Part 1 – A dream come true, surprisingly!

Aloha,

For the thanksgiving weekend we went on a trip to Hawaiian Islands. This came to me as a total surprise when I had least expected. The day before long weekend (27th Nov) I told a couple of my friends that I had no plans. I even promised I would catch up with a friend for dinner or lunch on one of the days. Later that evening my husband told he has something to tell me if I get up very early the next day. I grumbled and he pestered me to wake up early. My husband is a morning person. He wakes up pretty early and expects me to do so to give him company in the morning. I thought it is normal that he asked me to get up early like he usually does. I just told I would.

28th Nov

As early as 7’o clock, my husband wakes me from sleep and says we have a flight to catch at 11 a.m. to Los Angeles, to visit his cousin. I washed my face still in confusion and in sleep. I smelt aroma of fresh filter coffee and slurped two sips to stimulate my brain. My husband was running all over the house, arranging documents, putting clothes for laundry and packing. In a couple of hours I got ready, still confused and remained silent.

Our friend PP came to drop us to SJO airport. He knew about our trip but kept mum even when we met the previous evening at our home and went out for snacks. We reached Los Angeles. At the American Airlines terminal, my hubby asked me to look at 46B, the board read, flight to Honolulu. I was completely thrilled and started laughing uncontrollably. We boarded a 6 hour flight to Honolulu, Oahu.

We landed at around 8:30 p.m. HST, went to car Rental and rented a car. We then drove to our hotel on Kuhio Avenue. While my husband was driving, I was navigating him with the help of GPS. Most of the street names start with letter K and are hard to pronounce like for example Punahou Kalakaua Kamahameha etc.. Sometimes I would simply spell the word. And by the time I had learnt to spell the names, we were leaving Oahu.

We arrived at our hotel Ambassador and checked in. Our hotel was in the prime area of downtown Waikiki. We went for a walk in search of food at 10:30 in the night. The city was still awake. Many shops and restaurants were still open, or as the hotel receptionist said, the closing hours was extended mainly for the long weekend. Waikiki city is very commercialized with super posh shops like Prada, Dior, GUCCI, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Hugo Boss, Tiffany & Co. along with shopping malls like Royal Hawaiian Center, Hilton Hawaiian village etc.. While they all stood proudly and royally, we went to grab a bite of pizza at Round Table Pizza on Kaiulani Avenue. It was hard finding a parking even at that time. With lot of one way lanes we went round and round and finally parked on Ala Wai Blvd and walked to Kaiulani Avenue. Round Table Pizza was dark inside and almost empty with a couple of tables occupied. We took a table in the balcony and silently watched people passing by us crossing street. For the first time in the entire day we sat relaxed taking a deep breath. I slightly pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming. We ordered a Gourmet Veggie which was very salty and garlicky.

29th Nov

We had set the alarm clock to 6 a.m. but neither of us woke up until 6:30. We wanted to do the Diamond head Crater Hike to see the sun rise and finish the hike before it could get sunny. Even though we missed the sun rise, we woke up and got ready to hike. The weather was simply beautiful, not too cold and not very hot either, felt just like Bangalore. It was a 10 minute drive from our hotel to the park.

Le’ahi in Hawaiian means crater. If translated as “brow of the ‘ahi fish”, the crater as seen from Waikiki. This was on the information board at the entrance. I believe this crater was formed long ago due to volcanic activity. The entrance is in the middle of the crater. The hike from entrance to the view point is 1.6 mile and moderate. It gets very steep in the end though. The view point is on the rim of the crater. The view from here is worth all the sweat. Some of the photos taken at this view point is below. By the time we came back, there were lot of tourists at the entrance and hardly any parking space left. It’s ideally better to finish off early in the day.

Diamond Head Crater Hike:

Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Crater

Above photo: The crater clearly seen from the rim of the crater itself.

