Bay Area Trip (Day 1)

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17-Mar-2016: Few of our friends call Bay area their home and we had wanted to visit them and also G and Ar had not been to that area. So this had been in planning for some time, but it kept getting moved forward, one due to we not having the car and also it being a long trip we were not ready yet. This trip got finalized in Feb and we decided to go in March We were thinking of taking couple of days off before the weekend and make it a 4 days trip. The distance from our place to it is around 400 miles and it takes around 7:00 hours to reach if you go non stop 🙂 . We started planning the itinerary as the day approached. The plan was as below:

  • Day 1: Head towards Bay area, via Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and enjoy the scenic route. Reach our friends place.
  • Day 2: Do a SFO sightseeing and spend some time with friends.
  • Day 3: Do some local sightseeing, like silicon valley etc, mainly a relax day.
  • Day 4: Before heading back visit one more of our friend and be home by evening.

We packed our stuff, we ended up carrying lot of luggage ;), mainly food stuff, clothes , gifts etc. I had loaded the car tank preceding night as we were to start early. Woke up at 5:00 am. We had planned to leave by 6:30 am as we wanted to cross LA before peak time traffic. Though as always we got delayed and could start only around 7:30 am. We were cruising along I-5 and traffic was light, but as we entered 101, the traffic slowed us down. It took us more than a quarter hour to cross LA. We took diversion at CA-58 to head towards Moro bay where we got on to the Pacific coast highway (PCH), which was going to accompany us for next 200+ miles. This route is one of the most beautiful and scenic route in the world. The whole road passes right next to the Pacific coast on one side and cliffs on other. There are many beautiful beaches, vista points and arched bridges on the way.

We were making nice progress as traffic was light. We took a stop at San Simon which is a nice town and has great beach front. We had our lunch their which we had brought with us (parathas etc). It was such a nice experience to have it alongside the San Simon coastline. We would have liked to explore this town more as we have heard it has some nice old European architecture style buildings. For some other time ! We also fueled up here and moved ahead. It is important to keep refueling on PCH at regular intervals as you might not spot any gas station for a long stretch.

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Our next stop was going to be Big Sur. This is a resort town on the way and its very scenic. The main attraction is the cove and waterfall descending into it. We parked on PCH and then you have to descend and you get to a bridge. From here you get view of pristine blue waters and the water falling from cliff into the cove. I have not seen such a sight. Its mesmerizing. We spent some good amount of time there and did not want to leave. Just a short distance from here is Bixby creek bridge, which you might have seen on numerous postcards. There are couple of vista points before the bridge, from where you can see the arched bridge on the cliff flanked by Pacific coastline with blue waters. We then crossed the bridge and took break on the vista point on other side of the bridge. You get a different view of the bridge from here which is equally jaw dropping. Big Sur is a destination in itself and you can spend few days here to explore it, which we did not had unfortunately 😦 . We wanted to see one more point (a beach), which is quite popular but couldn’t find the spot and as we were getting late so we continued further.

Around 30 miles from Big Sur is the famous 17 mile drive. This is a private drive and there is $10 fee. Its a small peninsula and you go round the loop which is around 17 mile and so the name. At the beginning there is forested area and the jungle is heavily wooded. We took couple of breaks there, it was cool and peaceful. From here you drive down and you start feeling the ocean breeze. There are many scenic spots here like the iconic Lone Cyprus tree which is timeless, then there is Pebble beach and many golf coarse on the coast line. We took a break at the Pebble beach and had some snacks on the benches overlooking it. It gave us  much needed break. It was around 5:30 pm and I had been driving for close to 10 hours. Ar was started getting bit restive, with her constant question being “Are we there yet?”. We then completed the loop which was quite scenic and then headed out.

There is an exit for Sunnyvale before you enter Santa Cruz. This is the point you leave the coast behind. It was a mesmerizing PCH ride, which we would remember for ever. Yeah, its just like as they show in movies 🙂 . We stopped at a gas station to fill the tank and then we headed for our destination. We reached out friends home at Cupertino by 8:00 pm. We were quite tired, but had completed the 1st leg. We had driven for almost 12.5 hours and covered a distance of over 400 miles. We parked our vehicle, pulled out all our stuff and headed to their home. After freshening up and some chit chat had dinner and then it was time to go to bed.

