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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

Gifts from Singapore

In January this year, we visited our family in India. We also used this time to go on a short trip to Singapore. It was a blessing that everyone could take time off from work and got to travel with the entire brood (both sets of parents and our siblings).

The thing about Singapore is that there is no extraordinary view or one-of-its-kind beach you’ll have to check off your list. The country is super efficient, clean, and unique in being a city-country. All these make it the perfect family destination for a bit of R & R, lounging by the pool, and exploring the awesome food scene at a laid back pace.I will not bore you with the details of our family vacation.

I was really proud of myself for not going overboard in any of my shopping escapades during my entire vacation (India and Singapore). So, I decided to treat myself to a couple of nice things at the Singapore airport duty free stores on our way back.

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SK-II Facial Treatment Essence:  Read more

Angry Mother Earth

Beating the drums for Hawaii is not hard to do… the place just grows on you.                                                                                                                                                                             – James MacArthur

We are back from a wonderful vacation in Hawai’i. I am still reveling in the happy and relaxed glow of island life (albeit with a few sun spots). There was so much to experience and enjoy that 10 days weren’t enough.

One of the coolest experiences was seeing an active volcano in action. Early morning is the best time to see Kilauea volcano do its ‘thing’.

We drove for about an hour from The Sheraton Kona in the middle of the night. The last 10 minutes of our drive through the forest was a little scary. No lights, no sign boards, no nothing! The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has a tropical rain forest feel to it. Passing through it in the early hours of the day, I had my doubts if we were even headed in the right direction. We were relieved to see a few other cars parked near the boat after those suspenseful 10 minutes.

It takes about 40 minutes, by boat, to reach the Volcano. The boat ride was bumpy and the waves kept hitting really hard. We watched the moon and stars fade away as dawn hit us.  The chill in the air turned warm, warmer and hot as we got closer. We took off our jumpers and got ready for the spectacular display.

Volcanic steam and fumes, exploding lava bombs and boiling rocks hitting the bottom of our boat  –  Let us say, it was a mash up between being at a sauna and chemical factory. We got engulfed in the steam from the boiling ocean.

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Most of the pictures I took were completely overwhelmed with clouds of smoke. Here is one I took after Sunrise. It shows some of the new land being formed under the ocean. There were much larger fissures throwing out Lava, but the pictures did not do any justice to what we actually saw.

Watching Mother Earth take care of herself, angrily spitting out molten rocks, and adding new land while man keeps eroding and destroying at the other end was a surreal experience for me. It was beautiful sight to watch some of the newest land being formed on the surface of the earth. Since the beginning of this year, Kilauea Volcano added about 6 to 8 acres of land.

Thousands of tourists come to see the volcano every year. But, that doesn’t take away from the experience of watching liquid Lava dance to its own tune, one of the most surreal natural phenomenons of the Earth.

 Here is a video that captures a snippet of the whole experience. It was still dark when I recorded this. We spent about close to an hour circling around the mountain and getting really close to molten lava. Forgive the shaky camera! The waves and lava rocks were hitting our boat really hard.

Quick Trivia: Here is a map of the  5 shield volcanoes that make up the Big Island, Hawai’i

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The Hawaiian name “Kīlauea” means “spewing”, referring to the active flow of Lava. Kīlauea has been continuously erupting since 1983.

The morning after..

I am on vacation in one of the most beautiful places on this planet – Hawaii – with loved ones.  On 11/9, I was catching an inter-island flight from Kona to Maui. We were frantically checking the electoral vote count coming out.

First thoughts: What? He is leading? Oh! that’s because the the west coast counts haven’t come in yet..

Later Thoughts: He is still  leading? What the heck~!? How is this possible?? At about 6pm HST (11pm EST), we knew the result, even though it wasn’t declared yet. It did not sink in. How did this happen?? How did everyone let this happen?

About an year and half ago, my husband and I had an intense conversation about the upcoming election. He kept predicting this outcome. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I was outraged that he would even entertain this outcome – ‘Are you kidding me? This guy is a joke. Except for being the butt of all jokes, this man is not going to get anywhere in American politics. The Republicans will take care of this. They will make sure that he will not be the last man standing – even if it was just for the sake of preserving the party’s reputation and future as a whole. ‘ I was unable to fathom why my husband kept saying that this man would be the last one standing. Two emotions: Why am I not able to get through to my husband? Why do I keep trying to make a point so strongly, when I know deep down, this will be a moot point in 6 months, and this candidate will just be the subject of hilarious memes.??

