by Waleed Ali Khan

We woke up early in the morning extremely sleep deprived but excited to see all the different sights in NYC before we departed for Pittsburgh. We packed all our luggage, checked out of the hotel and headed off to a famous bagel shop somewhere near our hotel. This was the first bagel i’ve ever had, and even though i had heard a lot about them through american television, i couldn’t have imagined them being so good! even the variety of cheeses at the bagel shop was confusing. But what i did not get is how american people manage to walk fast, with a cup of coffee and a bagel in their hands. We tried doing that and ended up having a lot of accidents, especially fatima – she tends to be very ungraceful with food.

We then headed off to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which was just a couple of blocks away. It was an interesting experience taking pictures with wax models of famous celebrities, politicians, historical figures etc. Some of the figures were better than others. For instance, the Beyonce one was just terrible as it was hard to figure out whether it was actually Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez.  Varun did a very funny social experiment. There was a placard saying “George Clooney” and an empty seat but no one was sitting there. He went and sat there for around 15 mins, completely still, like a statue and two people approached him:

Person 1: is that George clooney?

Person 2: No! it doesn’t look like him at all!

Person 1: Maybe it’s him when he was young.

I wasn’t there to witness it but we had several people testifying to this. Oh and we also song “Down” (Jay Sean) at the american idol karaoke stage. Simon Cowell said it was “It was extraordinary …. extraordinarily terrible”.

Soon, we were back on our feet walking from block to block trying to reach the Rockerfeller Center to go to the “Top of the Rock”. It was funny how a lot of us thought it would actually be a rock and it ended it up being a skyscraper ( i know it sounds really dumb). The view of NYC from there was amazing and we ended up taking some pretty awesome pictures from there. After our visit, we were short of time and were hence divided into people who wanted to go to central park and those who wanted to go to the really awesome Apple store right across the street from the park. I opted to go to the park, since its one of NYC’s signature locations. But before I get to that, I want to mention that I FINALLY got the Dwight bobblehead! Jill was actually getting annoyed by my keeping the group waiting as i stood in line to buy the bobblehead, but when she saw what i had bought, she totally agreed that it was worth the wait! And ofcourse, everyone agreed that i look like Dwight. Yeah, i know its not a compliment, but its still cool to have a celebrity lookalike.

Central Park was really nice, with the trees and grass covered with snow. I took a picture with this guy dressed up and painted as the statue of liberty, which was funny.

The most interesting thing that happened that day was when we were at this bridge at the park. There was this freelance photographer there, trying to capture the “human element of Central Park.” When he saw a group of Hijabis walking across central park, he thought a picture with them and the central park would be perfect. He therefore took several pictures with them, which was pretty cool in my opinion. I wonder if he ever sent them the picture as he promised. The guy was really nice though and I took a picture with him and his awesome camera (right).

Fast Forward – JFK airport, tons of security checks , delta flight to Pittsburgh.

We arrived at Pittsburgh airport and it looked extremely gloomy at that point of the night, a big change from the 24-hour lively NYC. I don’t really remember what we did that night; i guess we just crashed when we got to the hotel.