Dallas is where JFK was murdered. It is also the home of the Gas Money Garage. And a city where 'big things happen'.
"Welcome to Dallas Y'll."
No sooner had the Southwest Airline Boeing landed at the Dallas Love Field, this was the greeting we received from the air attendant in a characteristic Texan drawl. We had just touched down in the Lone Star State, which is bigger in size than many European countries put together.
The last week of May, which was also the long Memorial Day weekend, was a perfect time to arrive in the city because the southern summer had not kicked in yet.
Though Dallas is not really popular on the tourist map compared to other cities in the US, it most definitely was, we discovered, home to a large population of desis.
One of the biggest attractions in the city is the spot in downtown Dallas that witnessed one of the most infamous assassinations of the 1960s.
The three shots that were fired at John F Kennedy, then president of the US, in his open-roofed Lincoln Continental on a sunny day in November 1963, are marked by three crosses on Elm Street. The first for a single shot and then two shots in succession about 10 yards down the road.
Tourists wait for the traffic light at this junction to turn red, and then quickly run to the middle of the street to take a picture of themselves standing over these marked spots.
The building, a warehouse for school textbooks, named the Texas School Book Depository, from where US Marine veteran Lee Harvey Oswald, an employee, took the deadly shots at the moving vehicle, is at the corner of Houston and Elm Streets not more than 50 yards from the three crosses on the street.
The sixth floor of the building, where the window Oswald used to take aim was located, is open to the public.
There is a museum, also on the sixth floor, which chronicles the assassination and the legacy of John F Kennedy, along with all the conspiracy theories that have been floating around till date (incidentally, there was robbery in the museum in 2010 when thieves tried to make off with a safe).
For an out-of-towner, you may be forgiven for assuming that this historical site is the only attraction that the twin cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have to offer a visitor.
Lucky for us, we had friends who have been long-term Texans. Their 14 year old, born and raised in the state, on a recent trip to Australia, was asked where he was from -- his instant response, 'Texas'.
Rather odd for a teen to name a state, rather than his country, when travelling abroad you would think. But it seemed to be a common trait to proudly wear one's Texan identity on one's sleeve.
The cowboy hat, shoes and the signature big buckle belts are oft seen in most places. Even in professional boardroom meetings, I was told by our hosts.
For motorheads, the Gas Monkey Garage, started up in 2002, is sacred. The hit reality-styled television show Fast N' Loud is the story of Richard Rawlings and his crew (who he called gas monkeys instead of the more derogatory term grease monkeys) working on dilapidated cars, turning junk into gold, producing customised souped-up classic collectibles and hot rods.
The garage and the adjoining merchandise store is located in an area populated with auto body shops and garages. It has tremendous photo-op spots both outside and inside the store.
The store welcomes you through a door that has gas dispenser nozzles as handles. Inside the shop, amongst the various cool branded merchandise, are parked two classic American muscle cars. If you are a car enthusiast, you would already know the place. If you don't, drive by and live the experience.
The old world charm of the Wild West is kept alive in the Fort Worth Stockyards. You can get off your car and step into the Wild West here. The National Historic District has maintained the original brick walkways and store facades retelling Texas's livestock history.
Previously also known as Cowtown, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock with the arrival of the railroad in 1876. A visit to the stockyards takes you back in time and lets you experience rides on wagons, cattle drives, shopping, dining and a host of entertainment.
Traditional Texan chivalry is evident by the gesture of a cowboy who takes off his hat to cover the back of a lady, wearing a short dress, trying to climb atop a stationary bull :))
There are many attractions you could take in if your stay is not limited to a weekend.
The Reunion Tower, the Dallas World Aquarium, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden are just some other places which would make the itinerary for a week-long stay.
The best time to visit Texas would be either in spring or in the fall skipping the hot and humid summer weather.
If you live large and think big, head to Dallas where as its slogan proclaims -- big things happen.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com