Category Archives: america

A Secret!My upcoming book- America Deconstructed

fullc2I have been MIA for a while and have been hiding a secret! The past few months and years have been spent traveling places trying to hear stories- stories of people who moved and made America their home. I have been writing for years now- blogging and freelancing as a writer. My friends have always urged me to write a book, yet I always shrugged it off. In 2013, I decided to begin my writing journey into becoming an author.

While I have continued to write, I haven’t been blogging as much because I was busy  working the publishing maze. After four years since that first story, I finally had a publishing contract. In 2017, I finally signed my first book contract with Motivational Press. While my book is far from being released, I just reached a major milestone and a dream come true for any author- my book cover with my name on it.

Everyone who has followed me blog through the years have supported my journey as a writer by liking my posts, commenting on my pictures, etc. As a thank you for this endless support, here’s the first look of my book cover which will be released in 2018. Please continue to support my writing journey, and follow us on our social media for updates on the book, release date, event tours etc.

https://www.facebook.com/AmericaDeconstructed/

https://www.instagram.com/america_deconstructed/

 

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FALLING IN LOVE WITH ARENAL, COSTA RICA

Almost eight years ago, I stood at the airport nervous about my first international flight ride to Costa Rica. The last time I took an international flight, I was immigrating to America from India. The trip was special because it was our official honeymoon. After making a list of destinations that included Bora Bora, Seychelles and the likes, we narrowed in on Costa Rica for financial reasons. I did not know then that it would be the beginning of a love affair with international destinations. After a long flight, we reached San Jose, Costa Rica. We spent the night there and were whisked off in a car to Arenal, our first destination in Costa Rica.

As our car cruised through the lush greenery of Costa Rica’s windy roads, I was reminded of Kerala, India. After few hours of traveling, we approached our hotel in Arenal area, about 6km from downtown La Fortuna. Tourism is one of the major industries in Costa Rica, especially the Arenal area which is known for the Arenal Volcano. The Arenal Volcano was one of the most active volcanoes in the area for 43 years. As we checked into our hotel, we could see the Arenal volcano from our backyard. The hotels in Costa Rica had us bowled over. The theme for our first hotel was rain forest which was evident all through our villa. Besides the volcano, Arenal attracts thousands of visitors each year because of the many adventure sports available. All around the area one sees signs for zip lining, ATVing, bungee jumping besides several other adrenaline activities.

We stayed in Arenal for ten days during which we took a night Safari to the Arenal Volcano. The stillness of the night against the erupting volcano made it one of the most memorable activities. We also hiked to the magnificent La Fortuna Waterfall. With several steep steps, the waterfall challenged us physically but the waterfall at the end made the trip worthwhile. I had never zip lined before in my life, and neither had I been on an aerial tram before. We took a sky tram to the ziplining area. I could feel adrenaline pumping through my body as I was petrified and excited at the same time. I have major fear of heights and ziplining meant putting all my height demons to rest. I quivered with fear as I did my first zipline and then the second. By the third one, I was enjoying the feeling although I have to admit I did not look around to enjoy the landscape or picturesque views.  At the end of the eight long ziplines, I felt accomplished.

Arenal in Costa Rica converted a coy Indian girl into an adrenaline junkie. Since that trip, I have traveled to many places and done several crazy adventures. Costa Rica will always be special for several reasons besides it being our honeymoon- I fell in love with international travel in Costa Rica and for that I will forever be grateful.

My Journey as a writer and America Deconstructed

As an immigrant in America, journeys have always fascinated me. As I have written about my various travels, I have always tried to make it more about my journey than the destination. I have strived to make my blog more than a travel guide. It has been my scrapbook that I have from time to time re-read and relived every moment. Today’s blog posting is personal because it is about my journey as a writer.

 

September 29, 1995 is my writer birthday. I remember sitting in front of my dad’s body and wondering how I was going to move on. I kissed him for the last time ever and felt the stillness of his body. His warmth that was my blanket on cold nights no longer existed. I was daddy’s little girl and I followed him around like a puppy. As I sat there contemplating the changes in my life little did I know I was becoming a writer. Few days later I wrote my first poem. I was still a closet writer and my poems were my deepest thoughts.

 

In 2001, I moved to America from India. In spite of being in college, I had lots of free time in comparison to my life in India which was filled with friends, school, basketball and studies. I began writing website content and other creative content in my spare time. Eventually I started freelancing as a writer which paid me pocket money. At that instant I was still focussed on becoming an engineer, which I eventually accomplished. Somewhere along the writer in me wanted more. My passion to travel the world collided with my writing thus giving birth to this blog.
In 2014, I wanted more and thus began my journey to be a novel writer. I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people who left their home for America in the 15 years that I have lived here. They shared their dreams, their embarrassments with mundane everyday tasks, their loneliness being away from family, and their endless desire to survive. Together with my friend I decided to write a book about sixteen amazing people who were willing to share their stories with us. There is humor, dreams, sacrifices, embarrassment and real experiences of people who made America home. Thus was born our little venture titled America Deconstructed. We are in process of getting our book published and we hope each and every one of you will support us in this endeavour. In the weeks and months leading to the release of our book, I will share snippets of our book. So if you are curious on what America Deconstructed is, stay tuned. America Deconstructed has romance, emotions, war, Taliban, prison, marriage, children and everything in between. Please follow the blog https://americadeconstructedblog.wordpress.com/

