Monday, October 27, 2014

Diwali : Festival of immortal spirit and exuberating brightness!!

Diwali that time of the year when everything in life becomes festive, every nook and corner of the city lightens up, every child on the street celebrates. Being away from my country made me miss all of this but the spirit and the happiness of one of the biggest festivals of India came with me to a foreign land.

Diwali for me has always been synonymous to elation, celebrations and living life to the fullest in that very week or day of celebration.When we know how to live and celebrate each and every moment of our existence, when thinking about how to add more to laughter of our dear ones becomes our only priority and when there is so much of love to give that jealousy and hatred doesn't seem to exist in our dictionaries, that's when life happens in true sense and with this intent and attitude I decided to celebrate Diwali this year around in a foreign land.

Diwali in Atlanta is very different with respect to how we celebrate it back in India but my husband assured that we replicate the same essence to enjoy the festivities brim-fully . The Decatur area in Atlanta is just like mini India and it made me cheer out of euphoria when I got to see the sweet shops, the ladies beauty parlor, the sari and jewelry showrooms decorated in the same Indian Diwali time fashion.I did loads of shopping for Laksmhi poojan ( prayers offered to Goddess Laksmi and Lord Ganesha for their blessings) , bought my favorite sweets, ate the Indian street food at one of the famous outlet in Decatur. I missed my folks for sure during all the mandatory Diwali commemorations but thanks to some sweet friends of mine who are also my partners in crime and my extended family in this foreign land.

Cleaning the houses, decorating it with lights, lighting up diyas or candles, cooking an elaborated Indian meal with sweets are all rituals of Diwali,they say it's just not the people but also the houses that speak of love, brightness and hospitality during the festive season. I did everything possible and my enthusiasm went on cloud 9 when we went to BAPS ( Swani Narayan temple ) in Atlanta for our extended jubilation,followed by a special Diwali buffet in one of my favorite restaurants in town. The whole week went in merrymaking and creating memories.

Lakshmi Pooja

Diyas and Lights : Bright lives

At BAPS, Atlanta

Sinful Indulgence

The essence of Diwali is such that foes become friends, strangers are welcomed into the family and all the hatred just withers away with the gleam of the diyas and the warmth of the hearts. On this note I would like to quote a message I received this festive season.

"May you all attain full inner illumination! May the supreme light of lights enlighten your understanding! May you all attain the inexhaustible spiritual wealth! May you all prosper gloriously on the spiritual as well as material planes!!"

May you all attain full inner illumination

Wishing you all a very happy & prosperous Diwali!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Take a break, sip that tea and let go...!

Sometimes taking a long break from everything is just so worth it. This time around I took one. We get so engrossed in the nitty-gritties of life that we forget to breathe, to let go, to relax. I have always loved how things have really shaped up in my life, God has been really kind to me, time and again I have seen circumstances which I thought would made me question God's existence in that very moment but each time I have been proven wrong, God has his own ways of giving us what we really need, how we maintain our poise in life is what we require to learn.

There comes a time in everybody's life when they want to move away from all the drama around, when they want to enjoy the company of people close to them, when their happiness does take a prime seat and I would like to mention here that it is not because of selfishness, it's because it's important to take time out for your own happiness and joy. It's essential to enjoy your own company for your overall well being.

Someone has rightly said never postpone joy, life is a beautiful adventure. Take time out for your self, do things which give you happiness, like dancing as if no one is watching, watching the movie which everyone around you apparently hates but you liked it in the first place and so be it, people ignore their innermost feelings, health is just not taken care of in pursuit of wealth. We all deserve abundance of health, wealth and happiness and in order to welcome all of this in infinite amounts, we need to take care of what we are telling, what drum we are beating and what stories we are narrating.

From the past one month, I have listened to my heart, did things which gave me immense happiness and spoke to people who didn't judge me, loved me for who I am and let go of people and things which didn't do me any good, infact I realized that letting go is to accept and for the first time in life I am happy to accept myself the way I am. In the pursuit of  knowing myself by taking this break from everything, I have found a fraction of myself and on this voyage I have also realized that the road to find oneself is not that long, it has sharp curves but in the end I think it's all worth it.

