Part 167- Washington D.C. Trip

Part 167- Washington D.C. Trip

Summer break ended a few days ago and so school has once again begun. However, today’s post is not about what high school is like or anything. Instead, I’m talking about my very last summer trip of the year.

A little more than a week ago, for the last trip of the summer, my family and I went up east to New Jersey as well as other states nearby such as Pennsylvania and New York. But, that still isn’t the main focus of today’s post. The main focus was in fact the highlight of the trip. A visit to Washington D.C.

Our trip included staying in D.C. and taking a tour of the White House as well as the Capitol building. Unfortunately, due to – I’m assuming- the weather accident with lightning in front of the White House, our White House tour was rescheduled to a later date we already had plans for. To sum it up, we could not visit the White House. We could see it from a barricade and see its white exterior illuminate the dark night sky, but we couldn’t go inside and tour the actual building.

Apart from that, we did get to tour the Capitol – which I am extremely grateful for- as well as visit many other places such as the Lincoln Memorial, National Archives, and the National Museum of American History. This post is about what D.C. was like, and what I thought of it.

I’ve wanted to go to D.C. for a long time. Okay maybe for a few years now, but I’ve still been really set on visiting it sometime soon. The main reason was because the last time I went was when I was still a toddler, and I have no recollection of doing so. But I also wanted to visit D.C. because of the show The West Wing.
If you don’t know what it’s about I’ll summarize really quickly. The West Wing is a political drama series on how fictional Democratic President Josiah Bartlet and his presidential advisers and staffers try to run the country. It shows different political scenarios such as working through two presidential terms, political threats, scandals, other possible scenarios, and even the election race to succeed President Bartlet. I’ve always loved The West Wing and it’s one of the things that have inspired me to become a lawyer or just someone who works in the political field one day. I dreamed of one day working in the West Wing or even in D.C. and that still remains as one of my goals for the future.

Another reason for wanting to visit D.C. was because I had taken U.S. History this year and was really interested in the subject. After learning about the struggles our founding fathers went through to create this government simply for the people, I wanted to see the buildings where the same principles are applied today, 300 years later. I think because of taking that course, I had become more appreciative of not only my country but also for what it was established on. That made me more perceptive towards what we saw, and also allowed me to make better connections to what I learned. Side note: I now cry when I hear the national anthem. I- Yeah. Oh the things one history class has done to me. I mean it’s not bad. I think it’s a good thing that I actually know more about my country and I really appreciate the principles for what it was built on as well as am proud as to how we got this far. If I cry by remembering all that then so be it.

Enough about how I cry during the national anthem. Let’s actually get into the overview now.

Honestly I’m not sure what I was expecting from D.C. Whenever I hear about it I always imagine the Capitol and White House only some distance from each other and then there are a bunch of other government buildings and monuments there as well. It is like that but also different. For example, I did not expect to be able to calmly take a walk under the shade of huge trees while drinking a slushy right next to the Department of Justice. I could just walk by and wave up at the windows and be like, “Oh hello Attorney General Garland, how are you today?” I doubt that’s even possible and I would look like an absolute fool, but the idea does amuse me. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to seem disrespectful towards a government official or the employees. I’m just saying it was really unexpected to be able to walk right next to such an important building as if it was normal. 

Me standing in front of the
Department of Justice
If you remember, I had visited India near the end of 2021 and early 2022 after 7 years. During that trip my parents and I visited New Delhi and saw the Parliament of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, and many other government official buildings/houses from afar. That time I was surprised about how open and nearby it was. I think that was how I thought D.C. would be. Boy was I wrong. I only got to see the Parliament from a distance and yet I was walking right next to the White House. (Not that close but still a much closer distance than I could in India.)

Apart from D.C. being full of government buildings and monuments and museums, it does have a bit of life to it. We always think of these officials as powerful and they are always making decisions that we either do or don’t agree with when they are also human like us. People in D.C. may be officials or employees but they also have normal lives. They also like minimal spice Indian food and Starbucks as well. *Ahem*

First let’s talk about the Capitol tour. Huge thank you to Senator Cornyn for getting us the opportunity for this tour as well as having one of his staffers guide us around. I would say it was different from my expectations. From a Capitol tour, I was expecting maybe how the Senate or House works and what their daily basis is. That was what a Capitol tour first meant to me. Instead, we got a building tour. We learned about the architecture of the Capitol, the statues that decorate the interior, background to the many murals and paintings, as well as how different events in history have shaped it to how it is today. I’d say I was more relieved. I was expected to ask questions during the tour and I was extremely nervous on what to ask or share an insight if it was on how Congress worked. I do know how it works, but I was worried that the amount I knew wouldn’t be enough or I may ask something stupid or say something incorrect. I found the tour guide extremely impressive and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of her. I also felt this sort of pressure to impress her and ask really high level questions. I think that’s why I felt so nervous to ask a question at the beginning. But throughout the tour that pressure slowly reduced and it was easier to do so. I found myself wanting to know more and tried to let that fear go. I still do think I could have asked better questions and I am disappointed at myself for not doing so. But I am happy that I was able to gather the courage to do so.

