Monday, October 31, 2016

Festive Postcards from Seattle

Happy Diwali
Happy Diwali Everyone!!!
Hope you guys had an amazing one. This was my first ever Diwali far, far away from home and luckily it wasn’t very depressing like I had imagined it to be someday back. Of course I missed my family big time, after all festivals are fun when you spend them with your family and friends right? But luckily Seattle on Diwali made us (Indians) feel like we were at home. Yes, we did celebrate Diwali here like we did in India, at least I did – no crackers, but a lot of photos, sweets and prayers – and today’s post is just about that.

Fiery Sky
After spending my Dushera being sad and homesick, I was happy on Diwali and so I decided to spread some positivity of Diwali on my blog too! Not a long post today, but just some postcards of Diwali from Seattle!

At Bothell Hindu Temple

Let light guide your path

And then there were crackers!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More Colours from Seattle

It is still all about Autumn!
Promises are to be kept, and I am keeping my promise of keeping the autumn spirits up on my blog even this week. Last week, I took you through some auburn landscapes that gave you an idea of Fall in Seattle (my current home). Even today my traveling feet are exploring the shades and tones of autumn everywhere in the city. But didn’t I already show you glimpses of fall foliage last week? What else can fall be known for? Wondering?

One of the many laden rose plants in the University of Washington Rose Garden
The answer is flowers! If you thought only spring was known for beautiful vibrant flowers, let me tell you Autumn will leave you mesmerized. Autumn is an equally vibrant blooming season. In fact, from where I see it, it is more colourful compared to spring which mostly has warm shades everywhere. Don’t believe me? 

Did you know roses are actually autumn flowers? Surprised right. Roses were originally autumn flowers and even now bloom best an in abundance during fall.

Nature has a sense of contrast, doesn't it?
Like I had mentioned in my last post I have fallen in love with the amount of colours nature puts on a display during Autumn and it is not just leaves and berries but also flowers! Chrysanthemum, coneflowers, asters and fall crocuses paint wilderness in shades of pink, mauve, red, yellow, orange and so many other colours, it is enthralling. 

Bright lilac fall crocuses
A friend of mine told me last time she was lost in the pictures so much that after a point she didn't really need the words. So this time I am letting the pictures speak for themselves. 

Do you see what I see? Is it weird I couldn't even find the name of this flower!

Daisies and Asters are literally everywhere!
I have been enjoying nature to the fullest these past couple of weeks, hope some of my pictures today made you feel exactly how I feel almost every day since fall has begun.

A little bit of sun is always welcome right?

In case you missed the last post on fall foliage, check it out here.

Check out the first part of Autumn post here

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fall is Here

A beautiful overcast day 
Snuggling in my comforter still, I look out of the sole window in my room. Just yesterday I had a clear view of a snow clad Mt. Rainier but today, at dawn, there is a tinge of orange on the clouds that shroud the mountain. Light slowly spreads only to reveal a grayish blue sky. 

My Autumn Kit - A very Special one
I sit there on my bed, partly asleep, partly awake, waiting for the sun to introduce some heat to the seemingly frigid morning. Time passes by and the chill doesn’t die down. Finally, I wake up for college only to find myself standing at the window and staring outside for some more minutes. 

My Neighbourhood
Even in the faint light of the overcast day, nature amazes me like it has done for the past one month, now more than ever to be frank. The shades of orange and red outside my window lit up my face and steal my sleep, because I am happy. Autumn is here and I love it.

Fall starting to set in in Kubota Japanese Garden, Seattle
Finally, I am starting with some Seattle insight! Been more than a month now, seasons have changed and Seattle is more beautiful than ever. The biting cold is slowly setting in, but the winds have a pleasant touch to them; fall is here so is the winter rain and the auburn tinge is enveloping nature pretty fast. 

Rings of fall, rings of fire
Red and orange leaves are taken up by the wind and strewn around, carpeting sidewalks. Fruits and flowers burden almost bare trees and it is just so earthly everywhere, so close to nature, so dreamlike.

Do you see the colours?
Autumn has always been kind of a fascination for me, maybe because I was from a tropical land that had fall only in the northern states. But whatever be the reason, the fascination actually made it my favourite season! (Yes, I am still like a kid who has favourite season, flower and fruit.) 

Fall is taking over
And experiencing the season for the first time ever has convinced me that my fascination was worth it. While the fall foliage entices almost everyone in the world, I have fallen in love with the amount of colours nature puts on a display during this season.

Colours are everywhere
Along with the colourful falling leaves, autumn has colourful strawberry trees, holly and honeysuckles everywhere. And just like spring, even Autumn has a flower galore! But that I would be showing to you guys in another post. For now, enjoy glimpses of the fall foliage of (read in) Seattle! 

Picture Perfect Autumn

P.S. - All photos are taken by multiple cellphones this time.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Durga Puja and Memories

Early morning, yesterday, I logged on to Facebook and just got super homesick. Actually this has been happening since the last four days and you can guess why from the title. Yes! Durga Puja just ended yesterday in India and this was my first ever Durga Puja away from home, away from family, without any ‘puja’ and without any pandal hopping. Durga Puja for me is the time of the year I look forward to more than my birthday and this time it was spent reminiscing old memories.