I will have to write my experiences of my pursuit of happiness in many pages but I can show the glimpse of my life via some pictures. Just normal day to day things but this time around all this felt real.
Did Yoga in the woods!

Also in the rain, felt great

Supported a cause, #doitforthelove

Baked with friends!

Met Michael Franti and attended his concert
I hope somewhere each one of you will relate to this post of mine and surely would take a break ,sip that tea and will let go of things which liberates you from that invisible bondage.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Into the wild : Yogi who camped and hiked.

Researchers say that one week of camping without electronics, resets our biological body clock and synchronizes our melatonin hormones with sunrise and sunset. I didn't know all of this before I decided to camp but yes I felt the change after I did it. Camping in the jungles, with just the tress and a water creek around was one of my items on bucket list for a very long time. So when a very dear yogi friend of mine Andrea told me that I have to go camping with her, I realized that it's the universe in work and it's time that I start packing.

We decided to camp at The Desoto Falls located off Highway 129 . It's much fun when you just go into the wild, forget everything for days and just be in the company of the people you like, nourish your soul and hug the trees. Camping is usually a silent form of adventure, it brings clarity of mind and it does wonders when it comes to feed the soul. The best part of the trip was that our phones didn't catch any network miles before we reached the camp site, frustrating at first but now when I look back, it was all worth it. Deciding the campsite,setting up the tents, arranging the food for the group and starting the camp fire, all of this require good amount of physical work but nature understands and believe you me even after the whole day of tiresome work , your body in the end will ooze more energy and your hunger for adventure will increase manifolds.

My home for two days

When our campsite started looking like a home, we spent time making smores in the campfire, talked our hearts out to people who were strangers the day before (some of them) and by the night it all felt good,our hearts were lighter, the summers all of a sudden became cooler and our energies were higher. I had the best sleep in years on the lap of mother earth and it was so sound and good that now I can exactly tell the meaning of "good" in good night.

To quench our thirst for adventure we started our day two with yoga in the company of trees by the creek followed by a good 4.8 miles hike from Neel gap to Blood mountain, part of the Appalachian trail . It rained while we hiked, we were soothed by the nature. The top view was majestic and a part of my heart now belong to the mountains. The trip ended with good three days of time spent with lush green surroundings but the inquisitiveness to know more about nature has increased, I now know that mountains are my calling.

Tree pose to pay our gratitude to the trees

I can write whole day about this wonderful piece of happiness which has changed something inside me forever but I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.


Frogtown Creek

Yogi Friends

Some more Yoga by the creek

Just before our hiking adventure

On top of the Blood Mountain

Camp fire : Learnt the art of smore making

Every year Andrea from You Yoga Me Yoga  take the interested yogis amidst nature to make them disconnect from the daily routine. Camping once in an year helps in relaxing the mind. It sets the natural alarm clock for the body, helps with mood-swings, and also engaging with nature by turning off the mobile phones/laptops lowers the stress levels and is believed to be equivalent to meditation. I urge each one my reader to camp once in life and I promise you will not be able to stop yourself from camping again. Let loose and for a change, party with nature. Smell the moist earth and take home the fragrance you would love to wear.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

True Friendships!!

"She is my best friend, I can't imagine my life without her", "we have have a BFF's #selfie", lately I am coming across such lines on a regular basis. Social media is changing the definition of best friends, best friends now a days think alike, dress alike, have same tastes, the best friends have the same gossip to share and everything else which can easily get attention on social media but have we ever thought that true relation of a friend is beyond all this, somehow I have realized that best friendships and best relations are formed without any similarity of tastes and passions, the best friends just tend to happen, even if they don't meet on regular basis, the true friendships nurture in the longest of distances and the deepest of smiles, the best friends can read your mind just by the way you say hello on a call, they hardly dress up like you, their tastes might not be similar as yours but the connection you share with them beats all the materialism requires to pass the test of friendship these days.

