One World Observatory, The Freedom Tower

I have written two posts earlier about the views from our apartment. Please see Beginning and The Tallest Building.

When we moved into our apartment a decade ago, there was no Freedom Tower. Memories of 9/11 still fresh.

Over the years, One World Trade Center or the Freedom Tower has become what you see below. We have seen it evolve while witnessing our own evolution. And last weekend, we visited One World Observatory at One World Trade Center.

The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, fourth tallest in the world. A symbol of resilience, rising from the ashes. The apartment view.
That’s our apartment building. Witnessing the witnesser of the past ten years from the 102nd floor of One World Observatory.
Zoomed-in view from the ground
As expected, there were airport-like security checks.
The tunnel, en route to the Sky Pod elevator, has mock displays of the natural rock foundations of the building. The bedrock of New York City: how an ancient mountain range made its skyscrapers possible.

Sky Pod elevators. We reached the 102nd floor in 47 seconds. Inside, on our rocket ride, we experienced a three-dimensional time-lapse panorama of NYC history unfolding on three walls of the elevator cab. (Warning: The elevator ride you are about to experience utilizes large format media displays to create the illusion of dynamic motion and viewing beyond the elevator cab walls. Individuals who are sensitive to simulation experiences, or suffer from fear of heights or motion sickness are advised to either close their eyes or face the elevator doors to avoid discomfort.)
See Forever Theater. After you disembark the elevator, you walk up to a big rectangular screen where you’ll see a multi-media presentation highlighting the NYC timeline, introducing you to the observatory.

360-degree views:

East River, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge
Financial District, Governors Island, Brooklyn
Midtown and Uptown Manhattan
The iconic Hudson River separating New Jersey from New York City.
The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Staten Island, and Jersey City in New Jersey.
At One Dine, One World, celebrating our son’s birthday.
Exploring the Sky Portal: a real-time perspective from HD cameras affixed to the tower’s spire, projected right at the feet.
The Buzz gives all the information you need about NYC.
Calatrava’s Bird in Flight, the WTC transportation hub that cost $4 billion.
The Oculus, the transportation hub
The West Concourse

It starts with Lines (Photo Challenge). It starts with Rivulet, too (Daily Prompt).

Squirrel’s Instant Messaging

I met this squirrel a few years ago in Union Square park on 14th Street, New York City.

I remember that I’d given him the peanut that you see in his nimble hands. He had sniffed it before picking it up and strangely, unlike most squirrels, he hadn’t eaten it yet.

Give the picture a closer look – you might believe he’s looking at you.

Normally, I wouldn’t look at a squirrel with hope that it would deliver me a message. That morning, I hoped.

I’d lost my uncle the previous night in India and that morning, I was to perform in a play at Lee Strasberg. It was the last day of our month-long intensive and expensive acting course.

The tragedy in the family hadn’t stopped me from going to Strasberg, because I knew that if I hadn’t gone, I would’ve upset the departed soul. But I was crestfallen, and unsure if I’d remember my lines from the play.

I’d told my acting teacher about the death. His advice: Give it your best, Mahesh. Let it be a tribute to your uncle.

In the park, the more I’d gazed at the squirrel, the more I’d felt he wanted to tell me something.  And I remember that he hadn’t – until the last glimpse I had of him on my way to the Strasberg building – eaten the peanut.

I performed in the play thinking only about my character. My fellow students applauded the act, and my teacher praised that it was the best tribute I could give.

A few days later, somebody told me that squirrels do come with a message that one should take life a little less seriously. Perhaps the squirrel that morning wanted me to take it easy, demonstrating it by sacrificing his instant urge to eat the peanut.

An actor friend of mine who hadn’t known about my family tragedy linked the squirrel-behavior to indigestion.

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Take life a little less seriously is the Panacea (Daily Prompt). Take a Peek (Photo Challenge).

Central Park Zoo

On Sunday, we visited the Central Park Zoo in New York City.

