By Bidisha Bagchi
St Joseph, Michigan, USA
My date with Sin City started the moment our flight landed at the Las Vegas international airport. Okay, okay, like President Obama, I apologise for using a cliche to describe the Mecca of gambling, but can one help using it if the first sight in after landing is one of slot machines —rows upon rows of them, brightly coloured?
As we walked towards the taxi stand I looked up at the giant video screens that advertised the different shows in the city and kept counting the ones that I wanted to see. I realized I wouldn’t even be staying in Vegas long enough to run the gamut of activities avialable in this city in the middle of the desert in Nevada…
“Would you be gambling mamma?” asked my teenage daughter. “I’ll play blackjack and roulette,” I answered and could sense her fuming at the idea of participating in a sin and wasting her dad’s hard earned money. But who cares, by then I was already the ‘Vegas Baby’ as my friends back home in St Jo dubbed me.
Las Vegas does not have any genuine ‘sightseeing’ attractions, if you know what I mean. No castles, forts, lakes or mountains etc, but the amount of time one can spend in this city is far more than any other place. In fact, don’t even be misled by the thought that Vegas is a city where one can only gamble. Certainly not. There are loads of things to do, see, eat and drink and even shop...
We began by strolling down the famous Strip. It was cold and sunny, ideal for long walks on roads teeming with people. Interestingly, lots of them had Asian features. The 6 km long Strip is flanked by casinos and hotels that are beautifully done up. It’s like going on a world tour by cruising down a road.
Each hotel’s exterior décor has a theme: for example, one is done up like the Sphinx in Egypt; the statue of Liberty adorns the New York hotel with a roller coaster encircling it. The Venetian, of course comes complete with canals and gondolas while Caesar’s Palace has statues of the Roman emperor, Venus and even a replica of the Trevi fountain!
Our first taste of gambling was in Kathmandu almost 12 years ago. We lost Rs 500 in seconds and I promised never to enter a casino again. Clearly I didn’t mean it as I merrily marched inside MGM in Las Vegas.
I chose MGM Grand because we had booked tickets for the Cirque du Soleil aerial acrobatics show and arrived little early to see the ‘not so glamorous from outside’ hotel. I chose a roulette table and my daughter was immediately asked to go elsewhere as children are not allowed there. Being called a child at 14 made her even angrier!
It is said ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’ Well, I don’t agree because the joy derived from the ‘fun’ we had in Vegas is still with us in the form of happy memories.
The article was first published in ET Travel, The Ecomonic Times, New Delhi