Sunday, April 10, 2016

San Diego From my eyes!

We reached Diego tired ...but there is nothing which a hot water bath, a cup of  tea and the sounds of music from the down town won't cure. within an hour we were down, ready to soak in the beauty of homely town of San Diego. This down town had a closeness, a feeling of oneness you only see in Villages. People greeted each other warmly, there was a communal feeling, music, teenagers dancing at the slightest sound of music, it was all very fresh for the eyes and calming for the brain.
We had dinner at a french restaurant and after enjoying the ride in a rickshaw (yes we spotted rickshaws for the first time in US) and went crazy for obvious reasons..we chose a colorful rickshaw with music and enjoyed a  thirty minutes ride covering the whole down town of San Diego. I would say it was steeply priced but for a ride of a lifetime, well worth it. PS: I would never take that second time though!.

Unable to open our eyes anymore, we called it a day. Next day was supposed to be a super hectic day, as we had taken the task of seeing all of San Diego in one day. We started early for one of the most famous places around Balboa Park . This park is famous for being an archive of  historical buildings, numerous museums, gardens and green parks. Its a landscape of art and culture...a unique marriage if I may add. We walked across the beautiful rose garden, lotus pond, botanical garden which was just out of this world with flora and fauna from across the globe thriving inside a green house. Countless museums invited us to get enthralled with our history and history of mankind. This place is really a heaven for everyone and it offers something enriching for every facet of life and I feel even a week spent here is less...You feel like you have been transported to a different world entirely, peaceful, quiet and so full of knowledge.

Unfortunately and much to my dismay we just had a day and so we left the place for our next destination, which was the famous Seaport Village, which is a waterfront shopping and dinning complex on the San Diego Bay. If you are fond of seafood in particular this is the place for you. We took a stroll around and watched the Coronado Bridge from there. Strolling along the water front, we made our way towards the famous Maritime Museum of San Diego. The Ship which houses the museum can be seen from a distance.

The waterfront itself is lined with ships of all shapes and sizes.

Instead of going inside the museum, we moved our way towards the famous USS Midway Museum, which is actually a real aircraft carrier, in fact it is the longest serving US aircraft carrier for 21st century.  You can see all the aircraft displayed on the carrier.

Beside the Museum you have the infamous sculpture of Unconditional Surrender. As the story has it, this is an icon for just reward for Victory, sailor grabs the nearest gal - a nurse.  As per another story, its the a symbol of a sailor getting reunited with his wife after war in a passionate kiss. in any case it indeed is the symbol of love and happiness.

After this lovely site we moved on to our next destination on the list... Oh yeah we were not yet done.  It was the temple of the churches of San Diego - of later day saint. to be honest it was not on our initial list, but while passing the town of San Diego we saw this magnificent white structure and were drawn to it. See it for pure white majesty standing admist the green palm trees is really inviting!

Unfortunately, it was closed and we just had to content ourselves with the outside beauty. After we came out of the temple of church, though our minds were ready to see few more places, our bodies just gave up. It was really hard to even make it back to the hotel!

It was day well spent! but I would not recommend coverng everything in one day, as it gets too hectic and secondly you do not get the museums to the fullest!

Well until we see San Diego next time...this would have to do.

Journey to San Diego!

San Diego, the beach city of California...well as such most of California is surrounded by magnificent pacific, but water is so chilly, (at least for me) that if I can put my toes in there, my day is made...I call San Diego as beach city, as the warmer water there lets you actually enjoy the sea!
We started for San Diego after enjoying the Hollywood, our friends wonderful hospitality and some magnificent scenic beauties of  beautiful Irvine. San Diego from LA (Irvine) is just two hours. So after spending one day at Hollywood, next morning we decided visiting all nearby and famous beaches in and around LA and then leaving for Diego in evening.

 We started with a calm, beach surrounded by palm  trees. It was a semi private beach, hence the tranquility and peace

 We snooped around the beach, peaking a sneak at the interior of houses around. Each house was just like a  page from a high profile interior decoration magazine!.
After spending some time in the quaint surrounding and enjoying the foggy morning with a warm cup of coffee we moved towards Crystal cove beach. Water at the beach was extremely clear, though you would find lot of rocks on this beach. The rock clusters form some nice formations which are scattered around the beach. We sat on the rocks and enjoyed the peace..each of us engulfed in our own thoughts...