The Capitol is absolutely beautiful. I love how everything ties back to history. It’s like the Capitol is a sort of temple to thank our founding fathers and historical figures for the impact in our country. Like, there’s George Washington almost everywhere. Statues, murals, paintings, etc. The more I think about it it does feel like a temple. Every small detail is built based on how our country started to grow, bad or good. There’s not much from current events except for some women’s rights statues and such. Everything else is designed with the idea of kind of thanking the things that made our country how it is today. For example, there are American tobacco plants carved all over the building. Tobacco was a major cash crop that was a driving factor in the economy as well as what increased the need for slavery. In the Rotunda, there’s a mural that shows everything from Columbus up to the Gold Rush. In the dome of the Capitol there is a fresco called The Apotheosis of Washington that shows George Washington becoming a god or apotheosis as he was the first U.S. president and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. I honestly think that’s kind of motivating. Everyday Senators and members of the House will come for work and they see these statues or paintings of President Washington and decide to work hard for the country. Maybe not everyone would think that way, but I think it would be a huge honor to do so. I mean, President Washington was the precedent president. He was the example of what a president should do for future presidents to come. To be able to work everyday for this country that he first led and helped fight for, now that would be motivating. 

The Apotheosis of Washington
Considering that, I want to talk about the riots that happened in 2021. The Capitol breach and vandalization. I wrote a post on this about a year ago when it happened, and I have a different perspective on the situation. A proper explanation of the Capitol breach can be found from my post Part 126- Breach in the Capitol. In that post my general opinion of the situation was mainly anger and displeasure. I was extremely upset at Mr. Trump’s words and was disappointed with how people reacted in agreement to his words. This time, I’m more disappointed and ashamed.

I’ve said this many times, but I will state it one last time. In my opinion, I think the Capitol is designed like a place of gratitude and honor towards not only President Washington, but also many important figures who have shaped our country. President Lincoln, General Ulysses Grant, Sam Houston, etc. By this breach of the Capitol, not only are we disrespecting the building and work space, but also the grounds on which our country first started developing. President Washington gave a farewell address at the end of his presidency. In that address was one request for many others to not form political parties as he was afraid it would divide our nation further. Despite that request, we immediately split into two parties after he stepped down, and look how that has gotten to today.

It’s almost embarrassing to see the results of something our first president warned us about, in front of something that respects and thanks him. It’s embarrassing to think our own people would do such a thing over something small.

