Category Archives: Experience

Diwali:Lights of India at Seattle center

Diwali is Festival of Lights! And to celebrate this festival we went to Seattle center organised by Sammamish Vedic Cultural Center. It was raining heavily with chilly winds but we were in full zest to get the homely touch. At the Seattle Center the entire area was filled with people, hanging lanterns and lighted Diyas. The whole atmosphere was colourful. It was a treat to get everything under one roof from melodious music, classical & folk dances, tasty Indian Food to painting own Diyas, putting Mehendi on hand and exploration with clay.

Without missing a second I was ready with my Moleskine Pocket sketchbook to capture these amazing moments. I went upstairs to get the entire view while my family explored other areas. It was my first time to sketch the happening crowd. Kids were running around wearing ethnic dresses, ladies with jewellery and sarees, the aroma of tasty food around and moreover crowd from all over the world. It’s beautiful to see this cultural amalgamation in home away from home!

The other attraction with long queues in the hall was Bajrang Bali Chai Stall. Being cold I too grabbed a spot in the queue to taste the hot Chai (tea) with cardamom and ginger flavour. It was soothing to the throat and yes! My second sketch.

The wait was worth for the hot chai! Continuous  performances were going on the stage of Bharatnatyam, Rajasthani folk dance and songs by kids and adults. Another catchy stall was Flat Indian bread which was prepared and served hot, then and there. It was great to watch ladies making these Chapatis(flat bread) so effortlessly and efficiently with beautiful smile on their face. The aroma of butter on whole wheat flat bread was mouthwatering. Cameras were placed and everything was displayed live-making of Indian Flat bread.

               

It was a pleasure to watch the Bharatnatyam dance. I did quick poses of the dance with Tombow brush. The rhythmic steps, vocals and perfect performance by performers was completely mesmerising. There was display of Madhubani paintings by kids and all painting materials available, to try on. My daughter painted her own Diyas and enjoyed Madhubani art. The smell of food was calling our tummy and we had delicious food. Before heading home I again went on the first floor and did an aerial view of audience watching the performance.

It was great Saturday afternoon, a complete festive mood, meeting new people and capturing all memorable moments at Seattle Center. Inspite of having no mood to leave the place we headed home carrying all memories of homeland right here in Seattle. The rhythms of foot steps by dancers are still lingering and ringing in the ears!!

Hanami 2017

Blooming Cherry Blossom in Neighborhood 4th April 2017

‘Hanami’ or flower viewing, which denotes the simple pleasure of looking at a single Cherry tree or group of trees in bloom. The soothing colors of white and pink flowers are treat to eyes. The five petal flower is a delicacy in itself. The brown colored branches are loaded with flower bunches and are indeed one of the world’s best reminders of fleeting passage of time. The subtle scent and the joy of seeing all variations of fluffiness seem to make us feel happier.

The streets are lined with fluffy, shades of pink one can imagine. With the blow of wind the petals resembles like snowflakes. The ground turns into blanket of white. I couldn’t stop myself to sketch this picturesque view. The color palette and brush urged my imagination and to draw what I perceive. Our neighborhood contains group of Cherry blossom trees, who welcomes the season of Hanami. The wait was long this time as compared to 2016. The Quads at University of Washington too bloomed by first week of April.  

        

         

In spite of rains and less sunshine there was huge crowd on 2nd April 2017 at the Quads. People truly enjoy the beautiful blooms which the city experiences. The bridal shoot at the Quads, mommies with strollers, picnic parties, children running all over the area, all indicates the festivity of Hanami – joy and happiness. Spring is the perfect season to awaken the trees and plants from their slumber to display their foliage and blooms once again.

Spring in Seattle

A Refreshing Walk!