Diamond Head Light House

Diamond Head Light House

Above photo: Beautiful view of Diamond Head Light House

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

Above photo: Waikiki city and the beach from the view point

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

A view of Waikiki Beach from top

Above photo: Greenish Blue ocean and coconut trees

After the hike we came to our hotel and got ready to go out for breakfast. We went to Denny’s on Kuhio Avenue. For breakfast we had oat meal, English muffin, fruit bowl, whole wheat pan cakes from ‘Build your own grand slam’. As we had breakfast we decided to drive to North Shore taking H1 and Kamehameha(named after a Hawaiian chief) Highway.

Our first stop was at Dole Plantation on Kamehameha Highway. The shop at the entrance was crowded with visitors. There usually is a tour to plantation which is mainly for children. We didn’t take it. We bought a sweetcorn and mixed fruit bag that had fresh local grown Pineapple, Mango, coconut pieces, Banana and Papaya. The fruits taste amazingly good.

For visitors, on a patch, they have grown different variety of pine apples. Below is one photo captured by my hubby.

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A pineapple grown in Dole Plantation

After Dole Plantation, there was heavy bumper to bumper traffic on road. A couple of random photos that I captured while waiting to move.

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Our next stop was at a beach on North Shore. The currents were powerful. They came raging and roaring, hitting the shore chasing us. We didn’t give up, we ran away from it. A little game. The beach was slippery with algae. There was a warning sign for public not to enter. Anyway we were not prepared with additional clothes. After some photo shoot and play we got back on road. The traffic was again very slow.

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Oahu North Shore

After 3-4 miles we realized there was Surfing World Cup Championship being held which explained the heavy traffic. There was no parking and we were getting hungry. We didn’t stop anywhere. There were fresh shrimp, shark, fish and other sea food trucks available. A tourist we met at the beach told us they were really great. We drove for a long time until we found a taco bell. We are not fond of taco bell but for that day that was our feast. There are small road side shops where they sell tender coconut and Hawaiian art. We bought a tender coconut, it was incredibly sweet. Back in India, after we drink the tender coconut water, the vendor cuts the coconut in half to eat the white fleshy part. I love this!! We asked the vendor at Hawaii if she knew to cut it, and she did! The white tender slimy flash was tasty and relishing.

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The Vans World Cup Surfing

After lunch we drove back towards Waikiki on Kamehameha Highway. Since we still had lots of time before dark, we thought of going to Kailua Bay. We missed the exit to Kailua Bay, a narrow single lane road.

We reached Waikiki around 5 p.m. and decided to spend the evening at Waikiki. The tacos we had for lunch were not very filling and we decided to finish of dinner early by 6 or so. On Beachwalk Avenue there’s an Italian restaurant, Arancino which had veggie options. There was 45 minute wait even at 5:30 in the evening. We gave our name and just went for a stroll.

Due to space constraint in the island there are many high raise buildings. The beachfront hotels The Royal Hawaiian Waikiki, Sheraton, Embassy Suites are grand and magnificent. Across the road in a nearby park by the beach we noticed a crowd and some people in native Hawaiian costumes. We walked fast to the crowd dressed in native Hawaiian and learnt there was going to be a parade on Kalakaua Avenue at 7 p.m.. We still had sufficient time but just hoped we got a call from Arancino soon so we could finish dinner soon. We further explored the neighboring streets. In almost every street there’s one ABC store, to buy souvenirs like fridge magnets, Hawaiian dancing dolls, T-shirts, flowers, garlands and so on. By then in 15 minutes or so we got a call that our table was ready.

Arancino is pretty small but cosy restaurant with great ambiance. I loved their lighting and the Focaccia bread with fresh olive oil. We ordered melanzane alla parmiginia, oven baked eggplant Parmesan for appetizer and spaghetti all’ ortolana, vegetables tossed with garlic and olive oil for entree. The cheese, the bread was pretty heavy. The service was excellent and taste was amazingly great. My hubby said that was the best spaghetti he had ever had.