Other than that, the Capitol felt much smaller to me than I thought it would be. It looks huge from outside, but it’s pretty close together inside. But then again, I haven’t really seen the ENTIRE building so I may never know. 
Actual picture of me at the back of the Capitol. 
One of the interesting things about the Capitol were the statues inside. Each state is allowed to give 2 statues to the Capitol to which they can swap out whenever they want. Many other people can do so as well. However it’s not necessarily guaranteed that it would be put outside on display. I like how every state chose something unique based on what was important for them. They’re contributing their own pieces of history or even culture/traditions through these statues and the Capitol displays them proudly for everyone to see and learn about. Below are some examples. 
Helen Keller from Alabama
King Kamehameha from Hawaii
We also visited the Lincoln Memorial and National Archives. Being in the Lincoln Memorial felt…powerful. I can’t really explain it, but when you look at President Lincoln, there’s kind of a powerful aura that can be felt. It’s probably because the statue is huge and the expression is very confident, but you never know. A fun part of visiting was that I actually know the “history” in this. I don’t know the details of the building, but I do know about the Gettysburg Address and his second Inaugural Speech. They were written on opposite walls of each other. It felt really cool to immediately know where they came from, the background of which he said those words, and what the purpose of it was. Other than that there’s not really much I can say. It was extremely busy there and I don’t think I got to properly admire nor pay my respects in a way towards President Lincoln properly. 
Me sitting in front of
Lincoln’s second Inaugural Speech
The National Archives were pretty interesting as well. I have to say, I was mildly dissatisfied when seeing the Declaration of Independence. I think it was obvious it wouldn’t be super clear given it is 300 years old, but I was let down due to my over hopeful brain. I really liked the set up of explaining the details when writing or what happened around the documents. There were things about spelling mistakes, drafts, reasons the ink is faded, and letters that were put up beside the documents in order to have a better understanding. We didn’t spend much time in the National Archives to explore so I really only got to see the Bill or Rights, Constitution, and Declaration of Independence, as well as Public Vaults. The Public Vaults were pretty much just small collections of history such as info about the 3 documents, colonization, invention patents, and more. I think there is more to the National Archives, but based on what I got to see so far, it wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it to be. Hopefully next trip we can stay longer. 
We also got to go to the National Museum of American History. I think that was one of the more interesting parts of our stay. It was quite literally a living documentation of everything in history. There was everything from transportation to cooking to democracy and everything in between. There was even a section on currency that showed how different forms of currency were used and made over time. One of my favorite exhibits was on American democracy that basically showed everything from the start of our government to now. There was stuff on the evolution of voting, protests, elections, news segments, and many more. 
A little something I found amusing
I’d say the best part of the museum was the Star Spangled Banner exhibit. Inside they first show you a timeline of everything that led to the national anthem being written. That meant a timeline of the War of 1812. There was info about the events, what weapons were used, and what it sounded like. There were real life ruins of old missiles and such on display. Further into the exhibit is the highlight. They have carefully maintained and displayed the original American flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes, that was made at that time. After being held onto by the original maker’s family for generations, it was given to the museum to which it has and presents today. This was no ordinary flag. It was HUGE. The usual size of an American flag is 3’x5’. This flag was 30×42 feet which is also much larger than the modern garrison flags used today by the US Army which are a standard 20 by 38 feet. The flag displayed was not the entirety as several parts including a star were cut away and given as keepsakes. However, it was still remarkably large and quite beautiful to look at. 
The original Star Spangled Banner
My parents and I outside the
Star Spangled Banner exhibit.
To sum it up, D.C. was an interesting experience. I certainly went through a lot of emotions, including a bit of nationalism, confusion, nervousness, excitement, disappointment, gratitude, and relief to name a few. But mainly I was more motivated to work there. I couldn’t believe that people were working in such a beautiful building everyday. It seemed like an honor to work inside one of the country’s most important buildings and to do something for our country and people. Also seeing how the staffers and employees worked and were able to have such amazing opportunities of assisting and working there as well made me determined to become one of them. It would be great to one day work alongside great people and to carry on what the founding fathers established. So yeah. Washington D.C. was a great experience for me, and I really enjoyed touring the Capitol and being able to make connections to what I learned in U.S. history last year. I will certainly try to work hard to go to D.C. again – hopefully for work- and yeah, I hope you have a great weekend. See you!

Part 161- India Trip: Part 3 ( 2021-2022)

Mumbai is where my mom’s side of the family lives. The three of us left for Mumbai the morning after we returned to Pune from Delhi. The first thing that happened when we arrived at Mumbai was to get ready for a family reunion. Technically it was a pooja, but by the number of family members that were there, I’m going to call it a family reunion.

A lot happened there. I met the family I know. My close cousins and family members. ( I don’t even know if that’s a term.) I also met distant cousins and members. That means, the many, many branches of the family tree. People who are related to me but are the daughter of the father whose brother is related to my dad. Or something like that. The most surprising thing about meeting all of them was that they ALL knew me. I’ve never met most of them a single time in my life, yet they’re all coming up to me and asking how I’ve been and saying hi to me. “Nice to meet you too. Who are you?”

All my cousins! ( And a nephew or two in there)

After the last family member and longtime friend was gone, it was time to get down to business. Pictures. We were all dressed up in our best outfits, not looking as radiant as we did at the beginning, but still looking good, and not taking pictures would be wrong.

The Grandparents and Grandkids
Entire family portrait

The next day was a more relaxed day. With no need to get up early in the morning for some pooja or aarti, I could take it easy. So my day started out with me attempting to solve the most difficult Sudoku puzzle I have ever attempted in my life. Not only that, it was in Devanagari numbers. Despite that, I was able to teach my grandfather how to solve Sudoku.

The day was mainly me and my three cousins hanging out and cracking jokes. This is a continuous thing over the next few days. This is literally all I did there. But, it was admittedly the best time I’ve ever had in my entire life. I think that’s mainly because they’re somewhat around my age. I have two older cousins, and a younger cousin. My younger cousin is 3 years younger while my two older cousins are about 8-9 years older than me. I think because we’re in a closer age range with each other we got along really well.

Desperate to find out our Harry Potter Houses
Us feeding the youngest
Ice cream! Sadly we were banned to get chocolate.

