Photoessay on Day Trip to Mohonk Mountain House

The season of apples, cozy sweaters, warm drinks, pumpkin spice and beautiful colors……Fall is here. My favorite of all the four seasons.

In the year 2014 we had driven all the way to New Hampshire to see the stunning fall colors. You can check the post here. This year however we decided to give the long drive a skip and instead planned for a short relaxing day trip last weekend at Mohonk Mountain House to catch a glimpse of fall colors. This place was recommended by my husband’s colleagues and I am so glad they did. After a quick research online, we decided to book a BBQ lunch which also included access to the resort and evening tea and snacks. We were initially planning for brunch but those were all fully booked. So early bookings are highly recommended. I won’t be discussing much in detail about the resort as their website gives you all the information that is needed. Instead I would love to share few pictures of our little day trip.

The resort is a huge property and they have several things to offer some of which includes their very popular spa services, various recreational activities, hiking trails and many more.

The historic Mohonk Mountain House is located in New Paltz, NY on the shore of Lake Mohonk. It was around an hour and half drive from our home. We had booked lunch at around noon time and while booking we were advised to reach a little early to avoid the weekend traffic. And so we started from home a bit early and reached the resort about an hour and half before our lunch time. So with a good amount of time to spare before lunch, we decided to explore the resort.

As you park your car and make way to the main entrance, the sight of a huge Victorian style castle welcomes you. The historic old monument coupled with the beautiful lake and lush greenery surrounding you, was very refreshing indeed. This place is easily accessible yet it felt like we were in a remote location away from the crowd and city. And to top it all we got lucky since the weather was perfect and this made the overall experience very enjoyable.

Front View of Mohonk Mountain House

Exploring the beautiful property. The color of the leaves were close to its peak

There is something very peaceful about walking in nature. The silence, the light rustle of the leaves, the sweet smell of trees, the call of the birds and the fresh air, the best way to relax and detox your mind. Even though we were here only for a day, I think this place was a really good choice to unwind from the mundane routine of every week.

Perfect timing

I simply loved the area (called the Granary) where the tables for BBQ lunch was set. It was my favorite since the place was completely covered with fallen leaves, surrounded by trees with different colored leaves and with the view of the lake. Just as we were clicking pictures and playing with the leaves (trying to take a slow mo video of me throwing the leaves in the air hahaha 😛 …..you can check it out here), a horse carriage passed by making for a perfect picture.

Tables all set for Lunch

Our lunch included some pasta salad, some greens, roasted potatoes and burger

Post lunch it was time for some paddle boating. Best way to unwind since it is not as tiring as rowing :P. The paddle boating was $15 for half an hour which was more than enough to go around the lake.

Clicked from the boat

They also have a designated area near the boating for fish feeding.
Here fishy fishy fishy!!!!

I would definitely recommend this place to anyone who is looking for a relaxing weekend getaway. Did you like the post and pictures? Let me know in the comments below. Have great week ahead everyone.

Collecting memories and experiences (not things) – My Bucket List for 2017

Hello Everyone!!!!! It’s March already can you believe that??? But wait… where is Spring? 😑 Just when I thought it was here we were hit by snow showers last week and a big snow storm 2 days back. The temperature has dropped drastically and all I can think about is Summer!! But I am sure it will be here before we know it.
So before summer greets us into its warm embrace, I am all ready with my bucket list of activities and events that I wish to experience this summer. Now when I think about it, this is actually a very good way to sit back, contemplate and think about all the experiences that you wish to have rather than impulse buying for a change. Give that expensive bag or a shoe or any “thing” that you may see on an Instagram feed or Pinterest or any social media for that matter a pass this time around. Simply think about what truly makes you happy. For me its the small, simple moments of life. One of my blogger friends (Sonal) had asked me to list 10 things that make me happy on Instagram some time back. Without thinking twice I listed 10 things that make me happy only to realize later that I had listed my “memories and experiences” and not “things”. Some may find my happy list very simple and mundane but when you think about it, it is the little moments of life, the times that you spend with your loved ones, family and friends that you will remember and cherish forever.
Someone very aptly said that –
“Fill your life with experiences and not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show”

We have already kick started this year by attending a Bollywood dance workshop, an impromptu trip to Arizona and Vegas and played very fun point scoring game of golf with friends for the very first time 😀.

