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Happy Diwali from San Diego

We had one of our big Diwali celebrations in San Diego on October 15, 2016.  It was the Festival of Lights held at Balboa Park.  It was a fantastic event, yet again.  This year it was special, because as well as dancing, we had singing, and there was a world-class singer who entertained us, so it was truly magnificent.  His name is Aditya Rao, and apparently he has won several awards, and has appeared in several videos like the one below:

Here he is performing at Balboa Park, and he’s also seen in this video that I made

Here is a video that shows the lighting of the lamps display, and the women carrying the lamps during the lamp parade.

Here is a video showing Punjabi music and specifically, Bhangra at the Festival Of Lights….spectacular!

 

Here are more photos showing Aditya Rao, and the performances that he was part of.

 

 

Here are some other pictures taken at Festival Of Lights

These are the lamps on display.  I have never taken pictures of the lamps before as I always get a seat, and never venture towards the lamps, but this year I did, and I’m glad!

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

Here are some of the other performances

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

One of Aditya Rao again, with the main presenter

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

Here’s little Chandra having fun!

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

This is Aditya Rao standing with the main organizers and this is just prior to the Indian Anthem being sung

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

President Barack Obama graced Diwali at Balboa Park with his presence, even though it was just on screen.  He wished us a Happy Diwali!  This was ever so nice, just to see President Obama in Balboa Park!

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

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Festival Of Lights, Balboa Park, San Diego – October 15, 2016

I really love going to the Festival Of Lights, as I enjoy seeing the performances, seeing Balboa Park again, seeing the stage graced by beautiful dances in clothes that sparkle, and then of course the lights tinkle!  I also enjoy eating the Indian food that is available from many of the vendors who participate in Festival Of Lights.  This year I got samosas, chicken saag and rice, and gulab jamun – that was two trays of food for me and Chandra, which included passion fruit juice for her and a nice cup of Pumpkin Spice Chai that cost just $9.  You can’t beat that price!

I hope you enjoyed my pictures of the Festival Of Lights, and I hope you all have a truly beautiful Diwali.  May light conquer over darkness, may good prevail over evil, and may we all experience peace, joy and prosperity on Diwali, and in the year ahead.  Happy Diwali!

Christmas At The Venetian

The Venetian is my favorite resort and hotel in Las Vegas.  I absolutely love it, and have only stayed there once.  Every time I go to Vegas, I want to stay there, but sadly price wise…I have to stay away.  I wonder how packages from the UK are so affordable to other countries, including to the USA, yet we can’t seem to get any bargains like this from here?  For instance, my sister just booked a trip to the USA where she stayed 4 days in New York, and 4 days in Las Vegas (during this summer). Her hotel in New York was the Marriott Marquis right in Times Square, and her accommodation in Las Vegas was the Venetian.  Her price for the trip was £1,000 UK pounds per person (for a family of four), and this includes airfare and hotel cost.  When I flew to the UK in 2014 (in the summer) it cost me $1,500 per person (for a family of four), and this did not include the cost of hotels.  I am so jealous, ‘cos I want to stay at the Venetian for four days!  However, since it’s my sister….I’m happy she is staying at one of the best places in Las Vegas.

Last time I wrote in May about Las Vegas, I told you I would include pictures of inside the Venetian, so here we go.  Sorry, it has taken me such a long time to get around to it.  I even fit one more trip to Las Vegas since Christmas  – this summer – not the same time as my sister unfortunately, and I did not stay at the Venetian 😦 .  Here are the pictures that include Christmas inside the Venetian, and some that were taken this summer.  Oh, and the gelato – it’s absolutely delicious!  Incase you are wondering, Christmas is a great time to be in Las Vegas, and especially at the Venetian.

 

 

Christmas Eve In Las Vegas

I’ve spent New Year in Las Vegas, and summer in Las Vegas, but not Christmas in Las Vegas, so last Christmas we tried it, and we liked it!

There are less crowds in Vegas in Christmas, than there are at New Year.  Also, when it’s New Year, it’s just not the best place for kids in all that noisy, raucous Vegas celebration – what with the drinks and the drunks, and well…..let’s say I think Christmas was a little more mellow in Vegas.