Helicoptering through California

On a bright and sunny April day, my husband and I stood at the Bay Aerial tours gates waiting to be let in. We had come here few weeks before hoping to helicopter our way through the Bay Area sights. The ride was at 4:00pm. The pilot checked the weather prior to taking us to the helicopter, and as we sat there watching the live doppler of the area, we could see fog slowly cover the horizon. We were bummed but needless to say we decided to postpone it. Mr D(my husband) was upset that his surprise was out of the bag. So here we were on our second try to go on our helicopter ride.

 

The gates opened and we were carted to our personal helicopter. That’s right, we owned a helicopter for one hour and it was amazing! I guess I know what it feels to be rich. The helicopter ride was my birthday gift from Mr. D. He had me in the loops for weeks until the weather cleared up, often throwing hints at me. Sometimes he asked me the one question you ask no woman, “What is your weight?”. He hates flights, and helicopter was a no-no in our marriage contract. I am not good with surprises. It’s not that I hate surprises as much as I cannot stand the suspense around it. This was one of the best surprises ever next to the time he got me books as a Valentine’s day gift. Books are my diamonds, and I was on cloud nine. For the adrenalin junkie in me, the helicopter ride was a close second. Knowing how much he absolutely hated flying, I definitely appreciated the gift much more.

 

We were summarized on some of the do’s and don’ts of the aerial tour. It was take off time, and as the helicopter fans started roaring I could feel my heartbeat increase from the adrenalin in my system. Most people who read my blog know I suffer from motion sickness. I was prepared with  my dramamine, although the cocky me thought I would not need it. As the helicopter made its first turn, I felt my stomach in my throat. That was 10 min into the 1 hr of our time slot. The ride took us through Oakland, San Francisco, Angel Island, Half Moon Bay, Alcatraz and finally back to redwood city airport. My absolute favorite was when the helicopter flew below the Golden Gate Bridge. My other favorite was seeing some parts of the San Andreas fault near Half Moon Bay.

 

I have seen San Francisco several times before, but flying over San Francisco skyline was amazing. While the winds were still a little unsettled considering we were flying at 11am which made the ride bumpy, the beautiful scenery around made it an amazing adventure. I have always felt a certain serendipity with nature, and flying over God’s wonderful artistry had me spellbound. In spite of how horrible I felt with every turn of the helicopter, I would do the helicopter ride a million times again. I cannot guarantee Mr D would be along for the ride.

 

Here are some pictures from our amazing helicopter ride!

 

 

John Steinbeck’s Monterey in California

I was first introduced to Monterey through the words of John Steinbeck’s the Grapes of Wrath. Until I had read the book in my sophomore year of college, Monterey never figured on my must see places. Why would I visit a Monterey when I could spend my weekend visiting the San Francisco? I am a city gal who loves the city more than any beach and enjoys hiking to laying in the sun.  As I read the book, I decided to drag my parents along to explore Monterey. That was my first time in Monterey. We walked through cannery row in downtown Monterey. Cannery row used to be the sardine packing industry which formed the backdrop for Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. It was cool to walk through the old world charm of cannery row imagining what had been.

 

Monterey in the central coast of California is lush with beaches and water everywhere. The most famous inhabitant of Monterey includes the Monterey Aquarium. The Aquarium is big with fishes of every kind, gelly fish of every color flocking around you. They also have a backdoor pass wherein they take you through the backdoors of the Aquarium. I have visited so many aquariums that they no longer tickle my fancy but the Monterey Aquarium was my first in America, and I had never seen anything like it before. It is an absolute must see in Monterey and one can spend a whole day just marveling at the varieties of fish there.

 

While most people go to Monterey for the Aquarium, my absolute favorite is the serene seventeen mile drive. The seventeen mile drive provides breathtaking landscape of the Pacific coastline. One encounters the Pebble beach, golf courses and beautiful mansions while driving on the seventeen miles of beauty. There are different vantage points to enjoy the view and take pictures.

 

My last visit to Monterey was in February 2016. We took our puppy to the beach and stayed over in Monterey for the weekend. While the beach continues to haunt Zed, my german shepherd, he had fun frolicking on the sand, getting acquainted with dogs at the beach and just getting his paws wet. We chose Monterey State Beach for our day out. Zed had his fix of puppy friends while we walked the beach. After an exhausting beach day, we ate at Rosine’s Restaurant. I am not an Italian fan but this restaurant made me a believer. I cannot wait to go back to Rosine’s again!
Monterey offers everything California is known for, sun, beach and scenic beauty. The next time you are in the bay area, gorge on some clam chowder at Monterey. Even if you are not a beach bum, that one spoonful of clam chowder will make you return back to the town that inspired John Steinbeck.

