Lessons from Punjab

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This post is for the amazing people from the fabulous state in the northern part of India- Punjab

Since Dad was in Air Force, I always had Punju schoolmates. And then best of the lot  came along while in Fauj for next 15 years. They taught me to work hard and party harder. Slog in the kitchen making breakfast-lunch, take care of the kids and then wear your best dress and stilettos to get out for an evening drive at 80km/hour in whatever car you have! Go to Gurudwara every Sunday and do seva and then get in the party mood in the evening with your close friends.

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People from Punjab are known for their sheer hard work, honesty and happy go lucky personalities.So much so that the entire race can be generalized for these characteristics! I had a chance to be in this lovely state for a few days way back in 2000 and I really saw what I had heard. The crops are grown almost whole year. Rice is followed by wheat, and I’m sure, my state where the staple is rice, cannot grow as much rice as they grow in Punjab. Punjab essentially being in an arid region,  is capable of only growing wheat, bajra, maize, sugarcane, barley etc , but it produces Rice like a subtropical region would do. Its only because of the people and their capability of putting up hard work through the year.

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The colorful dupattas and jutties hung in the small shops, the sprawling canals for irrigation, mercs and limosines zipping down every now and then on the country roads and the jovial spirit of the people taught me a lot about them. Unlike most of the states in India, Punjab has managed their water well by Bhakra Nangal, the dam.The canals have been neatly drawn from the dam and  integrated within the fields to give continuous supplies of water.There are mall like shops in the middle of villages supposedly made and owned by NRI’s which caters to the young and young at heart!! The younger generation have been indulging in music and singing from a few decades now and they are doing really well. Come to think of it , I think only bhangra music goes with rap and pop like no other regional stuff does. They have been blending it really well- I really love listening to the foot tapping numbers by Honey Singh!

And of course the food which is yummy! From Makke di roti to Chole Bhature , from Amritsari Fish to Tandoori chicken, from Lassi to Dal makhani…they have been world’s favourites! Punjabi kudis have dominated Bollywood as well as the woods of the south and lets not even talk about the handsome Punjabi hunks! From time immemorial Bollywood has been boasting of some good looking people that only are bred in Punjab!

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I started to think about  writing this post when a particular incident came to my mind from last year. Riaan was about 5 months old and we went to visit the San Jose Gurudwara one day. Its perched on a hilltop and is amazingly made, as all Gurudwaras are. There were 2 weddings going on while we visited the place. One seemed to be of an affluent one, most likely of some well settled business man’s daughter as the bride and the groom were getting their pictures clicked with a bunch of bridesmaid wearing purple dresses. Another seemed a simple one where the ladies were taking the bride to the main temple for the rituals. Having enjoyed all this we went to the inner part where the Granth Sahib is read and spent sometime there. After that we went to the Langar section where food is served 24 hours a day. Just when Riaan started to get restless, an old lady sitting next to us offered to hold him as we had our food.

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As the conversation started she introduced her grand daughter to us, a girl of about 14 or 15 years. She told us that they drove about one hour to be here and that they make it atleast once in a month.To me they did not seem to be from a much affluent status, but they were here in California to realize their American Dream. I’m sure they worked in some southern California orchard or vegetable farm because they still spoke in Punjabi and were dressed still like farms folks do back in Indian villages. And while visiting Fresno a couple of months later I saw a Punjabi family getting back from the grapes orchard, and hence I could relate. As we drove back from the Gurudwra, I was forced to think about this family who must have left everything that must have been owned by them back in Punjab and though they didn’t know even Hindi (forget about English) and they were here. The faith that they must have had in their hard work and mental/physical capabilities were way too high for anyone from any other state in India. I could foresee the kids and grand-kids of this family doing well in coming years. And by another 30 years, the generation would be affluent in all senses!

So what is it that make Punjabis so strong and sturdy? Do they have it in their genes? To rough it out and get the best of the life possible for themselves and their kids? Oh that’s not a question really !! They have it all…whatever it takes to live the life to the fullest.

Lessons from Punjab- Work hard, Eat , Pray and dance to live life!

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Gurudwara San Jose

 

 

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P for Pristine

Merced River

Merced River

One of the most pristine places I visited is the Yosemite valley in California. Thanks to John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National park and other wilderness areas in the United States.

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I made sure I visited this valley days before we were moving out from California to Mid-west. It was difficult with an eight month old in the lap nonetheless it was a promised land.

As we started to drive in through the highway leading to the valley, the beautiful meadows gave us company for a long stretch.A couple of small towns and we had reached the hills from where we would ultimately descend to catch the glorious Yosemite. It was a pity though that we could not camp in there however even the day trip had too much in store for us.

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The national park is characterized by two Two federally designated wild and scenic, the Merced and the Tuolumne, glaciers, wilderness trails, several gigantic granite peaks and some ancient giant sequoia trees.

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I took some of the most serene and pristine nature captures of my life in Yosemite. I only wish we  could protect all such natural places in India too. Too much of population, pollution and commercialization is destroying the most precious thing we have- The pristine nature.

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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!

 

Wanderlust

And it was finally Nebraska on 9th of October 2015. After months of speculation,I finally landed in Omaha, Nebraska.This land of prairies and meadows have always fascinated me. To see the vast rolling hills and corn fields was my heart’s desire because deep down I have never really liked staying in the cities or suburbs for that matter.

It was a long flight and we flew through Minneapolis bordering Canada. It was cold and cloudy and a drastic change in weather from the sunny California. It felt good because I was missing such weather in California. Back at home, Assam to be precise,clouds come and go at the drop of a hat and it pours like cats and dogs on a cloudy day. The clouds over Minneapolis sky kind of gave me a prelude to the times to come in Nebraska!

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Elkhorn is about 18 miles away from downtown Omaha and the beautiful rolling hills and colors of autumn welcomed me during my drive from the airport. Acres and acres of sprawling lush green meadows on both sides of the roads were a fresh breather. My accommodation was surrounded by hillocks. Thankfully I also got a room which had a bedroom view to the east and living room view to the west.

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The best part of this place was that I could see the horizon all around, that means till my eyes could stretch, there were no houses taller than a single story. Unlike California where there scores and scores of houses on every single patch of land, here there were only a group of houses every about 5-10 miles. There are lot of lakes and few rivers around me which I have to explore during the coming weeks.

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Today was a bit cloudy morning and I could see the clouds streaming in from western horizon to east covering the sunshine. It was an awesome feeling to be able to see the entire sky 360 degree at one go!

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There are lot of plans to explore the nearby states namely Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana and on top of the list is Iowa and its covered bridges.

Enjoying the serenity of nature far away from the madness of towns and cities already, I look forward to a blissful next one year in the beautiful mid-west of America.

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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.

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