PS:  I had done the PCH ride before, but it was as a passenger and I always wanted to drive myself on this stretch. I cant explain enough in words how scenic and wonderful this route is..

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Hurda Party At Rajewadi

Feb 2010 : Since some time we were thinking of going for some trek, but it was not happening. Ram suggested to come visit his village and we can also have Hurda party as well on his farm. Also per him we can trek one of the hills near his house which has a great views of many backwaters and surroundings from the top. So this seemed to be a good option and we finalized on a date and left the planning to Ram to do our kahtirdari 🙂

We decided to book a vehicle (Ram wanted to go on the bike) and spend some time at his village and come back in half day. We started early on that day though we had breakfast at home only to keep the trip short. Rajewadi is his village, which is off Pune – Satara super highway on the other side of Neera river. Its around 50 km from Pune city and takes around 1 hour to reach. We reached there by 9:00 am. This area is an upcoming industrial area and we saw many factories along internal road leading to his village. The village is small, but beautiful, flanked by hills on one side and Neera river on other.

We then went to his home and got introduced to his family. They served us tea and after small conversation, we decided to head to the fields. The day was quite hot. His farm was nearby to his house and along with other crops had the jowary planted. We picked few of the kanis from his fields but they were small and bit raw. Instead we observed that the next field had big kanis and looked fresh. So we tore down many from that field 🙂 . Grass is greener on the other side, hence proved! 😉 We took all of it to Ram’s field for roasting. We found a small canopy and started working on lighting the fire. As simple as it may look, getting a fire going can be tricky task. It took us some time to get it going and after some trail and error we were finally start roasting the hurdas.

We had brought salt and chilli powder from Ram’s place with us in puddis. Ram was roasting it one after other and once couple were done which didn’t come out that well, once the makeshift stove was hot the next batch started coming out well. The Hurda was quite good and we enjoyed the party. We then rested under the shade for some time, we would have liked to stay there whole afternoon. The winter sun was up and it was pleasant weather to just lay down. Then we decided to go for the next item of itinerary was trek the hill which was just across the fields. The hill was looking quite tall and the slopes quite imposing.

Ashk was not much in favor of trek , but as others persisted and also Ram was the one who was our host and organizer of this event, we decided to go. Though the hill was looking quite close by, from the field where we stood, it took us some 20-25 mins walk to reach the base. From there we started the real trek. Surprising it was difficult! One reason was there were not many marked trails and the gravel on the surface was quite loose and slippery. We are slipping once a while and it was making the progress slow. Also there was hardly any vegetation at the base and on the slopes for shade, though at the top there was some tree cover.

We reached the top in around 30 minutes. The top was a narrow ridge connecting the one end of hill to other. We started walking on the ridge, which was quite an adventure 🙂 After 10 -12 mins walk, where we were walking in the single file, so narrow was the ridge and there was valley on each side, we reached the final ascent. We were slipping a bit once a while and it was bit risky having valley on both sides. After covering this section, we started the accent and it was getting difficult now. The gravel here was more slippery and we had hard time getting on top. But the view from top was worth the effort and we could see far off amongst cool breeze. From here there was again small hike to the topmost point from where you can see many backwaters, but by then everyone in the group had given up. Also the section was bit dangerous and we decided to head back. Ram was unhappy that we didn’t go to the point where he wanted to take us.

The descent was even more difficult with slippery gravel. Most of the section we descended sitting down, just sliding over the surface. This where I strained my knee’s ligament, which still hurts :(. We reached the bottom in 20 mins and headed to Ram place. They had prepared lunch for us. We all sat down and had a nice home made lunch. We took some rest and then headed back to Pune. We were back home around 6:30 pm.

It was indeed very memorable experience and would definitely want to have another Hurda party some day!

1st Cycle!

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My girl is growing up and she wants a Cycle now 🙂  Ar had been talking about getting the Cycle for some time and G also have backed her. But I wanted to wait a bit and there were reasons for that. One was that we were planning a trip to India in the near future and so my thought was it would be better to buy it once we are back. Another reason was to time it with an event which makes it special and memorable. Ar’s 4th B’day was in Feb, that was within few months and so that seemed a good time to get the Cycle. So after some convincing, I was able to get G and Ar on board.