The Grandeur of the Seattle skyline!

Through the years that I have traveled and explored the world, I have realized every place has hidden gems that only the locals know- places that embody the spirit of the place and restaurants that embody the culture in every bite. I was fortunate to have explored some of those hidden gems in Seattle as mentioned in my blog, The Lesser Known Seattle. While I love exploring the lesser known places, you cannot claim to have visited a place without doing the more popular touristy spots. Those are bragging rights! You cannot say you have been to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower. I cannot claim to have conquered Seattle without visiting The Space Needle. On a gloomy Seattle weekend, I explored the well known Seattle spots for my bragging rights.

Space Needle is an observatory tower in the Seattle Center. The tower stands tall with an observatory deck at the top of the tower and a restaurant providing the Seattle landscape as the ambience. The observatory deck is rotating which I did not know until I reached up there, and was unpleasantly surprised. I tried hard to hold my motion sickness in check while enjoying the beautiful view ahead of me. One can see the entire Seattle downtown, Olympic Park and Mount Rainier from the Space Needle. The space needle can be viewed from most downtown restaurants, and irrespective of the number of times I have walked the downtown with the Needle in the background, I have always stopped to take a picture of the Space needle. The magnificent icon representing Seattle is so spectacular that it warrants a picture at every glimpse.

 

As a kid growing up in India, I loved my fresh fish. When I moved to America, fish did not taste the same as it did in India. Even the fresh fish available at the various Chinese stores did not taste as fresh as back home. I occasionally tasted salmon but it never made my cravings list. When I decided to visit Pike Place Market in Seattle, it was mere curiosity than excitement. Pike Place reminded me of the fish markets back home and instantly grabbed my attention. One can buy fresh seafood at the market or dine out.  I believed I knew what Salmon tasted like prior to tasting one in Seattle, but I was wrong. It was one of the best fish I had ever had in my life, and I have since become a Salmon fan for life.

Like other by cities,Seattle has several museums such as the Chihuly Garden and glass museum, Experience music project museum to name a few. My absolute favorite was the underground tour. Though not a museum in the true sense, the tour takes you underground to the real Seattle. Seattle has several beautiful parks and hikes for the adventure junkies. The one that challenged me physically while rewarding us with beautiful waterfalls was the Snoqualmie Falls. We ended our day with a warm cookie- just to make sure we made up for all the lost calories.
I could go on and on about Seattle and her beauty, the miles of hiking and the amazing food. Seattle has challenged me physically, enriched me emotionally and made my palette extremely satisfied. Through the weeks of boarding and unboarding flights, I fell in love with not just the destination but the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lesser Known Seattle

Long before I enjoyed the journey, Seattle was one of my initial travel conquests. I spent close to a year in Seattle traveling every Monday from San Jose, California and flying back on Friday. While most of those weeks were spent in the office working, I occasionally spent weekends in Seattle exploring the city known for its Space Needle. My husband flew out on a Friday to explore the city with me amidst the lush greenery and trickling rain drops.

 

We began our exploration by taking the Seattle duck tour. For people who aren’t aware of the duck tour, it is a bus that can go on both water and land. The tour took us through the streets of Seattle introducing us to some of the must see sights, lesser known coffee shops and the famous Metropolitan Steakhouse which played host to the famous scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Meg Ryan met Tom Hanks. As an ardent Meg Ryan- Tom Hanks movie fans, my heart shrieked in pure joy. Weeks later I went to the famous Metropolitan Steakhouse for a dinner with my co workers and found myself replaying those moments from the movie in my head.

 

When I first traveled to Seattle, I was warned about the incessant rainfall. Thankfully I love the rain and was one of the aspects I missed about India. We had four months of rainfall, and I have never loved a season as much as the rainy season back home. While Seattle gets rained on, there is greenery and parks everywhere which makes Seattle one of the fittest cities in America. A day after Seattle was rained on, my husband and I embarked on our first park- Washington Park Arboretum. The park was big with several trails, picnic areas, and a small beach against the Seattle skyline. We happened to choose a day when the park was marshy. Our shoes were caked with sand making it challenging to walk the park, but that made the journey so much more fun.

 

Seattle has several well known spots like the Space Needle, museums which I will chronicle in my next blog posting. This blog is about the hidden gems in Seattle and Levenworth about 2-2.5 hours from Seattle was an absolute treasure. The town is hidden amidst snow capped mountains and as you drive through to Levenworth, you are encrusted with snow and scenic landscape all around. The Bavarian town is like a town up a mountain, pristine and serene. There are small stores and restaurants everywhere. We walked around and had the best hot dog ever in Levenworth!

 

Seattle is exceptionally close to my heart for reasons beyond travel. I am an absolute foodie and the way to my heart is through my stomach. Since I was traveling for work, I stayed in a hotel and ate out every day for one year. I have been to the El Goucho (an extremely expensive steakhouse where the steak melts in your mouth) to a mom and pop mexican place with no yelp review. I have never been disappointed. Each time my palette has been satisfied making Seattle my favorite place to eat out at!