After dinner, we walked to Kalakaua Avenue and waited for the parade to start. The entire street was jam packed, people sat on the footpath eagerly waiting for the parade. As the parade began, students from local schools marched wearing school uniform beating drums,blowing trumpets, holding the school flag, showing their skills. In between, war veterans, survivors of Pearl Harbor drove waving at us. The street applauded in return. Some photos of the thanksgiving parade here. We thoroughly enjoyed the parade and performances of students and other folks.

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After the parade, we went inside a mall and tasted free samples of cookies and coffee. It seems in Hawaii they grow coffee. After spending about 30 minutes loitering in the mall and the street, we returned to our hotel and called it a day. We slept setting the alarm to 4:00 a.m. for the next day adventure.

Mahalo

Continued….

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Everyday of my life

First attempt on Haiku. Written for Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku Catchoo

YOUR CHALLENGE, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT

In the words of Ray Bradbury, “Just write every day of your life…”. Your mission is to write five haikus — one for each of the five days leading up to this Friday.

waking up like a
snail, slowly crawling, lazy
mind, a lazy day

feeling little good,
like a tortoise, moving
relatively faster

two days to Friday
something to cheer me up, like
a Sloth, walking fast

come Thursday, hopping
like a frog, jumping hyper
all around my world

holiday begins
from mid Firday, running home
Sweet home, like Emu

First and unexpected snow

We were sorting out our photos today morning when I  came across some of the old albums. I found these photos of my first snow experience. I was lucky to witness a snowfall just after ten days I arrived in America. It usually didn’t snow in the town we lived. My husband said this was his first snow either in six years of his stay. I was extremely thrilled. Our friends wrapped in jackets, snow hats and gloves, came to our place. We got ready to step out and play with the snow. It was an amazing experience to see the snowfall. I would catch the snow flurries, hold it tightly in my hand and crush it. I open my hand to see nothing but water. We went around the town to see people rejoicing in the first snow of the year. I guess nobody stayed at home. There were snowman everywhere and we made one of our own and took pictures.Oh I felt so nostalgic looking at them today. Here are some pictures of my first and unexpected snow.

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An Award and an interview

This week I received Liebster Award from Jyothi – http://jyothisdayout.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/the-liebster-award/

She gave me the award and has ten questions for me to answer. It was nice of her to first give me an award and then interview me with a bunch of questions!! I was thrilled since this is the first time a fellow blogger has asked me what I like and so on. Thank You for the award and great questions!! I thought of combining with today’s Blogher prompt, they are more or less the same, about blogging.

Blogher prompt: Tell us what you’ve learned so far about daily blogging.

Over to Jyothi’s questions:

1.  Who is it that inspired you to blog or who got you interested in blogging?
2.  How does blogging help you in your daily life?
3.  Which blogging platform do you prefer? And why?

My answers for all four questions:

  • I have been blogging here for about six months now, I am fairly new to blogging. My inspiration to have this blog were many, like I mentioned in my first post, I read several blogs of my friends and other people. A few months before I created this blog, I discovered a friend of mine who had been blogging for many years without letting anybody know. She accidentally posted her blog in an open group on Facebook, that’s how I caught her!(Glad I did – I like reading her blog) She was my inspiration to create this blog. I thought it was fun to have one of my own and write about my experiences.
  • She had a WordPress blog. I had heard about WordPress before but hadn’t used this blogging platform. I like WordPress for they bring writers, poets, photographers and all others together. They share several writing tips every week which helps a lot. Freshly Pressed is one other feature I like about WordPress. Really interesting articles of people in a different and unique point of view are highlighted. Through Freshly Pressed I came across several writers, authors and other fellow bloggers. I enjoy reading their articles and several times agree with their point of view.  WordPress has several themes but there’s not much option for customization like Blogger, unless one upgrades. I don’t get everything I want in one theme. It is also hard to get a uniform font sometimes, when I am copy pasting, it gets messed up. That’s my only complaint. But it feels completely different to be in writers world. People playing with words, praising others and having a healthy competition and fun.
  • Daily blogging has brought creativity and imagination out of me. It has helped me discover and define myself. The best thing of all is I have met new people and made new friends.
  • What have I learned so far from blogging? Writing doesn’t come easy. A writer is an artist. He/she brings out the creativity, imagination , ideas and views about almost everything. It’s easy to express while we speak, with facial expression, tone variation, eye contact and other gestures. Writing is plain. Words ALONE has to do the magic with may be one or two picture prompts. Nevertheless, with proper selection of words, writing can be powerful than spoken words. Spoken words can be forgotten but not written words. No wonder they say “Pen is mightier than sword”
  • When I listen to music concerts, some of the days how ever great the musician may be, he/she might be technically right, but audience may feel “Today there was something missing in the voice, there was no charm”. Being a singer myself (just a small time – not a big one – HA!!), when I am asked to sing, by family and friends, some days I will be tired and be in bad mood, I cannot sing a happy song at that time,if at all I sing,  I can’t express myself well or it won’t turn out excellent like other days. There’s charm missing in my voice. Similarly to write something daily is no joke, there should be great deal of inspiration, mood and material. This is my experience. I like this quote by Maya Angelou

