Monday, March 28, 2011

LA revisited (March 5, 2010 to March 8, 2010)

I stepped in LA when I came to USA for the very first time. So I always loved the place. I spend almost 3 years with my family before we moved to the Bay area in July 2010. After coming to the Bay area I always wanted to visit LA at least for few days. I wanted to visit my old apartment and my friends. My husband I made a plan in our mind to go to LA within March of this year.
In the month of February on a Sunday afternoon when we were in library, Pritha, one of my friends called me and requested me to attend her baby shower party. I told her that I would let her know later. I told about that to my husband because it was absolutely dependent on him. At last my husband were able to manage leave for two days. First we could not decide whether we should go by road or go by air. I wanted to go by road but my husband wanted to go by air. Then I agreed with him because if we would go by road he had to drive as he did not relied on me to drive on freeway for a long time.
Our scheduled flight was on 9:45 in the morning on Saturday, 5th, from SFO airport. We decided to start from home at 7am in the morning. So I woke up 4:30 in the morning. According to our plan I made some sandwiches for our morning snacks. Then I finished rest of the packing. It was already 5:30 that time. My son didn’t want to wake up early. He just wanted to sleep more and asked us to go. Anyway we hurriedly got ready. When we stared for airport, it was 7:10 in the morning. First we went to Red Roof Inn hotel to keep our car there. We were dropped at airport from there. The SFO airport was not at all crowded. We smoothly checked in and went to security check line. My son was not at all willing to remove his jacket and shoes. He protested heavily. Everybody was laughing at his act. Everything was very smooth. This was the first time we travelled by plane hassle-free. We reached LAX airport at 11:10 in the morning. When we stepped out from the airport I became very nostalgic. I stepped in USA for the first time in my life in this very airport. It reminded me, my first feeling after reaching USA. My husband and I started reminiscing our feelings that time. Anyway after finishing some of our pre planned work we went to my friend Sharmistha’s home. As per my wish Sharmistha made some delicious South Indian dishes. To my delight she also added a sweet cold drink. That time we were too hungry and enjoyed the meal very much. We met after almost one year and chatted for a long time. At last my husband reminded me that we had to go Amit’s (another friend) house.  I watched my old apartment from outside. I felt like going inside. Around 6 o’clock in the evening we reached their home. Amit’s wife Payel is a very good friend of mine. We became very happy after seeing each other after a long time. We chatted for a long time. Ours sons played for some time. Then Payel’s son Ankush went to play with his friend. My son was very tired after a long day. He had his dinner and went to bed. When Ankush came back home my son was already sleeping. He was disappointed a little. Payel insisted him to have dinner. After much request Ankush agreed to have dinner. Payel and Amit tried hard for a long time to make Ankush have some foods but they failed. Ankush always wanted to watch fights or ghost in the television while having food. Unfortunately that time in none of those channels in TV was showing either fights or ghosts. Anyway after that we sat for having dinner. Payel cooked many fabulous dishes; among them were crab, prawn and mutton. My husband who is foodie became very happy. After eating too much my husband and Amit decided to take a walk to digest the food. J Payel and I again started chatting while we were making bed. Ankush was insisting to sleep beside my son. But no one had been listening to him for a long time. At last Payel agreed and allowed him. He lied beside my son for few moments and became satisfied. We went to bed early as all of us were tired.
On Sunday afternoon we went to Pritha’s baby shower party. Pritha was looking dazzling in her attires. We enjoyed the party a lot. My son became very cranky as he did not like the crowd. My husband went to meet his friend, so he was not there. After coming back he took our son with him so that I could sit in peace. The foods were extremely delicious. The party ended around 5 in the evening. Then we came back to Payel’s house. Our next destination was Sourav’s house in Lake Forest. Sourav is my husband’s college friend. He and his wife Shwali have a daughter, named Toree who is a year younger than my son. We reached their house around 8:30 at night. I was extremely tired. After both the children went to bed we relaxed for some time. At 10 o’clock at night we sat at the dinner table, I had no appetite at all. Still I ate. We had chatted for a long time before we went to bed.
The weather was very bad in the morning. Besides being cloudy, it was also windy and cold. We could not think about going out. Whole day we were chatting with mouth-watering foods and the two kids were our great entertainment. We had a plan to visit one of our common friend’s house. But unfortunately they had not been keeping well. So we dropped that plan. In the evening none other than Sourav became very impatient and wanted to go out. Then we went out for a ride and bought dinner from an Indian restaurant.
Tuesday was very sunny and the weather was very pleasant. But there was no scope for enjoying as we would be travelling back .Our schedule flight was at 2:45 in the afternoon.  We started from their home at 10:45. We reached airport without any hassles. My son was again not willing to remove his jacket and cap. We reached SFO at 4:00 in the evening. That was the end of our fun filled LA visit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Christmas holidays (2010)

