Thursday, March 23, 2017

SPB Concert

This was my first concert here in the US. We booked tickets and were so eager to go but the day before the show we heard about the legal issues that organizers were facing due to which they could not sing certain songs. That was a bummer. Since the tickets were non refundable we went anyway.



The show was in downtown San Jose in the convention center. The venue was spacious, clean and with good acoustics. The performers were beyond amazing. It was a pleasure to listen to SPB and Chitra live.


I was annoyed by the yelling kids and the adults who kept walking in and out to grab food. Other than that it was a pleasant show despite me not knowing half the songs.

Don't have anything more to add but just wanted a record of going to the event so wanted to put this up.

Portand

When Prisha and Sri asked me if I wanted to go on a three day trip to Portland, I was excited because I've been wanting to do a girls trip for a while.




The weather forecast was for rains on all three days and the flight was delayed. So we already had very low expectations from the trip. We reached around noon and were pleasantly surprised by the airbnb that we'd booked. Leaving our bags, we headed straight for lunch. Our room was conveniently located only one block away from Hawthorne Blvd which is lined with restaurants. We picked Harlow's and didn't regret it at all. This place serves the most delicious meals which are vegetarian and organic.

It was a rainy day but that didn't stop us. We visited Powell's city of books-the worlds largest independent bookstore. Then we got some donuts, tried hot chocolate at Cacao, walked around some more, visited a legal marijuana store only to be amazed at the hundreds of different types of edibles available. We ended the day by having sumptuous dinner at a Cuban restaurant. On the way back we stopped at a bar called Church which had church themed decor.

We got really lucky the next day as the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. In fact, we were told that it was the first sunny day in many months. We had booked a walking tour in the downtown. It took us through many areas of the downtown, the waterfront and finally to an underground tunnel. The guide gave us a very good summary of the history of Portland and how it transformed itself from smelly, dirty city to a hippy tourist attraction. He also talked about some notorious figures from Portland and the crimes they committed.

Next we took the light rail and headed to the zoo. I wasn't too thrilled about the zoo to begin with but after reaching there I was impressed. We walked around for a couple hours watching the animals and then headed back to downtown, bar hopped and then took the aerial tram. By then it was dark and the view of the city lights from the tram was amazing. Finally we wrapped up the day with dinner in Pearl District.

On the last day, I started the day with a delicious savory waffle. We then went to the Pittock Mansion-a rich guy's house converted into a museum. Although the house isn't as big as Hearst Castle, the one hour tour was pretty great. The guide walked us through every room and gave some good information about the architecture of the house and the family that lived there.



We then headed to the Saturday Market which essentially is like the Art and Wine Festival that happens in the Bay Area. The only difference is that it happens every week on the weekends. It had the usual stuff of food, jewelry, handicraft etc. After stopping for a quick bite in downtown, we headed back to the room to pick up our bags as well as pack up dinner from Harlows (yes, we liked it that much!).

Portland is a very colorful city with its hippie culture, street art, amazing food (we rarely had a bad meal), tons of food carts and friendly people. It was a fun trip and the highlight most definitely was the great food that I had. 





Las Vegas

On a whim, Sandhya and I decided to plan a trip and what better place that Vegas. We didn't really have an agenda but who needs an itinerary when you go to Vegas especially since we'd already covered all the must do's in our last trip.


We reached Vegas on Friday night. As soon as we reached Treasure Island, our hotel, we checked in, dropped our bags, changed and headed to the nearest happening club 'Omnia.' After standing a long line we realized Vishnu was wearing sneakers-a no-no for entry into the club. We then headed to Wynn to try our luck. After greasing some palms, we were allowed into Surrender. It was my first time going to a club in the US so I was so excited. The vibe was great; the music not so much. After a few shots it didn't really matter. The place was spacious and had some open areas so it wasn't as smoky as most places. We danced the night away. After stopping for a midnight snack, we headed back to our rooms all partied out.



The next morning predictably we woke up late and headed out to grab brunch. After a sub par super expensive meal (where they charged even for the side of sauce!), we walked around the casinos seeing all the usual sights.

That night we headed back to Omnia after purchasing new shoes for Vishnu (yes we were that determined to get into Omnia!). This club was super crammed and there was a lot of pushing and shoving Although the music was great, the experience wasn't that enjoyable. We stepped out early only to realize that there is another level to the club. This place was so much better. They had aerial dancers and amazing lights. I was quite sleepy due to the previous night's lack of sleep so went back after a bit of dancing.


On Sunday, we didn't do much except for watching the Cirque show 'Mystere' We bought seats right up front so we got a wonderful view. The show was stupendous. The performers, the tricks, costumes, music, lighting everything was dramatic. Thoroughly enjoyable and worth the money spent. We then walked to Bellagio to check out the fountain show.