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song

  • I am not a writer and I don’t have answer for everything but I have an opinion, a point to make, which is why I write.

5.  Who would you like to be stranded with in an unknown island for two days?

  • Al Pacino – Now the question is, would he like to be with me? Stranded in an unknown island for TWO long days? For me just the island is unknown, for Al Pacino both I and island are unknown!!

6.  What the three things that we do not know about you?

  • I am horrible at putting make up on.
  • I love Mathematics
  • Now I hate if you are thinking I am a Nerd!!

7.  It is said that we should be grateful in life. What are the 5 things you are grateful for at this point in time?

  • I am just grateful to God for giving me ‘TODAY’.

8.  What are the three places that you would like to visit in 2014?

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • India — and all three in one year won’t fall in our budget!!!

9.  If you could suggest any family member or non blogging friend to blog, who would it be? And why?

  • My husband – let’s see how he writes!!!

10.  Is there a place you visited recently, that you would love to go back to ? If yes, then tell us why.

  • India to visit my parents

11.  If I were to ask you which book/movie has influenced you the most this year, which one would it be?

  • I read a book Dharmashree – it influenced me a lot this year.

Totakashtakam – A hymn of eight stanzas

Srimad Guru Adi Shankaracharya

Srimad Guru Adi Shankaracharya (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Totakashtaka is a hymn of eight stanzas written in Sanskrit by Totakacharya, disciple of one of the chief disciples of Guru Adi Shankaracharya, praising him. Every word bespeaks his utter devotion to his Guru. Guru is all to him. There is nothing equal or superior to Guru. Guru dispels darkness and ignorance. Removal of ignorance is the utmost greatness.

This is the original tune, very soothing and melodious, with a modern touch – so even people from non Classical background will love it, the music is catchy.  I listened to this song in the morning to energize my mind a bit.

Further interested? Here are the 8 hymns and their meaning in English. The hymns are originally written in Sanskrit.

I borrowed information from this site: (http://www.kamakoti.org/shlokas/kshlok1.htm)

viditákhilaùástrasudhájaladhe
mahitopanisatkathitárthanidhe
hridaye kalaye vimalam cHaraNam
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam.(1)


O Thou, the knower of all the milk-Ocean of Scriptures! The expounder of the topics of the great Upanisadic treasure-trove! On Thy faultless feet I meditate in my heart, Be Thou my refuge O Master, Sankara!

karuNávarunalaya pálaya mám
bhavaságaradukkhavidünahridam
racHayákhiladarshanattattuavidam
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam.(2)


O the Ocean of compassion! Save me whose heart is tormented by the misery of the sea of birth! Make me understand the truths of all the schools of philosophy! Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sañkara.

bhavatá janatá suhitá bhavitá
nijabodhavicHáraNa cHárumate
kalayeSHvarajivavivekavidam
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam(3)