 Unfortunately we could not enjoy the water on that day, our lack of time and cold weather being the culprit.
But all this strolling on the beach, make us dream about something fried and spicy. We headed for a hot, spicy Indian lunch and after filling (Read stuffing us to the brim) we started our journey to our next destination...the famous Laguna Beach!  I have to admit this is the only crowded beach I saw in Irvine.
Kids playing joyfully in the waters, families building sand castles and smell of barbeque wafting throughout.. this definitely was a family beach! As neither did we have our grilling gear with us, nor the time and patience to make sand castles, we just took a short stroll on this beach and left...I am leaving you with few pictures


 By the time we left Laguna beach, it was past 2 and we were ready to head towards San Diego..but not without our friends. We convinced (Read pressurized,/emotionally blackmailed) them to come to Diego with us....More the merrier right!
On the way to Diego we were mesmerized by the beauty of this beach...hands down the best beach ever. It was not on our go to list, but we really could not avoid averting our eyes as we passed the San Clemente Beach, so for the safety of the road and people driving on it, we parked our car before it did any damage.
What's so different and unique about this beach, well it is the first beach I ever saw which had a railway track running beside it:)

Beach was quiet and other than the occasional trains flying by, we were not bothered. Beach on the one side, a rocky terrain on the other and  a railway track running in between! Super Awesome  I say

We stayed there and watched the sunset...golden red light emitting throw the sky, making the sky a cozy multi colored blanket, making you feel like taking a nap right there!
The sun reminded me of that supreme power who is guiding us all, with its warmth and glow.

Well after enjoying this unparalleled beauty of nature, humbled and calm we started our journey on the way to San Diego!.... I feel the post is getting a little  too long to be on the borders of BORING! so lets go over to Diego in the next post.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

A trip to Hollywood

Though I am staying in California, SFO to be precise from last five was only last year that I was able to make that four hour trip to Los Angeles. I know many of you might be smiling at my pathetic record of traveling...and I am not going to blame you guys for that.
But as they say better late than never, so we finally made the trip to the dream city of LA. It is all what I expected it to be and much more...

Fashion conscious public, every person looks straight out of a magazine and everyone is running towards is very fast paced if compared to the rest of California I have seen:)
But this city has a charm you won't find anywhere...its the place where dreams do come true.. land where fairies seem real and magic bands do bring fortunes!( hey at least for the kids they do)
We(read my husband) drove for the entire duration of the journey and I was just doing my bit, by eating even his share of junk food and excess salt!(I do believe in doing good for others).
We reached Irvine, bypassing the main LA city, to our friends place. Meeting old friends is always the highlight of any trip and this was no different...After a long night of catching up, next morning we were ready for the trip to crux of THE HOLLYWOOD (Universal Studios).

The sheer majesty of the place is unbelievable, it actually feels like you are in a soon as you enter the main Studio area, you would see a different theme on each side you turn your eye to. If on one side the characters of despicable are luring the child in you...on the other the gross blood thirsty skeletons in drags are ready to take you to your worst nightmare. If at some place Shrek is calling you to experience the adventurous ride with him, at some place nearby mummies of Egypt are coming to life...the list is endless.

Our first and foremost stop was animal actors show, and I got to see the Bat from Lord of the rings! and the cute puppy from the movie Legally Blonde. We were so amazed to see the perfection with which these perform their tasks...Its a must watch to see these animal actors in action and point to be noted is more than their perfection its their occasional goof ups which will make you split with laughter!


 The way they have tried re creating the movie themes and made them look so real is commendable . whether you are a 2 year old or a 100, this place has something which will entice you. Even me! I am not a fan of any joy rides or any rides...I never even like the kids rides, really, I am that scared, my point of going to the studios was just to see the place...I was sure that I would not be doing even a single ride.And as far as I run by the name of any adventure ride, my husbands runs towards it with twice the speed... you got the point!.
As a gesture of  compromise, I agreed to go on one ride, which had the theme of Jurassic Park, my thoughts being, what could a Jurassic park ride have which could be dangerous, only Dinosaurs roaming around and I can deal with that! But oh boy how wrong I was. Yes it did have all what I imagined, but much much more, the up and down moving of the wagon and dropping from a hill literally brought my heart to my be honest I enjoyed it.. will I do it again.. NO NEVER!
My husband did few more rides while I enjoyed the walk through all the theme settings.
How could a trip to Hollywood be over without going on the studio tour...we stood in line for more than an hour for that (yes 60 minutes people)...But the tour was worth it... As the train traveled to the studios and sets areas, we saw sets where our favorite serials have been or are being filmed!
The ride included a surprise 3d adventure ride, which was through a jungle and we were fighting the bad boys!... It was fun ride and we enjoyed it immensely. Tired but still roaring to go we booked one last show on our way out, the Pirates Water show... Ice cream cones in hand we sat in the middle to watch the show...It was only when the show started and we were drenched to the core , we understood why no one else was sitting in the middle.. it was a full on drama, with boats splashing water all over ...fires burning the house and the lead pair escaping on a water bike... the show had all the makings of a true Hollywood hit:)

