Tuesday, 26 May 2015




I get up early before the alarm goes on and keep the remaining things in my bag. The ruffling sound makes Yasmin get up too and together we complete with the final packing and get ready. It is a bright windy day. We cover ourselves well, check the locks, knobs etc. and get into the cab that Yasmin has booked to take us to Hing-Kong Super Market, East Brunswick from where we are to board the bus to Niagara Falls.

This time, the cab-driver is an American White (I dislike telling White and Black; it is not to discriminate them but just to be distinctive in writing) in almost new Maroon Sedan. With the initial exchange of greetings, he switches on the ignition and off we go with the cab driver's relentless talking. He tells us about himself that he is an unmarried man, has an apartment, is working to earn money to buy a house for himself and spend rest of his life there. People are very hard working in US. They do not idle away their time. They work real hard, even do part-time jobs to meet out the expenses on account of travelling and other passions or dreams to spend quality time with their family/friends. There is no such word as 'Retirement' here for Americans. That's why I see most of the working people of mid-age, in the 5th stage of their life, in the words of William Shakespeare.

The cab- driver, asks about our destination and describes the geographic location, the food, the stay and the weather. He, then, asks Yasmin if she is married and getting the answer in affirmation, proceeds with a story of his school mate who married his school sweet heart, had two lovely, adorable kids but tooks to drinking later on... his wife tried all the possible methods to stop him from ruining himself and his family..., ill treated his wife...she started living separately with kids, she needed money to bring them up, took help of court to arrange monthly payment from her husband for their education...situation worsened and he lost his job...finally, his wife divorced him and remarried another man who respected her and took better care of kids from her former husband. His friend joined a rehabilitation center...tried to start afresh...met a woman, got close to her, married her. One day again, he came home in a drunken state...his wife came to know about his drinking, his previous story but stood by him...made him amend his ways...ultimately, he became a better man...now living happily with his new family.

The cab-driver concludes the story saying that one should try to live happily by making others happy. He is happy to see Yasmin with her mom on tour to Niagara. He also compliments Yasmin, "You are very beautiful." People are open-minded and free from unnecessary inhibitions here. I appreciate it. We remain too engrossed in his story to notice that we have left behind Hong Kong Super Market a few minutes earlier. Then he takes the side lane to come back on the main road and reach the boarding point. The man takes leave saying to see us again. We, too, do the same.

Our bus is at 7.30 AM and we are there by 6.45 AM. The shops are all closed. The wind is cold. I take out my stole and wrap it around. Yasmin gets the ticket confirmed by the tour guide who is a smart Chinese girl. Her name is Joe Liu. Our group number is One and we get the seat 1A, the front one. The bus departs on time at 7.30 AM. Joe is busy on her cell phone talking to a passenger who fails to turn up on time. She is very firm there in politely refusing him to wait for him any more because she would be late for Niagara Falls. It takes almost seven hours to reach there and the bus has to reach there at least by 2.30 PM.

The bus driver is an American white person whose name is Jason. He is a sensible young man, a little obese. I keep savoring the scenes sweeping fast outside the window with my eyes. The wide roads, the neat pavements for the pedestrians, the fly overs, the gardens, the trees, the sprawling lawns and beautiful houses. Here, pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the road. They are neither supposed to walk on the grass but for the pavements. That's why it is green all around. Though trees have shed and a few still shedding leaves yet nowhere do I find any dry leaf on the road or the pavement. The neat flower beds as road dividers are full of white and red blooming roses and the pavements have the cool cover of various kind of trees- Birch, Sycamore, Maple, Red Oak, etc. The civic bodies work very promptly and efficiently for maintaining the cleanliness.

Our first stop is at Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania for 30 minutes where we grab a brunch of Burger and Wrap at Mac Donald. I want to have a cup of tea but tea is not very popular with Americans. So, I get a large glass of hot coffee. Coffee relaxes my throat. Joe has asked us not to be late. She addresses the tourists in both English and Chinese language. Her English has the Chinese accent. She keeps us updating about the places we pass through. The Pennsylvania mountains run parallel the road. We leave past Mount Pocono which has many fallen rocks. It is well known for trekking and cycling. It is the weekend with The Memorial day falling on Monday. So, people are out to enjoy the long weekend.

