Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LA Times

So recently a friend of mine relocated to Los Angeles for higher studies. And soon my cell phone gallery was flooded with postcard glimpses of the desert metropolitan. Yes I know LA is anything but a desert, but it was long long time ago. Anyways. So I asked him to share his must visit in LA list depending of his current explored range. And here it is – A guest post by a visitor (Jagannathan R) for the future visitors!

It was a 25 hour flight : I had changed time zones thrice, Munich, London and then finally Los Angeles. I was exhausted and wanted to get home, or what would be my home for the next couple of years. I stepped out of the airport and a wave of smoke and cab drivers cornered me at the airport. I rechecked my flight ticket to ensure I had not mistakenly taken a round-trip flight back to Mumbai.  Nope. It was LA. Sweltering heat, the “Texan Desert” feel with coconut trees in fixed-width distances assured me that Los Angeles was a city made out of nothing.(I was humming ‘Dust Bowl Dance’ then; apt songs for apt times. Sigh.)

SoCal aka South California is dominated by a docile Indian population studying at USC or UCLA. Apart from us, LA is dominated by ghettos of various kind: Koreatown, Little Tokyo, and a substantial native Mexican population. Does it sound like a traveling destination by any chance? Well if not, without further ado, I’ll jot down a few must-visit places while you’re in LA to wipe out the image I have painted for the place so far.

1)   USC Campus – The campus is exquisite, sprawling and hosts a ton of free activities (plays, concerts, pre-movie screenings, Culture Fests, etc). See a play at the Bovard Auditorium if you can. Go to a Tailgate. It’s an experience in itself to see the Trojan Marching Band. If you get a chance, this is one place to add to your travel checklist of when in LA.
Note: I am not PR for USC. 

2)   Griffith Observatory
Any LA trip is a non-starter until this one is complete. LA at night looks stunning. Period. And Griffith is where to be to witness the dazzling beauty of this SoCal city.
PS : There is usually a huge line to look through their telescopes at the constellations. But it is totally worth it. Do check out their calendar of events before going.

I rest my case.

3)  The Sun, The Sand, The Beach.

Peggy Lee sang naturally: “You have mountains and the ocean and a great big smiling sky…the blues pass Los Angeles by.” The Californian West Coast is made famous by natural beaches such as Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan, Malibu, etc. If you’re crazy enough, take a night-out to traverse the entire coastline. This is the end of the trail, after all.  

4)  Staples Center, DTLA
It is the home of the Lakers (and 3 other teams). What more could you ever want if you are a basketball fan? For those not inclined towards the golden ball, they host concerts and various other events. Explore Chinatown and the Grammy Museum while you’ll land in DTLA.  To those missing NY, this place is like a miniature Times Square. 

5)  Union Station
Historic architectural landmark. Gorgeous waiting hall and intricate designs. Not to be missed.
6)  Hollywood

Although the place itself is much better visited on a short hike, (Brush Canyon Trail: 6.4mi); there are a lot of things you can do around the area. Visit the Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, eat the world-famous chocolate ice-cream at Ghirardelli’s, watch the Halloween Parade (if you come during November) and Photoshop your name on the Walk of Fame. Yes, I have a lot of free time.

7)  The Conan O’Brian Show
Hollywood and no celebs? Watch the late night show with Conan O’Brian. Get some celeb feel. I saw Kate Bosworth. (*faints*). And if you needed more reasons for this, the tickets are absolutely free for the tape-in.  

I have missed a crazy number of places on this list. Those include, but not limited to, Universal Studios, Disneyland, LACMA, La Brea Tar Pits, The Last Bookstore (my next visit), DTLA Arts District (murals and graffiti all congregated in one long walk), the famous(or infamous?) LA nightlife, Grand Central Market, Little Armenia, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall(must-visit).

Almost all of the places above can be visited on a tight budget, except a few such as the Staples Center (tickets cost a bomb) and shopping in DTLA. LA, just like Mumbai, is pretty much a city for all. Hope this helps you when you are in LA!

Happy Traveling!

P.S. - Though the photos have my watermark for copyright protection, they are not my personal clicks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

BNLF - As it Was

Stage is all set
Yet another Indimeet and yet another experience to remember! In the last three years I must have attended over ten Indimeets (perks of being in Mumbai) and owing to my past experiences, when BNLF conference was announced, I didn’t even waste a minute registering for it. BNLF aka Blog Now Live Forever was perhaps the grandest meet IndiBlogger has ever organized, and this grand meet commence in a plane at the backyard of The Lalit in Mumbai.

