Sleepless in New York

I stood outside you.

A day before I had passed by you. I had looked at you with reverence. I had longed to step out of the bus, run, touch you and run back to the bus. After much deliberation I had decided against it.

My day had been spent knowing about how inspirational leaders have shaped the future of nations. In all this I was physically and emotionally tired but that was not the reason that I dare not come near you. In visiting museums, stores, book shops and parks my casual jeans and shoes did not limit my entry but I was scared entering you.

The patriots of my country, the nobles of my native country had blessed you with their presence. Knowing their fondness for perfection in dressing I could not dream of imperfection in the dress that I wore when I an ordinary citizen of Pakistan visited you.

The whole night I pondered over whether to visit you or not. I decided not to visit you but then you see I passed by Pakistan’s embassy. Seeing the green flag waving and madly clicking my camera to capture the sight I decided I need to see for myself the place which the known bearers of the flag blessed with their presence.

There I stood outside you. You were simply majestic! I looked at myself – I looked so simplistic. My heart sank and I turned away. My four year old niece urged me to step towards what to her appeared a fairy’s house. So I moved towards the red carpet and golden wooden doors anticipating to be stopped by the guard but no one stopped me! There were no security scanners no security checks. I passed your door and I stepped inside.

I was spell bound and stunned by the overwhelmingly regal decor and ambience. Everything around me was just so expensive. People were having tea in the tea room in the finest and priceless china.

Thousands of white flowers in vases that were neither crystal nor glass nor china but something truly out of the world. The cakes and snacks were heavenly. The people having them appeared rich and powerful.

My niece wanted to be photographed in the fairy house. I was reluctant but so innocent was her request that I could not say no. My hands trembled as I clicked for the fear of being rebuked. No one shunned me, no one told me to get lost. This was a place which had leaders of the world, the rich and mighty as its residents but it was open to open public. It embraced all irrespective of class or status.

The place is called The Plaza Hotel New York. The splendour of ambience, the magnificence of furniture and crockery and class of service compels (I believe) even the influential of my country to reside there – a place that is situated near the Central Park of New York – a very busy area and open to all.

I wonder when they stay there do they look out of The Plaza Hotel towards Empire State Building and ponder over its history, appreciate the diversity of New York, reflect on how leadership can make or break the future of nations, look outside towards Central Park and learn the lessons of environmental protection  and most importantly admire equality in access to a hotel that appeared only for rich people, the value of recreation and the reasons for complete absence of security checks.

Contemplating that night I was sleepless in New York! I

Regards,

Afra




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