Since I went on a throwback ride this week, I would be sharing history of one of the grandest festivals of India, specifically East India. While a lot of temples in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha have evidences to support that Durga Puja happened in the temples of the state, the first recorded and verified record of Durga Puja comes from West Bengal. The first Durga Puja with elaborate statues is said to have been celebrated in the late 1500s by the landlords of Dinajpur and Malda but it wasn’t until 1790 when the family based celebrations transformed into community celebrations. 

Twelve houses of in Hoogly, West Bengal, collected contributions from local residents and setup a Pooja pandal called Baro-Yaari Poojo. Later 1830’s Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar, performed the Durga Puja at his ancestral home in Murshidabad but also opened it to locals making the festival even more popular in an already Devi worshiping community.

None of us really think of history of a festival once we accept the Myth associated with it. But off late I have been exploring how some cultures adapt some festivals so much more than others. Okay, maybe my research thinking in my college now is getting to me but when I was searching about Durga Puja’s history some months back, I was actually surprised to find that the festival in Bengal is relatively new but was first celebrated in villages in Odisha. 

Anyways, I think I have given enough history details for Durga Puja for a day. I am going back into the throwback mode and leaving you with a glimpse of Durga Puja, incase you guys also missed it like me.
If you did attend the Puja this time in some pandal somewhere or have done so in the past, please do let me know of your experiences in comments below.

I would leave you with some Dhuan Dance and Dhak 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rainy Rendezvous with Nature at Lavasa

On the way to...
Splashing rain, rolling greens and, sharp meandering roads and loud thunders drowning the music playing in the car.

Shyadari is all green
Clock ticking, 10:30 A.M. it displays, but Nature seems to be stuck perennially at 5:00 PM or 6 maybe. I slide the car window down only to hear the strong winds whirring in Western Ghats. The car keeps gaining altitude; I refuse to shy away from the monsoon now; face rain kissed, hair ruffled up and in a disarray but I am too lost to think about anything, not even the crazy week that went by which was my biggest thought train an hour back maybe.
Let me pass!
I reached my destination, in a way, just to be greeted by a long queue of cars and bikes, all waiting for an entry to India’s First Planned Hill Station post-Independence – Lavasa. But the minute I entered through the huge gate of Lavasa, I could only hear a symphony of wind and water. High on a hill, rhythm of the falling rain and gurgling of mountain streams because they dot the whole driveway, but no sign of a city yet. And then there it is, below, almost hidden by clouds, surrounding a big dam, a tiny cluster of colours amidst a verdant valley.  This was my first impression of Lavasa when I had visited this tiny, still developing hill station, just for a day last year (Facebook reminded of the visit today - hence the post).

Not Portofino - It is Lavasa
Lavasa in the very first look tells how similar it is to Portofino, Italy, but the charm of the city is its landscape. Built in a valley between two dams – Temghar and Warasgaon dam, Lavasa is about 2 hours away from Pune, which is the closest airport and railway junction to Lavasa. People prefer to stay overnight at Lavasa but I was there just for a day during monsoons last year and beware, it is a very touristy place!

One of the many mountain streams
Though the place was flocked with tourists as it was a Sunday, I managed to find my own rhythm with the place by strolling around, soaking in the rain. After all, it is still a hill station and you can happily connect to a place by just walking around! Lavasa has a lot of watersports and extreme sports options but due to rains, watersports were unavailable and extreme sports require a lot of patience and waiting in queues so I chose to explore the unoccupied colonies and the nursery foundations in the place. Surprisingly, I found the roads empty, cars parked and no soul to be seen around. Weird right?

Warsagaon Dam enroute Lavasa
A few resorts and a few empty houses led to a part that seemed as colourful as Stockholm, but the parking crisis outside told me where the whole crowd was. The Waterfront of Lavasa or Waterfront Shaw, like it is called, is its busiest area and I dreaded entering it. But to my surprise, the cobbled pathway next to the gushing waters of the dam was the prettiest spot in Lavasa. Clean, somehow peaceful even in the cacophony of the tourists and colourful. 

Water gushing in from the a proof that the place is still in making
Maybe it was the constant rain that kept the touristy noise subdued, but I was more than happy to walk the whole path sipping coffee from CCD and munching warm muffin from Grandma’s  Homemade on a cute little bench. 

This is pretty much it - Lavasa
Waterfront Shaw is full of dining options, but be prepared to loosen your purse strings because they are all very heavy on the pocket. But some options are really good so maybe it will be worth it. I specially loved my lunch at Orient 8, which I would recommend to all Chinese rather Indian Chinese cuisine lovers.

Peaceful and bright
I spent almost 2 hours at the waterfront visiting shops and staring at the dam while the intensity of the rain increased. People huddled under the shades of the shops or relaxed in the cafes while I looked at the sleepy city one last time, thinking about how touristy the place would grow in some years. 

Waterfront Shaw
I wouldn’t lie. Lavasa is just another Lonavala in making and it will remain the same, but at the same time it has a link with Nature that has potential to make it a lot more than just another hill station for the masses. We will just need to wait to see the place bloom. For now enjoy the drive, enjoy the waterfront and enjoy a weekend. That is Lavasa in my point of view.

The greens after the rains

Planer's Help:
Best Time To Visit Lavasa: September - January
Limited staying options so plan your trip accordingly.
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