Zig-Zag pathway into the woods

The snaking pathway making its way into the woods, pure and fresh air to breathe, birds chirping & searching for food, rabbits crossing the trail and insects, ants crawling on trees.  A perfect decision to take a break from the gym and embrace the outdoors. A Walk in the Woods! Though start of Spring but Seattle maintains cooler and wetter climates. The showers, clouds and sun playing hide & seek calls for Nature to look into. The lush green tall trees play with sun rays giving light and shadow effects on the pathway. I am awed by the sheer impact of unsentimental patterns, twists and turns, falling branches, dried twigs & logs all intriguing different art forms. An artistic expression one can visualize with the maniac of lines, wood textures, harmony & balance of trees and tiny living habitats there. Indeed a powerful natural abstraction.       

A walk in the woods introduced me to myself. The peace, purity of nature calms completely your body and soul. Mind gets the essential boost which an indoor space can’t provide. Mother Earth our original teacher, who existed before us and will exist even after we are gone, unless we destroy it by our carelessness. What a terrible act it will be! The Earth is an amazing gift to explore. The tall huge trees in itself are magical. Growing year by year, spreading their shades, creating beauty to impart and of course nothing asking in return. These trees have a reason of being what they are. Living in the most natural, benevolent way is right here on Earth. There are many Life lessons and reasons hiding behind the trees which are waiting to be found out. Unfortunately we humans value least to our environment – a fact.

We humans have the urge for creativity, innovations and always try new stuff to work upon. But unknowingly the environment is affected. Before we ruin the Earth, certain measures and steps are must to save it with our intelligence and willpower. We all can definitely save it. Save environment and Save trees!!! 

I know that I am getting refreshed & helping myself by walking in the woods. I am spending time in serene nature with all kinds of living organisms and learning new stuff about life. An experience to add on in my Seattle journey. An inspiration for my imagination. And that’s pretty refreshing. Don’t believe me? Take a refreshing walk in the woods. Get to know it a little better, and you will probably be surprised by what it has to share.

‘Hygge’ moment

Happiness and Joyfulness!
Holiday Spirit and Festive mood!!
Christmas and New Year Celebrations!!!
and frosting on the cake was blockbuster Aamir Khan's movie 'Dangal'. Being Aamir Khan's fan, to watch his movie in holiday season was a special occasion.

Popular Lincoln Square in Bellevue, where generally Hindi movies are released was a hub of Indians. Christmas lighting, decorations, Snow flake lane and the entire mall decorated by Christmas trees was a complete treat to the eyes. Golden and silver along with red and green colors made amazing ambiance.
We went with the mind set that we will surely get the tickets for first day, but unfortunately, all our plans were doomed. 
All shows of movie were running houseful. Now with more enthusiasm and thrill, speculating that indeed movie must be worth watching, we geared up for advance planning and online booking . To our efforts we could get tickets for 3rd day after the movie was released on 23rd December 2016. Huge crowd had gathered for the show and there was long lane to enter the theater. Standing in the lane, surrounded by Indian people, we were feeling radiant. The feel of being in India, though far away from home. We met many known faces, thus realizing the world is so small. Everyone was discussing about Aamir Khan's performance, which made us more curious and excited about the movie.
The theater was jam-packed, there was pin drop silence for dialogues and huge cheers and applaud for Aamir Khan & Geeta Phogat (First Female Indian wrestler to win Gold in Common Wealth games 2010). Our 8 year old daughter completely enjoyed the movie, though Haryanvi language was little hard for her to understand but with subtitles she could make it out. She was completely motivated and engrossed. In fact the movie speaks for itself with emotions and passion.
Gobbling pop-corn, hardly blinking eyes, we were glued to our seats watching the movie.
We were so touched and couldn't stop our emotions, when the whole crowd stood for Indian National Anthem in the movie. The patriotic feeling and memories of our country flashed, which made us more proud for our motherland. The experience is notable because you are away from your country and still you enjoy homely feeling. Women empowerment and patriotism motivated the public. 
For us this entire experience was Hygge time. Hygge (pronounced as Hoo-gah, Danish word, closest translation in English coziness, homeyness) is a very personal and individual thing. Spending holiday time with loved ones, living a life that is truly present and to feel good inside is Hygge. Rejoicing the movie in home away from home with new faces is indeed Hygge.
The Hygge occasion for the day ended with more wrestling talks and other sports followed by dinner in an Indian restaurant.
What's your Hygge Moment??