The Christmas holidays of 2010 was little different. One of my husband’s friends Sourav came to visit us with his wife Shwali and their daughter Toree. The plan was made few months back for this time. Both the families were anticipating for this time. They came to our place on 24th of December.

24th December was a hectic day for us. We needed to wrap many our pending jobs, mainly changing the tires of our car. We had to spend a lot of time to get the tire change done at Wal-Mart. Then we rushed to the grocery shop to buy something. As soon as I entered home I went to kitchen. In the meantime Sourav called and told they were going to reach within one and a half hours. It was 1:30 in the afternoon then. Like a machine I finished all my work and my husband went to cook the chicken. Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon when they reached our home my husband was still cooking then. Initially my son didn’t want to play with his daughter. After sometime he became used to with her and they started enjoying. The screaming, crying, shouting and laughter of them were a great entertainment to the grown-ups like us. After reaching  Sourav was eager to go out. After much discussion we decided to go and see Christmas in the park in San Jose. When we started from home it was already late and it was dark outside. Still we went there. It was a great shock when we reached there. I had never seen such a crowd in  USA since I started living here. It seemed that people were flowing through the street. We started searching in vain a space to park our car. Shwali and I gave up after a while but my husband and his friend was not willing to do that. Sourav was driving through all the nearby streets for 2-3 times without success. At last Shwali and I suggested going back home after 8 o’clock. After a while Sourav half-heartedly agreed to return home. That was the end of our Christmas Eve outing.  After returning home we had a great dinner with Bengali food. Sourav, Shwali and their little one were too tired of 5 hours driving from LA to our place so we went to bed instead of chatting late night.

We had a great plan on 25th December. But we were not sure whether we could be able to go according to our plans because of the weather. From 24th night it had been raining heavily. On 25th afternoon we had lunch in a Bengali restaurant. The foods were delicious. That was a great time though it was raining outside. Sourav was adamant to go to Half moon Bay after lunch. All of us told him that it would not be possible to go there in heavy rain. Still Sourav started driving towards Half Moon Bay. However at last he abandoned the plan halfway as it became hard to drive in the heavy rain. Without any other options we came back home. After coming home we watched a comedy movie for a while. Then all of us went to another friend’s place for dinner. We had a great dinner with biryani, mutton and sweets. We chatted about our college life. It was great fun to chat. We came back home around 12:00.

Tower bridge over Sacramento River

The weather was much better on 26th December. We started next morning for Sacramento. I had never been to Sacramento before. The main attractions of Sacramento are the museums. I love to visit museums as I always have interest to know the history. However this time I was not interested to go there. The main reason behind that I always need much time to visit each and everything very thoroughly. But I knew, no one; especially my son was not going to give me time to do that. For Sourav and my husband the main attraction was to have lunch in a Punjabi restaurant in Dixon. From the beginning of the journey Sourav was anticipating to have lunch there. After having lunch in that restaurant all of us became very satisfied and we started our journey again towards Sacramento. In the afternoon we reached the Tower Bridge over Sacramento River. Crossing the bridge, first we went to Crocker Art Museum. When we reached there an African Festival was going on. The museum which was founded by Judge E.B. Crocker had a great collection of many old master pieces as well as contemporary arts. I started watching every painting very carefully but we hadn’t much time in our hand and we left the museum and went to our hotel, Holiday Inn. One painting put a deep impression in my mind. I forgot the name of the artist due to my blunt memory. Still I can see the painting when I close my eyes. It was a huge painting of an old man who was eventually that artist’s father. In the painting each and every minute things including the wrinkles in the face, each and every hair were depicted. Seven long years were taken to finish the painting. That was the end of my Crocker Museum visit. Then in the night we went to Old Sacramento to see ‘Holiday Theater of Lights Performance’. That was a grand show. The history of Sacramento was told through light and sound effects. As if Mark Twain was describing the history. It was too cold and we were shivering. Just after finishing we immediately came back to the hotel. After coming back my husband and Sourav became mad for wine. They went to buy that. Then we had our dinner with pizza and wine, though I didn’t had wine. Again we started chatting about our college life. Going down the memory lane is always fun and very refreshing.