On Monday we checked out and went for a nice brunch at Wynn. Since we had enough time before our flight, we took our time enjoying the meal.

This trip was so unlike any of our previous vacations. It was fun filled, not rushed and included lot of dancing and late nights.

Belly Dancing

I've been taking belly dancing classes for a while now. These classes are offered by the Sunnyvale Adult Education program. Beginner classes happen in Fremont High School.

 
Tracy was our instructor and for 8 weeks we learnt choreography for 2 songs-Perhaps Perhaps by Doris Day and Habibi Tal Aleya by Madonna. We learnt a lot of basic belly dance and Arabian dance moves which were quite fun. At the end of the 8 week session, Tracy had organized a student night where dancers from the beginner, intermediate and advanced classes perform and put on a show. Friends and family are welcome to watch. Potluck style dinner was served.


We were given colorful skirts and veils by Tracy who was kind enough to let us borrow them. Sandhya and I decided to do a duet Bollywood performance too. We met up a few days before the show and choreographed a dance sequence to 'Mauja Mauja.'


Our group was the first to perform. Since the audience was small (~40 people) and the fact that Tracy was dancing with us, I had no stage fear. The first dance went quite well. The Bollywood dance as I had anticipated lacked coordination as we barely practiced it and ended up looking messy. The audience still applauded and at the end of the show several dancers asked us to teach them the Bollywood moves and they seemed to have really enjoyed the dance.



For one of the songs, audience members and kids were called on to dance. It was a lot of fun. The best performance of the day was a solo dance with sword. The dancer balanced a sword on her head while belly dancing. She was so confident and her moves were perfect. The show ended with everyone coming to the floor and dancing away to the music.

Here are the performances:

Perhaps

Habibi



Mauja:


It was a wonderful experience to be a part of the show.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Thousand Splendid Suns

After a long gap, I went to see a play. It was based on the book 'A thousand splendid suns' by Khalid Hosseini. I haven't read the book but decided to go for it as a bunch of girls (15 to be precise!) were planning to go.


The show was in American conservatory theater in San Francisco. I have never been to this theater before. We carpooled from the South Bay and reached the theatre around noon. We stopped by a nearby cafe to grab some lunch and meet the others in the group. The play started at 2.30 and went on until 4p with a ten minute interval.


The theater was impressive in its decor. Too bad pictures weren't allowed inside. The play was so well done. Everything from the set, acting, writing, music and lighting was perfect. I was absorbed in the story and could really connect with the characters. It is a very sad story that gave me a new perspective on life and the world we live in. By the end of the play, we stepped out awed by the performance with a tinge of sadness in our hearts.

I highly recommend watching the play and the theater.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Muir Woods

Muir Woods National Monument is located about 12 miles north of San Francisco. It is a beautiful park with giant redwood trees.




 It took us over an hour to drive from Sunnyvale. As we saw signs along the way that the parking lot was full, we went to the shuttle stop and waited another hour for the shuttle to arrive. It was freezing and as usual I didn't have enough layers. 






When we finally reached the park, we grabbed a map and decided to do the easiest trail that would take us 30 mins round trip. It was pretty flat, shaded and beautiful path. It was a bit crowded and there were some people who were talking loudly which took away from the serenity of the place.


We covered in the loop and got back to the entrance just in time for the shuttle back. I wish we had planned better and started early. We barely got an hour to spend inside the park after all the driving and waiting.


The park is scenic but I don't think it is much different from any of the other parks with giant redwoods. The state park in Santa Cruz is just as beautiful. So I'm not sure I would go through the trouble of driving all the far and wait for the shuttle when I can go to other parks. It may be that the other trails in the park lead to much more dramatic scenery but from what I saw, I won't be paying a second visit. 

Dandiya

This was my first ever dandiya. I've always wanted to go for one but never got a chance. When Pooja from my dance class suggested we go, I was all for it. After all, Falguni Pathak was going to be at the event!



The trouble of not having appropriate clothes was solved by Pooja who offered me her lehenga and jewellery. I was so happy with the the attire.

Leena, her roomie and I took an uber to pick up Pooja and then headed to the venue in San Jose. There was so much traffic and people had trouble finding parking. Lucky for us, we asked the driver to stop at a distance and walked the last mile.


At the venue, we were joined by a big gang of Leena's friends. We kept our belongings on the floor and formed a circle around it to dance. Most of them had no clue how do play dandia. We just copied steps from each other and tried to do the best we can. We danced non stop. I got so sweaty and tired after two hours. I didn't even remember to click a picture of Falguni!


We took a break and ate some food. By then I met Nutan and Sandhya who joined us. We continue dancing past midnight. I had picked up enough steps that at one point I was leading the group and teaching them steps :)


It was a total fun night and I'm looking forward to going for more dandiya nights next year.