Homecoming

Yeh jo desh hai tera, Swades hai tera…” might sound too filmy to start with, but Bollywood songs express best emotions and feelings within you. Seattle to Mumbai 20 hours journey and still destination Home was 4 hours away i.e. Pune. I always had the feeling, journey is more enjoyable than destination but this time it was the destination Home. Home means many things like our culture, our nation, our family, our relatives/friends and so on. Although I love US, it is not my ‘Home’, just as the priciest luxuries of hotel suites cannot match the warmth of our modest home. After landing at Mumbai airport humidity and sweat greeted us and on roads honking horns. Ya, the ears took little time to adjust these situations and thought again creeped why here in India do we honk? It does bother and worries deep inside.

Hearing to our mother tongue Marathi by taxi driver and Radio Mirchi on the driveway from Mumbai – Pune was exciting and making us more nostalgic. Breakfast of hot vada pav and rains on expressway was truly stunning. Being August month rains had made the surroundings green, foggy, bit cold and mesmerizing. A perfect head start of the day.

Maa ke hath ka khana (food made by mother), the aroma of tadkas, spices, pickles, chutneys and mouth watering sweets this speculation overtook the 4 hours distance with a blink of our eyes and we reached  to our destination-finally – Sweet Home. All family members awaited for the meet, surprises by cousins and here we got the tag of NRI (Non Resident of India). 3 weeks of our holidays in which 2 days had already gone in travelling though, there was super excitement and happiness all around. The schedule was packed with Daawat (invitations), meeting old friends, colleagues, lots of shopping and smacking the chats and street foods. Nothing can beat the peace of home, sleep in your own cozy bed and love of your own people.

Festive season was around the corner so city was fully decorated, lighted, pandals for Ganesh idol installed, full of enjoyment mood all around, energized us more. The comfort service of home delivery, ironed clothes from laundry, having lot of people around was indeed a bliss and feeling of contentment. The enjoyment and pranks of our daughter with her cousins, sleep overs, fights and short day trips made the stay most memorable.

Ya packing all the joy, good memories and of course Maa ke hath se bane snacks, we headed back to Seattle. 3 weeks flew in a fraction of a second but immense bundle of joy, love and care, we took with us for the upcoming year ahead.

THE Day most Awaited

waiting for tushar

Engrossed in deep sound sleep, wrapped up in cozy comfort and energizing body and soul, the buzzer sealed off my slumber land and I impatiently stopped its ringing and echoing. Wake up! Wake up!! 5’o clock, its crack of the dawn and new day is awaiting to be challenged and experienced. Although the wait of 5 minutes more to snooze was pulling me back like a magnetic force and making it irresistible, still daily chores were knocking too. A dual situation in mind but a winning state  for more demanding stuff. Being a habit to see date and day first after getting up, I was thrilled with excitement. Oh Today is….

Thanking God for yesterday and praying for today with all zest and ignition in me I jump-off for the day. Time was moving with its pace and I had huge list to conquer. Excitation for the day lead to butterflies in my stomach and I headed to my zone- Kitchen. Cooking range was waiting for me to prepare lunch-boxes. Meanwhile, waking up my husband and daughter, switching on morning ragas on http://www.gaana.com , checking Whats App messages accompanied my cooking. The Tick-Tock was hinting me to gear up fast before my daughter misses the School-Bus.

Being a Nuclear family, I frame to put together all my family members at Breakfast and Supper time. All unified at the Dinning table, dressed-up in their relevant attires and  ready to take nourishment. With my first sip of tea, taking a pause for a moment, I told Today is The Friday!!Hurray Friday!!!The excitement of having Friday today created zeal in all and lead to Friday discussion and Weekend Plans. The specialty of Friday is, its most looked forward day of the week, as followed by Saturday and Sunday i.e. two days off from work and school too. The Friday Fever plays on us Psychologically and Physically. Its the last day of week thrilled with joy and fun for Weekends. Movie Friday also for movie lovers. Gathering all my thoughts back, for most awaited day, I dispersed my members to their respective jobs and we all were set for Friday Fun! and again awaiting for Next  Friday!!

Driving in Seattle

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Road in Seattle

Pune, base of the Peshwas of the Maratha Empire, city in Maharashtra, state of India. Famous for its rich culture, freedom fighters, architectural history, education and traffic.

Yes! Traffic! Pune is infamous for traffic violators and bad road conditions. It takes hours to go from one place to another, with slow moving traffic  and small roads. After driving for almost a decade in this city, and now getting a chance of driving in Seattle, this exposure was so gratifying, that we are compelled to share it with you all.

The roads here overwhelmed us. In spite Seattle receives rain throughout the year, still the roads are well maintained and its a pleasure to drive on it. Even though roads are tar roads still you will not find a single pot-hole on it. In Pune, with one single shower of rain, all the roads become unpleasant to drive on.  Also, all the roads here have proper markings with white and yellow lines, indicating right-left or straight direction. They all are consistent everywhere, nowhere one can find its faded or removed. All the signals are working 24 x 7. Its incredible how they maintain all these stuff with uniformity. Immediate thought comes to our mind, if it is possible here, why cant we do it in India?

One might argue that we have more population to accommodate, but that should actually help to maintain things because we have more man power to work with. Even in the down-town areas where the width of road is small (if we compare to our Laxmi road, they are almost of the same width) still they are managed better here. The striking difference is how much people follow the rules. Even though there are cameras which are used to track the rule breakers, but we have seen people following rule on their own, rather than because of compulsion. Even though there is nobody on the road, people stop at red signal, waiting for it to be green. Can you imagine this being in Pune? Its an awe-inspiring experience to drive on these roads without hearing a single honk. Here honk is only if you made some mistake or driving rash. In traffic jam also people patiently wait in their lane for traffic getting clear, no one jumps the lane or overtake for going forward and making traffic condition even worse, which we see a very common scene on Indian roads. If Fire Brigade or Ambulance pass on the road,  everyone moves to the right side of the road to give it the way. It is impressive to watch that ambulance passing on the road.

People here  not only care for their own driving, but are always ready to help new drivers. I experienced that when i was new on the road, on the very first day of my driving i forgot to turn on lights, one person came parallel to me and informed me about my mistake.

It definitely has to do with the attitude of people, rather than someone enforcing the rules on them. If everyone accepts it as their own responsibility to drive carefully, this can be achieved in India too and Indian roads also will be pleasurable to drive on.

 

Life at Seattle

Seattle Space Needle

Seattle, city in Washington  is surrounded by water, lush green forests and mountains. Its a hub of tech industry, with Microsoft and Amazon. Most of the year city experiences rain showers making days cozy and tempting to cheer with Starbucks coffee. Starbucks is originated in Seattle. It has first Starbucks in the world situated in downtown Seattle.

The weather here forces to relish barbecue and hot coffee. As weather demands the attire changes, compelling to groom in gum-boots, rain-winter jackets and all time carrying multicolored fancy beautiful umbrellas. These things stand out boldly adding color to life and making everything lively.

Romance blooms in air and soothing  songs makes evening more romantic and worth spending with loved ones.

The Futuristic Space Needle, a legacy of the 1962 World’s Fair is the landmark of city. Pike Place Market famous for its fresh sea food is a delight for taste buds. Mac & Cheese i.e. macaroni pasta from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese pulls the crowd to its freshly prepared delicious cheese.

In Seattle, you don’t have to know each other to start a discussion, the custom of greeting ‘ Hi, how are you?’ starts the discussion with beautiful smile on their faces and very soon leads to the famous “Seahawks”. Ya, Seahawks is the name of (American) football team that represents Seattle. People here are passionate about Seahawks and Starbucks just like how Indians are about cricket.

Work culture follows 3-D’s i.e dedication, determination and devotion. No breaks while working!! Early to bed and early to rise can be truly visualized. American pizzas, salmon fish and a bowl full of salads are most  popular over here.

Each city, country has its own identity. Food, customs, clothing defines it in depth. Its amazing experience to know different people, their language, rituals and food habits. Its a small world as they say but vast to explore and learn.