The mock plane decoration!
Months of planning, weeks of anticipation and the much awaited weekend was finally here. IndiTeam and IndiCrew all at work to host bloggers from all around India and speakers form all around the world. The show began on a musical note with in IndiBand welcoming people aboard the BNLF plane in style, hitting notes of Titanium and rapping away to glory; post this began the saga of the keynotes. There is a lot that happened and a lot to talk about. But for now I would stick to the top five highlights of BNLF.

1.    Bloggers and Blogs!
We are bloggers and we are very passionate about our blogs. Period. And the best part about IndiBlogger is that they acknowledge this fact! Our badges for the event didn’t just have our names but also had our blogs mentioned on them. Apart from this basic gesture, to organize a blogging event for the bloggers by the bloggers meant a lot. The IndiCrew had famous bloggers to newbies and that gave everyone an opportunity to interact with more people with similar passions and thought processes. Meeting my good old Mumbai Blogger gang sure made my day, but meeting others with whom I had interacted only via twitter so far made a huge difference. And I finally met a co-author (Gauri Kamath) of my upcoming book!

Me with Manjulika, Gauri and Sagrika (Fellow Bloggers)

2.   Every note was a keynote
How many understand the impact a small open letter can create in today’s world. How many can understand the rejections a writer faces and still has the strength to put behind the sense of failure and rise? BNLF was all about this. Being a blogger is way more than just a hobby. To be dedicated and do what you feel right and feel strongly about takes time and takes patience. And more than anything it is the passion we have for what we do. BNLF speakers Jeff Bullas, Christopher Trappe, Kannan Gill, Bruce Dickinson, Purba Ray, Arnab Ray, Anshul Tiwari and Preeti Shenoy had many such thoughts that would reverberate with every person’s thought process and not just bloggers’. But these were some that really stood out for me –
I create, I publish and I exist. - Jeff Bullas
Don’t let rejection affect you. Push your limits. Work on your skills. – Preeti Shenoy
Homeless means nowhere to go, nothing to do. It does not mean nowhere to sleep. - Bruce Dickinson
0+0=1 and you have to make it happen. – Bruce Dickinson

Some of the speakers

3.   Different side to all
Kannan Gill - Still funny or serious? Go Figure!
Yes we have seen Kannan Gill tickle your funny bone with his hilarious pretentious movie reviews. Yes we have heard Bruce Dickinson scorch stages with his band Iron Maiden and rule the musical world. Yes we have seen youth ki aawaz grow silently to strengthen the voice of the youth today. How many of us can say we have heard the life story – struggles, ideas and successes, of Bruce Dickinson up-close and personal? How many of us have had an insight to a mind that toiled for years in the corporate world convincing itself of satisfaction? How many of us have had a look at the reason why Youth ki Aawaz got bold and strong and why it is not able to do what it stands for? BNLF gave us a chance to get to the other side of the spectrum. We met an entrepreneur, a dream chaser and many thinkers and not the general faces of the speakers. And that was the most unique experience of the day.

Bruce Dickinson the entrepreneur and not the musician!
4.   Clear Trip Experiences
On the lighter side, Cleartrip activities were running the whole day for all the attendees and they were for free. Who doesn’t like free stuff right? From Segway to mini golf, Rock Climbing to posing with Harley bikes! They sure knew how to let people have fun and so we did! Fun time with Cleartrip.

The Beast at the activities
5.   After Party
Indimeet without a proper party session is just incomplete. So party with all the speakers and bloggers was a must and it did happen and that gave us more time to interact. Not going to fill this post with any details. Also since it was Halloween the hotel had some spooky corners and the photo junky in me decided to explore parts of it.

After party glimpses!

BNLF was a two days event but unfortunately I was able to attend it only on day one. But think about this – day one had so much, what more could have happened on day two? Unfortunately the rest rests on your imagination. All I could do was give you a glimpse of the way I celebrated my Halloween!
'Cause it was Halloween!

P.C. - Indi for some and rest are personal!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Path

A random click on the streets of Kharghuli, Guwahati, Assam. This picture pretty much captures the essence of the country side of a sleepy town. 

Lazy streets
Cold Breeze
A thick canopy
Of tropical trees

And there there is me
Going on my path of dreams
Destination unknown, but will going strong
All the while talking with the whispering winds.
- Vaisakhi Mishra