When hearts are connected , distances take a back seat. You move on with life and so does your best friends but never in your mind for a second you feel that this distance might harm your friendship, off-course meeting and chilling out together doesn't happen that frequently but no matter how far your friend is you know that just a phone call is enough to tell them that you need them and sometimes they know even without a call that you need them and when you develop this kind of relationship with someone and look back how it all started, you will realize that all the drama that took place then was just a process of bringing you and your best friend closer, it was a law in play which had a purpose and the purpose is disclosed now.

Instead of running through life, let's be grateful for what we have, try being grateful to a friend who has been with you in your thick and thins, who knows you inside out, no matter how far you reach in life or how rich you become, your real wealth lies in the people you have spent your precious growing years with and if they are still a phone call away , you are sorted for life. Embrace life and the true relations. Be as passionate and thankful to your friends offline as much as your to them online.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Amicalola: The wonder falls!!

Traveling to far off places to experience fun, happiness and peace is a passé . We don't have to rush through life to book that ticket for Europe or to save money for a luxurious trip to the oceans. Lately, I have realized that all we need to do is to open our eyes wide,sit back and relax, we are not in a race to visit the world first. If we try to look around, we will find so many places in and around the city we dwell in which are still unexplored and are exceptionally beautiful.

Amicalola state park is one such place, husband and I have always thought of visiting different countries to experience the newness of traveling but driving through the countryside to a nearby water-fall is also an equally overwhelming experience. The journey to a destination sometimes is more beautiful than the destination itself but we were in a win win situation when we got the best of both the worlds, located in the heart of Chattahoochee National Forest, Amicalola falls are the perfect weekend gateway for those looking for an escape from the daily hustle bustle.

We did a day trip , hiked the 720 foot tall falls, the trees became our shelter , the ground was the dining table, every moment spent there made me realize that we don't need to travel miles to feel the beauty and magic of nature, the gateway like these, the moments spent singing songs under the trees, walking the trails and drinking the mineral rich water straight from the rocks make the journey called life more beautiful.

A perfect weekend into the lap of mother nature, eat under the trees, play guitar, sing songs, camp, hike the famous Appalachian trail, or just be yourself, this place is a refreshing change for those who like to get lost in the striking beauty of the mountains. For those, who want to be a little more comfortable there are cabins and full service hotel rooms available around the state park. While returning back don't forget to make a halt at the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall for some shopping from the best of the brands.

Life is beautiful and once in a while romancing with the nature add tons to its beauty!!
Amicalola falls!


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Madras Chettinaad :Love thy food!!

Since the time I have moved to Atlanta, husband and I have explored some gazillion restaurants in search of good Indian food. When I say good Indian food, I want to mention that I belong to Northern India, having lived in Delhi and tasted the best of Indian cuisine from street food to fine dine,I have tasted all the good food within and beyond my reach, I have traveled distances to satiate my taste buds.Therefore,the food needs to be really scrumptious for registering a spot in my memory.

So, here after cajoling the husband dearest (he is not experimental with food ),we finally went to Madras Chettinaad, an Indian restaurant with a South Indian feel and the food as amazing as any of those good restaurants in Delhi with a long cue. They have a great Indian buffet every single day of the week and it gets grandeur on the weekends. The ambiance would be relaxed and warm on weekdays but since we went on a Saturday, it was very busy but when you only care for the food, the rest of the things take the back seat, so no complaints here. The best part is the entrance, all the mood setters for the food will be delighted to see the bar at the very opening, just after the waiting area, in fact the wait becomes all the more worth it when you get to enjoy your food with a drink or two.

