KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Mosholu Golf In The Bronx
‘It was the 3rd of September, the day I’ll always remember…’ Every year, without fail, Anil and I always end up singing the opening bars of one of our favourite Temptations Songs ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’. We each have our own reason for remembering the 3rd of September. Anil always tells me that it was the date he arrived in Edmonton to start his studies at the University of Alberta.
The date has a rather different memory for me. It is the birthday of the first really important boyfriend I had in my late teens. He was a year younger than me, and when I moved on to university, he stayed behind to complete high school. He dumped me for the best-looking blonde on the cheerleading squad, shortly before his graduation ceremonies. I just realized that he’s 60 today, the old reprobate!
We were up very early on the 3rd in order to play 9-holes of golf with Puneet and his buddies. I wasn’t looking forward to playing with the rental clubs again; they looked at least as old as my old boyfriend. For some strange reason, the Mosholu course in the Bronx is rated 81st on a list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in the US. To my surprise, I had a great round with those tired old clubs, hitting the driver and the 5-wood so well that Anil was stunned. I put it down to having no high expectations and even less pressure.
We were finished well ahead of Puneet and his three friends so we weren’t around to catch the excitement when Abhishek got a hole-in-one on the 5th hole. I had been pleased to get a par on the hole, quite an accomplishment for me, but Abhishek had to stand us all for a round of beer, and I got off completely scot-free.
The real bonus to playing with Puneet’s pals was that we had to drop one of them off before and after the golf and we ended up driving all along the Hudson on the west side of Manhattan on the way to the Bronx, and then along the East River on the eastern side on the way back. Nishant lives very hear the World Trade Towers site, and we got a glimpse of the Sept 11th memorial site that is due to open the day we fly out of New York, the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack.
It was the Sunday of the Labour Day weekend, so there was no real pressure to do anything at all, especially since Puneet and Komal were looking forward to a relaxing day before summer was declared over and Komal’s work schedule was about to change dramatically. It was hot and muggy, so even though Anil was keen to head to Central Park and check out the happenings there, we decided to wait to leave until late afternoon and then stay well into the evening.
We took the NJ Transit bus that terminates at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd street, and then set off walking north towards Central Park at 56th street. I was pleased to find that the inflammation in my right heel was easing and I had begun to feel like I could walk again without taking painkillers. We try and walk along a different route each time we hoof it through Manhattan, and this time we walked along 8th Ave.
One would imagine that the sidewalks would be relatively easy to negotiate on a Sunday afternoon, but we found ourselves struggling to manoeuver through the slow-moving crowds. We were very near the Theatre District and Times Square and that may have had something to do with it. There were so many obvious tourists and most were gawking their way at a snail’s pace. It was easy to see that we were more like locals as we set a quick pace and darted in and around the strollers, tour groups and the homeless with their shopping carts.
When we arrived at the southwestern edge of Central Park, we took a few moments to admire the buildings around Columbus Circle and then I noticed the Time Warner building. I remember reading that there are terrific views from the Lobby Lounge of the Mandarin Oriental hotel so we set off to ride to the 35th floor for a drink or a coffee. To our disappointment, someone had booked the entire facility for an afternoon wedding and we would have to come back another day.
We continued walking up 8th Ave and then I remembered we were near another New York landmark, one we had driven past at night, but had not seen up close and personal. I suggested to Anil that we make a slight detour of a couple of blocks to check out the Lincoln Centre. I could see by his expression that he wasn’t too keen, that he wanted to get to Central Park sooner rather than later, but for the most part, he does listen to his navigator.
We arrived to find the entire plaza in the forecourt of the Lincoln Centre’s three main buildings, set up with chairs, a large video screen and huge speakers. There were booths near the centre with people promoting the 2011-2012 season of the Metropolitan Opera. We sat for a while on the chairs and snacked on the fruit we had brought along with us from home. I managed to persuade Anil to go over and ask about the reason for the seating and he returned to tell me that there would be a screening of the Met’s recorded performance of ‘Lucia De Lammermoor’ at 8:00pm.
Apparently, we had happened along quite innocently to discover the tail end of a festival, one that was due to end the following night on the last day of the Labour Day weekend. I had seen the Edmonton Opera’s performance of the same opera at least fifteen years ago, but Anil had not come with me on that occasion. I remembered being so impressed with the singing, especially during Act Three and I was keen to see a Met production, even if it wasn’t live.
The lights in the performance hall behind the suspended screen were turned off just as the screening got underway. We were told that the opera would be over in 2 ½ hours, with an intermission after the second act. There were people circulating selling stadium cushions with the Met logo on them; I would have grabbed a couple if we weren’t trying to continue to travel light.
The opera was amazing, and the old cliché holds true, ‘you had to be there’ to appreciate how special it was to witness such a magnificent performance seated in the open air. The chairs were excruciatingly hard and to our dismay, there was no intermission between the acts, just 2 ½ hours trying to focus on the music and the singing without thinking about our sore bottoms.
I was sure that Anil would bail before all the blood was spilt, but he told me later he loved the performances and wanted to know how it would all end. What a trooper! We were so stiff from sitting; we even decided to walk all the way back down 9th Ave instead of taking a bus back to 42nd street. The street was lined with small, intimate restaurants, packed with diners and the twenty plus blocks melted away before we knew it.
What guided us to the Lincoln Centre that night? Serendipity? It seems to happen so often; we’re beginning to count on it for surprises and delights most everywhere.
Tavern On The Green
We had a little less than an hour to kill before we had to claim our seat at the opera festival, so I suggested to Anil that we carry on to Central Park, but instead of plunging into it’s green depths, we might want to take a quick visit to the Tavern On The Green, situated very near the western edge of the park, just a few blocks north of where we were standing. I had read that the striking building began life as a shed in the late 19th century, for the sheep that used to graze on the open space now known as Sheep Meadow.
Over time, it was remodeled and eventually became one of the most famous restaurants in the world. A multi-million dollar renovation in the 1970s was so over the top that New Yorkers alternately loved and hated it’s garish chandeliers, murals, mirrors and copper weathervanes. It has been used for movies, has hosted weddings and is one of the most photographed buildings in Central Park.
We laughed when we read in our guidebook, ‘The Best Things To Do In New York’, by C. Leffel and J. Lehman, that ‘going to the Tavern On The Green for food is like walking to the top of the Eiffel Tower for exercise – theoretically possible, but entirely beside the point.’
To our surprise, the restaurant is closed and shuttered and there appears to be some possible renovations underway on the centre portion of the curved building. Some of the rooms have been converted into a visitor centre and a gift shop, but it’s all looking rather forlorn and tattered. There were a number of tables set up on the terrace encircled by the stone building, and a bright yellow food truck was parked in front of what was once the main entrance.
We would have heeded the advice of Leffel and Lehman if it were not for the unusual food offered by the mobile van. Who ever heard of Turkish Tacos? Anil tried the ‘Eggplant ‘Kofte’ and I had the ‘Lavender And Honey Roasted Chicken’. Suffice it to say, we wish it had been a forgettable meal.
On our walk back to the Lincoln Centre, we explored a different side street and discovered the Épicerie Boulud, a high-end shop with mouth-watering treats. The almond ‘Tarte Basque’ helped us forget the earlier culinary disaster and before long, we were enthralled with the music and singing ‘Lucia De Lammermoor’.