Monday, April 04, 2016

A brahmin in a Mosque

Although born Hindu in a Brahmin household we were never exposed to extremism or conservative views which my caste should have entitled me too. I was lucky that way, both my parents are open minded. Though they are religious and firm believers of our rich heritage, they also believe in equality for all, love for fellow beings. But even then while growing up, as we entered our teens, as society around us started changing, we felt a need to maintain a safe distance from the Muslims. The outward change in society imbibed in us a fear.

I am not ashamed to admit that even now, if I am traveling via flight and the name of my pilot is Islamic, I am scared. From the time we take off to the time we land I am gripped with thoughts of hijack. Any small turbulence is enough to send me in to jitters. I am not here to preach if this is a right thinking or wrong, but I am trying to state a frame of mind that most of us are in now a days, given the violence and uncertainty that we see around us. This fear of a particular faith and people of that faith is somehow getting deeply ingrained into our subconscious.

That is why when we got an invite from our neighborhood mosque for a get together, it was a big moment. I was intrigued. I have always wanted to see the inside of a mosque (all places of worship for that matter) and secondly I wanted to listen to what the leaders of this faith have to say. Are they any different? Are they same as those from other faiths? After a lot of thinking I decided that I have to go, to take this opportunity to quench my fears and understand them; to understand how they are affected by the doings of their fellow believers.

Friday came and I got dressed, as it was a place of worship and we were requested to be dressed modestly. I wore a Indian dress and as a symbolism of my faith wore a Bindi. I don’t usually wear one but that day I had decided to, in my mind I was going to see if they will let me in with a Bindi on my forehead or I will be asked to leave from the door. Well that's how my mind was working! Can't say anything else here; in my analytical mind this was my test. (Negative test case if I may add)

On the hindsight I am glad I wore a Bindi. As I reached the door I saw smiling faces of gentlemen, they welcomed me with open hands; my first inhibitions were left at the door itself. The inside of a mosque are so quiet, so peaceful, just like any other place of worship. I instantly felt at peace and serene, same as we do in any place of worship, though there was no visible deity there but God was.

Surprisingly during their evening prayers they knelt before God the same way we do, they ask for same peace and happiness as we do. Trust in God is what they also call for.Do your duty and have faith in God is what they too preach, isn't this exactly what Lord Krishna told Arjun in Holy Gita ?

Killing anyone is a sin in their faith too like it is in every religion I know. Love everyone is what Holy Quran says, Love thy Neighbor is something I have seen my Christian friends follow.
What I inferred from this was that we are all the same. We need to have faith in fellow beings, irrespective of the faith they believe in. Love amongst us will conquer all.

Don't we all believe that because of a rotten apple it is never wise to throw away the whole basket? We do try to salvage the good ones. Can't we apply the same principles here? Why because of some section of society, are we targeting the whole community?
This trip, the discussions we had just made me sure of one thing, we all believe in higher power, just call it by different names and we all just want peace. Rest everything is politics, which is better left alone.

A Brahmin went to a mosque and came back peaceful!
And as for my fear of flying with a Muslim pilot... let me get on a flight will update you guys!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Love Deserts`- trip to the Grand Canyon!

This is a realization which hit upon me on my trip to Nevada and Arizona states .I have been to beaches, hill stations and places full of greenery and life. Its not that I did not like the place or the beauty of nature full of life. Snow covered mountains, lush green forests , sandy beaches, I have seen it all and loved it too. But seeing the brown hills, devoid of any life , huge rocks standing tall  , barren lands .and basically nature in its lifeless form , I realized I love it more ! It might sound like an insane thought but actually I loved the beauty of nature in this form.
Somehow seeing the land all barren and hills small and without any forest and greenery to block the way to the top.I felt a sense of control ,a power I cannot describe.
It was like I felt I have control over this aspect of nature. When I see oceans and mountains. I feel a sense of dread ,a feeling of helplessness .Its like I do not have any power there ..Its beyond human control.
Oceans where I cannot even see the end is like looking at the unknown, I do not know what is at the end .(theoretically I do know , but its a feeling )
But when I look at the barren lands I have a feel I can change it I can make it fertile I can work on it.which gives me control over there!

Whatever the reason, I have realized I love deserts more than any other nature's form!.