My younger cousin is 10, but has one of the most interesting minds I’ve ever seen. Interesting in a way, I don’t even know what goes on in that kid’s head 78% of the time. He’s a witty, chubby, cute kid who loves history, and for some reason is obsessed with the Soviets. But he’s grown so much honestly. The last time I saw him was this small kid who had his eyes glued to his tablet the whole day, and now he’s off spitting facts about Apollo the card god of Uno ( an inside joke, it’s not really true) and Harry Potter. Fun fact: he got married to a plant recently. I think they may be going through a divorce soon though.

My older cousin is 21, and has the personality of a 15 year old. It’s not bad, and honestly it’s the best. I’d say him and my younger cousin get along the best. brother-buddy-compadre-duo friendship that is really fun. Although my older cousin has the authority of an “elder” to us, he doesn’t use it. Instead, he prefers to tease us more and make jokes to make us laugh. I’d say the best part of hanging out with him is his “professional-ism”. Is that a word? I don’t think so…Pretty sure “professional” isn’t the word I’m looking for as well. Anyway, I admire his ability to become your teasing older brother and then switch into a 21-year-old adult who can help around or has a job interview.
My oldest cousin is also pretty amazing. I think I really liked talking to her the most out of everything. I’ve always wanted an older sister. Always. Even though we are like sisters, we didn’t really develop that relationship further until now. So I think I bonded the most with her. I don’t really know what else to write about her. I can only say, she’s a perfect sister. I don’t know how else I should describe her. She’s just the best.My Mavshi ( mom’s sister- specific term for aunt) is the person to call for fashion advice. She has great taste in clothing and accessories, and is absolutely amazing. She has a bit of a mischievous side, and has a really fun personality. She also doesn’t take no for an answer. If I go visit, she’ll have made or ordered something to eat. And even if I or my mom say a word she’ll look at us to just sit and eat. In a caring way of course.My Kaka ( mom’s sister’s husband) is a quieter person. He usually keeps to himself, but he is very musical. He loves to sing. Sing and dance. He’s also always trying to get to know me. My Marathi is still not perfect, so often my grammar and sentences will be off. He knows that, and tries to have a conversation with me in English so I would understand and feel comfortable.My Mama ( mom’s brother) is a pretty enthusiastic person. He’s always trying to spend time with us and cheat at Uno. He has a very fun personality. It’s always very light, and upbeat. Each greeting is different. A new style. New kind of enthusiasm. He’s also pretty witty, and doesn’t hesitate to tease me at every moment.My Mami ( mom’s brother’s wife) is a very jovial person. Like I mentioned in my first post, she reminds me of my Kaku. However, they both give out different energies. My Kaku is quieter, while my Mami is much more enthusiastic. She’s loud, and laughs a lot. She’s a very compassionate person as well, and has a very caring personality.My grandmother is also enthusiastic. ( Wow. I’ve never used enthusiastic so many times.) She’s a strong woman, not letting anything knock her down. She has a very firm personality, but it’s also very loving. She won’t hesitate to show it at all.My grandfather is a military man. He’s now retired, but he still has those characteristics of one. A bit strict, serious, and observant. He likes telling stories. Mainly about when he was in the army. Or when he was working at a company. Other than that he’s kind of quiet. Except when he sneezes. Boy are those loud.The majority of my time was spent playing Uno with my cousins in a room or watching movies and talking about random stuff. COVID restrictions in Mumbai are stricter, so I wasn’t able to go out much. But, when we did, we went shopping at the nearby markets, or visited Mavshi’s house and my grandparents’ house. But, we also got to do a tour of Mumbai’s prime locations: Mumbai Police Headquarters, Mumbai Library, Gateway of India, and a scenic view of Marine Drive. We also got a bonus tour of Bandra, which is where the majority of Bollywood actors and actresses live. Courtesy of Mami herself.

Travel Van

Mumbai Library
Gateway of India. It was SO crowded.
Mumbai Police Headquarters
Mumbai Police Headquarters 2

Marine Drive! ( And me)

A proper photo of Marine Drive

So yeah, that’s how the first day of the new year was spent. The last few hours of 2021 were spent through a treasure hunt, a forbidden video of me dancing to Permission to Dance, everyone having a blast while listening to some Bollywood music, and most importantly…CRAB.


I feel like I’m going backwards instead of forwards now. I-
So that morning my mom, Mavshi, Kaka, Mama, and I had all gone to Sassoon Dock to go buy some fish. I have never been in a place with so much fish. I’ve been on a port before, but never on a fishing dock. The smell was…fishy. And overwhelming. *Ahem* Not talking about what happened next. Anyway, I got to see a variety of fish I don’t usually get to see, I also got to see a live process of fish being cut in half and gutted, as well as Mavshi unleashing her bargaining skills on the sellers.

After we got home, top priority was cleaning and preparing the fish, crab, and shrimp. I helped with cleaning the shrimp, and watched Mavshi snap the shells off of the crabs she had just finished cleaning with a toothbrush.

