New York In Snapshots

I happened to be in the big apple right around Christmas time for work and decided to sneak in a day or two for myself since it was a regular weekend and the time was just about right. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have always been fascinated with the idea of solo travel and I was extremely serious after I read (this) article back in June 2016 about the companies catering to solo travelers. If the idea of solo travel does not intimidate you then consider it at least once in your lifetime, I promise you will love it. 

There isn’t much about New York City that is subtle – it boasts vibrant architecture, world-class art, fashion and entertainment, snarling traffic, and a rich and radical history infused with the tradition of immigration that endures today. For me, food, shopping, art, and architecture is enough to keep my active mind entertained. I started my two-day journey by exploring the hidden designer boutiques in the cobblestone streets of SOHO in lower manhattan. This is where I stayed due to the safety factor and a hotel that came with a very high recommendation – NOMO SOHO. I mainly traveled by the yellow cab and Uber if I needed to go to mid-town. The weather was in lower 40’s and windy but that has nothing to do when the mission is to hit stores like Opening Ceremony, Reformation, the two storied Zara and eateries like ilily and Jack’s wife Frieda which was literally two blocks from my hotel. If you were following me on Instagram then you might have already seen it on my Insta-stories and photos.

Below is my photo diary if you’d like to see more photos – 

NYC from sky

NYC from above the sky

Taxi ride from La Guardia to Lower Manhattan

My ride from apt to hotel and the Nepalese taxi driver with a graduate degree who chose to ride the taxi in Manhattan as opposed to his friends who are working in white collar jobs in his home country because he makes more money riding the taxi. Shocking for me!

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The hotel entrance – LOVE

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View from the balcony.

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Outside of NOMO SOHO

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The “honest” sign outside Reformation store. I had to buy a woolen scarf in the very first 15 minutes of being outside in NYC because my fancy silk scarf wasn’t helping. The cold is severe anywhere in the world especially when you are from Houston.

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The street outside the hotel with beautiful red brick buildings.

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On my way to breakfast at Jack’s Wife Frieda.

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Captured from taxi

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Another random capture

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Mid-town

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The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This is the closest you can get to it.

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It is the biggest Christmas tree in NYC and the sight is breathtaking.

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Inside St. Patrick’s Cathedra, a prominent landmark of NYC.

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The light show.

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Off Times Square

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Being one with the crowd and the energy is contagious. I was walking from the big zara to ilili restaurant for their famous Brussels sprouts.

I’m not a big fan of quick vacations but a long 5-6 day yoga retreat is on my bucket list of 2017 if I’m lucky enough. Solo travel is like a dream when you work long hours and you have a 7-year-old kid with infinite activities and never-ending homework. But if you show up with gifts for your kid and hubby when you return home then the amount of guilt is a bit less (wink).

Have you traveled solo or taken any trips alone? I would love to hear your experience.

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India In Snapshots

Confining an entire country in one blog post is a difficult task. There is so much more to this colorful country that there are blogs dedicated to it. For this particular blogpost, I have simply focused on the everyday life and random shots of people that I was able to capture on my iPhone. Yeap, just iPhone. So, if you are looking for best cities to visit and best places to eat with high resolution fancy images, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Sit back and simply scroll through each photo where I have tried to describe each moment that was captured on my phone.

Food is the main business here!

From home cooked food by my mom to fancy “must visit” restaurant recommendations from friends, I experienced it all. Starting with the interior of a Chai Shop located inside Grand Hyatt Hotel that stood out amongst infinite restaurants and cafe’s that I visited during my two-month long trip. The interior reminded me so much of my childhood days. Apparently, chai cafe’s are the latest trend in my city!

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One “Ispecial” Tulsi Orange Mojito for me please!!

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Milk cans as a part of interior decor sure is a great idea! I haven’t seen them since 80’s..

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I love railway chai, especially when it is available inside a luxury hotel.

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“Insert emoji with heart eyes” for those red tins and that pretty bangle stand that my grandma used to have.

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I can’t wait to go back to this chai shop!

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At BBQ Nation! Highly recommend!

Street snacking!
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Street food that I tried hesitently – Panipuri. My cousin dragged me saying this is a “healthy version you will be fine and you will thank me later”. I do.

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I dragged my husband to this place where they make delicious lentil fritters.

Colors are everywhere!

Bright colors are a general norm here. You can see them pretty much everywhere from clothes, to houses to jewelry.

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While shopping for hubs traditional outfit at a store called Jade Blue. Apparently the outfit he chose was named after our current President – “Modi Kurta”.

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The Pink Palace or the Hawa Mahal in “The Pink City” Jaipur, Rajasthan.

If you would like to know more about this beautiful city of Jaipur, click here to see the vlog by Aimee Song from Song of Style. She is the coolest fashion and travel blogger in the world in my opinion. 

Kankaria Lake

Would you believe I grew up around this lake, I have so many memories of this lake.

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A colorful place called “Rani no Hajiro”.

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That one time when I had my DSLR!

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India and its lovely people!
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A business that has been passed on from generations!

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Stunning architecture in the very same old city of Ahmedabad!

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The man in the white dress and a turban is a Rabari; I like to call them Indian cowboys!

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I don’t know what but I loved something about this lady driving this scooter with a sidecar! My mom or aunts would probably not drive but did she give a damn?? I like that attitude!

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I was street shopping on linking road in Mumbai after my amazing panipuri experience and this guy was more than happy to pose for the camera. BTW he sold me a fab off-the-shoulder top for 250 Indian Rupees after bargaining, that is $5. Yes, just 5 dollars!

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Captured while I was Ubering from my in-law’s house to my mom’s house. These ladies were surprised that I want to take their pics.

