Tag Archives: America

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/

The red sandstone marvel- Agra Fort or Red Fort of India.

While Taj Mahal looms large across Agra, another amazingly magnificent but less known monument is the Agra Fort or Red Fort. While it doesn’t have a romantic story like the Taj, the Red Fort or Agra Fort plays a prominent role in Indian history. Made out of red sandstone, the Red fort of Agra includes several palaces such as Jahangir’s Palace, Khas Mahal, two mosques and Diwan-i- Khas, an audience hall. On a humid Agra evening, we visited the fort amidst thousands of people.

 

The magnificence of the fort lies in its history. Contrary to what I believed that the fort was built by the Mughals when they were in India, the Red Fort existed since the 11th century. It was initially made of brick. The red sandstone for that currently exists was built by the Mughals, particularly Akbar. Akbar the great Mughal ruler realized the advantages of the central location of the fort and made it his capital. The height of the fort allows to monitor any invasions and the walkway entrance of the fort is designed such that it is at a slope. In the event of an invasion, big rock boulders were rolled down the walkway to hurt the enemy army. Shah Jahan, the grandson of Akbar is credited for making the Agra Fort what it is today. History says Shah Jahan was imprisoned at the fort during the end of his life and he died watching the Taj Mahal from the Fort. As we stood in the room where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son with a direct view of the Taj, I was taken back to the days I spent studying about this at school. I was no longer a tourist visiting a monument but one among the many children in India who is introduced to the abundance of history that India as a country represents.

 

As we walked through the exit gates of the Fort, I remembered the scenes from the movie Jodha Akbar that were shot at the Fort. With every foot step, I was in my own way reliving those images and the images I formed in my head as I memorized my history as a teenager. The distance and miles I had traveled to America, having lived here for fifteen years could not erase those lessons I learned as a child of the Akbar and Shah Jahan. In my own little way, visiting Agra Fort and Taj Mahal was my version of disneyland. I was living my fantasy world from my childhood.

 

 

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!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Travel Love Story in Seattle

Seattle in Washington is a place very close to my heart. I accepted a job in 2008 which required of me to travel to Seattle for a year. I traveled to Seattle on Monday and returned back on Friday. For a travel novice, this was the worst situation ever. I remember sitting at San Jose airport feeling the pangs of fear and anxiety creep in me. I was scared of everything ahead of me. I was traveling alone for the first time ever and I felt naked sitting at that airport. My security blanket in my family was stripped of me. I wanted to run back to my family but I also desperately needed this job. I told myself to man up and deal with it.

 

The two hour flight was the longest of my life, longer than the 23 hrs I had traveled to reach United States from India. As we landed, I paid attention to every detail in the airport as I made my way to the taxi stand to get a cab to my work. I did not know much about Seattle. As we cruised through the city, Seattle felt amazingly comforting. The greenery around reminded of my home in Kerala, the rain drops sooth the nervousness out of me and engulf me with excitement. I pulled up the directions on my iphone just in case the driver was going to mislead me.

 

I reached my office, met bunch of new people and immediately it was time to go for lunch. The travel bug had not bit me yet, so as any new travel novice new foods scared me. My co workers decided to take me for my first sushi. I had never had sushi before. We walked into the restaurant and was handed a menu that could have been in Japanese. I ordered the most American thing on the menu- the bento box and was handed chopsticks. I had used chopsticks once in college, and I ended up feeding the person behind me as I tried to feed myself. I asked for forks and was teased by my coworkers who urged I eat with chopsticks.

 

My many trips to Seattle made me a better person. I went from a girl who had never traveled alone to being confident traveling alone. I learned to enjoy being with myself. Suddenly I did not need my friends and family to have fun. I learned to have fun alone. I conquered my biggest fear of eating in front of strangers. All through college, I made excuses when I was asked out by people because I feared eating in front of them- or I was too shy to do it. Seattle blossomed the travel lover in me, and for those reasons Seattle will always been special.
Stay tuned for my Seattle adventures in the following weeks!

Another Amazing adventure filled year bites the dust!

I wrote this post on December 30th 2015…

Another year of conquering the world has come to an end.  The travel bug first bit me in 2008 when I accepted a job that required of me to travel every week to Seattle. My co workers told me I would hate traveling but the opposite happened. A girl who battled motion sickness all her life, who absolutely hated the journey fell in love miles above ground. For the first time in my life, the journey intrigued me as much as the destination. The hours in cramped up airplanes exhilarated me, the long lines and security checks added to the journey…although I have to admit, immigration at US port of entry still scares the life out of me!

 

In 2015, I conquered South/Central America. As a young child in India, I had read about the Panama Canal. I hoped someday I would visit the Canal but sitting in my house in India, it seemed far fetched. A girl can dream and some of those dreams do come true. Early 2015, I visited the Panama Canal and watched the Canal functioning in all its grandeur. The pages of my book could do no justice to the engineering marvel which fed to the nerd in me. It was a dream come true!

 

In June 2015, I visited Quito and Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. I have been a science fanatic my entire life. Rightly, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was a part of my childhood years. It was a fairy tale to the young, innocent me. As I walked through Galapagos Islands, I marveled at nature. I learned to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and I am fortunate to have had the experience to visit Galapagos Islands.

 

The greatest achievement of 2015 has been my new travel buddy- my eight month old German Shepherd Zed. He has made every journey worthwhile and filled with adventure.
Traveling continues to intrigue me. I still hope someday I can write and work for a travel magazine where conquering the horizons becomes my occupation. It remains a dream but as Paulo Coelho says “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” so the girl in me continues to dream because 2015 taught me that dreams do come true!

Mesmerizing Half Moon Bay!

Half Moon Bay, a serene town on the beautiful CA1 stretch was scenic, pristine and quaint. The amazing part of traveling for me has been the unknown. You think you know the destination but as you unravel each layer, you are in awe, surprised and speechless. Every place I have been to, be it the majestic Morocco or the lesser known Dominica have left me speechless. Half Moon Bay in California was yet another one to the list.

The first time I ever visited Half Moon Bay was five years into my American stay. I had heard about it from word of mouth but never really had an opportunity to visit. The little beach town offers stretches of water against the Pacific, unlimited clam chowder and seafood and an ambience of complete relaxation. It is hard to believe the hustle and bustle of San Francisco is in its backyard.

This past weekend we took our little puppy to his first beach expedition and Half Moon Bay won the lottery again. While he wasn’t too fond of the waves messing up his lustrous coat, he rolled in the sand to no end. He smelled sea weeds and flaunted a fish carcass like it was his kill. While Montara State Beach has people, it was mellow in comparison to the Santa Cruz beach or Ocean Beach. We ended our Half Moon Bay trip with clam chowder from Barbara’s Fish Trap.

Half Moon Bay has become our go to spot for beaching (if that is even a word!!). While I am not too fond of the windy roads in the scenic route, the landscape is unparalleled. With Halloween around the corner, pumpkin patches decorated the streets, the sunshine was just right and the fog provided the icing on the top.

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