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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 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!

Magical Bathroom at Sloan’s Ice Cream in San Diego

Did you know there’s a place with a magical bathroom?  You may have to come all the way to San Diego to visit it though!  Just kidding!  I think there’s more of these – at least there are in Florida.

The place is called Sloan’s Luxury Ice Cream, and the ice cream is delicious!  I’ve switched my tastes lately to frozen yogurt, and resist ice-cream, but who can resist the decor, it beckons you, tantalizes your every bit of sense, and plunges you into temptation – the temptation to indulge in ice-cream or fudge.  Of course, there is candy, and I believe all kinds of toffee apples covered with scrumptious coatings of the most exquisite imaginings, such as white chocolate, caramel, and…..well you get it! Then there are toys that entice the kids.

But, then…….there is the magic bathroom.  Just be careful that you lock the door, or else everyone will be able to see you while you are in there.  See my video below.  I actually made this video several months ago in August, before my oldest went off to college in September, but didn’t get to upload it until yesterday.  When my kids saw there was a bathroom which was visible from a part of the store where all the stuffed animals are, they were curious because you could see into the bathroom, so off they went to explore.  I could not get my son to be part of the video, but he enjoys Sloan’s just as much as all of us.

We went just again this Friday to celebrate my youngest daughter’s birthday.  Did I tell you it’s a great place for a celebration?

Here’s my video

Sloan’s Luxury And Magical Bathroom

 

It’s Been One Year Since I Visited London!

Oh, it’s been one year since I visited London, and I miss it already! I have a video to share with you, something really short.  Perhaps you will be able to see that the Underground gets packed, and the stops are very brief.  Keep in mind that exiting passengers should be allowed to get off first, before new passengers board.  Always remember to Mind The Gap!

I think we must have been on our way to see my favorite Bridge – Tower Bridge.  I have to include at least one picture – so here it is.

Tower Bridge, London

Tower Bridge, London

I really wish I was in London.    Sad, sad, sad!

Memorable London. Fitzroy Square Reminds Me Of The London Shown In The Oliver Twist Movie

Fitzroy Square area, London

I have many memories of London, but it all began when I arrived here age 18 (many years ago now) not knowing where I would stay.  I actually arrived at Victoria Station, with one big suitcase, and asked the taxi driver to take me somewhere that is affordable, and he drove me to a bed and breakfast on Fitzroy Street.

Victoria Station, London

Victoria Station, London

On my recent trip last July, I had to go seek it out.  When I first arrived here at age 18, all alone – I was somehow mesmerized by this area.

Fitzroy Street, near Warren Street tube, London

Fitzroy Street, near Warren Street tube, London

On first glance when you look at the picture above, you may think this is not a really spectacular street, but look what is around the corner!  Such beauty, such historical elegance and exquisite architecture!  Such a magnificent sight of the most wonderful homes – oh, how I wish I could live in one of them right there

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Do you see  how many famous people have lived here in these homes (look at some of my pictures below and you will see that Prime Ministers have lived here, so have writers, artists and architects.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

I’m certainly not famous, but I can say I lived in one of the homes – well, it’s actually a bed and breakfast – for about 3 weeks! This place gave me such fond memories of London, that a few years later, I stayed here again, but this time sadly, I remember it for other reasons. I was staying on the very top floor, about two or three flights of stairs up.  I opened the window, and unfortunately, it dropped down onto my finger that had a ring on it, and squashed my finger somewhat – the window also squashed my ring!  I had to scream until some passers by heard my screams and alerted the hotel staff who finally came to my rescue, as I could not get the window back up or off my finger.  I was in such pain, and had to then go to the hospital, where they cut my ring off in order to save my finger.  What a horror story!  But, true!   You have to be really careful of windows I’ve learnt – please take note of this also, as some of London’s hotels are quite old, and you don’t want the same thing happening to you.

41 Fitzroy St Hotel - bed and breakfast, Warren St area

41 Fitzroy St Hotel – bed and breakfast

Still, I have good memories of my first visit there at 41 Fitzroy St Hotel, and nothing can take that away.  That is when I first fell in love with London.  I was a stranger to this place and showed up without knowing where I would stay or what I would do.  I remember thinking this area in particular reminded me of the Oliver Twist movie in the good part of the movie, (I say the good part of the movie, as I categorize it into two parts – the good part is when Oliver was happy and well looked after, and the bad part is when he was taught to pickpocket to line the pockets of Bill Sikes, and Fagin).  In the good part of the movie, where he lived with the kind elderly gentleman in London, Oliver would look out of his bedroom window onto the streets below, and he saw Nancy in one of the songs (the movie is a musical, and the song I refer to is “Who Will Buy These Wonderful Roses” and Nancy is Bill Sikes’ girlfriend).  I remember the London I saw in the movie, looks just like the London I know in the Fitzroy Square/Fitzroy Street area.

The hotel is not at all fancy, it is simple, but very central – in a great location!  Who would not want to be in an Oliver Twist like setting?!!  This is a bed and breakfast, and I’m sure they have fixed up the windows since that time.  I remember they served a wonderful hot English breakfast, complete with bacon, eggs, sausage, toast and jam, as well as coffee and tea.  Needless to say, I went in to the hotel on my visit to London last year, and took a few pictures.  After all, this place is part of my history!  This hotel used to be only something like £30 or £40 (pounds) per night for a single room, now I’m sure it’s more like £80 per night, and you may have to share a bathroom.  I believe I shared a bathroom back when I first stayed there, probably even during my second visit.  

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

41 Fitzroy Street Bed and Breakfast, near Warren St tube

It is quite notable to see that High Commissions, and Embassies also are in this very same area.  If the signs weren’t on the buildings in such a visible way, you would never imagine that it could be a High Commission or an Embassy.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

This is Telecom Tower, as you head towards Tottenham Court Road tube station, which is also only a few minutes walk away.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

The picture below reminds me of the scene from the song where Oliver looks out from his balcony.  It probably was not this very street, but to me – this is what I remember or imagine it to be.  I must watch the movie again – what a fantastic movie it was, and so memorable – just like London is to me.  “Please sir, can I have some more porridge?”  Then we all know what happened to Oliver, and how he was thrown out of the orphanage just for asking for more food!

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf both lived here.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Robert Adam, the architect, lived here.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Of course, i had to take a picture of the Indian YMCA – also very close to Fitzroy Street, and I remember this being here years ago too.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Just in case you are curious, “To Let” means to rent, and I’m sure you know that a flat is an apartment.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

This is also nearby, but it is Bedford Square, just as pretty, but not quite as spectacular as Fitzroy Square.  Bedford Square is shown in the next four pictures.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

Back to Fitzroy Square again.

Fitzroy Square area, London

Fitzroy Square area, London

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Well, hopefully, you got a feel for one of my favorite areas of London – the Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy Square area – near the Warren Street tube station.  It is also walking distance to Tottenham Court Road tube station.   I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane, plus the pictures that show the surrounding area.  Also, did you get to see the clip from the Oliver Twist movie – to compare it to my pictures, click here – so what you do think?  Is it the same place?  Here’s to good memories of where ever your travels take you to.  Happy summer!