Sunday, July 11, 2010

Globe Trotter - Niagara

4th July (US Independence Day) is probably the 3rd biggest holiday weekend in the US after Christmas and Thanks Giving. The fact that it falls bang in the middle of summer (and summer vacations for kids) is the biggest incentive for most people to venture out of their homes and take a holiday.

This 4th of July, I decided to visit Niagara Falls. As a general rule of holidaying, I always try to avoid crowed places and crowded times of the year as much as possible. I feel it takes the fun and relaxation out of the holiday to a great extent. But I decided to make an exception this time, as I was looking forward to the special Independence Day fireworks on show.

Niagara Falls in the US is in a way like Taj Mahal of India, in that it is probably more popular among foreigners than natives of the country. Just like on any visit to the Taj, one is bound to find as many non-Indians (read whites) as Indians themselves; any visit to Niagara Falls will in all probability result in one finding as many non-Americans (read “desi”s) as Americans themselves. It was interesting to hear that a majority of Americans in my office had never seen Niagara, whereas each and every “desi” I knew had been there multiple times. I guess most natives prefer beaches during summer; whereas a sun-tan is not what most brown people would greatly appreciate :-)

Niagara’s accessibility from the population hubs of the east coast (Boston, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C.) as well as the central / mid west region (Chicago, St. Louis etc.) is an added incentive for a “desi” day out. Hence I was not surprised to find that a vast majority of tourists encountered on the trip to be from our country. Summer is the time when most Indians working in US get their parents to visit them. Hence vast numbers of the elderly were also spotted in the mix.

They say, if you stand long enough at Times Square in New York City, you can meet someone from every country in the world. From all the stories I had heard from my friends who had gone to Niagara on 4th of July weekend, I had come up with a similar theory myself. If a “desi” visits Niagara Falls on the 4th of July weekend, he is bound to meet another “desi” he knew. I was looking forward to testing this theory of mine in this trip. And as it turned out, it passed the practical test with flying colors. I happened to meet not one, but 3 acquaintances; an old school mate, a B-school junior turned office colleague, and a client representative. And I am sure there were a few other people around that I knew, whom I did not notice in the crowd.

The over abundance of “desi”s has also started to have its effects on the staff working in the Niagara Falls. Some of them have picked up Hindi words like “neeche” (down) and “upar” (up) for guiding the tourists along. I won’t be surprised if I hear a word or two in Tegulu next time, given that the biggest chunk of Indians in US are from Andhra, and by some margin as well.

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