For the past 7 years I had watched from the other side of the world as they sent pictures of mutton, chicken, crab, shrimp, fish, cakes, and so many other homemade foods. I had waited 7 years to finally taste their cooking. This was a big deal for me. At last the moment had come. And it was perfect. I’m not the most skilled crab eater or even when eating with my hands, so it was a bit of an awkward, clumsy mess. However, it was definitely worth waiting 7 years for.

That concludes the final part for this  trip. 

Part 161- India Trip: Part 2 ( 2021-2022)

This part is about the traveling we did on our trip in between. Well… that’s kind of obvious. Anyways, I got to visit different parts of India for the first time. Usually I’ve always stayed in one place in either Mumbai or Pune and never went anywhere else. This was my first time visiting a different state- with the exception of Karnataka- and seeing a different version of India. Multiple versions actually. 

Our first destination was Prayagraj, which is in Uttar Pradesh. As Uttar Pradesh is further up north, it was FREEZING there. Not only that, we had to get up really early once again, and go on a boat ride on the Yamuna river to perform an aarthi. So, even COLDER. However, for this aarthi we got to go to this spot known as Theen Veni Singham. I think it translates to three sister rivers. If not, I’m sorry. However, it is where three rivers- Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati- rivers meet. It’s said that if you bathe where the three rivers meet, all your wrongdoings will be cleared. ( I think.) However, the rivers in India are extremely filthy due to the immense amount of pollution and carelessness by people. So we only got the water sprinkled on us. 

The aarthi that was performed is done by the oldest generation ( in this case my grandparents) and it is to kind of clear away all the wrongdoings done in their lifetime and the future generations’ lifetime. ( Once again, this is based on what I remember. I’m truly sorry if I may mix up a few facts. I honestly was too cold to process what I was told correctly.) 

I’d say Prayagraj is a very….different place. It’s unbelievably poor, and extremely dirty. India in general does not have the best hygiene. It is quite dirty in many places and not exactly the best place sometimes. However, Prayagraj is honestly, quite worse. It’s still developing as PM Modi is spending time and money on it, as it was stripped of resources by the Moghuls, but in the midst of all that it’s unbelievable how people live there. There are destroyed buildings, and rubble everywhere with so much trash and waste on the roads. People live here. In these half demolished buildings and cold weathers without much. It’s just unbelievable. And the number of people suffering. We went to visit a temple there and the number of people just around us as we walked, with cut off and crippled limbs, with absolutely nothing, begging us for money. And the guilt you feel when you can’t do anything about it and try to ignore it by walking away. It’s overwhelming. It’s terrifying even. It makes you wonder how do these people live like this? 

Varanasi was no different. It was extremely crowded, and unsanitary. We had gone to Varanassi to visit the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple there. I have to say, the temple is beautifully rebuilt. Before, it was completely destroyed by the Moghuls  and a mosque was built there instead. But it’s been renovated, and now there is such a beautiful result. It’s really nicely done. According to my parents, the entrance used to be through gullies/alleys. I got to go through one, and let me tell you, those are filthy. They are extremely narrow, and reek with sewage water and just literal wastage there. I couldn’t help but wonder how such a thing could be an entrance for a temple. It feels so disrespectful, and upsetting. Now, thanks to PM Modi, there is this huge, wide space that is a proper entrance. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s this huge, open area that leads to these humongous wooden doors, which hide the temple. It is truly spectacular. 


Later that evening we attended the Ganges Aarthi. This daily event is huge. You will not believe the amount of people coming to see this. We went by boat so that we could see all the different ghats along the river as well, but the river was also crowded. People surrounded those doing the aarthi, and lined up one after the other behind them all the way up the ghat. 




After those two, my parents and I traveled to Delhi and Agra by ourselves while the rest of my family went back to Pune. I have to say, New Delhi is the complete opposite. Honestly, for some reason I felt like I was in Dubai. I don’t know why or how since I’ve only ever been at the airport in Dubai. Nothing else. New Delhi is actually cleaner than any other part of India I’ve ever SEEN. I know that in certain parts of India they are really good and clean as well. But, New Delhi is the first that I’ve seen. 

Apart from that, I got to see New Delhi. India’s capital. I got to see all the government buildings and houses of ministers and the Prime Minister as well. For me, it feels kind of open. I really don’t know what it should be like though. I’ve been to Washington D.C. before, but that was a REALLY long time ago. But the main part of New Delhi with all the government offices feels really close. It’s not really in it’s own little section. It’s just like there are roads and it comes up on the side of them.  So I guess I was a bit disappointed by that. But perhaps it was only like that because we only observed them from a distance due to COVID restrictions. 