Some serious shopping!
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Inside a silk saree showroom! My mother-in-law was like a kid in a candy store here and my daughter enjoyed goofing around a pile of sarees. I also snagged two pure silk scarves for myself (wink).

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I loved seeing fashionable Indian girls street shopping and how they wear these accessories with their modern outfits creating a fusion look.

Animals kept us entertained!
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This is totally normal!

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Spot the cow!

Home!
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High rise residential apartments in Mumbai and a typical rainy morning! And, an invisible cup of masala chai that I enjoyed while watching people’s everyday life…. such as school going kids in khaki uniform, milkman, maids rushing to finish their work, morning joggers and a group of health conscious ladies probably going to their trendy fitness clubs.

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Another view from my balcony.

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I am inside an artist’s loft where my sister-in-law works with two of her partners. There was art in every piece.

 

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View from my house terrace.

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A giant frangipani tree in my mom’s house. My daughter loved collecting the flowers that would drop from the tree and making a beautiful hawaiian garland out of it.

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we are on our way back home! Safe and sound!

These two months were amazing, inspiring, emotional and tiring. It is common to come across outrageous wealth and astonishing poverty here. Making no excuses for theirs being a country of such extremes, Indians are in equal turns relaxed and vivacious and enjoy life to the fullest. 

We traveled by airplanes, buses, trains, taxis, scooter, auto rickshaws, and chauffeur driven cars. Traveling is stressful for a 7-year-old child but my daughter was extremely understanding; I can already see my future travel buddy in her! These are some amazing memories we will carry with us forever! 

Until next time, Adios!

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Dubai in Snapshots

You may call this a travel guide if you like, but I feel that there is so much more to this city that “Dubai in Snapshots” seems to be the most suitable title. 

So, it has been pretty long since I posted anything to my blog. I can go on and on about various reasons that kept me busy but instead of all that let’s just get to the good stuff. Those of you who follow me on social media know that I visited Dubai with my family this summer. In few words I can summarize the entire Dubai experience as “breathtaking, beautiful and homely”. Homely because my husband grew up in Dubai and I have lived in Dubai for a month in 2003 before migrating to the States. 

Although there is a plethora of activities to do and places to visit, below are my top 5 must-visit places in Dubai whether you are traveling solo, with your friends or with children. These are the places you should not miss –

Burj Khalifa

Desert Safari

Dubai Mall

Burj Al Arab

Dubai Marina

Here are some of the snapshots of the city of bling – 

We started our morning in Dubai with delicious brunch at one of the corner restaurants with this beautiful view from where we sat. We stayed in downtown exactly parallel to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. Our hotel was Al-Murooj Rotana and was a five-star hotel with amenities and hospitality that could surpass all the five-star hotels in the States. We got a great deal due to their Ramadan month, much less than what you would normally pay in U.S. I highly recommend this place as it is in the center of the city and walking distance to the Dubai Mall.

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We were scheduled for desert safari on the very first day and had no idea what we were in for. I did not get a chance to get a picture of the dune bash but this is how it works – one of the drivers from the desert safari team picks your group from your hotel and takes you right into the desert. These drivers are trained to drive in the desert and perform stunts. It was like a real life roller coaster, at one point I felt like I was in a James Bond movie. The whole experience was thrilling and my 7-year old had a blast! Once we reached the middle of the desert they gave us time to take pictures and all other activities such as camel ride, horse ride, desert mobile etc. followed by live performances by several different artists and belly dancers and a delicious dinner. All in the middle of the desert!

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I asked him to give me a good pose and said I am going to put it up on the internet for thousands of people to see. He was more than happy to pose for me and said write good stuff about Dubai. How amazing and what a nice guy!

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Of course, you can’t miss the iconic 7-star hotel Burj-Al-Arab. I highly recommend the high tea there if your budget allows you. We mainly did sightseeing on the Jumeirah beach followed by sightseeing on the palm which is known as the man-made island then Dubai marina, and Sheikh’s palace.

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I love this picture of me and my daughter sitting on top of the world (well it’s the tallest structure in the world) and hearing all about her dreams and her silly ideas!

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Can you see the details in the ceiling? They were simply beautiful!

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Dubai Marina night view – taken while enjoying dinner on one of the dhow cruises. It’s a 2-3 hour cruise where they provide dinner and entertainment, but we mostly loved the night view. 

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The picture above is taken while crossing Dubai creek in the old town. We were on our way to the Gold Souk.

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That’s me getting some shopping done and blowing my hubby’s bank balance at the Gold Souk. Now, don’t blame me if I buy me 22K gold jewelry. You just don’t bring your lady to the Gold Souk if you don’t let her shop some baubles! Am I right?

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I loved seeing American stores in Dubai and there were so many of them. I also loved the ones that catered to the locals there because that is where I would find unique designs that you would normally not find in the U.S. or in India.

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During this 5-day trip, I met so many different people and heard all about their journeys and how they ended up in Dubai. It was a great experience! One specific person I will always remember is the beautiful lady who sat beside me in our hotel lobby on our very last day. She was breathtakingly beautiful with beautiful gray eyes and silky long auburn hair; wish I had taken a selfie with her. She was in her late 30’s and had migrated from Iran 10 years back and I still remember her words “I will never leave Dubai, at-least not completely. I’ll always have some business here; it’s a land of opportunity! This city has given me so much more than I could ever imagine. Do you read in the newspaper about its massive growth? I’d be a fool to give it all up if I go back”.

Well, I couldn’t agree more! I might as well have to keep taking stopovers here whenever I go to India!

Thanks for coming on this virtual trip with me! Hope you liked it.

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