Loss Vegas anyone ?

It was many days after I had safely reached Indian shores. With a distinct south Indian twang sparkling he asked, “You went to USA aah ?“ The ‘aah’ intonation at the end singularly transforming a simple statement to a deep question.

Before any word was uttered, came the next question like a spirited response from a casino slot machine, “So did you go to Loss Vegaas ?”

A chuckle could barely stay within the throat. Just about barely. The chuckle had nothing to do with the pronunciation of LOSS VEGAAS, for in many ways he was right. It was indeed ‘Loss’ Vegas, Of course, the loss is just monetary! But then, relating to the USA through one city, and THIS city, was indeed a unique world view which firmly registered in the mind.

“So did you have dinner with Obama ?”

“ East Coast or the West Coast ?”

“White House ?”

“Dude, did you do Hollywood ?”

Those were the most asked questions. Yes, most asked. Some asked with a tinge of sarcasm, yet others soaked in curiosity and the rest as ‘time-pass’ conversation leads. Several of them usually were a conversation starter but this “LOSS VEGAAS “ thing was quite unmatched in getting a smile on the lips many hours after the question was asked and done.

Taxi that could fit a dozen auto rickshaws. Perhaps more!

Vegas is the biggest of mirages in a desert. Its amazing how a city of glitz, pomp, show, tons of bulbs and electricity ( which can be easily expected to light up an entire civilization), gets an aura that many hundred years of history, war, science and such else are (sometimes) dwarfed.

Swarms of people mill around the soul of Las Vegas : the Strip. It a about a 7Km long stretch, which houses a host of casinos and accompanying avenues for a spectrum of vice that can stretch from the harmless to the horrid ! ‘Fun’ is euphemistic representation!

From air, the city sports an incongruous array of buildings that juts out into the day sky with an absent elegance that seems typical of an absent minded planner who thought up of shapes and structures half in delusion and the rest between bouts of amnesia.

The strip

Come night, the picture is different. The bulbs get their glow presumably from wires that carry electricity. The amount of electricity that Las Vegas uses up in one night is what the city of Dhaka requires for a three three years, two months, three weeks and four days. Ofcourse, that’s not corroborated. But it wont be too much of a surprise if Las Vegas beats that number hands down.

A city of show, pomp, pageantry and an atmosphere that could fit the description of a “continuous carnival” donning an air festivity !

If you have a coconut tree in your backyard that’s world famous, the chances that Las Vegas will have an imitation of it are very high. There are re-creations galore. From the pyramids to the Statue of Liberty to Eiffel Tower to the waterways of Venice, all of them glow with pumped up lights.

Indoor Venice

laser on the roof

yet another casino / hotel

Each of them light up the night sky and shine through, sucking up their share of electricity. Which I suspect must grow in trees or something.

Of course, every single one of them housing Casinos !

Now there are far better traveled people. But there is a doubt that lurks, if any from the most well traveled will be able to spell a city in which the world comes together with such focus and seriousness. Americans, Indians, Japanese, Oriental folks, Australian, Pakistani etc etc, all with singular intention of LOSING money!

The casions are indistinguishable from each other with carpets that seem jaded and an air that has a distinct swirl of alcohol and other vice. Sorry,’fun’. The casinos are large, stretching from one street to another and its easy to physically get lost in just trying to get to the bathroom!

Every casino has slot machines which would seem to extend till as far as your eyes can wince and see. Like someone standing at a beach and wincing to see beyond the horizon !

Of course absolutely normal people with such keen intent, sit in front of those slot machines, intently gazing at the screen and trying their luck at fortune. Be it 2.00 AM or 8.34 AM or 2.46 PM or 5.57 PM or 10.32 PM! 24 hours is small change for an outside possibility of fortune. Electronic ringers and the occasional sounds of ringing coins populate the thick dark air.

And an endless choice of casinos that you could enter, and go through practically the same experience. Water fountains, street performers, elevators at street corners that add to the glitter that crowds & electricity bring to the strip!

After having a good soaking in of the night life at the McCarran Airport welcomes the dulled eye with a bright look. After the customary security checks ( on which a separate blogpost is due ), the comfortable chairs just before boarding could seem empty. Which is when the eyes will notice the slot machines.

Gambling ! In the Airport. After security check. Of course, reams of passengers dutifully pulling the handle at the slot machine. A fortune before the flight takes off, perhaps is an allure with only heavy hand luggage as a deterrent!

laser ads on buildings

After hearing out all of this, he asks, “You make some money in the gambling or no?” The ‘or no’ uttered with dead seriousness. Every word oozing sarcasm. It was the quintessential Mark Anthony moment which was seized upon to deliver a short spiel on gambling, the waste of money, human greed and such else.

