The best way to get to New York is always to land in a calm place before you hit the Big Apple. And none is calmer than Nantucket in Massachusetts. The town gives you a sense of Déjà vu qua Goa but without the Russians and Nigerians messing up the place. Every home is quaint though obscenely priced and the harbor is a dream for anyone interested either in fishing or sailing. Remember this is the town that also connects you to American history in the most fascinating way. Home to the Kennedys is Hyannis Port just an hour's ferry ride away and when you are sailing from Nantucket, and you move towards Hyannis Port you soak in the wonderful saga of the Kennedys. But then in order to get to Nantucket, you have to clear immigration at this hick one-horse airport of Bangor: better known as the place where Stephen King lives.
Which is why my journey this time round, into the United States, began with a tour of history which was both compelling and lots of fun. June is not the season for Nantucket. July is. But then July is also when this sleepy town of 18,000 residents morphs into a town of 65,000 gawkers and that can never be a fun proposition.
I flew into New York from Nantucket and soaked myself in Manhattan lore. The Met has always remained my first stop. There is a brilliant exhibition on The Lost Kingdoms showing apart from which I had an amazing lunch in the Member's Lounge with the immensely talented Navina Haidar who is the Curator of the Islamic Galleries at The Met. Sadly, this entire ensemble also has an Indian section, which is also the only section that hasn't been named because wealthy Indians are happier spending money on their brats' weddings rather than giving back to society. Anand Mahindra has at least contributed to the Arts through the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard but what have the others done? Ratan Tata would have done (and achieved for generations) far more if he had given 10 million US$ to The Met rather than the millions of dollars the Tatas poured into Harvard. I am delighted that India at The Met is represented by selfless passionate people like Navina whose sense of nationalism qua India is so joyful to both watch and experience. I hope the day will come when some wealthy Indian will also contribute to The Met after they've married off their children and bought themselves every possible piece of jewelry.
New York is the city of people and the city of streets. It is a city no matter how many times you go back to (this year, this was my sixth trip), you will always discover wondrous things. From impromptu music soirees to the new bloom of flowers in Central Park to the magic of theatre and fine food. Manhattan also guarantees you a sense of anonymity, which few other global cities do. And unlike London, you are not going to bump into the smuggler or the arms dealer that you've spent a year avoiding so even in that context, things are good at Manhattan.
This is the city that you must lose yourself in, if you ever keen to find yourself a better existence: be it cultural or epicurean.