So this is my bucket list for Summer 2017:

1) Travel to a new country – By now you all know how much I and my husband love traveling. We have been planning to visit Europe (at least one or two countries) for a while now. We feel a bit lost and incomplete if we are not traveling. Traveling is something that we are very passionate about. Hoping that this time around everything will fall into place (fingers crossed) and we will soon be on our way to a new place, learning about a new culture, tasting new food and most of all collecting new memories.

2) Celebrate Holi, Festival of Colors – Holi was celebrated few days back in India. Holi, the Hindu festival of colors is celebrated to signify the victory of good over evil, arrival of spring and end of winter. I simply cannot remember the last time that I celebrated Holi. Goshhhh that was a long time back. I do miss all the fun of playing with colors, water and not to mention the delicacies that comes along with it. Spring is yet to arrive in my part of the world so it was kind of impossible to celebrate Holi at this time of the year. However, there are some upcoming Holi events in the month of April and May in NYC. Definitely planning to attend one with our friends this time around.
3) Go biking at Central Park – We enjoy biking and did it on a regular basis when we lived in Austin. However after moving back to New Jersey we haven’t gone biking even once. Sighhh… I do miss biking a lot. Can’t believe that it’s been a little more than 2 years already. This is something we think about doing every summer but somehow never gets materialized and we end up canceling it or simply plan other things. This summer though I have decided not to give this one a pass. It is happening for sure.

4) Go Cherry or Berry Picking – This is definitely a fun activity which can be done with your partner, friends, family and kids. Something surprisingly we still haven’t done.

5) Go Hiking – We are not regular hikers but we both thoroughly enjoy it. Hiking almost always finds its way on our travel plan. This is best way to get close to nature and most of the time to catch a glimpse of some of the most beautiful sceneries. We hiked in Peru, Kauai and Alaska as well. Although we still have to decide on a spot but I am sure this one will also be definitely checked off from our list this year.

6) Go to a Chocolate festival – Yes. This one is a must do on my list. Being a foodie and a chocolate lover this one should have been off my list a long time ago. But it’s never too late.

7) Go to a Street Fair – We have been to some of the street fairs before and we certainly don’t mind going again. Being big time foodies how can we possibly miss this. I am already day dreaming about all the yummy wonderful food that we will be having.

8) Play an “Escape the Room” game with friends – So here’s the thing. I am pretty sure that you must have played an Escape the Room game on your smart phone some time or the other. I totally love this game, finding hidden clues, solving mystery puzzles and then finally finding the key to escape. Now what fun it would be if you actually get to do all of it. Ohhhhh soooo exciting!!! Isn’t it? The moment I came to know that there are places in NYC and NJ were you can go with your friends and play this interactive game, I knew I had to do this no matter what.
9) Go on a picnic – Sounds mehhh right. But with all the travel, biking, hiking, cherry picking I think by the end of it a small picnic would be really nice 😀. But no, I really do want to go on a picnic. I love everything about it. Be it preparing and packing lunch, to sitting and relaxing under the shade of a tree some place near a lake, followed by few games of badminton or frisbee etc etc. You get the scene right?
These are some of the activities that we want to do this summer. There are ofcourse more options, so many more activities, events and we might end up doing some other things as well. But I think we are good for now.
So what is on your Summer Bucket List of 2017? Need ideas? Then simply head over to Eventbrite to see if there is anything of your interest, which I am sure there will be. Eventbrite is a free resource that has all of the tools that you will need to plan amazing experiences for your family, friends and even your community. Want to run a marathon? Want to join a cooking class? Or want to go to a dance workshop? EventBrite has got you covered. Search for various events be it music festivals, food, fundraisers, games, workshops etc. You can even plan and upload your very own events and even search numerous other events that are happening around you! So what are you waiting for?? On your mark, Get Set……..EXPERIENCE!!!!

Thank you so much Eventbrite for suggesting such a wonderful blog post idea. This idea was something that I could relate to so much and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it!!! 

I met the Coolest Pigeon on Earth :D

Hey guys…..