Have you ever associated Las Vegas with Christmas? Or have you ever even considered it to be a good place to celebrate such a joyous occasion?  Well, I think our Christmas in Vegas in 2015 was spectacular, partly, because we found a beautiful church to celebrate Christmas Eve in.  I am Sikh, but I like all kinds of churches, temples (including Hindu temples, as well as Sikh temples) and have even enjoyed visiting Mosques or at least taking pictures of them, see this link.  The church we visited is an Italo-Greek Byzantine Catholic Church called Our Lady of Wisdom, located on 2120 Lindell Road, Las Vegas, NV  89146, only about 5 minutes drive from the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard.  It is such a truly beautiful, spectacular church, and is very European looking – I could not believe I was in the USA while I was in this church, it was such a wonderful feeling that the church gave me.  Here are some pictures:

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

I managed to get my two daughters in the picture

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

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Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Las Vegas

I don’t really think I was supposed to be taking pictures at the church, but I think it was too beautiful to not take pictures.  I would love to be at this church every Christmas Eve, too bad it’s not in San Diego!

 

December Nights in San Diego

December Nights in San Diego at Balboa Park

Time’s already flying by, and it’s February now, but I still haven’t shared December Nights, 2015 with you.  Must hurry up, or it will be December again.  Just my luck!  I don’t want time to go that quickly.  There’s no rush…..I will get too old too quickly like this – slow down time!

December Nights at Balboa Park in San Diego is always a fun event.  It’s a two day extravaganza, and my family really enjoys it.  This year we had to go without Niki, my oldest – since she has started college, and moved away.  Still, it’s a fun event for kids of all ages, and adults alike, and I think I might love it even more than my kids do!

This year, we went early.  Even though the even starts at 12 noon or so, most people don’t go until 5pm, as they like to be there in the evening when all the lights are on, as well as the Christmas tree at the Organ Pavilion.  However, traffic is crazy and hectic, and so is parking.  A few times now, we have parked at Petco Park, and then taken a shuttle bus from there to Balboa Park, but this time I wanted to park at the Zoo, and combine December Nights with a trip to the Zoo.  So, we got to the Zoo at around 1:45 pm, and were easily able to find a parking spot.  We spent about one and a half hours there.

We then took the short walk to Balboa Park – an easy 5 or 10 minute walk.

We first saw the Fountain area, close to one of the museums, and had a little snack, then walked past the Botanical Gardens area where the beautiful flowers, and Reflective Pond is; then we went to the Grinch tree, which is by the Old Globe Theatre, and actually spotted the Grinch!

We then went to see some of the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and since Chandra wanted to eat, we went towards the International Cottages area. When I heard Indian music, that beckoned me, and I was so glad I had allowed myself to be beckoned like that – because that became the highlight of my entire evening.  I normally enjoy the Organ Pavilion area, and the Christmas songs so much, and enjoyed them again this year, but this time I allowed myself to actually wander away from the performances at the Organ Pavilion to experience more of what was taking place at the International Cottages area, and these are two competing performance areas – one on the big stage, and the other on a smaller stage, but equally powerful in performance.  While one concentrates on performances that are mainly musical, and showcases instruments being played, and singers performing – the smaller stage at the International Cottages focuses on dance.  The dance aspect is really entertaining, as you still have the music and the songs, but now have further entertainment too.  I absolutely loved it, and my little Chandra got up to dance on the stage for the Grand Finale of the Indian dancing!

Here are two videos that I made – one shows the Grand Finale that Chandra was in,

and the other one shows a variety of performances, and dances that were performed.  This includes the performances at the Organ Pavilion, and the Scottish Bagpipe Band, as well as the San Diego Chorus, and of course, the Indian dance performances which took place at the International Cottages.

 

I love December Nights, there is nothing quite like it!

