Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Shakespeare in the Park: Hamlet

Watching Shakespeare In The Park each year has become a tradition for us. So far, we've watched Taming of the Shrew, Romeo & Juliet, Winter's Tale and now Hamlet.

Based on all the experience from the previous years, we managed to be fully prepared to have a good time. We carried lawn chairs, a tarp to sit on, a picnic dinner, snacks, drinks and lots of warm clothing. In addition, we reached there well ahead of time to score parking as well as good seats. We reached there almost an hour and a half before the show began. This time we had company. SIL, BIL and Ritwik joined us.

Sandhya and Gaurav were supposed to come too but that was a comedy of errors in itself.

They ended up going to Saratoga where another theater group was putting on a production of Hamlet. What are the chances of that!

Like every year, the show was fabulous, great actors, costume and direction. The only problem was the sound and could have been resolved if we had picked a spot near the loudspeakers. Luckily, the weather was good too so had a fantastic evening.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Curious Incident Of the Dog In the Nighttime

I had read this book a while ago. So when I saw tickets for the play on Goldstar, I was interested. Sandhya and Gaurav were also keen so we booked tickets.

We saw the play at the SHN Golden Gate theater in San Francisco. We quickly grabbed dinner at a restaurant across the street. Since we had discount tickets, we got the balcony seats which weren't all that bad.

The story of the play was quite simple and straightforward. What stood out the most was the special effects and the use of technology to powerfully convey emotions, setting and move the story forward. The effects were brilliant and nothing that we ever seen on stage. The acting was decent but the production, lighting and effects over powered everything including the performance, dialogue and sometimes the story.

We had recently returned from our trip to Europe so both Vishnu and I were very jet lagged. It was an effort to keep our eyes open. Vishnu slept through a good part of the first half. Post the interval coffee, he was much better.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend the play for its mind blowing effects. I only wish we weren't this jet lagged and could have enjoyed it more.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Gilroy Wine Tasting

One Friday evening, Anne called me to ask if I was up for wine tasting in Gilroy the next day and I agreed.

It was a hot day and after an hour's drive reached our first winery 'Satori.' It was very brightly colored and well decorated. It had live music playing and was buzzing with people. I especially loved the colorful umbrellas. They offer Sangrias on Saturday and we were so thankful for the chilled drink on the hot afternoon. The Sangria tasted delicious with pieces of mangoes and raspberries. We hung out for a while and left when there were too many dogs surrounding our table.

Next, we hit Solis winery which was quite opposite to Satori. It was very quite and peaceful. Vishnu did a tasting. There was a perfect breeze blowing which instantly put us in a very relaxed state. We abandoned the idea of going to any other winery and hung out there chatting until we felt hungry.

We headed to Morgan Hills downtown and ate some tasty Mediterranean food and headed back home. This was a very fun impromptu outing.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Bollywood Dance: Part 2

After my last Bollywood dance show I continued practicing with Mona Khan Dance company for the non performance as well as the next performance quarter. I managed to drag Vishnu for the non performance class and I'd like to think he enjoyed himself.

The most recent session, I switched from the Cupertino class to the one in Santa Clara. Dhanashri was the instructor and Divya was coleading the class. The studio in Santa Clara is much smaller and the  number of people per class is way higher. We had almost 15 people in all which made the studio very crammed. Unlike last time, there were no weekend practices and general hangout which I missed badly.  In addition, there was some issue with my costume which was a little stressful. But it was fixed by the rehearsals. All these factors took away some of the fun from the class.

On the brighter side, I found the choreography much more easy to pick up than the previous sessions. Also, most of the others in class were decent dancers so our final performance looks in synch.


Here's the video of the performance. Since there were so many people on stage, it is quite zoomed out and difficult to see anyone's face.


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.


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:




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