Holiday Theater of Lights at Old Sacramento

Next Morning we had our breakfast in the hotel and went to Sacramento Railroad museum. After reaching there when my husband and Sourav were busy to park the car in the right position, Shawli and I started walking towards the museum. Shwali wanted to call Sourav and that time in her horror she realized that the mobile phone was not in her bag. Then Sourav immediately called the hotel and requested them to keep the phone. Then we went to the museum. With 21 meticulously restored locomotives and cars the museum illustrated how railroads have shaped people's lives, the economy, and the unique culture of California and the Western America. We saw a Pullman-style sleeping car, a dining car filled with extremely fine eye catching railroad china, and a Railway Post Office that we actually stepped aboard. When I was watching the dining car I was longing to have  some old exotic china like those. I wanted to enjoy that great museum with my husband. As usual my little devil became very cranky and he was not willing to stay there.

Sacramento Railroad museum

Exotic Railroad China

Suddenly I became very angry and I wanted to see the museum alone. I was so angry I didn’t speak to anybody for a long time. I didn’t even eat anything. From there we went to Twin peaks of SFO directly. Still I was angry and I didn’t get out from the car. Then we went to Ghirardelli square as Sourav wanted to buy Ghirardelli chocolates. We faced problem parking  the car there, the usual problem in SFO. Sourav faced difficulty to park his car in a small space. A gentle man was passing through there and he helped a lot to park the car. With his fine instructions Sourav could easily park the car in a small space. After spending sometime there we came back home. After coming back I cooked the dinner. Around 10 o’ clock at night our friend Dipu and Juni came to our place to visit us because on the next day Sourav and his family was going to go back. That was the end of our fun filled Christmas holidays.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Paradise on Earth

During my schooldays I cherished reading travel stories. I used to read a Bengali magazine in which I once read about Hawaii. I often used to see the pictures of Hawaii in that magazine and during those days I came to knew about the historical Hula dance of Hawaii and the famous word ‘ALOHA’. Even in my wildest dream I never thought I could visit there and could feel the experience of the amazing beauty of Hawaii. In my childhood I never had opportunities to visit any places. After I had grown up and started working I visited a few places in India.

The opportunity came in the year 2009. After a long vacation in India when I came back to USA my husband told me about his plan to visit Hawaii. Initially I was not willing to go with my small baby however my husband insisted me a lot and lastly I agreed to go. If that time I hadn’t agreed I really would have missed the experience of the paradise on the earth. Soon my husband started planning for the trip. I didn’t pay much attention in the planning that time. I was also unaware about the promotion of Hawaii trip by AAA. One Saturday in the month of July my husband took me to AAA office to make all the arrangements for the trip. All arrangements were made by them.

On our way to hotel

At Humpback Whale point

Pacific ocean in the evening

The cool breeze of the Pacific in the morning

Somewhere on the beaches

Sunset from Lahaina Hotel

 Luau Dance

The Rainbow Eucalyptus

Calm Pacific

                             The Rough ocean

The Black Sand beach

Seven Sacred Pools

Sunrise at Haleakela

Iolani Palace

Our plan was for 6 days, 3 days in Maui Island and 2 days in Oahu Island. I did all the packing on 27th July for next day’s journey. On 28th July we started our journey early in the morning. Our flight was at 7:00 in the morning. One of my husband’s friends dropped us at LAX airport. It was a busy Tuesday morning. With many bags, long queue, stroller and a small baby we had a very difficult time.  After sitting in the plane I got a great relief. We had a little bit of food. It was a six hours journey. My son didn’t make much trouble during the journey. He was sleeping most of the times.

In the afternoon we reached Kahului airport in Maui Island. The airport was just like any other airport in the USA, only a bit smaller. I was anticipating buying garland of Plumier or Orchid flowers. When I found those garlands outside the airport I was tempted to buy one, but those were too costly. I suppressed my desire. That time my son was only 9 months old. Seeing such a small baby everybody asked me his age. After doing all formalities we took our rented car from the airport rental center and headed towards our hotel. When I stepped out from the airport I felt I came to a very different place. Everywhere people greeted us saying ‘ALOHA’. The splendid natural beauty made me think of paradise on earth. My childhood longing to see Hawaii became true. However my son made me realize that I was on earth not paradise by his cry. Actually he used to hate his car seat and we faced a tough time to make him sit in the car seat. He compelled me to take him in my arms in the car. I was scared of police and was thinking how fast we could reach the resort. On our way to resort we got down at the humpback whale point. The cool breeze of the pacific brushed on our face.  After a long journey the fresh cool breeze made our spirits high.

