Digital Dimdima
-By Rashmi Menon
Labor Day
The Community College
Hiking the Grand Canyon – II
Hiking the Grand Canyon – I
The Niagara Falls
Desert Dogs
The Sears Tower
The Navajo Code Talkers
Driving Through McDonalds
The Mighty Desert Warrior
The Big Roundup
Serving the Americans
Martin Luther King Day
Harvard University and Other Ivy League Schools
Winter Wonders
Las Vegas
Let’s Give Thanks!
Fall Colours
Halloween
The Collared Peccary
Hurricane Isabel
Wonders of Yellowstone
A Trip Under the Sea
The Legend of the Kokopelli
The Great Lakes of North America

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Las Vegas

Feliz Navidad to all of you! With Christmas right around the corner, Americans are agog with excitement. I love this time of the year, because everything around me seems bright and cheerful. The streets are bright with colourful Holiday lights and decorations, and there is a festive mood in the air. I always feel sad during the weeks following the New Year, when people take down all the Christmas decorations, and the streets look drab and boring once again. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if cities could be lit up in festive lights all year around? The city of Las Vegas is the answer to my prayers.
Las Vegas, which means “the meadows” in Spanish, belongs to the state of Nevada, the seventh largest state in the United States. During prehistoric times, Nevada was a fertile area. With the passage of time, most of it turned into an arid desert. The Las Vegas valley, however, had underground reserves of water. Thus the valley became an oasis in the vast desert.
Only the ancient Native American tribes knew of this secret bounty. Then in the year 1829, according to legends, a Mexican trader by the name of Antonio Armijo was leading a party of men to Los Angeles, in California. They happened to set camp some miles northeast of Las Vegas valley. A young scout, Rafael Rivera went out into the desert looking for water. Soon, he came upon the oasis, with its supply of abundant artesian springs. After that discovery, all the Spanish traders, who were headed toward California in search of gold, began using Las Vegas as a campground on the way to Los Angeles.
Toward the end of the 19th century, developers decided that Las Vegas would make a splendid railroad stop town. By 1905, with the advent of the railroad, the valley was a mass of saloons and boarding houses. Later, during the years of the Great Depression (1929), when the rest of the United States was under a severe economic crunch, Las Vegas was still flourishing. People living in the valley found lucrative employment with the railroad company or the Hoover Dam project. Many of them turned to professional gambling, since gambling was made legal in the state of Nevada.
In 1941, Tommy Hull, a businessman, built a resort style hotel and casino called El Rancho. This set the trend for other builders and eventually several huge casinos sprung up on a strip of land near downtown Las Vegas. “The Strip,” as this piece of land is now called, is touted as being “the entertainment capital of the world.” Travelers from around the world come to the mega-resorts like Circus Circus, Venetian, Bellagio, Treasure Island, Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur to enjoy a few fun-filled days in a world of fantasy. Each mega-resort is a world in itself. A walk inside the resorts will leave the tourist gaping in awe. False ceilings and neon lights contribute to the aura of other-worldliness. The décor inside the hotels follow certain themes; Circus Circus is all about circus shows, Luxor is built in the style of the ancient Egyptian pyramids, and Venetian is a replica of Venice including a canal and gondola rides.
Apart from hundreds of gaming tables and slot machines for the adults, there are games and shows for kids. Comedy shows, magic shows, circus routines, and exotic dance sequences are some of the other forms of entertainment these resorts provide. The Strip comes alive at dusk, when the fronts of the casinos light up in a glorious display of color and lights. Each establishment seeks to outdo the others in its brilliance.
That’s it for this fortnight pals. I’ll leave you now to think about the wonders I have just described. Meanwhile, let me go and try to make some money on the slot machines, so I can buy all my little pals some wonderful Christmas gifts!!

Notes:
Feliz Navidad = Spanish for “Merry Christmas”

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