Now, coming to the food, the variety, the starters, the main course and the desserts, I want to taste all of it again to write about it, I mean it was so good that I can eat it all over again like now as I write about it. I was astonished at the sight of the buffet area, it was grand. For the starters, don't miss the Tofu Manchurian, beautifully cooked vermicelli with vegetables, tandoori chicken for the non-vegetarians, you will be delighted to see the variety of appetizers, all well cooked and with just right amount of oil and spices( husband vouched for it). The dosa, vada, sambar, coconut chutney were also having a royal presence and they totally justified the Madras like feel of the restaurant.The main course included 4-5 veg and non-veg entrees, special eggplant curry not to be missed and mango style fish and the chettinaad curry are the signature dishes, enjoyed these with nan (Indian roti) which melted in ours mouths, some three kinds of rice dishes were made, I had them all, I feel bad if I miss any of the dishes in the buffet, please don't miss the egg-curry, it was hot and tasty.
As much as one can get into the plate

The desserts are still to be talked about, I mean it would be an insult to the chefs if you are done without tasting the desserts, how many desserts would you like to prefer after a good hearty meal, 2-3?, they had five of them, to start with the superbly delicious orange pannacotta , sweet and little extra sweet kheer, good to go Mango custartd, vermilcilli kheer and the very famous Gulab jamun. I thanked myself for coming to Madras Chettinaad and my husband thanked me twice after seeing the bill, all of this for only $13 per person. It's a good place to enjoy food with friends and family, for a while you will forget that you are in US and after the whole experience you will think OMG!! all of this in US.

Orange Pannacotta, gulab jamun, vermiclli kheer and mango custard

Life is good and with a little bit of food and good company it becomes better.

Address: Madras Chettinaad,
4305 State Bridge road, #108 Alpharetta, GA 30022

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Miami Happinesssss!!

"Sun is shining, the weather is sweet. Make you want to move your dancing feet." Sometimes, I wonder whether Bob Marley went to Miami to write this song then. Alluring and warm beaches, night life which keeps you on your toes, great architecture, jovial and enthusiastic crowd, every person and thing in Miami is larger than life.

It is no less than a dream vacation for people who know how to enjoy life at it's best in Miami. There are so many things to do in Miami but for first timers, I would suggest to book a day trip via Viator, it's cool, very informative, covers the whole Miami, including Coral Gables, Little Havana and a very exciting and well informed cruise of Biscayne Bay. If you have extra time in hand and want to be a little more adventurous, go the local way, take metro movers which are completely free of cost and cover the whole downtown area of Miami or hop on the Miami city tour buses and be on your own, they have a daily charge and you can hop on, hop off any number of times in a day, or just rent a car for suiting your comfort, but when you explore a location in a local way, you take back home the best and only the best.

On our day two we covered Key-West, the island at the southern most tip of the Florida keys, the drive to Key-west is an adventure in itself, your eyes will thank you for this treat. Rent a car ,set your GPS and you are off for the best drive of your life, alternatively you can book cabs or buses for a more laid back and relaxed drive. Enjoy the Key-west island on conch trains or trolleys which are guided & are for people interested in learning more about the culture & history. If you are a party person, there are lots of cafes and bars with bands playing in. Not to be missed in Key-west, the very famous Mallory square, the southernmost tip and the great sun-set. Key-west is a place to chill, relax and be your self, leave all the prejudgments at home before enjoying the best of Key-west. Don't forget the famous Key-Lime Pie, added romance with the hubby enhances the flavor of the trip.

Drive to Key-West
Any trip to Miami is incomplete without getting wet in the waters of the world famous South Beach, go with your towels, sun screen and eye- glares to enjoy the Miami waters. Lay back on the beach chairs with chilled beers, a book or two or just be in the water the whole time, tan yourself , para-sail, jet-ski and all your stress will wither away in no time. Take a stroll of the prominent Art Deco street for observing the Miami night life closely, visit the world erotic art museum and enjoy your food with live music. You will thank your stars for tasting and exploring one of the best night lives of the world.

The famous Mallory Square
Miami is a blissful, fashionable and a sophisticated city with plentiful ways of enjoying your stay there, beat the beats to enjoy the Miami heat. Be a traveler instead of a tourist, add more "s" to your happiness..!!

Just before our para-sailing adventure

Para-sailed !!