Reaching hotel was a story. We lost our way coming very near to the hotel. We came to Lower Honoapiilani Road and as we reached the resort, Hotel Papake,my husband told me that wasn’t our hotel so he turned his car into another road. After proceeding for sometime he realized that we were going in the wrong direction, so again we came back. When at last we entered our beautiful condo in the resort we didn’t know that time that more surprises were waiting for us. First we just saw everything in our room and we decided that after our lunch we would explore the nearby areas on that day. In a happy mood I went to open the suitcase and I asked my husband the number of the lock. What he told was not working. We tried in vain many combinations of numbers. I didn’t know whether I would be scared or get  angry or something else. My husband then went to reception of the hotel to ask for help. A guy came with a screw driver and opened our suitcase rather broke it. That was my favorite suitcase. At that time it was already 3 in the afternoon so we decided having snacks instead of lunch. At 5 in the evening we went to a nearby store to buy some grocery as we planned to cook our food in the hotel. Then we went outside to explore the nearby area. It started getting dark so we decided to return. While coming back to the hotel room, we stopped at the reception to get any suggestions for planning our tour as we didn’t have any idea how to start our journey. They suggested attending the next day’s complimentary breakfast and tour guidance.

Our resort was just in front of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately we didn’t get any ocean view room. Anyways in the evening we went to sit near the sea side, when the sun was just setting. The serene beauty of the dusk made me completely breathless. I captured the beauty of that enormous orange ball of flame in the lens of my eyes. Still I can see the beauty when I recollect it by closing my eyes. It was cold so we came back to the room.

Next day in the morning we went to the beach for the breakfast and tour guidance. The cold breeze from the calm Pacific in the morning, the soft sun, the purity of the nature made me poetic. I wanted to spend the whole morning just strolling in the beach. During the breakfast the local guide explained about the sights and the activities in Maui. After the session my husband asked him for suggestion. He suggested us an excellent plan. He told us to enjoy the Luau dance that night. According to his suggestion, we decided to go to Hana next day and Haleakela national park day after the next day. So there were no such activities before evening on that day. In the afternoon after lunch we decided to explore the beaches. Inside the car my son fell asleep so we couldn’t sit on the beaches but took a drive along the sea shore. The blue sky above, bluish green sea down, the cool breeze and the bright sun made a perfect romantic environment. We drove along the Kapalua, Kanapali, Lahaina, Kihei beaches. In the evening we went to Hotel Lahaina to see the historic Hula, about which I read in my childhood. Hula is a dance form accompanied by chant or song which was developed in the Hawaii by the Polynesians who originally settled there, who came from New Zealand and the nearby islands. This hula is the traditional way of celebrating everything in Hawaii. That was a new experience to us. We were welcomed with seashell garlands. It was an open air party. The sunset, Hawaiian dinner and the spectacular dance created a mystical environment. However it was very difficult for us to sit for a long time with a little baby. So I couldn’t enjoy the evening as per my expectation. But the night was very different.