We reach Niagara by 3.00 PM. It is a huge crowd of tourists over there but everything from entry tickets to the elevator tower, there is system and discipline. When we reach down 500 meters, we are hit by chill in the wind but that does not deter my excitement of seeing the Fall of which I had read much about in Geography in my school days.

The heavy gush of water falling from this tremendous height is worth viewing. We are given blue rain coats to wear. It is too large or say of free size.
We then board the ship. We don't go above the board as the waves are turbulent and so stay in the middle part of the ship, open from all side but a roof over head in order to click the incredibly unforgettable moments to come.

The ship starts with a jerk and there escapes a roaring sound of exuberance and exaltation from everyone drowning the voice of the commentator. Who cares for the Don'ts before such a rare euphoric moment?

 Our rain coats ruffle and flutter with the high wind. As we draw in close to The Maid of Mist, we are drenched with the spray of the mist from the Falls that rises from the bottom to spread around the rocks forming Rainbows.
 Ah...words fail to describe the moment which will remain etched out on our mind and preserved in our memory for lifetime.

Yasmin and I keep alternating clicking pictures and videos of the Falls taking intervals to protect the camera from getting wet, now and then hiding it under the rain coat and wiping the  mist off the lens and the screen.

After reaching the far end of the Falls, the ship takes a turn around and I see the tall buildings and towers, bridge on the high shore,
There is an another ship boarded by tourists in Pink and yellow rain coats. They have boarded from the other side of the Falls where stands a resort...must be the private ship of the resort reserved for its own stayers.
The ship has come back to the dock and we alight it with a wish to visit it once more in this life. We want to take one more round but then we will have to go through the same process of buying tickets and snailing down in the long line, from the elevator to the ship.

 There is side railing with stairs to go near the mist. We climb it and reach its mid platform, feel the spray of mist on our face and then come down. The sleeves of my wind cheater is wet and dripping, the socks are wet too. So, I take them out along with the rain coat. I decide to carry the raincoat back to India as a souvenir, a memory as explained by Joe, our tourist guide. The elevator carries us back to 500 meters above where we bask in the sunshine savoring the beauty of the fall from that height and clicking the scene. The sun is warm and bright but the wind is still chill here.

It's about 5.00 PM and we have to assemble near the Food Court at 6.15 to collect the tickets for the cultural show at 7.00 PM. we still have a lot of time to ramble around. So, we come down by the elevator. Yasmin buys a souvenir 'The Maid Of Mist' for me. We roam in the sprawling green lawn, stand by the railing, sit on the bench and then reach the assemble point, the Food Court by 6.00. Joe is there. She hands the tickets of the cultural show and ask us to be there at 7.40 PM after the show to be on the bus for night stay at a hotel.

We grab a hurried supper at the over crowded Food Court and then sit back in the chairs in the hall which is on the second floor. There is a stage for the show performers surrounded by chairs for the spectators from three sides. The commentator of the show throws light on the story of the Maid of the Mist - how the lovely, charming daughter of Chief Eagle Eye- Lelawala, lost her huband at a young age and could not find her way through the sorrow upon sorrow that became her lot in life, stepped on day into her canoe, singing a death song to herself, paddled out into the current...caught by the rough waves, the canoe hurtled towards the Falls and she fell tumbling down the gigantic force of water but is saved by the God of Thunder, Heno, who lived in the Falls... carried her to his home beneath the thundering veil of water...she falls in love with His youngest son and gives birth to a baby boy...lives happily ever after.

There are four performers- The Chief of the tribe, his daughter Lelawala, Heno, the God of Thunder and his son. They perform beautiful Native American Dance on drum beats and songs. The show gets over in almost 45 minutes and then we all ride back in the bus to hotel 'Holiday Inn'.
Yasmin is quite happy to see the hotel as she knows much about this 5 star hotel. The room is expensively furnished. I connect my cell phone with the hotel's WiFi connection and do some updates on WhatsApp and Facebook. We have late dinner of homemade puri-bhaaji. Yasmin goes off to sleep but I am not used to such cozy and soft bed, so, keep on tossing side to side till sleep embraces me.

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