A loud facepalm ( which perhaps could have been heard in Las Vegas ) was followed by his quiet exit. Left unsaid was perhaps a a cryptic comment like “you go to Las Vegas for bubbling around. Not for a Bhajan session”.

Which is true. Of course !

10 thoughts on “Loss Vegas anyone ?

  1. SG says:

    The Loss in Vegas is a classic. I found Vegas too glitzy and too artificial. The open advertisements hardly endeared themselves to me. But then, you are right. Who goes to Vegas to listen to bhajans?!

  2. Great post !

    40 years down the line, everything you write, fits what I saw then, to a T. Maybe the quantity of everything is now larger: hotels, wasted electricity, slot machines, free breakfasts, quickie marriages, even quicker divorces, illusions,bravado…..you name it.

    I thought the most perceptive thing anyone did was build a highway (that takes you to Arizona), that goes absolutely straight (no turns, even mild ones), for miles and miles, in anticipation of celebratory alcohol powered folks driving their cars at 75 miles per hour, blinded by all the booty earned in Loss Vegas …..:-))

  3. Insignia says:

    You described the Vegas to perfection. The neons and lasers are such a waste of energy!

    The innumerable slot machines for the boring, the tables for the more active ones…free drinks, babes in bikinis serving drinks, elevators that drop down to the walk path, limos ferrying older and obese man with one slim, tall and beautiful Lady Luck. The lady luck stands uncomfortably beside this old man while he gambles waiting for his chance to make money; her 6 inch stiletto doing everything to give her back pain; yet she smiles.

    The casinos – designed to hide the time of the day. Remember the fake sky on the Venitian ceiling? It always looks like 5 PM.

    And the ABSENCE of CLOCKS in any casinos…..

    The barren lifeless desert during the day and hot and happening at night. One can go on and on..

    All the happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas 😀

  4. cyber gipsy says:

    [ The amount of electricity that Las Vegas uses up in one night is what the city of Dhaka requires for a three three years, two months, three weeks and four days. ] This is what Mr.Jairam Ramesh argued with big powers and made them agree and sign on some dotted lined. In Doha Round. Then, we was relieved of his resp s.

    (After the customary security checks ) Now , my questions. Have you received a ‘ pat down’ or ‘ tap down’ or what else ? LOL ! Since you said it deserves a separate blog treatments, eager readers are looking forward to it.

    There is a third response of mine, I can’t post here. I am sending to your mail. No sleaze, though.

  5. This is another place I missed to visit during my life in the US. It is incredible!! Yes, it is walk on the wild side of life. Having visited many such casinos (Atlantic City) in the US myself (miniatures of Las Vegas), I feel that it is a mindless disregard for the under-privileged.

    As a food-junkie, I was expecting some of your experiences on the buffets!! 🙂

  6. Aleta says:

    I’ve been to Vegas at least 7-8 times. Mainly because they have cheap flights there and cheap hotel rooms. They want people spending money on the Casinos, not the food or hotel 🙂 I think it’s so funny that people think of the US and think of Vegas. It’s a small strip in a large country. But… it sure is fun. That’s where I held a baby lion cub (at the MGM casino). Fun memories 🙂

  7. Swatantra says:

    Beautiful Pictures, and your description to Vegas is awesome. Though i had different memories of this place as i visited the place with my eight year old son and the memories are always great.

  8. Ranbir says:

    Well haven’t been there. But dont quite feel the same after reading this. The experience is as real as been there actually. The only thing is that a city that has that much glitter to offerr, How shall one feel over there.Is it to wish for have a never ever end to this life? Or to let it end asap?
    Thats life.. isnt it? To stay in confusion in the glitter of this world. LOSS VEGAS only re confirms it..

    And I wonder how much people would turn out for a Bhajan Night of Anup Jalota in Lass Vegas. :-)))

  9. cyber gipsy says:

    Questions forgotten to ask but remembered now.

    (1) Did you meet the most famous person from Las Vegas , Neveda, one Andre Kirk Agassi ?

    (2) Remember the 2007 blog post of yours ? ‘ Gum boots and choli’ ? Your niece ? a 6 year old gal who can mention all 56 states in US of A ? How is she ? Met her ?

  10. Priya says:

    Great pictures as usual. Never visited NV yet. Good to know u had time to visit in a short time.

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