So yesterday I was accompanying my friend who is here for a vacation to NYC and she wanted to check out the very last attraction on her list, the Empire State Building. 
The weather was nice, a little windy though. My dear friend was happily clicking photographs and that is when I spotted something very interesting. A cute pigeon sitting on the other side of the fence of the observatory. I know that doesn’t sound interesting at all. What made it interesting was the fact that it was so close to the fence and to all the people clicking pictures. But this fellow just didn’t care even as everyone around was frantically clicking pictures and were too close for comfort. It was as if the pigeon was more than happy to pose for all the photographers. And to my surprise Mr. Pigeon was sitting at a perfect position. Can you spot the Freedom Tower in the background? Clicked this picture with my LG G3. 
Introducing the most coolest pigeon on Earth or should I say in NYC :P…..hahahahaha.
Happy Weekend Everyone:)

Things to do in Austin – Part 2

Flyboard with Aquafly at Lake Travis

Ok….this is by far the most awesome, amazing and fantabulous water sports i have ever come across. We regularly check groupon and are always for a lookout for good deals. That is when hubby stumbled upon this one of a kind water sports. The moment he saw the pictures he knew he had to do it. Thats how we discovered this super cool water sport in the heart of Austin, Texas. 
A little something about flyboarding.
This sport was invented by a french person named Franky Zapata in the year 2011 and was introduced in US only in 2012. A flyboard is a device that looks like a pair of huge boots. It is basically attached to a water scooter which provides the propulsion to the flyboard to rise above the water and fly. The board has a water hose which is attached  to the water scooter. The water is basically forced under pressure through the hose to the boots which allows the rider to soar high (as high as 15 ft) above the water. 
Although a fairly new sport, flyboarding is slowly becoming one of the most sought-out and coolest water sports in the world. 


It looks quite easy but it is definitely not. Its all about balancing and keeping your legs straight as if you are standing. I am no expert but that is what i learnt after hearing their instructions and watching the sport in action (Yea i only watched…..might try it myself next time). Hubby just couldn’t get out of the water for the first 15mins (you can see him in action in the video below, video shot by me and edited by hubby). And then in the second round he got the hang of it and managed to fly….it wasn’t very high…..but whatever he could manage, it was pure fun for him. We would be definitely going here again. 

The folks at aquafly were super friendly, gave us all the instructions and also made us watch a video of flyboarding before the actual action. Instructors were also very good, giving repeated instructions whenever necessary and encouraging all the time. We opted for a photo package and were quite happy with the photos that we received by the end of the day. Sharing with you some of the snaps clicked by them.
Hubby in action 🙂

So what are you waiting for????….If you are in Austin, then this is definitely an awesome adventurous water sport which is a must try especially during summers. 

Confessions of a dusky…. or should I say a dark girl??

I am not much of a writer, a poet or a philosopher. Today I am just going to confess/share or should I say “rant” about certain things that I have locked up in my heart since a very long time.
So where should I start??? Hmmm….Well you should get a hint from the title of
my post.
For all those who are unfamiliar with the term “dusky” it means someone who is not very fair in color neither too dark. No I did not label myself rather I was labeled by others as dark or dusky.
I am a proud South Indian who was born and brought up in the metropolitan city of Mumbai, where you will find people from all parts of India belonging to all kinds of ethnicity. But that doesn’t make Mumbai and its people an exception when it comes to differentiating/labeling people based on their skin color.  My skin color is somewhere between wheatish to dark. So have you started judging me already? Why and how does that matter? Does my skin color make me less of a person?
Till date I am unable to understand Indian people’s obsession with being fair skinned. I still remember very vividly all the absurd TV commercials on fairness creams of all kinds. Even movie stars like Priyanka Chopra who no doubt is a beautiful lady but also has a beautiful dark skin, has endorsed fairness products. Today’s youth look up to the movie stars as their idols. What message are we passing on to the next generation? That you are loser if you are not fair? Oh and how can I forget, as per the super racist ads girl uses fairness cream gets the job, girl uses fairness cream gets the boy, girl uses fairness cream she becomes a model, so on and so forth. So basically the media is giving out a message that only fair skinned people are successful in life.

Seriously???? Is this the message you want to convey to the youth and the children? These stupid fairness creams commercials should be banned and movie stars should refuse to endorse such products. I mean c’mon people, be realistic, if you are wheatish, dusky or dark its in your genes. Nothing is going to change that. You are beautiful just the way are. Why don’t you instead invest your precious time and energy on being a better person instead and spreading out a positive message to the world?

