26 Oct 2007

Raddhiwalla with a business card!

A funny thing happened to me this morning. Well, not funny in the ha ha sense, just something which made me see how technology has reached everyone in India. I opened the door to accept a letter from the courier boy, when I noticed a raddhi walla taking the month's recycling from the opposite house.

I wanted to get rid of the growing pile of old newspapers from my house, but had to step out to do some errands, so asked him when he would be coming next. Immediately he whipped out his business card with the address and four different mobile numbers neatly printed on it. He told me all I had to do was to give him a call and he would come with a scale to weigh the junk and clear it all away. Now that's something I don't see everyday - a radhiwalla with a business card!

25 Aug 2007

Charlotte to Chennai

Chennai is what I will call home now.

We arrived late, after midnight, in this new city and tired went straight to sleep. I was woken early morning by the loud song of the kukooo. I got up, grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. It had rained in the night and everthing looked fresh and clean. Soon I saw the bright colors of dawn and then the constant parade of birds began. I was surprised. I expected to see only crows in this teeming metro but boy! was I happy that I was proved wrong.

10 Aug 2007

Flower Fest - W for Wisteria

In May this year, I got to spend a delightful afternoon in the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Despite the bustling tourist activity, I had a good time. While walking around the well maintained garden, with its manicured bushes, trees and stone sculptures, I spied these beautiful hanging Wisteria.

Wisteria is a climbing vine with purple-blue flowers that hangs down like a bunch of grapes. It flowers in the beginning of spring. We had plenty growing in our neighbourhood too, but it did not occur to me to take pictures. I was busy looking for spring wildflowers then!

Google tells me that this plant is not very popular as it is invasive and suffocates other native plants, which in turn affects wildlife who depend on these native plants for food.

This is my entry for the letter W at Flower Fest
Flower Fest - the A-Z of Flowers

26 Jul 2007

Flower Fest - V for Vicia sativa (Common Vetch)

Another flower that I found growing, un-welcomed, on the sidewalk outside my house, is my entry for V. Common vetch, as Vicia sativa is commonly called, is a weed that grows on roadsides and fields. It is a small plant with attractive purple-pink flowers from the pea family.

I find the delicate plant beautiful to look at and love the tiny flowers. The leaves are a lovely shade of green growing on stems that taper off into tendrils. The flowers bloom from April to August and are very attractive to bees and butterflies.

This is my entry for the letter V at Flower Fest
Flower Fest - the A-Z of Flowers

21 Jul 2007

Somethings Blue

Pacific Ocean near Big Sur
A Western Scrub Jay, in California

Pal Payasam -followed the step by step guide from Manisha!

14 Jul 2007

Sunset on Lake Calhoun

I recently had the opportunity to go sailing in an old sailboat on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. I got a brief sailing lesson and did pretty well i.e. the sailboat stayed afloat and went in the general direction of land. That's enough achievement for a day, for me!

It was magical to watch the sun. It painted the sky in vivid colours as it slowly disappeared out of sight. My pictures don't do justice at all to the wonderful sunset I witnessed.
It was a glorious end to a beautiful day. Sigh!

13 Jul 2007

Rhyming Road Signs in Sikkim

As it has happened with me before, my previous post triggered memories of a different set of pictures. I was reminded of a motor-bike trip I went on a couple of years ago. So, I went trawling through my folders and found some pictures taken from the back of a motorcycle while riding to Gangtok from Kalimpong. This was with a simple point and shoot camera before I owned a digital camera and a tripod. A few of them give a sneak peak of me in the bike's rear view mirror!

These pictures of road signs bring back a flood of memories. The wet roads, parts of it washed into the roaring Teesta River; the two of us on a motorcycle in the pouring rain; the vibrant green of the hills. I remember I was both anxious and excited. I was terrified that we would be caught in a landslide, fall into the roaring river and nobody would know what happened to us. Excited at the same time about the grand adventure I was having in the beautiful hills. I was thankful and amazed at how hard BRO (Border Roads Organisation) was working to maintain these roads.

This was a common sight with warning signs posted everywhere. The side of the road sliding into the river is know as sinking road. (part of Teesta River visible in the photo)

The road signs we came across kept us entertained on that treacherous ride.

Oh we tested the roads alright!

12 Jul 2007

Sign(s) of the Times

Some random pictures of signboards taken while travelling around in the US.

On top of Chimney Rock. The parking lot was directly below.

In Las Vegas

Hmnn, I wonder how the food is.

Downtown Chicago

In New York City

11 Jul 2007

Audubon Swamp Garden

Audubon Swamp Garden in Charleston, South Carolina, is a unique nature and wildlife preserve. It boasts of a variety of plant life, birds and water-loving creatures. The beautiful area can be explored from the many boardwalks, bridges and dikes. I had a grand time exploring the place and could easily have spent the whole day there.

A Great Egret greets us as we enter the swamp

A paddling of ducks in the swamp

An Anole gives us a baleful look

Ah! Now that's a comforting sign!

Anhinga and Yellow-bellied Sliders enjoying the sunny day

This was a common sight in the swamp. An American Alligator and Sliders enjoying a nap

30 Jun 2007

South Carolina Peaches

fresh from the orchards of "tastier peach state."

29 Jun 2007

Second Longest Escalator in the World

This is the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere located at Wheaton Station, Washington DC. It took us two minutes and 45 seconds to reach the top from the bottom! We saw some people sit on the steps and ride up, while others walked to reach the top faster.

28 Jun 2007

Stellar's Jay

See, here's the thing about birds. They simply love me. I have to just look at them and they join me for lunch!

21 Jun 2007

Pismo Beach / Napa Valley (California Master Trip)

May 18th
Reached Pismo from Yosemite Campsite
Swam in the pool like I had temporarily taken leave of my senses
Enjoyed a relaxing two mile walk to Thai Thalay
After a thai dinner, walked back to hotel

May 19th
Next day started with a 3 mile jog on the Pismo roads
Then we hit the outlet mall hard!
Jogged again in the hotel gym for 40 minutes
Walked to pier and enjoyed dinner in Italian Pastabella

May 20th
Long but beautiful 9 hour drive from Pismo to Napa on Highway No-1
Stunning views of the pacific ocean from vista point
Lunch at spirit garden
Ended journey at KOA campsite in Petaluma
Small walk around the campground enjoying the flowers and mulberry trees
Built a campfire and had dinner

May 21th
Started the day with a swim in the big KOA pool.
Visited two farms of Napa/Sonoma - bought peaches in the first, strawberries in the second.
Ate too many strawberries (one month's supply of vitamin c in one sitting!)
Vineyard visit
Lunch at Market Cafe
Visited Old Faithful Geyser
Petrified Forest
Drove back to Oakland
Spent time picking pennys from the parking lot
Cleaned the RV so that it was ready to return the next day on the way to the airport
All American food at Denny's Diner for dinner
Packed up and called it a day and a great holiday!

20 Jun 2007

Sulphur Spring

My previous post reminded me of a different hot spring. This is an old picture of a sulphur spring near Joshimath in India. The soft bubbling mud, the blue steam and the gushing hot water was an astonishing sight. It also smelt horrible like rotten eggs!

According to the locals, one can boil an egg here in under a minute. The water cools down a bit as it comes down the hillside and is channeled into two pools, one for men and the other for women, to bathe in. The water is said to have medicinal properties. The place was deserted and we had the pools to ourselves. The warm water felt good in the cold weather and did not smell so strongly. I'm glad I got over my initial reservation, as it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

19 Jun 2007

Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser of California, located in the scenic Napa Valley, is said to be one of the only three old faithfuls in the world. The geysers get such a name because they erupt at regular intervals and have a predictable pattern. Scalding water (around 350 degrees F) shoots high in the sky, in this natural occurrence. This one put out a spectacular show every 15-20 minutes while we were there.
The mountain in the background is Mt. St. Helena.

15 Jun 2007

A Squirrel...

...who thinks he is a Lion!
Photographed somewhere on the Pacific Coast Highway.

14 Jun 2007

Flower Fest - T for Trifolium repens and Trifolium pratense

My entry for this round of FF is from the clover family. I have white and purple/pink clovers.
Clovers are native to Europe and introduced in the US as a pasture crop. They can be found throughout the US in warm weather. Clovers have three oval leaflets with V shaped markings on them. The ball-shaped flower head is made up with many small flowers, and is very attractive to bees. Some flowers are edible and used in salads and to make tea.

I found both these on the pavement outside my house.

The white clovers are called Trifolium repens. The flowers look like a little white ball and once a bee or other pollinating insect has visited it, the petals droop and reveal the red center indicating that it does not have to be visited again.

The pink or the purple clover is Trifolium pratense and is considered nutritious food for livestock. The flowers and leaves are slightly bigger than the white clover.

This is my entry for the letter T at Flower Fest
Flower Fest - the A-Z of Flowers

9 Jun 2007

Yosemite Wildflower Photo Journal

Although Yosemite does not really get carpeted with flowers, I got to see plenty scattered around, which accentuated the beauty of the meadows and riverbanks. I came back with a collection of flowers that I had never seen before. I took these pictures for my records and learning, so I'm parking them here even if some are not post worthy!

California Indian Pink (Silene laciniata)

Wild Blue Flag

Snow Plant

Mountain Misery

Blue Dicks

Indian Paintbrush

Spring Beauty


Yellow Violet

Woodland Star

Yellow Salsify

Pride of the Mountain

Mountain Pretty Face


Fairy Lantern


California Poppy

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Bird's Eye

Wild Bleeding Heart

Blue Larkspur