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Empire State Building, New York.

We arrived in New York at approximately 12.00pm on the 31st of December, 2014. The traffic was surprisingly pleasant. We had been warned about the horrid New York traffic, especially because of NYE but our drive into Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel was pleasantly impediment free. The hotel was located on 37th street between 5th and 6th avenue. My friend, who I will from here on forward call H, her husband and 7 year old daughter checked in while I called another friend, a native New York-er (or as native as it gets – he’s lived there for 10 years now), T, to meet for lunch since he was just bumming around at work anyway.

People living in New York don’t seem to be interested in spending NYE at Time’s Square. For some its a been-there-done-that situation while others are overwhelmed by the crowd and general discomfort associated with watching the ball drop. Let me elaborate on the discomforts – first of all it’s a mission to just get in, secondly it’s freezing cold and last but certainly not the least, no bathrooms once you’re in. But for oblivious out-of-staters like H and myself, the idea of watching the ball drop was too grand an idea to let such petty inconveniences dampen our spirits. Oh we learned the hard way!

At around 3, T and I headed back to get H from the hotel, after lunch and a quick walk through the Empire State building, Macy’s (the biggest store in the world apparently) and some light-weight sight seeing. Now, T had been constantly dropping hints of his disinterest about Time’s Square. Seeing his attitude, I too began to re-evaluate the idea of waiting hours in the freezing cold just to see a ball drop especially with no bathrooms. But H was adamant. This was something you get to do once in a lifetime, she explained, she wasn’t going to get another chance and she had looked forward to this for a month. Seeing our doubtful faces, she proceeded to head in the direction of Times Square on her own at which point I decided ‘oh what the heck! I want to do this too!’ T was not pleased. He agreed to take us there but was firm about not going in with us.

We walked God-knows-how-many blocks to the entrance at 48nd street and were told that it had filled up and we had to go in through 52nd. We turned around, thanking the police officer who had provided us with the information, only to see a crowd of people behind us already making a run for the 52nd. T and H were ready to run too but, against my better judgement, I had decided to wear a pair of stylish new pair of boots instead of my old worn out snow boots. Needless to say, my feet were already blistered so running was definitely not in the stars for me that day.

Long story short, we were able to get in at 52nd street. T said goodbye and left while H and I continued on our quest to ‘cross one off the bucket list’. Once we were on Manhattan avenue though we became thoroughly confused. We could see the tower from which the ball would drop clearly, but there were cleared out barricaded areas at each block that people were standing around. It seemed other people were just as confused – probably because most of them were first timers too. Not sure what happened next, we decided to use the bathroom at a bakery, since there would be no bathrooms once we were in but wren’t we in already? And if so, we would always have bathroom access in this bakery right? Let’s just get our business done and then figure things out, we decided. The bakery was totally profiting from their prime location and the hoards of people wanting to use their restrooms. Everyone had to buy something, pay and get a token, and use the token to get into the restroom.

We came back out and followed the crowd to 49th where they were letting people in the barricaded areas. Ah so that’s what’s supposed to happen, we finally realized. We lined up on the side, pretty close to the entry, only to realize the crowd was anything but patient. The pushing and shoving is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as a member of what I consider a civilized society! I had a tiny girl in front of me, right next to the railing, and there were more than a few times that I thought I would fall over with her and the railing! I didn’t think we would ever get in. I thought we would simply get pushed into the barricaded area. I had no control over my movement. I moved with the crowd. It got so bad that the girl in front of me and I had to synchronize a push back into the crowd to keep from falling over! To make matters worse, they were letting only one person in at time, after a full security check. At that rate, we would still be standing outside when the ball dropped – at least we’d get to see it though. Luckily, they began to hasten the entry and security process and after more relentless pushing and shoving (I was actually afraid the girl in front of me might end up suffering from internal organ damage or something poor thing!), we finally got in! Sandwiches and Gatorade in hand, bladders empty and feet screaming in pain, we walked into the barricaded area, elated at finally getting in, and began our wait. It was 5pm. Yup. Only 7 hours till the ball dropped.

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