So we were back to US in Feb, which was few days after Ar’s B’day. As we got over jet lag, we decided to scout for the Cycle, which is called Bike here. I didn’t expect that it would be a project in itself ;). 1st you have to determine what wheel size to go for, then what kind of side wheels you want, do you want hand brakes? and we have not even started talking about the style and the color .. We did some analysis on online stores and on the weekends we looked around stores. The more we looked, more confused we were. Though Ar had no confusion in her mind, she would do with any 🙂

Finally, seeing that it has been dragging a bit, we decided to go ahead and book. So I went to Walmart’s online store and bought the one we had seen and liked in one of our visits to there store. It was 18″, pink color (Ar’s Fav) with hand brakes (most bikes here don’t have hand brake, rolling the peddles backwards is its substitute :)) and ground level side wheels. We also booked the princess helmet for her. So the next day we decided to go and pick it from the store after office.

Ar was super excited and she couldn’t conceal it, even a bit ;). We drove to the Walmart which was bit far from our home, but that was the only one having store delivery for that bike. At the pick up point, when the lady brought in the bike, it seemed different. After giving a careful look, we knew it didn’t match with the picture we had seen on the online store. This one had black tires, I think green or some color and looked old. We told her so and refused the Order. Once the formalities of cancellation was done, we were thinking of leaving, but then decided to have a look around the store. Ar was still cool though!

We went straight to the bike section and found the one we had looked online. There was even a surprise as some good deal was going on and it was marked at $29 which was full $20 lower than the one we had booked online. So we grabbed it before others could lay an eye on it, but we were still suspicious due to price. So we had it completely checked out and it looked fine. We also got the price confirmed, which matched the display. Ar took ride around the store and she was comfortable riding it. There were couple of other families around us, who were eyeing the Cycle and Ar was bravely holding on to it :).

Without wasting more time,  we decided to finalize it. We got the air filled in the tires and also bought a unique bell (mickey mouse one, with a rolling disc ), which was for only a dollar. We checked out the bike at the counter and Ar was not willing to stay even a bit away from it. We clicked some pics of her with her first Cycle, had Orange juice and headed towards car.

Somehow we were able to fit the bike in the car and headed home. After reaching home, we did pooja, assembled the bells etc and it was ready, except we had to still wait for the helmet to arrive which was scheduled to be delivered in next couple of days. The bike went into the patio and that brought close an eventful day.

I don’t know if Ar really had a sound sleep that night, but as soon as she was up in the morning she rushed to the patio to check on the Cycle. She couldn’t keep her eyes and mind from it. Finally helmet arrived on Thursday and Ar had her first ride. She was fairly comfortable with peddles and turning the handle etc as she has a tricycle earlier, which she was quite fond of riding. Only part where she used to get anxious was brakes and so she didn’t enjoy going downhill (that’s the real fun part really and it took some time for her to start liking that). Another thing which used to make her anxious was someone coming her way like people and especially dogs. After seeing a dog approaching , she used to stop peddling and wait till it had passed 🙂

She first started riding in the Apartment complex, then on the service lane and then she started riding outside the complex. She obviously had her share of falls, yeah you don’t learn to ride without falling, but the real test would come when the side wheels are taken off. One interesting way the Cycle’s here are different is that the side wheels touch the ground, so technically you are ridding a quadracycle, not like the ones we have seen where the side wheels are above the ground level, so they come into play only if you loose balance and would help you not fall off. One thing we are observing since some days while we got out in our car is she tries to compare me driving the car and she ridding her bike. So she is like, why are you not applying brakes on slopes or why you turned so suddenly and why my car does not fall 😉

This even has brought back my own memories of my first Cycle when I was almost twice Ar’s age and we were in Bhopal . I remember I was in 3rd standard and Baba and Aai had promised me they would gift me a Cycle if I am among the top 3 in my class in the exams. I don’t know if that motivated me enough, anyways I studied hard but when we went to my school to collect my Finals marks sheet, I was bit sad to know I came 4th in the class. I was like Gayi Cycle.