I ended up arguing with my husband and we did not talk to each other for a few hours. We needed a break from each other. I guess, my passion to make him believe that this outcome was not possible should have been a premonition to things to come. Well, at the end of day, on 11/9, I had to accept that my husband was right all along.

The emotions I felt – none of them can ever be summarized in a sentence. Shock, Impotent anger, Sadness, an uneasy, empty pit somewhere between my chest and stomach.We made this country our home for exactly the same reasons that seem to have been entirely overthrown by the outcome of this election.

This is the country I love – Justice and Liberty for all. I believed that this was a country where women are respected and valued for what they bring to the table. A country where most people believed in gender equality. If you had a righteous view and worked hard, people will look past whether you were a woman or a man.A country that was finally starting to make progress in treating the LGBT community more fairly and equally. A country where diverse cultures and ethnicities are embraced. Most of all, a country where people cannot get away with saying the things this man  has said. At least, I believed that this was a country where a man who called women ‘Pigs, Slobs and Dogs’ will never be the ‘Chosen Leader’. I thought people will ‘obviously’ see through his flaws, his attitude to sway both ways and hold completely opposite views as and when it suits him. Each time he opened his mouth in the debates and press conferences, I kept thinking of the famous quote from the movie ‘The American President’ – He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it.

Simply put, the election results burst my bubble. It felt like the ground below my feet was slipping away. My husband hugged me and said  – ‘I wanted you to be right more than you know.’ My girlfriend, who was beside me when the news sunk in, was asking the same questions as I was. We just went numb and silent on the ride to our hotel, while we ate our dinner and watched various news channels analyse the outcome. I knew what she was feeling and she knew what I was thinking.. Were we naive enough to believe that people in the country that we love would know right from wrong. What is right and wrong anyway? One man’s right is another man’s injustice. One man’s injustice is another man’s retribution. What I choose to call ‘misguided anger’ might just be another person’s need to be acknowledged, valued and respected in the society we live in.

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We talked about the outcome late into the night, thought about it while we fell into our beds. There is some solace in falling into the arms of a loved one when everything around you no longer makes any sense. The next day, we woke up at 2:30 am and drove two hours to see the morning sunrise. It felt like a waste of time. Why was I waking up and dressing up to see the Sun? I just wanted to curl in bed and not wake up the whole day. Nevertheless, we got to the tallest peak in Hawai’i and stood in the cold, waiting to catch the first rays of Sunlight. The Sun started coming up – It was surreal. As I watched the first rays of Sun break through the darkness,  and hear the beautiful chanting of the Hawaiian rangers in the background, I shed a few tears. I shed tears for that woman who tried to shatter the greatest and hardest glass ceiling and couldn’t break through. I shed a few tears for myself – may be out of self pity. It felt like a personal, profound loss. I shed tears for my unborn children and the kind of world I will bring them into. I shed tears for men and women fighting climate change, racial discrimination, gender inequality and poverty on a daily basis.

How could the Sunrise be so beautiful and the world not be perfect? How could I be on one of the most breathtaking places on earth and not be happy? I gave my husband a kiss and decided to do everything I can to process this craziness, focus on love and work on healing myself and support my family and friends as much as I can. The Sun will rise tomorrow and will continue to throughout my lifetime. We as women will have to dust off and begin again and start from Step 1 if that is what it takes. Let us also start looking, listening and reckoning the existence of opinions beyond those expressed in our social media feeds and our favorite news channels and daily shows. There is a lot of work to do. For me, it starts with looking into what more I could help with, what I can change and influence in my own tiny way. For today, I will start by taking off my ”blinders and dealing with heart break.

I will continue writing about the election, women, feminism as I work my way through this. It is a process. Please bear with me and don’t hate me for being so emotional about this…Thank you!

Hugs and Love from the Island. Aloha!

A day at the Park

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park is an understated Arizona gem for people in and around Phoenix. It’s about an hour from the downtown Phoenix. The hikes are easy, the park itself is pretty clean.

While you won’t see any large scale animals or experience exciting encounters, it can be a nice and easy ‘mini  outing’ for families with kids/ dogs. The Humming birds and Cardinals are plenty and worth  watching. The Cacti are many and quite beautiful, if you are someone who can see the beauty in them (I do!) Read more