We visited Raj Ghat as well. Raj Ghat is a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. The main part of Raj Ghat is a black marble platform which marks the spot of where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. On that is a torch where an eternal flame burns. 

Our final destination that day was old Delhi. Old Delhi is the opposite of New Delhi. It has origins dating back to the Mughals, hence the reason the majority of the population are Muslims. It’s a very crowded place. The roads should be kept an eye on at all times as you never know when a vehicle will come near you or not. People don’t look at your feet, so it’s easy to get caught in the middle of the road. There are numerous meat shops lined up one after the another. Smells of chicken or mutton roasting on grills waft through the air, mixed with the smoke of the fire and the normal haze. At least that;s what one part looks like.

Similar to Prayagraj, the houses are small. Built in between alleys or stacked on other houses. Goats and sheep tied up near the houses. Kids playing along the road and running around joyously. Heaps of trash in corners. This is life for them. This is the home they know. This…is just…different. It’s different from what I’ve seen or known. I don’t even know what to say about it. It’s just unbelievable that these can be where people live. It’s heartbreaking.

Agra was similar. Despite being home to one of the 7 wonders of the world, Agra is a crowded and dirty place. The roads are so disorganized and cluttered, and there are so many people just crowded there. Not only that, the Taj Mahal is packed. In pictures it looks so empty, but it;s really not. There’s people packed on the walkways, and at the entrance of it. But when you get closer, there’s people so close together up there. At this point in time, it’s not the best idea to be roaming in heavily populated areas without masks ( in my opinion) yet here they are. Even at Varanasi and Prayagraj. Nobody listens to the guidelines and restrictions put out by the government. It seems like no one wears a mask. 

Leaving all that aside, the Taj Mahal is absolutely stunning. It is perfectly symmetrical, and has so many perfect details that you can’t see in a photo. For example, there’s writing above the entrance. However, it’s carved out of black onyx and put into the marble. All the designs of the Taj Mahal are made with precious stones. There isn’t a single fleck of paint anywhere. It’s all done perfectly symmetrical to each other, and so precisely as well. The amount of work and craft gone into building it is incredible. The small details with the stones as well. The way it’s made and the stones are carved is amazing. It is truly a wonder, and is a must to see.


Christmas was spent at the Taj Mahal!
Soup as the special dinner!

Before we left to head back to Pune, we made one last stop at Agra Fort. Agra Fort is tremendous. It houses the Indian military, and before it was housed by the army of whichever empire  ruled at that time. It was the place where Maratha emperor Shivaji Maharaj was made to stand behind troops and men he had already defeated in battle. He and his nine-year-old son Sambhaji had been summoned by Aurangzeb, leader of the Mughal Empire to Agra. However, when Shivaji Maharaj came to present a gift to him, Aurangzeb ignored him, and made Shivaji stand in the back of the court , behind men he had already defeated in battle. Shivaji would not stand to be humiliated, and took offence, storming out of the court. The tables were turned. Now Aurangzeb was embarrassed. Because of this, Shivaji was placed on house arrest.  Shivaji later came up with a plan to free himself, and was successful. Outside of the fort was a statue of Shivaji Maharaj heading towards the fort. A man with so much might and courage to do so.




That concludes the second part of our trip.

Part 161- India Trip: Part 1 (2021-2022)

Here’s the thing. I’m back! Where was I for the past month? I dunno. Somewhere over the Atlantic waters for a few days and then on the other side of the world for the rest. Any guesses yet? Let me clarify. I was in India for about 3 weeks for the winter holidays, and it was the best thing ever. Mainly for two reasons. One, I would get to see my family after 7 years, and two, I needed a break. Desperately. School is stressful by itself, and three weeks away from anything that has to do with Triangle Similarity Theorems or on the Nervous System was exactly what I needed. And what better way to do so than to visit your family?

So let me quickly explain how this trip will be documented. It’s split into three parts, Pune, Travel, and Mumbai, and there will be a separate one per part. I’ll then post an overall blog with all three in it, plus additional thoughts and experiences.

Pune is the city where my dad’s side of the family lives. Well, apart from my Atya ( dad’s sister- a specific term for aunt) who lives in Australia with my Mama ( dad’s sister’s husband- specific term for uncle) and two older cousins. Other than that everyone else lives there. 

I’d say the highlight of my trip there was being able to spend time with my two younger cousins. I feel a bit guilty for choosing that over every other wonderful and exciting moment, but I really looked forward to meeting them.