When I saw grand canyon , I saw the huge canyon where  earlier  Colorado river used to flow. It made me realize what might happen to earth millions of year later. Or what could become of Oceans and Mountains !It was like an insight in to the future!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trip to the Sin City -Vegas

This long weekend we decided to visit the ultimate Sin city Vegas (the name is actually apt for the city ,I realized after visiting it) Casino at every corner, drinks in every hand , people ogling at nude photographs promotion of Sexual pleasures (for both Girls and boys)were the things you would notice as soon as you enter Vegas.
I will have to agree though its a beautiful sin city . Its like Death By Chocolate in literal terms. It might make you commit something which you would not normally do ..but in such a way as you would not realize what you are doing :)

We started our Journey to Las Vegas from Redwood City on Wednesday afternoon, it was a long 10 hours drive. due to heavy traffic  (Thanksgiving Weekend)  we reached our destination at around 1 am .Although we were dead tired and sleepy but as soon as you enter the city , all the glamor and glitter (city was literally glittering in golden lights) will make you sit up and notice. We did the same! awed and wooed  the night life of Vegas. It was like you have entered some different planet where people do not sleep at 1 am. I was enamored by the lighting they did. The way we light up house on Diwali ,make sure that each and every corner is full of light ,it was like they celebrate Diwali and on a grander scale in Vegas every night! Not a single shop or corner was devoid of strings of yellow /red and white bulbs , giving the city a look of newly wed bride decorated in gold !

We had our reservations at the Stratosphere Hotel , which has the tallest tower in the city .As it was already quite late and we were dead tired we went straight up to our beds !

This is Vegas from 107th floor of our Hotel~

 As everyone else visiting THE STRIP (most happening place in Vegas) was priority 1 on our agendas.
Many of the largest hotel, casino and resort properties in the world are located on the Las Vegas Strip. Nineteen of the world's 25 largest hotels are on the Strip.

Each hotel is designed as per theme , themes of famous places like Venice/Paris /new york  etc. We would enter one hotel and exclaim wow its so beautiful, probably its the best in Vegas .. only to be greeted by something more extraordinary.

Venetian was the hotel based on Venice (as the name probably suggests) .As soon as you enter the hotel , it was like you are in different place. There was a canal maintained and there were boats ferrying people from one side to the other, person rowing the boat was singing the traditional songs . On both sides of the canal there were restaurants and shops . It was actually like you are in Venice.

If that has not impressed you enough , you can have dinner at Eiffel tower :)

We visited the famous Bellagio Hotel and saw the famous fountain show. It was really magical . Before I saw the fountain live , I had seen it on Television and I was thinking .'Yeah fine its good!' .But when you actually see it , water dancing as per music , its mesmerizing . Its awesome!

There is glamor all around you and how can a visit to Vegas be over without seeing any shows! We were lucky to be able to see a fab free show "Sirens of TI" at the Treasure island. The show was about live pirates sea battle ! It was about how  the beautiful Sirens of TI®  lure a band of renegade pirates into their cove with powerful and captivating melodies.The clash between the mesmerizing temptresses and their rebel prey transforms this 17th century story into a 21st century revelry of song and dance, seduction and danger.

And last but not the least , I could get good Indian food there :) at a food court in Revieria . Food was awesome and it perfectly made my holiday!

And how could a trip to Vegas end without visiting the Grand Canyon! But the experience and the journey was like a revelation to me , so it deserves a post of its own!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Scotland From My Eyes -Day 3 & 4

After a comfortable night's rest ,we were up for the next day of our journey . we planned to cover the glen ord distillery on our way to Avimore. which is the only remaining single malt scotch whiskey distillery on the Black Isle.I don't drink and it was my first visit to any kind of alcohol production unit so I was looking forward to see what is the process being followed.

We saw how barrels are used for storage and how is malting done and once the spirit is formed how is it collected and all. The tour was very informative. the best part was we got to taste some of the finest whiskey  !

We started on the next leg of our journey towards Avimore,which is a town and tourist resort, situated within the Cairngorms National Park in the highlands of Scotland.  We had our night arrangements in the Avimore Bunk House. I got to sleep in the bunk bed for the first time!! Staying with students was fun. There was music and cards all over the place. People were so friendly ! We cooked our dinner in the mess . It was fun  10 people trying to cook at the same time. We were up till late in the night talking to these peoples and enjoying their adventures.

Finally we went to bed around 2 , slightly unhappy as tomorrow was the day we were to start our Journey back home :(

Morning we were up and were ready for breakfast by 8 o clock. We started on our way back. But we did  have lots of fun on the way back  in a theme park. With rides like free fall and treasure island we sure had fun!

It was one of the most fun trips I had! thanks to the lovely friends for such good time!