence Day: Long time back there was a debate in the Indian media that we celebrate our Independence and Republic Days in a manner that is very colonial and feudal. Besides, costing an arm it lacks people’s participation. The festivities get on the back burner and projection of state’s might is at the centre stage. I happened to be in USA on 4th July and witnessed their Independence Day. The Americans celebrate this occasion as a people’s festival. The families, friends, lovers and lass are out in the public parks having fun. Whole USA seems to be barbecuing and the evening is charged with scintillating fireworks, the two symbols of American Independence Day celebrations. I see lot of sense in making National Festivals more public. Cricket and Kumbh Melas mobilize people in India to celebrate,a trait at least I am not proud of. An effort by PPP (public private partnership) to promote the idea of celebrating National Festivals with masses here in our country, will go long way in generating Indian-ness.
Yuvraj had taken us to Hoboken Water Front to see the Fireworks. To grab a vantage view point we had to go as early as 6.00 PM whereas, the start time was 9.20 PM. You can imagine the rush. The park was already full when we reached but we managed good place to plonk ourselves. As, the setting sun fell on the glass-clad skyscrapers of Manhattan, they glittered like gold and with their reflections in Hudson River made the whole scene quite picturesque. There were lot of amateur photographers with tripods taking shots as they lumbered up for the final show. Yuvu tells me a good snap can fetch you as much as $1500.00. There were lots of private yachts and boats hanging around in the river to see the grand show. And lo! Here cruises in ‘Queen of Hearts’, a huge Ferry with a loud music and dancing crowd aboard its deck. These guys were waving fervently at us. Vidushi informed me it is $75.00 per person with dinner on board. "Too much” I mumbled. Yuvu and Vidushi got us ‘Shavarma’, a Lebanese dish, to eat. It was some sort of chapatti stuffed with roasted chicken and salad with sauce. I liked it a lot and shall repeat it on the first opportunity. I noticed small aeroplane carrying a trail reading as "Godless American Atheist Organisation". I believe they are influenced by communism and advocate wall between church and the state. There was a fly past by USAF and then by choppers of NYPD over the Hudson.
As it grew darker, the whole sky line of NYC came alive with colourful lights and the Empire State Building with red, white and blue stood out brilliantly. The air patrol by NYPD was deployed and keeping a watch from the top. The yachts and boats switched on their red, blue, and white blinkers and with their reflections in water it looked like a discotheque at full swing. The whole arena was getting electrified and people charged up for the grand finale with all eyes up in the sky.
Soon it was 9.20 PM, and first salvo got fired. “Sunita! I think even in Jaipur we have similar ones in weddings and Aatish baazi”. I said. A lady overheard our chat and intervened to say “I am from Bani Park, Jaipur”. We were pleasantly surprised and got into small talk with her. As the show picked up the quality and variety of Fireworks went up beyond any comparisons. It was a class par excellence.I felt small for my premature comment. The fireworks were courtesy 'Macys', the famous departmental store chain in USA.
we were back home at 10.30 PM and wondering should we or should we not have dinner? The shaverma was quite filling yet not so filling. I opted for maggie.