The last time I met my first youngest cousin (Viraj), he was only 2-3 years old. He was still a small kid. And also at that time, he wasn’t able to communicate yet. The was, however, able to pinch very well. I was around 6 years old at that time, and I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an older sister. I found it annoying and didn’t understand why he did it, and instead scolded him. Looking back, I think that was his way of communicating. I can’t remember if he was able to communicate with sounds, but if not, I think pinching was the most effective way he could communicate or get someone’s attention. But now, he’s grown up, 8 now, and is one of the most adorable, and best kids I’ve ever met. Not just because he’s my cousin. But because he’s such a good kid. He’s a very obedient kid who will help out or do whatever is told of him no matter what. Not only that, it’s amazing how much he looks to me, even if we haven’t been able to see each other very often in the past years. Not in a bragging way. I mean it as in, he always wants to do something with me.

I’m an only child, and that means I’m kind of by myself. I’ve never been able to have that older sister or younger sister sibling relationship, so I really got to experience that more this trip. Especially with being an older sister. Viraj is always wanting me to come play or do something with him. Once there was a stray kitten looking for it’s mother and he so desperately wanted me to come help him. I eventually gave in, but it was really warming to see him so determined to convince me. 

My youngest cousin, Viaan, is 2 years old, and is also a late speaker. Instead of pinching, he uses sounds and gestures more often. Despite having the biggest, most innocent eyes and curious mind, he is a bit of a troublemaker. It is incredibly hard to get mad and scold this kid. Viaan once did something wrong, and so my kaka ( dad’s brother- term for uncle) was telling me to scold him. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not hold in my smile or laughter for more than 3 seconds. (I think he knows he’s cute, and uses that very well to his advantage. ) Once he gets to talking, the real fun will begin. This is my first time meeting him, so I was really excited when I got to see him and make my first set of memories with him. 

A picture of my Kaka, two younger cousins, and I! This was taken at Saundatti Yellamma temple in Karnataka. It’s kind of a tradition in my family to go visit it a few times a year, and we usually always go whenever  we visit India. 

Now let me tell you a bit more about my other family members. 

My Kaka is the best expert at food. I do remember some memories when I was younger where he would take me out somewhere for the day to have fun, but we never went for food. I do remember one time he talked about the Domino’s Pizza in India and the most cheesy pizza I would ever find. Sadly we never got to try it that time, but we did this time. I don’t think he remembers that time, but I do. And I got to try it. He’s a fun person to be around, but sometimes he feels serious. Like way too serious. At times I can feel a bit intimidated by him, but otherwise he’s comforting.

My Kaku ( dad’s brother’s wife- specific term for aunt) is the sweetest person I’ve ever met. She’s a quiet person, but she cares deeply for others. She actually reminds me of my Mami ( mother’s brother’s wife- specific term for aunt) in Mumbai. They’re both caring souls, and have extremely pure hearts. She’s an amazing person who is extremely talented, and is literally the best. 

My grandfather is a man in a hurry. Even if there’s nothing to be in a hurry about, he’s always rushing. He likes to be a part of what I do, and try to know me better. He’s a bit strict, so it’d be a lie if I didn’t say I’m scared around him sometimes. But the best part about him is that he always wants to talk to me. He always wants to tell me something. Whether it’s about his continuous stamp collection or some story, he always wants to talk to me. 

My grandmother is a bit of the opposite. She’s the person to watch everyone in the background and smile lovingly. She always puts others before herself, and that frankly worries me sometimes. She’s also a very religious person and would end up telling me some stories about baby Krishna ( a god) or even just children’s stories. At times I don’t mind, but sometimes it makes me feel upset that she doesn’t know I’m older now. Same with my grandfather. They’re getting old, and it shows. 


Above is a picture of my entire Pune family at Saundatti. 

It probably doesn’t show, but I was exhausted when we took that picture. I was still jet lagged, and we had immediately left for Saundatti the second we ( my parents and I ) arrived in Pune. It takes almost a day to drive there as Pune is in Maharashtra, and Saundatti is in Karnataka. (These are both states in India.) So for the majority of the trip I had one thing on my mind. SLEEP. I slept on-stop that entire time, and yet,was still tired. Waking up at like 4 in the morning to go visit the temple really doesn;t help the jet lag either. Ahem. Anyways, we spent about 2-3 days at Saundatti before traveling back. 

Here’s a second photo of us on the way back. We had stopped at another place for a quick aarthi. My Kaka isn’t here because he had to go deal with an issue with one of our cars. 


Once we got back, the REAL adventure began. The first day, we pretty much just went shopping. Shopping for clothes, jewelry, and pretty much anything we liked. I think I probably should have taken that opportunity of being able to shop instead of whining about being tired. India has some serious lockdown restrictions in certain parts, including Mumbai, and at those places you can only go so far to do something. So, I think I should have grasped that opportunity in Pune better. However, I do not regret it! Every moment is precious, and if it was meant to be spent with me whining, then so be it. 

