Friday, September 29, 2006

My first Golu

This year Navarathri turns out to be slightly different than the last couple of years. Living in Bay Area and visiting the golu sale at Komala Vilas on El Camino Real made me buy some dolls as a last minute thing and keep the golu last weekend with whatever other stuff we could find at home to fill the padis. With K setting up the padis and offering his thoughts and me arranging the dolls, it was truly a couple effort. Spent the last weekend going around to friends places for sundal and golu visits. And, it is our turn to play hosts this weekend.

Looking forward to Sarawasthi puja, SPB Light music concert etc. for this last Dussera weekend.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From Aloha to Mahalo- A Trip to Maui, Hawaii

Aloha (Welcome)to Maui- During the long weekend for labor day, K and I made a quick vacation to Hawaii. Out of all the islands in Hawaii, we were highly recommended to go to Maui, because it offers the right blend of sea and land for all visitors. Narrowing it down to stay in West Maui, our pick was the Kaanapali region. Kaanapali extends over 500 acres lined with nearly three miles of white sand beaches. It also has a lot of sea resort hotels, golf courses and shopping centers. Route 30 is the only highway that takes you along the coast and we were fortunate to rent a convertible and just the drive along the coast from the airport to Kaanapali on Route 30 with the covertible top down was an unbeatable experience. What a way to begin our holiday!

Our stay at the Kaanapali Beach hotel was pleasant and relaxing. Like most other Maui hotels, ours had a private beach where snorkelling, deep-sea fishing and just swimming on the beach and lying out on the sand with a sun tan lotion were some of the activities.

Our agenda for the 5 days was packed-

Day 1- Arrived at Maui in the afternoon and drove to Kaanapali and settled into Kaanapali Beach Hotel and enjoyed the sea

Day 2- Maui Activities Orientation Breakfast and Parasailing

My first parasailing experience at 400 feet height was a totally scary experience. K and the rest of our boat folks witnessed my fear of water and heights and although I was so afraid of doing it, with a lot of support and literal hand clutching with K, I made it- the experience was an adventure for me.

Day 3- Road Trip to Hana

Hana highway is filled with around 720 sharp curves, hairpin bends and about 50 single lane bridges and a trip to Maui would not have been complete without doing the Hana drive. We played tourists on a luxury van since we had to go 180 miles of a most scenic route and would be gone for 12 hours. I had taken enough Dramamine to keep my motion sickness under control and managed to survive the day long trip. Although the road is in excellent condition, but by the time you are done with the trip you will feel that you are trained for the Monte Carlo Gran Prix, if only you could make these turns at quadruple speed.

But, all this is for the wonderful sights and photographs that we took at several stops our local tour guide made for us. My favorite spots were the Ke-anae peninsula, the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park. The lava tube down at the bottom gives you a beautiful view of the ocean waves.

The Hana coast gallery was an afternoon stop for doing local shopping. The waterfalls all along the route are really a nice sight for the eyes. We also made a stop at Kipahulu where we visited the Palapala Ho'omau Congregational Church and the burial spot of Charles Lindbergh. Since our guide cum driver was a really enthusiastic localite he took the narrow road off the highway to take us there.

After a long day we were back to our hotel in Kaanapali at around 7.30 pm almost twelve hours after our departure that morning. The trip to Hana was an exciting and awe inspiring experience.

Day 4- Haleakala Sunrise and Mountain Bike Ride down the Volcano

We were up the next day at 2 am to be picke dup by our van to go up the summit of Haleakala to watch the sun rise. A few photos of that are also posted. The temperature up there made our hands and face freeze and we were provided with leather jackets with hoods and hot chocolate to await the sunrise. The sun slowly started to come up around 4.30 am and was fully up by 6.30 am. We then made the 36 mile mountain bike ride down the the volcano to the sea of Maui, Hawaii. The tropical fauna and the fresh morning air along with a great bicycle ride experience was the highlight of our trip. We reached the land in about 3-4 hours and had a great breakfast at a small town.

The Luau at Night- The Royala Lahaina hotel hosts a traditional Hawaiian night of food and entertainment for all its Ohana (family). Even visitors are considered a part of this big ohana. The Imu ceremony of burying and cooking the pig, followed by drinks from the open bar with an all-you-can-eat buffet (that had quite a few vegetarian dishes to our surprise) was worth the money we paid for this event. Dinner was followed by the hula dance, a traditional dance retelling the stories of many Hawaiian legends followed by a fire knife dance in the end made the evening a remarkable one. Also, eating beside the ocean with a bunch of people and watching the sun set were an added bonus to the Luau.

Day 5- Drive back to Kahului Airport and took a flight to SFO.

West Maui's panoramic view along with its variety of vacation activities, sight seeing places etc. make this a memorable trip.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The HINDU in digital form

The HINDU, India's largest newspaper will now be available in digital form as of September 10, 2006 at this link-