We all make a big deal when an Indian is confronted with some racist remark in a foreign land. We tweet, we share it on facebook and make a hullabaloo on all possible social networks. But have you ever given a thought to the fact that when we distinguish our own people based on color we are being racist ourselves? Think about it.
So you must be wondering why do I have this sudden urge to rant on this topic? Now that I have started blogging, I feel that I have a platform where I can openly share my feelings, my experience and I am sure there must be a lot of people who might relate to what I have gone through as a teenager. Hence this post.
We all cherish our memories of childhood and school life. School life is always considered as the most memorable phase of our lives. It was memorable for me as well in some ways. But not entirely. I was bullied a lot in school for being fat and dark skinned. There were times when I just wanted to stay home curled under my blanket and avoid going to school altogether. My school was just a stone throw away from our home. I still remember those days when I simply wanted the school to get over, run home, close the bedroom door and cry my heart out.

School was done eventually (but the scars remained) and then started the exciting journey of junior college. But the drama of my life was not over yet. I got admitted to a college which predominantly had Maharashtrian students (I am not saying that all Maharashtrians are bad people and I don’t have anything against them. As of today all of my besties are Maharashtrians). Being an only South Indian amongst them, I was royally ignored by almost everyone. There were 3-4 good females with whom I made friends and used to hang out regularly. But thats it. The rest of the snobby bunch of students used to call me names which as always I chose to ignore.

The junior college days were ok no fun at all but instead my coaching class was a place where I enjoyed the most.

Then came a day which I never thought would be etched in my memory forever. It was (if I remember correctly) traditional day in our college. All the girls were supposed to wear sari and boys in formal attire with tie or kurta/pyjama. We had few fun activities one of which was fish pond. Back in those days the game fish pond was quite popular. In this particular game every student gets to write something funny (like a poem or some phrase) about other students on a piece of paper but by being anonymous. No names to be mentioned except the name of the person for whom the message was written. Then all the folded papers were collected and put in a bowl. A girl volunteered to read out all of them.

Some of them were funny, some were ok. Then came my turn, so there I was eager to hear what was written for me. It was in Marathi which went something like this “savtahla samjhte beauty queen, savtahla samjhte beauty queen, pan ahe tu faqt stove chi kaali pin”….I will translate that for you…it goes like this “she considers herself a beauty queen, she considers herself a beauty queen, but she is just a dirty black pin of a stove” (the kerosene stove which people use in India). I know…doesn’t rhyme in English but it does in Marathi…..Anyhow does this sound funny by any means? I know it was a stupid silly game where everyone was supposed to have fun and laugh about it later. But seriously, was this funny? No. How can I even laugh about it?  I choked when I heard the girl read it out loud in front of the entire class. But no I did not cry. I could have confronted and addressed all the students but I chose not to. May be I was scared, I felt so humiliated that I just didn’t want to see anybody’s face. Or maybe I should have done something about it. Because I still hold grudge for the person who wrote it. Maybe I wouldn’t be so bitter about it even today because I still wonder what could have made someone write such a thing. Nobody spoke to me. I never said anything bad about anyone, never called names and never bullied anyone. I just went to college everyday and minding my own business. I had no other option. But in-spite of being practically invisible this happened.

My message to whoever wrote the so called funny fish pond, if you are somewhere out there reading this please understand that commenting and making fun of someone’s color, body or size is not funny. You didn’t even take the initiative to know me or understand me, so you have no right to judge me. Just because your skin color is white doesn’t make you a better person. You should feel ashamed and sorry for it.

The good thing is the better phase of my life started for me post my junior college. I was in a 2 different colleges, made awesome friends (which also includes my hubs) and even more awesome memories. Post graduation was the best thing that ever happened to me. I met some amazing friends who love me for who I am and whom I know I can trust with my life. I am an ambivert, don’t make friends very easily, so people start judging me as being rude and full of myself. But I have changed, learned and changed for good. Not only friends, but my family were always by my side. I think i am a better person now. The scars have healed.