On 30th July early morning we got ready to take the bus tour for Road to Hana. I read about road to Hana, but I couldn’t imagine how scenic and scary the road was. The road consists of over 52 narrow bridges and 620 hair pin curves. The local guide advised us not to take our own car rather to take a bus tour. When the bus entered in the dense forest we realized we did the right thing by listening to the local guide. The road was so narrow that two vehicles were having tough time to cross each other. The Hana rainforest was comprised of mainly bamboo trees which is the fastest growing tree in the world. I was completely blown away by the beauty of the forest. I visited many national forests in western part of the USA. However I found all of them more or less same, to some extent barren except Yosemite. This Hana rain forest was totally different from the others. I could feel that the beauty was totally different. The wild beauty of the lash greenery didn’t show that how dangerous it could be.  Our journey started with the beautiful Waialua waterfalls. Our tour guide showed a beautiful eucalyptus tree with multicolored stump named ‘Rainbow Eucalyptus’, which I had never seen before.  The road at times went through the high mountains and sometimes just along the sea shore. It was very thrilling when we were passing through the dense jungle where sunlight couldn’t reach. When we were passing the sea beaches that was again different experience. The three colors of the water could be distinguishable. The color near the shore was grey, then greenish blue and lastly deep blue in the middle. The beauty was awesome. We passed the Puohokamoa Falls, Haipua’ena Falls, beaches like Hamoa and later we reached the Black Sand beach. Though it was called Black Sand, it was not actually sand. Those were small black pebbles which were formed long ago from lava. The tranquil small clam beach was covered by mountains from every side.  We sat there for sometime before the journey started again. We reached one beach and it was very turbulent. I was just wondering that within a small distance how could be the nature of the ocean change.  Sometime later we reached Hana town where we had our lunch. A local singer sang their local song. Then again our journey started through the thick jungle. We reached another falls; there we saw all local people were selling goods. I wanted to mention about local people because they were all original Polynesians who were the native people of Hawaii. Then our journey started towards seven sacred pools. This series of lovely waterfalls and tranquil pools trails through the O'heo Gulch and flows into the ocean nearby.  There was a small beautiful trail to reach the pools. My husband wanted to swim there, but my son started sleeping so he dropped that idea.  When my son was sleeping I went to the pools, then after coming back again all of us went there. We saw the Virgin Mary shrine. End of the pools the road was quite different, it looked barren and desert was seen. We could see the lava rocks and dried grass. During the journey somewhere, I forgot the place there was a church in the small valley surrounded by mountains. We were told that couples came to that church to get married. That’s craziness of the rich people. At the end of our journey we reached at the Rose Ranch winery. I was delighted to taste wine. But I was refused as I couldn’t show my identity. Did I look so young at that time? Anyway that was the end of our journey. This was a lifetime experience. If I get chance again, I’ll again go there to feel the experience.

Our next plan was to see the sunrise in Haleakela Mountains. According to our plan we started our journey towards Haleakela next day at 2 o’clock in the morning with our sleeping baby. That time it was so dark that we couldn’t see the road properly. The mountain road was very narrow with gorge on the side. We reached on top around 4 in the morning. There were very few people when we reached. The temperature was most probably subzero at that time, moreover it was too much windy. I felt like the wind was biting us. I went inside the watch tower with my sleeping baby and my husband sat with camera outside the watch tower. It was too cold to stand and no place to sit. I became very impatient and was thinking when the sun would show the face. Then the sky started changing to red. The color started gradually increasing.  The red color was coming slowly behind the mountains into the dark sky and it made a heavenly feeling. Slowing the sky was becoming clearer and clearer. Then suddenly the orange red ball popped out behind the mountains. That bright light suddenly illuminated the earth. That experience I would cherish whole of my life. While coming back to resort we had our breakfast at Mac Donald. After reaching the hotel we started getting ready for our next journey to Oahu.

At 4 o’clock we left the resort and went to airport to catch the 6 o’clock flight to Oahu. The hassles that we faced in the airport were beyond our expectations.  When we went to board we were told that the flight was half an hour delay. That half an hour delay stretched to six hour delay. Finally the flight took off at 12 o’clock midnight, which took just 20 minutes to reach Honolulu airport in Oahu.  It was extremely frustrating. After getting down at airport we didn’t receive the hotel car service due to our arrival long after 11o’clock at night. My husband had a tough time to get a taxi. At last we reach the Hotel Hyatt at 1:30 in the morning. We went to bed at 2 o’clock. It was our plan to take the complimentary breakfast at the hotel but none of us could get up before 7 in the morning. Anyway we took a bus tour to Pearl Harbor. We saw Oahu Church of Christ, Iolani palace which was the only royal palace on the US soil and the seat of the Hawaiian government and subsequent Territory and State of Hawaii. Though we went to saw The USS Arizona memorials in Pearl Harbor, I wasn’t happy to see that, because of the history behind it. This memorial, built over the hull of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, commemorated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the US into Second World War. After coming back from the tour we went to take a walk along the Waikiki beach. Then in the evening when we went to eat out most of the shops were already closed. Anyways we bought a beach wear for my son and ate Mahi Mahi fish. This was the special fish in Hawaii.

USS Arizona Memorial(Pearl Harbor)

Honolulu Skyline

On way back-- Sunset from plane

Next morning we again went to Waikiki beach to stroll for some time and then we came back to our hotel to get ready for going back to LA.

N.B: My special thanks to my best friend