But Baba still got me a blue Ranger Cycle. I was very happy and we started the lessons immediately. Many falls and bruises later, I could ride well :). Our colony was nice place to ride Cycle, it had hills, plain roads, twists and turns, some real steep slopes, woods. We really had a great time riding cycle with friends. We used to play many games which sound quite stupid now, one of which was called cutting. The premise was 2 teams were created and the goal was that one team has to move inside the designated boundary and the goal of the opposite team was to get that team players across it by hook or crook 😉 (mostly the later ;)) and if in given time you could hold out you win and if the opposite team got all your players across the boundary they win. This became even more interesting during monsoons 🙂

Really good old days!

Hollywood Movie Time & Earlier Trips (part 2)

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28-Dec-2016 :  So here we were cruising towards LA, first at great pace till Artesia , then the pace reduces till you reach snail’s pace from there till Commerce City as there is work going on here to expand I-5. But today was our day, so we were still moving like snail even as we passed Commerce City, then 101, then LA city, then entering the Hollywood section of the highway 🙂 As you are getting exasperated, you pass Alvarado st and you see the sign ..  the famous sign !, yes you are there! We reached around 11:30 am and went straight to H&H parking.

After parking the car and yes parking is quite costly in Hollywood, we made our way to walk of fame. I still remember the first time we were here with G and Ar and sudden arrival of Spider man made Ar nervous. After that she stayed away from all characters that day. But next time around Ar was more forthcoming and she happily clicked pics with Miny mouse. This time around we had mainly come here for Ar as she had been talking about meeting Miny mouse since last few days, but when she meat her there she was not cozying up to her :), it didn’t help the matters that spider man dropped from nowhere 🙂

That’s when the idea of seeing a movie there came to me and we decided to let Ar settle down a bit and meanwhile decided to check at El Capitan theater about the running shows. There were couple of interesting movies running and G was interested in Moana and I wanted to see Star Wars: Rogue One which had just released. The Star wars show was at 12:30 pm just 25 mins away and the next one was quite late, so we decided to go for it. Now it was not very popular decision as we would be skipping the lunch, but we do regular lunch daily, we don’t come to Hollywood daily to watch the movie 😉 Now that’s my logic ..

This was one of the most unique movie watching experience of our life as not only we were seeing a movie in Hollywood, but as the theater belongs to Disney and the Start Wars movie is also produced by them, they had mad elaborate arrangements. Now before running ahead of the horse, let me describe the theater a bit. Its a old (Opened in 1926), Iconic and has great architecture which is mix of European and Indian influences. As you enter the lobby you are transported to a different era. Its painted vividly, with incarnate upholstery and and earthly oriental feel.

Now as part of special screening there were storm troopers to welcome us and to take pics with them in the lobby. Then we entered the theater itself, which again has high Indian influences in its design. One unique thing is that this theater is still one of the very few where you get reserved seats when you book the tickets. They still have Balcony and stalls and the old style of screen curtain etc, which transports you to good ol days! From the door, we were escorted to our seats by the helpful attendants.  Then after the usual trailers and all which thankfully were very less than usual we were greeted by a host and he welcomed us, did some chit chat and then the movie began, so we thought, But suddenly from behind the screen the storm troopers came and they did a small live show and then the movie started. Truly impressive and memorable. We made do with popcorn and blueberries to pang the hunger !

The movie itself was good and we had a great time. Ar also seemed to have enjoyed the latter part of it. After the end, we went to basement gallery to checkout the exhibition of outfits worn by the stars in the movie. It was really a great experience. We were out of theater by 3:00 pm and Ar had another chance to take pic with Miny mouse which she did but rather grumpily. Then we pulled the car from the parking and headed towards our next destination Beverly Hills, where we were planning to have our home made lunch.

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There are many tours which start at Hollywood to all these places like Beverly Hills to star homes etc, which we never thought of taking, but we always wanted to visit this place which is home to the famous Hollywood start. So we had planned to go visit couple of parks their one which has a lake and on the way just go through the area and see some homes etc.. But we were already quite late, so we decided to skip the lake and only visit the Beverly Hills gardens which has the famous Beverly Hills sign and is located in the center of the Beverly Hills.