If you are someone who has gone through the same ordeal, don’t fall down, rise up , stand up for yourself and don’t let yourself be bullied. Never underestimate yourself and be proud about who you are no matter what color, shape or size.

Oh yes… how can I forget one small incident that happened to me here in US. This was when me and hubs were in New Jersey. One evening we went to the nearby gym to enroll ourselves, while the girl was explaining about the facilities, classes and stuff, I politely interrupted and inquired whether they offer any massage services (I saw a room that looked like a massage room). To which she said they still haven’t started but they do offer tanning services. Then she looked at me and said “ohh you dont need one, you already have a beautiful color”. How ironic huh? The people here want brown/dark skin like us and we Indians want fair porcelain skin like them. Although I am well aware that this issue is not only in India but in US as well as other countries.

All I want to convey is, we should not be judging someone solely based on their appearance. Being good- looking and fair skinned doesn’t make someone a good person. What ultimately counts is how much of a human you are with human like emotions of love, empathy and compassion.

Appearances can be deceiving but the true beauty only reflects in one’s soul.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Saumya.

Things to do in Austin – Part 1

I am really excited to start with this new section on the blog on “Things to do in Austin”(Texas). If you are someone who recently moved to Austin (like us) or a person who is already here and looking for fun and adventurous stuff to do, this post (and many more to come) might be of some help to you. 
Trust me on this…..your weekends will never be boring if you are in Austin. There is so much to do, so much to see and so much to eat 🙂 …… We (me and hubby) never had so much fun when we were in New Jersey. Well i am not sure whether it was because of hubby’s busy schedule or because we were just plain lazy to get out and explore. But things have definitely changed a lot (for good) after moving to Austin. 
Life here is easy, laid back and relaxed. People are super friendly, warm and outdoorsy. We are definitely enjoying our lives here to the fullest….knock on wood!!!!
Ahhhhh….there are soooo many things to do. One of them is water biking. Sounds interesting, right? It is indeed a lot of fun. 
Water bikes are nothing but a hybrid form of bicycle kayaks, which is absolutely safe and fun for all.  If you want to enjoy the evening watching the sunset against the backdrop of the beautiful lady bird lake and the austin skyline just hop onto one of the water bikes and enjoy. Did i mention this is also a really fun form of exercise? 😛

We opted for a bat tour (which apparently is a popular tourist attraction) to watch thousands and millions of little mexican free tailed bats take flight after sunset from the congress avenue bridge in search of food. Once you are under the bridge, you will also hear the squeaking noise of the bats hiding under the crevices of the bridge. It was some experience to see these tiny creatures fill up the sky.

Special mention to our tour guide, sorry i forgot his name…… he was a really nice guy, gave us a lot of info about austin, the downtown and about the bats of course.

Sharing the pics (clicked from hubby’s HTC One) from our fun filled evening. There were few snaps of the bats flying but i am unable to find them… 🙁

Austin Downtown Backdrop 

All set to go 

Off i go…..Yeeyyyy

So have you booked for one already? 😛 …All you have to do is check on the website austinwaterbikes.com for the services and make a call. There are many options like day time tour, sunset tour, family tour, bat tour etc. The pricing and all the details are given on the website.  You can also check if there are any deals available on groupons like we did. If you have a groupon all you have to do is buy the groupon, show up at the given address(with the groupon), sign a waiver and you are all set.
Enjoy. 

Disclaimer: This blogpost is purely my idea to share our fun experiences in Austin with everyone. I was not paid for writing this post nor was i requested by anyone for advertising. 

The Skies of Austin never seizes to amaze me

There is nothing as beautiful as nature and our mother earth.
I am sooooo thankful to technology (i bet all of you are), else all the beauty that we encounter in our day to day lives will only be captured in our memories. Untouched and unshared. That would have been really sad.

So i thought why not share the beauty of Austin through my eyes. 
In this post i will be sharing the beauty of the sky in Austin, Texas clicked from my Samsung Galaxy S3 (some of them were edited on instagram). 
Hope You enjoy.

Amazing sky during sunset…….clicked from the parking area of the gym

Double Rainbow…….i just left what i was eating and ran outside to click this
This beautiful sunset was clicked….(if i am not mistaken) from the parking area of Walmart

My Favorite……this was clicked from our balcony…..