This was our second visit in the last year and the tickets were paid for. Reason: Last year, during our first visit, the zoo was closed due to an explosion nearby. It was very unfortunate that a teenager tourist lost his foot in the blast. The visitors who’d purchased the tickets were given complimentary tickets, valid for a year, since most of us couldn’t see all the attractions. I remember we were on our way to watch a 4D movie when the blast had led the zoo authorities to initiate an early shutdown.

The complimentary tickets were to expire in July this year, so the last Sunday had to be the day.

The Central Park Zoo began as a menagerie in the post mid-19th century. The place has since seen several modifications, making it the modern zoological garden, now home to an indoor rainforest.

You enter the zoo with a sizable crowd before disappearing down the trellised walkway. It might look like a conflict zone if you believed the fear-mongering of some, but multiculturalism thrives, and it works toward a peaceful co-existence. The vine-clad purity, the breath of fresh green, the brick trimmed with granite.

Since we missed the 4D movie last time, we began this tour with a movie: Ice Age – No time for Nuts.

How a saber-toothed squirrel on a chase after his acorn, which a time machine dispatches into different time periods, makes for a fun viewing experience.

Our 4D glasses on; son thoroughly enjoyed the film.

We avoid fast food but have to make do with it when options are scarce. The monopoly of a lone restaurant in the zoo can drain your wallet: $14 for a cheeseburger. I ate half of my burger in disapproval. The street vendor right outside the zoo would charge more or less the same, charging $3 for a 700 ml water bottle, for example. In other places, the same bottle costs $1.50. Uniformity in prices kicks competition out. But, french fries tasted better after a while.

Right outside Tisch Children’s Zoo which was to be our next stop, this brilliant musician played Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round on his saxophone.

At the Children’s Zoo, we waited to feed the goats

Alpaca, which resembles Llama, is a domesticated species of South American camelid.

Feeding the Alpaca. (Look out – Alpacas can spit.)

Spider web play area

White-naped Crane needs shallow wetlands and grassy marshes to forage, nest, and raise their chicks. 70% of these cranes breed in Mongolia which provides perfect habitats.

Ducks’ feeding time

 

Cavies come from the same family as guinea pigs. A family of rodents native to South America.

Intelligence garden (in the Temperate zone) is an idea borrowed from a Chinese emperor who believed that the best way to develop intelligence was to observe animals in their natural state. 

Where next?

Walking toward the Tropic zone. Glass-roofed pergolas add to the beauty.

A grizzly bear stands 3 to 4 feet tall on all fours, but can reach 6 to 7 feet tall when standing up straight.

The bear’s private pool

California Sea Lion can dive hundreds of feet deep and stay underwater for up to 10 minutes.

Flora that lends beauty…

It was zero degree Fahrenheit…descending from the pass were the marks of the Snow Leopard; they can venture as high as 19,000 feet. Watch its eyes at your own risk.

Red panda – found in the Himalayan foothills, this flame-colored animal shares both territory and a name with the giant panda, but not genetics. Red panda is actually related to Raccoon.

The Victoria-crowned pigeon is a large, bluish-grey pigeon; has elegant blue lace-like crests, maroon breast, and red irises.

Blue-headed Macaw Parrot. Pointed tail, large bill.

Amazon Tree Boa is non-venomous, found in South America.

Banded Mongoose – females give birth within a few days of each other and everyone cares for the babies.

Texas Tortoise thrives in exposed dry scrub and grasslands; forages on cactuses.

Slender-tail Cloud Rat – one of the largest rats in the world. Guess its weight when fully grown? Around five pounds. Its penetrating look as if it knows what we’re thinking.

Penguins in the Polar zone. Just chill.

CN Tower In Toronto

It was a day of fun at CN Tower. The view from the Observation Deck was spectacular.

Your Majesty!

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One of the tallest freestanding structures in the world740301_10151422660890625_871648377_o

In a high-speed glass-fronted elevator. Racing upwards at 22 kilometers per hour.343434

This glass floor (1122 feet up) can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos.741157_10151422661485625_1799800368_o

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View from the Observation Deck (116th floor). Billy Bishop city airport (center-right).736008_10151422662130625_1191204972_o

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The night view

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