Following the prime minister's footsteps. In New York, I found myself in a hotel next door or the door after that, to the UN. It was called, if I recollect correctly, and I am getting progressively bad at hotel names, Tudor Hotel.
It was not the best hotel in New York, the bell boy, an elderly gentleman, had to try four rooms, before he found one in which the TV worked. It was a long process, we would go up seven floors, open the room, find the TV did not work, close the room, come down to reception, take new keys, go up to the eighth floor, open the room, etc.
Added to this was the tremendously long time they take in all American hotels to register you (longer time to make your bills). This is because everything is computerised, and Americans, like the Indian Airlines staff, have also to learn how to use computers.
Still, the UN was just round the corner, looking very familiar. So many thing in New York look familiar, though you may be visiting the city for the first time, because you have seen them thousands of times in photographs.
Anybody can walk into the UN building. That is the great thing about. America there is so much security and yet there is also so much freedom of movement. All you do is check you bag in a little guards house at the entrance to the garden, then walk in.
You enter the main building through a series of unguarded metaldetectors. Nobody challenges you nobody is bothered. In the main foyer you can buy UN souvenirs, UN stamps, since the UN runs its own post office have good American coffee and bad American fast food.
Or you can spend the morning out side in the garden in bracing New York sunshine. At least it was that kind of a morning when I was there. You can watch the boats moving in from the sea, up the East River, see the traffic on the bridges across the river, oblige other tourists by taking their photographs with their cameras, as they pose against the we were here background.
A slight formality, like registering your name and buying a ticket, entitles you to a guided tour of the UN. It is an interesting experience you see the security council chamber first then you are taken to the general assembly hall.
Looking at the delegates, half asleep, the other half unattentive, you wonder that this assembly should be settling the affairs of the world. Actually, it does not the US and the Soviet Union do that. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi should remember this when he addresses the UN.