By thee the masses have been made happy, O Thou who hast a noble intellect, skilled in the inquiry into self-knowledge! Enable me to understand the wisdom relating to God and the soul. Be Thou my refuge, O master, Sañkara.

bhava eva bhavániti me nitarám
samajáyata cHetasi kautukitá
mama váraya mohamahájaladhim
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam(4)

Knowing that Thou art verily the Supreme Lord, there arises overwhelming bliss in my heart. Protect me from the vast ocean of delusion. Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sankara.

sukrite’ dhikrite bahudhá bhavato
bhavitá samadarsHanalalasata
atidinamimam paripálaya mám
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam(5)


Desire for the insight into unity through Thee will spring only when virtuous deeds are performed in abundance and in various directions. Protect this extremely helpless person. Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sañkara.

jagatimavitum kalitákritayo
vicHaranti mahamahasascHalatah
abhimámsurivatra vibhási guro
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam(6)

O Teacher! For saving the world the great assume various forms and wander in disguise. Of them, Thou shinest like the Sun. Be Thou my refuge, O Master, Sañkara.

gurupuñgava puñgava ketana te
samatámayatám nahi ko pi sudhiç
SHaraNágatavatsala tattvanidhe
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam.(7)


O the best of Teachers! The Supreme Lord having the built as banner! None of the wise is equal to Thee! Thou who art compassionate to those who have taken refuge! The Treasure-trove of truth! Be Thou my refuge, O Master Sankara.

viditá na mayá viSHadaikakalá
na cHa kincHana káncHanamasti guro
drutameva vidhehi kripám sahajám
bhava SHañkara deSHika me SHaranam.(8)


Not even a single branch of knowledge has been understood by me correctly. Not even the least wealth do I possess, O Teacher. Bestow on me quickly Thy natural grace. Be thou my refuge, O Master Sañkara.

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If moon was as close as ISS

I am combining this post with the Daily Prompt topic.

What was the last thing you searched for online? Why were you looking for it? 

The last thing I searched on Google was ‘Roche Limit’ when I watched the below video.

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What would it look like, if moon were as distant or close as International Space Station – ISS?

How would the rising and setting of moon would appear?

This is an amazing animated video giving us the picture in real.

Even though this is not possible in reality, it put me into thinking or rather imagining things. According to Roche limit or Roche radius, if moon were at a distance of 9496 km from earth, moon would disintegrate and tear apart. Earth would look like Saturn then! (Imagine if Earth had rings like Saturn). Roche limit also called Roche radius is the distance within which any celestial body (in this case moon) which has it’s own gravity will disintegrate under the influence of another celestial body’s (here it’s our earth) tidal forces, which exceeds moon’s gravitational self attraction. Further interested? read this : Roche Limit

But if by any miracle, moon were as close as ISS, to earth, would it remind us daily how small we are, in reality?  Would humankind be more polite and showed more humanity to our fellow dwellers?

First and foremost would man survive? The day and night would be too short. Our life cycle would be different. One day would be less than 24 hours.

Think of the weather, would it be more cold due to earth’s less exposure to sun light? It would snow everywhere.

How would oceans and seas be? How would be the tidal force?

How would moon look if we were travelling in flight? The flights should had to fly within the earth’s gravitational boundary.

Perhaps there would be boundary, where earth’s gravitation surpasses that of moon’s , a neutral zone and moon’s gravitation surpasses that of earth’s? There would be a warning sign for aerial explorers “Entering moon’s gravitational limit in another 100 km!” and so on.

With the enormous advances in space technology in last few decades, would moon be a tourist spot?
Our science text book at school would be completely different. Physics laws, Chemical reactions, Biology would vary!
Stargazing would be difficult!

We should be thankful to moon for it is where it should be, making it convenient for humans to lead a happy life?

Below are two more videos giving us a thrilling comparison of sizes of various planets in our solar system.

What IF MOON were replaced with other planets?

In the day

At night: