Life-The Amish Way

As I read more and more about Amish, the fascination and intrigue kept growing. Last week , finally I had a chance to travel to Lancaster, Pennsylvania the Amish county to see the real people.

I had lots of information about Amish before I started my journey, a journey I never thought would come my way but life often gives surprises! So on a beautiful summer day in June,2017, I took Interstate 95 from New Jersey. As soon as the city ended, the beautiful green forests crept up by the highway. We had entered Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the landscape reminded me of my place, full of green foliage. The drive was about 2 and a half hours, needless to say, I didnt realize how the hours went by.

Amish are of Swiss-German ancestry who emigrated to Pennsylvania in early 18th century. They are known for simple living, plain dressing and do not use modern technology including electricity, automobiles and telephones. They value rural life, manual labor and humility, what they believe to be God’s word.They have their own one-room schools and discontinue formal education after 8th grade, at age 13 or 14. Until the children turn 16, they have vocational training from their parents, community, and the school teacher. Because they believe, education until 8th grade is enough to do what they do for a living i.e .farming, carpentry, household work and other related works within their community. The population (which doubles every 20 years) of Amish as of 2016 was 308,030.
I got to see some breathtaking views of the place , mostly Lancaster county. Taking a guided tour of a place called ,’The Amish Village’ where they have tried to show a glimpse of Amish life was amazing. Then we went into the country side entering into some of the real villages and watching Amish work in their daily routine like in the farms or just riding their bicycles to run errands. The people I saw wore their traditional dresses with women in white bonnets and men in black or straw hats. Then I visited some of the tourist shops to get some souvenirs, the place has been marketed for tourism from 20th century and I guess, it has also become a source of income for the Amish and other locals. The beauty and the integrity of the place and the people has been intact and we get to see how these people have managed to live life without the modern day technological advantages.

I enjoyed the whole day in nature’s lap and promised myself to return someday…

Here are some of the memorable pics from the Amish County.

 

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C for California

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It was a dream…to step on American soil. Just that I didn’t know when and where would it be first. Since America had always fascinated me, be it ,with its vast mid-west , uber cool Manhattan or natural countryside of  Pennsylvania or its wild wild west….I was always in awe of its variety and its mixed culture.

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So when it came calling, the first thing I asked was which state is it. Well it was the golden state of California. By now I have lived 2 years in a row in California and a year in Nebraska. Both has its own beauty but none of the states of America can beat California for its rolling hills, Vineyards of Napa, beaches of its west coast and mixed culture of Asians and Mexicans. The food I ate here was of best variety, the clubs were cool and the trips to the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are unforgettable.

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The lakes (actually the backwaters) in and around San Mateo, the parks, the spring blooms on the roads and the hundreds of hikes I took in the state parks were just so awesome.

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When I look back to my memories of California, I see the golden hills, the beaches of LA and the glitzy glamour of Vegas and also the most beautiful highway of the world- Highway-1.

Must be grateful to God for making my dreams come true! California is a must visit place on earth for one who likes to travel places.

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Denver- A city I visited

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It was fall of 2015 and my husband told me if I wanted to see Denver as he was travelling for a couple of weeks for work. I jumped up with a YES as usual. Baby was manageable at 8 months and I deserved a break from the monotony of life with a baby…!

So ,We hired a SUV and packed up stuff and there we were on the Dodge (US Route 6) for an almost 10 hour drive.

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The drive did not have much to expect as I knew it would be laden with mid-west farms. But yes it was different than all the drives that I ever took in my life. There were farms and farms machinery and cattle all along the horizon until the eyes could stretch. And the trucks that we would pass by were only transferring farm supplies.

It was almost dusk when we started to see the shades of Rockies! But soon enough it was dark and all we could see was the glow of the city in the sky.The long journey ended soon after we saw the Denver skyline. Funny but somehow I always related Denver with Madhuri Dixit! The first sight of Denver will always remain etched in my mind….the shades of blue Rocky mountains.

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The following week was going to be hectic for Ani and I was supposed to be on my own. As I ventured out in nearby areas, I hit upon a road which was leading to….mountains. On the next few days Me and Riaan would take our afternoon walk on this road.

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Some lovely cupcakes and sandwiches were the next few things that I relished while in Denver. The weekend would see snowstorm , the weather channel said and Ani will have to work from home for 2 days. The hotel staff welcomed all their guests with piping hot chocolate and marshmallows on the night before the snowstorm….I was thrilled. So was Ani as we were about to witness snowstorm for the first time!

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The next day dawn break was all white….it was awesome to see snowfall in US for the first time. It was more thrilling because it was a storm and it would not stop the whole night. Some 8 inches of snowfall was amazing to look at but I’m sure it was one hell of a task for the people who had to clear it up the following morning!

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That weekend was  spent watching snowfall and playing with snow. The next one was a trip to downtown and other beautiful places Denver has to offer.The church, the secretariat,  a walk through the downtown and the football stadium which is in a shape of a horse shoe. We also went for a trail which has the footprints of dinosaurs. The trail has fossil sites, interesting rock sites, and the scenic overlook provide hints to the prehistory of Colorado’s Front Range.

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To sum it all, Denver was an interesting 2 week vacation. A modern city with good infra-structure and a cold climate , thanks to the more than often snow storms! The people were friendly and the food was yummy especially the chicken wings I hogged on the last night at Finn McCool’s 🙂

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Will I like to visit Denver again….most likely for the snow and the chicken wings!

 

Just books…?

still life in chiaroscuro: opened antique book, a swan feather and a red rose in a vase

It was a darn busy December as I was travelling to India with the baby and hopping from one plane to another the whole month and when I find myself writing this today….I wonder what motivates me really!

Okay , so about the topic. I’m not a avid book reader. In fact not a reader at all. There are just a handful of books that I must have tried and even fewer that I really liked. When I entered in my new house , it already had a couple of cartons full of books of all kinds. They were promptly sold off to the scrap dealer right before the new year 2013. Ani was not an reader himself but sometimes he likes to read certain kind of books, the practical , motivational and some business/intellect related books. So, I saw Outliers, Rich Dad Poor dad, Beating the Street,The power of now, One minute Manager etc which were neatly lined up on his table. He uses his idle time in the loo to read any stuff that he wanted to, not wasting his precious other times, which he thinks must be used in productive activities.

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He read “The Secret” the following summer and told me that I must get my hands on it whenever I have time. f course he didn’t know that I had cracked it before him!!He did not believe in suspense thrillers or any tales that he could not use in his real life. I on the other hand like to read History or fictional history as it takes my imagination to the bygone era. Anything that is real or realistic stimulates me. Fiction is a strict no-no although I have had my share of Mills and Boons times in my teens!

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I read some fictional stuff while I was doing my Masters in English sometime back and yes, English literature fascinated me at that time. Sometimes I think I should have done my doctors in English! But then , the life throws things at you which changes the course of your life itself.

So here I’m, reading books only when I’m not out to see places. I find it more rewarding and fulfilling to be a traveler and to experience the feel of a place and being with another human being in person rather than in the books.

Im a wanderer…!

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Trip to Yosemite

With this another item in the bucket list was ticked off!!

This was in the pipeline for more than a year. But with the baby arriving, it always seemed next to impossible. Six months  later hubby decided , enough is enough….it was time to start our hikes and treks with the baby in the bag!

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We started on a warm Friday evening at 3 pm and drove to Fresno where our hotel room was booked. Munchkin behaved like a good boy and enjoyed the drive. Fresno was warmer than where we stay but I looked forward to the hilly terrain of Sierra Nevada and hoped for a pleasant weather next day morning. We always like to start at day-break but somehow with munchkin along , it took us a couple of more hours before we could be on the road. A very pleasant morning breeze welcomed us into the foothills of Sierras and off we started for Yosemite.

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With dreams and pictures of scenic sierra hilltops, I was with all my photo catching gears looking out of the window. I love to take pictures of the highways, clouds, skies, and greens along the road, barns and farmhouses all make me go weak in knees. Sometime while taking pictures , I lose actual scene to my bare eyes. In those moments I wish if I could have a cam in my eyes…may be one day I would own a pair of Google glass!!

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Splendid rocky bottoms of Sierra were in front of my eyes to devour and I clicked pictures like crazy. Once we reached Wawona, we decided to take a tour bus for Glacier point because Munchkin was not looking very good with the car seat!! That was one good decision and we hopped into the bus. It took us to see the majestic half dome and several other mountain tops which were visual delights. Of course, I had never seen such beautiful mountains all my life. There were lots of people with kids in tow as it were vacation time for kids. Kids were enjoying the cooler weather in those extra beautiful hills and redwood trees all around the way.Munchkin too, enjoyed his first bus trip extensively!!

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We decided to drive through all other points in the car. All other points at the Yosemite Valley -Tunnel View, El Capitan,Yosemite falls,Nevada Falls loop,Tenaya Lake,Bridalveil Falls,Valley View,Pothole Dome seemed out of the world. There were people camping at the designated camp sites, youngsters hiking through the hills and jungles and people strolling by the river sides. Though we could not do all of it but we did manage a few short hikes and strolls. I wish to come back here for a weekend camping and barbecue trip when munchkin grows up and is able to go for fishing with his dad!

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With pristine memories etched in my mind forever , I promise myself to come back to these magnificent mountains very soon.

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The City I Live In – Week 6

Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley, California)

Though its been only a month that I have arrived here nonetheless I can still do a decent job of writing about my city. This area is known across the world as Silicon Valley. The hub of high technology companies : Silicon Valley is a name given to the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay area of (Northern California’s) Santa Clara Valley. The cities that come under Silicon Valley are Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Hose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale etc and dozens of other cities sprawled across in this valley. The Fortune 1000 companies which have their Headquarters are the likes of Google, eBay, Cisco,Apple Inc, Intel, Netflix, Oracle Inc, Symantec etc.

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

Silicon Valley is the hub for high-tech innovation and development, accounting for one-third of all of the Venture Capital investment in the United States. Stanford University and its  graduates have played a major role in the development of this area.