 

 

Thanksgiving At The Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel Lobby

Oh, I love to feel grand and what better place to have that feeling than at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, located in downtown San Diego, near Seaport Village.  Guess where an incredible Thanksgiving took place?  You might have guessed…..at this grand hotel!  Yes, we had our Thanksgiving meal there in 2015.   So thankful for this beautiful hotel, because not only was the food good, but the entire experience – like spending the afternoon there just lounging around in the bar area, and walking through the lobby, and generally just feeling grand!  I’ve also stayed at this hotel several times, and it has beautiful views of Seaport Village and the bay.  This hotel is beautiful!  Here’s some pictures:

A few more pictures for you, again this is a beautiful hotel, and the artwork incredible!  I could sit here for ages and stare at the paintings or stare at their decor – masterpiece!

Can’t believe it’s 2016 already!  By the way, Happy New Year!

Cute in San Diego

Chandi in San Diego

Did you know there’s a cute memorial of a sailor kissing his girlfriend in San Diego?  It’s by the US Midway Museum.  It might have got a bit more cuter, with my Chandi posing in front of it.  What do you think?  I think, cuteness……unlimited!

Cute in San Diego

Cute in San Diego

Chandi in San Diego

Chandi in San Diego

Chandi in San Diego

Chandi in San Diego

We Must Celebrate Indian Independence Day & We Did Celebrate!

We must celebrate Indian Independence Day, especially if we value freedom.  To be given back a country like India that is as rich in diversity, culture and heritage – what’s not to celebrate?  This year was the 69th Anniversary of Indian Independence.  It has been 69 years since the British gave back India to the Indians.  That is reason to celebrate.  So celebrate we did!  First, I took the day off from work on Friday, August 14th.  If a country won’t give us our own holiday (I guess we can’t expect it here in the USA), we must give ourselves the holiday.

So, we drove up to the Disneyland area and were supposed to go to Knotts Soak City today, but the kids said we had arrived too late as our arrival time was about 1:15 pm, and they would only have about less than five hours at the Water Park, they wanted the entire day from 10 am until 6pm, so we decided to just go to Artesia and have lunch somewhere.  We really like Ashoka The Great, and have been here before many times, so this is where we ate lunch.

Ashoka The Great Restaurant in Artesia

Ashoka The Great Restaurant in Artesia

Ashoka The Great in Artesia

Ashoka The Great in Artesia

Ashoka The Great in Artesia

Ashoka The Great in Artesia

These are my three kids enjoying the buffet at Ashoka The Great

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

This is me and my three kids

Ashoka The Great in Artesia

Ashoka The Great in Artesia

My little girl Chandi loves fruit, and Ashoka has a great selection of fruit for her right after she eats enough of the other lunch items. I love Khadi Pakora, it’s my favorite curry (the yellow one below) and I love Saag (spinach – right behind the Khadi Pakora).

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

Ashoka The Great Restaurant, Artesia

Then we walked around a bit, and went to a few different stores.  I bought some bangles for Chandi and Niki, and decided it was time for a visit to one of my favorite Sweets & Snacks restaurants – Ambala Sweets & Snacks!  The kids had just enough space for banana milkshakes, and I had space for a cup of tea, and one of the sweets from the assortment that I bought – see the picture of sweets in the box below.  The rest of the sweets I could eat at the hotel or back in San Diego (if there was any left).

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Ambala Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Then we headed to the car which was parked in the parking lot of Bombay Sweets & Snacks.  I had to go inside, and get another cup of tea.  I sometimes just love the atmosphere of different restaurants, and when they have TV screens that play Indian movies or music videos, I just love relaxing there with a cup of chai.  Chandi just hung out with me while my other two sat in the car, even though it was an extremely hot day – they were fed up of me and my cups of teas.  I love the food at Bombay Sweets & Snacks too, but how much can you eat after a buffet?  I sometimes stay full all day after a buffet.

Bombay Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Bombay Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Bombay Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Bombay Sweets & Snacks, Artesia

Our stomachs were full, and we got to the Hilton Garden Inn in Anaheim at around 8 pm.  What a lovely hotel, and the service was very nice.

Hilton Garden Inn in Anaheim

Hilton Garden Inn in Anaheim

Next morning, I had coffee in my room, and then enjoyed another cup in the lobby, before we headed out to Knotts Soak City.

Hilton Garden Inn in Anaheim

Hilton Garden Inn in Anaheim

In my next post, I will continue writing about our celebration of the Indian Independence Day.  We started celebrating one day early, and celebrated all day Saturday, and then Sunday too!