The park is elongated small patches spread across blocks, one with a duck and Lilly pond at then center and many piece of arts located in its premise. We reached there in around 20- 25 mins and luckily found the parking spot at the very entrance. We were all quite hungry and first took care of that matter. G had brought in home made chapati wraps. Then we walked around a bit, saw the famous sign and decided to head out. Before leaving we rode through few of the streets of this famous place, which are wide and quite. Really liked this place.

It was almost 4:30 pm and we decided to head home. On the way back we took I-405, which I thought would be clear, but no luck, it was jam packed and we moved at snails pace for more than and hour, before it cleared after Artesea. We were back home by 6:30 pm after a usual but unique in a way, a place which we now know quite well 🙂

PS: When are we going next? And yes we didn’t spot any real stars this time either 😉

Sholay 3D

3-JAN-2014: Sholay has been one of my favorite movies since childhood and I still watch it once in a while. Even after watching it so many times I never get bored of it. It was always my wish to see it on the big screen but knew that this might never happen. So when I heard that Sholay is coming back in cinemas and that too in 3D I was very excited and was looking forward to release date.

So the movie was releasing on 3rd Jan 2014 and I was on leave on that day, I booked the 1st day 1st show. What if I was not there to watch it 39 years ago when it had released, but this time I was going to watch it 1st day 1st show. I, Baba and R were to go for the movie as G had office and Aai had to stay back for Aaji.

I had booked the tickets for Citypride Kothrud and it was on screen 4 which is the smaller screen. I was bit disappointed that it was not on the large screen, but this multiplex was the nearby option, so had gone for it.

When the movie started and the famous Sholay music played up, I was back in the good old days. Audience were repeating and even saying the dialogues before the actors, clapping, whistling, it was pure fun. The 3D effects were okay, but just being able to watch Sholay on large screen was a treat. Paisa pura vasool!!

Next couple of …

Next couple of posts I would just be writing about my hobbies. Don’t think many would be interested in what I like or don’t like to do, but would give me an opportunity to reflect on myself.

What is an Hobby? a task or activity which is of ones interest, which gives is pleasure to do, normally performed in the leisure time. Though it’s a good idea to do these activities even if you are busy with something, just to relax.

One of the oldest hobbies for me, which I can remember would be being close to nature. I believe everyone .. or almost everyone.. likes nature. Most of the early humans used to live in the natural habitat.. may it be jungle, steeps, plains, deserts etc, before they moved into a more artificial setup. So humans naturally feel comfortable or pleasant in nature.

This led to development of many sub hobbies related to nature like traveling, trekking, gardening, pets etc.I will take each one of then as a separate posts and other ones which are not related to nature.

One incidence which I remember very vividly, when I had completed my third standard. After that I needed to change my school. So gave exams in 3 schools. When I went to one of the schools for exams (Jawaharlal Nehru school), I was very impressed by the campus. Not only there were many trees and playgrounds, but they had so many themed gardens, one was rose garden, one was fruits garden and so on. So when I came back from the exam, my aai asked me so how was the exam and I was like there are some many gardens, play grounds, trees etc and so I have liked that school and want to join this one only 🙂 Luckily I cleared the exam and I was able to join the school I wanted 😉

Garden trail

07-JULY-2013: Yesterday we took Ar for her first garden outing. I don’t know if she was excited or not (She is always in good mood for an outing), but I was for sure. It brought many good memories from my childhood. It had been many years I have been to a garden and brought back the childhood memories when we used to look forward for garden outing.

Large area to play, lot many kids around, the slide, swing ride, many of those play structures where you jump, climb, slide, dive and off course bhel, Yum! Good old days came front of me. We decided to go to Bhimsen Joshi Garden which is next to New India school, close to our place. G was also in good spirits as we were going out someplace.

After a small drive we reached the garden. The garden was good, quite big, lots of trees and good landscape, lot of animal figures and children’s play area. You see many people of different ages playing/walking/talking or just passing the time and you forget all your day to today worries and just be there and relax. We took a quick round of the garden, took many photos and wanted to sit for some time on a bench, but all were occupied ;), also Ar was feeling hungry and so we started back, though I am sure we would be there often and I she would enjoy the time here once she grows up a bit 🙂

Till another day, adios!