That first week-end, we went to Las Vegas. Pepu and Megha living in San Jose joined us at LV. We stayed at a Best Western hotel near the LV Convention Hall and from there went sight-seeing LV, mostly by walk and the Monorail. Prasanna wanted to get back at least the airfare from the Casinos, but that did not happen. Jeevthi enjoyed the most, seeing places like she has never been out. All the big buildings had huge areas marked for gambling at the ground level and shopping at the upper levels. While the visiting public, including babies on pram, thronged through the smoky passageways of the casinos, babies’ presence at the casinos was generally avoided with the casino managers gently asking people to take the babies away.
There were thematic entertainment shows in the evening, which the public could view from the open. If the musical fountain in front of Caesar’s Palace and the Volcano show at the Miracle tower entertained us adults, Jeevthi was awestruck by the beautiful big fish moving in the giant aquarium in the Venetia area. I have never seen her so enthralled at anything before. The weather was also very pleasant in LV when we were there.
Besides the sight-seeing and window-shopping, another area of much interest was the Stratosphere, a tall tower 110-storey high, from the top of which thrilling rides were offered. It was ironic that it was only Vasanthi (50) and I (55) who took part in some of the rides while Preethi, Prasanna, Megha and Pepu stayed away. The view of LV from that height was fantastic and Vasanthi and I really enjoyed the thrilling Bigshot ride, the highest thrill ride in the world, whereas I enjoyed the X-Scream, supposed to be the third highest thrill ride in the world, but much scarier than the Bigshot. See pics. The ride on the monorail was also simple joy and good fun, especially for Jeevthi.
Much to our relief, vegetarian food, though of different cuisine, was available. So, long walks of sight-seeing and window shopping interspersed with sometimes nimble and sometimes adequate bites of various types of food kept us going all through the two days we were there. Pepu’s stay of a few years in the US has helped him gain some knowledge of how to choose vegetarian food from the available choices, and it greatly helped us. He introduced Thai, Mexican and Italian vegetarian food to us, some of which were quite delicious.
It is difficult to believe and digest how lavish LV is, particularly if it happens to be your first visit to US from a country like India. Every building is decorated with the most expensive and glossy finish from footpath to the ceiling and even the roof. Electricity is spent like water. Hotels are very cheap, because the Casino barons want you to come, stay for a few days and empty your money here. I found proof of the famous phrase here – “everybody wants only one thing – your money!”. I don’t know how many really make money here. We heard stories in the local neighbourhood – I made 500 last time, 700 the previous time, etc. Even if it is true, I think that must only be a bait – to lure them again to take more out of them eventually. I firmly believe that, as Pepu said, this place is built not to entertain you after a hard week’s work, but only to take all the money you earned in a hard week’s work!
Back to home routine in Phoenix. The daily routine ran something like this: after sending Prasanna to office, a leisurely breakfast; tidying up the house a bit; preparing lunch; a post-lunch nap, a walk with Jeevthi up to the nearby Walmart or a trip to the garden, back home and idle time till supper.
more photos can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/raghu_ambattur/sets.