The population residing in Sunnyvale is of mixed origin, mostly Asian (Indian, Chinese, Japanese etc) It also had Hispanic, Mexican and white people but the percentage as compared to Asians is much lesser. Sunnyvale is in a bit inland of bay area hence its less windy and chilly and as the name suggests ,it has lots of sunshine even in the winter months, which anyways the entire California can boast of always! But a trip to San Francisco , Monterrey, Santa Cruz or any beach side city would put you all wrapped up in layers and Jackets even in the afternoons!

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

There are lots of good restaurants catering to the diverse population of Sunnyvale and that’s a boon for its residents!

Sunnyvale has consistently ranked as one of the safest ten cities in the United States according to the FBI’s crime reports. From 1966 to at least 2004, Sunnyvale never placed below fifth in safety rankings among U.S. cities in its population class.In 2009, Sunnyvale was ranked 7th in U.S. by Forbes Magazine in an analysis of America’s safest cities.(Wikipedia).

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

During my last one month stay, I saw only one Police Officer on his bike. I have not seen any Police cars, Highway Patrol or random police in the downtown of Sunnyvale and this undoubtedly is the best feature of the city.

As of now, I’m enjoying the beauty , weather, food and safety of this wonderful city. Seems to be one of the best that California has and feels like next one year its going to be all the more fun and exploration as our baby joins us soon in Sunnyvale!

Also Sunnyvale will be always special to me for our baby will be born here in a couple of weeks 🙂

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

***I start this gratitude challenge following an inspiration by a fellow blogger Day-9 / week 1 – 52 Weeks of Gratitude | Me and My Random Thoughts by Bikram.

Mesmerizing Venezia

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Venice has fascinated me for long. Its beautiful canals, the gondolas which take you into another beautiful world of it own and the buildings  holdings themselves strong for centuries in water. I researched for a whole day to squeeze outsome precise information on Venice. So here it goes…

The Venice dates back to 827, when a Byzantine Duke moved its seat to what is now known as the Rialto, and Venice for next 970 years, prospered under the rule of a Roman-style Senate headed by the Doge. In 1797, the city was conquered by Napoleon, and Venice could never recover from that attack . The city was then merged with Austria-Hungary, then shuffled back and forth between Austria and a nascent Italy.Venice is still a monument to the glory of the Renaissance days, and the old Italians’ veins are still throbbed by the grande of historical culture of Venice.

The city is often threatened by flood pushing in from the Adriatic between autumn and early spring. About six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city. This created an ever-deeper lagoon environment and during high tides the Adriatic water came back to land turning Venetians roads into canals.There is one major canal called Grand canal which cuts across the city from north to south and then the entire city is webbed by a network of canals. These canals are lifelines of Venice. The maze of canals is threaded through the city and has more than 400 bridges to allow pedestrians to walk across the city.

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Since Venice is also the most romantic destination in Europe, covering Venice on foot ,stopping by each beautiful building to admire its beauty would be an out of the world experience. The ride across Venice on a Gondola is a dream of lifetime.  Subsidence -the gradual lowering of the surface of Venice, leads to the seasonal phenomena of Acqua Alta where most of the city’s surface is covered in high water.This dramatic natural phenomenon of Acqua Alta or High Water is  unique to Venice. It seems during this time the squares, roads and sometimes even the ground floors of the buildings gets submerged.In rather deep areas of Venice the pathways are elevated so that pedestrians don’t  have have to struggle walking in the waters or left stranded.Boats cannot navigate the canals during the highest tides because they cannot pass under bridges. Typically the Acqua Alta lasts for an hour but it could extend to a maximum of 5-6 hours.

Venice history dates back many years when people sought refuge. These people built upon the lagoon for safety from being attacked. In the lagoon there a collection of small island of rock and mud and it was here that these people started driving wood pilings into the mud and sand and into clay. The wood pilings became the foundation.The wood was brought from the mountains of Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro.The wood was then transported by water to Venice. The wood does not rot as its not exposed to oxygen as it is submerged in the water and mud. The wood petrifies due to a constant submergence in mineral rich water around. As a result the wood becomes a hardened stone-like structure.

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Once all wood pilings are driven side by side into the mud of the lagoon as the initial foundation, they are then cut level where horizontal timber are laid. A stone foundation is then placed on top of the horizontal timbers. From there the building is built using wood framing techniques or brick. Hence the city of Venice with all its canals and gondolas was built on a foundation of wood. Unimaginable feat Venetians achieved so many hundreds of years ago!

As Venice evolved from a trading localization into a living museum, it preserved historic buildings instead of making way for new structures. It decided not to create a modern city atop the ruins of the old, unlike what was being done throughout the world.

Such a Venice would not have been treasured by the world. I dream to take that 4 week vacation into Venice and into its canals, over the bridges- Rialto, Ponte delgi Scalzi, Ponte dell’Accademia, the churches of Late Romanesque-Early Gothic ,Loggia dei Cavalieri,Church of San Nicolò,Piazza Rinaldi,Ponte di Pria  and simply have some candle lit dinners overlooking a canal.

Venice is treasured , for its old world charm, for its resistance to be drowned by surrounding sea waters,for it beautiful bridges, for its romantic Gondola rides and for taking me into a dream world as soon as I think about it.

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