The City of Egos
New York is a city which denotes the pinnacle of human endeavour. And what better way to celebrate human endeavour than to leave a mark, a permanent structure of steel and cement by your name in the city of New York. There was this story about a competition between William Chrysler and the Chairman of the Bank of Manhattan on who builds a taller building, the tallest building of his times. Both built fervently, and when the construction for both was finished, Chrysler sprang a surprise; he went over and attached a spire to his building, which made it the tallest. Though not for long, the crown was snatched from his very soon, within a year. And what would they get out of building the highest building in the world -- not much, just the recognition, the fame, the high-nose; and By Gawd! that's worth a lot, much more than the billions they would be pouring into the construction.
When you walk the streets of New York you realize how pride has its own place in the hearts of men - how men could give up everything just to build that one memorial in their name, you start to gauge that feeling in Shah Jahan when he built the Taj Mahal. Was it just a memorial to his love? Naah! It is also a memorial to himself. His ego. Snatched brutally by his own son - and his last days spent appreciating his creation from a distance.
And when you walk the streets of New York, you realize arrogance is not a vice, it is a virtue, you begin to live Ayn Rand, you begin to think like Howard Roark - its not about money, its not about food, its not about anything else, it is just that special shape of the heart - the heart of lions - which separates wheat from chaff. It is about John Galt - who decided to show the world that its only the handful who decide to show the world "what mettle they are made of" that the world is able to move the few yards. It is about narcissists being the lubricant which move the world.
Take a walk on Times Square! Take the walk in the night. The tops of the buildings merge into the dark of the sky and below them stands a miasma of Neon. A fellow human can at best feel diminutive in this outgrowth of cement and neon. There is not a single brand worth its salt which does not vie for space in that tiny mile square path of land. If you are not there, you are not anywhere.I would call it "Neon Real Estate", its far more costly than any real Real Estate, perhaps.
Every part of it has a story, even the drain covers - you begin to wonder if it was there that Marilyn Monroe did her famous flying-skirt act. The roadsides have bronze globes - and Broadway seems to be chuckling behind, whispering quietly, "I own all of those!"
Then again, there is a lady in green, whose flame has liberated many a millions, the green copper of her body being the manna many thousands worshipped everyday. The face has a certain calm, the diadem a certain glory, the posture reassuring. This is the right place if you look for freedom, liberty, opportunities, appreciation.
In the same harbour cruise, you can see the vaccum where once the World Trade Center had been. And you feel a similar vaccum inside of you. Despite all the evidence about the the arm pulling of the United States, the act can not be justified. Not to the Indian couple who had come to the place to see the name of their child in the list of the dead hung around the site.
Take a train to the Grand Central Station. I could never have imagined people could actually maitain the heritage status of such a common and frequently-used place. Walk along Park Avenue - everything starts seeming within reach. Those "big" companies you always dream of have their offices there. And you feel: that's it! JP Morgan Chase - just a building, with a slab containing the letters "JPMorgan Chase" in bold print. And not just that, Boston Consulting Group, Morgan Stanley, Ernst & Young, you name them, you dream of them, you can touch them! People around the world worship that bold print. Go touch it! Click a pic!
Walk to Wall Street, take the "Bull" by the horns! Look at the New York Stock Exchange, the building bang opposite - the owner JP Morgan made it only a few stories high just to make it different from all the skyscrapers around! A dwarf establishing his towering presence.
And then you start wondering, "Wow! What a place to live in! What a place to work in!". And just then you meet that stranger in the subway, who tells you the other story, the story a tourist can't know. Of how his neighbours refused to accept a letter in his name, when he had to go out for some work. You realize he really means it when he says, "They isolate you here! You live alone in a city of 21 million beings!" And suddenly you are thankful of all those you love and who love you...