Later that evening, we went out for dinner. And for dinner I mean a full mutton course. As I’ve mentioned before, my Kaka is practically a connoisseur in food. So we were able to get a full course on how to eat and what to eat. I have to say, this was the best mutton experience I have ever had in my entire life. It was truly, one of a kind. Sadly, I cannot describe the taste anymore, but it is definitely one of my most favorite spots during that trip.

The NEXT DAY. My Kaka, Kaku, and I went out together for sometime before meeting my parents to eat Misal. The three of us went over to a Ram Chandra Maddie ( temple) and they were showing me around a market, Tulsi Bhag, until my parents came. I’d say this was also one of my most favorite moments. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a chance to spend time with both my aunt and uncle alone, so I really got to interact with just the two of them during this time. It was a short experience, but I really had a great time visiting the different parts of the temple with both of them explaining the significance and best moments of it. It was a really special moment for me. 


After that, we ate Misal. I don’t know how many times I’ve eaten Misal before, but this felt like my first time. Misal is basically rasa, bread, and a mix of masala potatoes, onions, and toppings. I’m not sure the exact translation of rasa in English, but it’s like a soup, except it’s just the broth. Except this is thicker and with masala.


I don’t want to spend my writing explaining every detail and day of this trip, but this next day is also very important to me. 

So, the next day, my uncle took me and Viraj out for a day of fun. We went on a full food tour that day, and finished with the new Spider-Man movie. The reason this was special to me was because this is kind of a tradition Kaka does with me. The last time, we had gone to see Inside Out and we had gone exploring on his moped. I don’t remember anything we ate, but I do remember we got to see the Indian Eiffel Tower, and my uncle talked about Domino’s Pizza, as I had mentioned previously. 

Honestly, I really enjoyed the first two dishes’ the most. Later in the day I didn’t really feel that same excitement for trying other things. I loved everything I ate that day, don’t get me wrong. But I wasn’t as excited to try them. I think I was already worn out by two dishes even though we were less than 2 hours into our day. I think I also kind of felt awkward as well. I’m extremely thankful to my uncle for taking me out, but I think that because he was waiting for what I thought of each new item that I couldn’t really savor it that well. I guess I might have been the slightest bit pressured to express more enjoyable thoughts in order to not make him feel bad. It was all honesty though! I did enjoy every item, except two, and I was honest the whole time! 

We later went to the movies and saw the new film. I mention this because Indian theaters and US theaters are different in “protocol”. In the US there are trailers and ads before the movie starts. It’s the same in India, BUT, before the movie starts the national anthem is played. I had no idea of this at all, and so I immediately panicked and stood up with everyone else when the announcement came on. I stood there so awkward while everyone began to sing the national anthem and I did not know the first two lines of it. Good thing I had my mask on, or else it would have been even more awkward. AFter that it was all good. I personally like Indian theaters better. One, there’s a half time as Indian movies are ridiculously long. It’s great because you don’t have to get up and use the restroom in the middle of the movie and miss something. Two, because they have subtitles. I am a person who needs subtitles. Even if it’s in English, I need to read what they’re saying in order to understand it better. Okay, need is an exaggeration. I prefer to watch it with subtitles. 

I feel like my time in Pune was also kind of tense. Tense in a way, I feel cautious. Like I’ve said, my grandfather is a strict person, so that kind of aura usually remains in the household. I can’t help but sometimes  I feel a bit cautious with what I do or say because of that. I feel awkward sometimes.

But I also think that may be because I’m the only one of my age range there. My cousins are still much younger than me, and everyone else is at least 20 years older. So I’m kind of alone. They’re there with me, and I get to spend time with them, but it’s not really on the same generation level. It’s not that. We all think differently, and like different things. It’s not the same. 

Besides that, I’m satisfied with my visit to Pune. I was able to complete the top things on my list there, and I think I spent my time well. At certain parts I wish I could’ve gotten more time to spend time with a particular family member, but otherwise, I’m happy.

That concludes the first part of our trip.

Part 142- Summer Trip ( Extra Version)

 Okay, so this is like, my 3rd version of this post. I have three versions of this post because I don’t want to lose any progress on them. I may want to edit and change some of the two previous posts- most likely not- but if I do, it’s good to be prepared. My first version was mainly a summary of our itinerary. I didn’t really include any opinions or any thoughts I had besides, “Old Faithful was a disappointment,” or “The  Porcelain Basin was okay.” My second one is similar to this one, but with information about differences between a National and State Park. And hopefully, this third one will be somewhat-not really- a mix of both. So, let’s see how it goes.

We took a 7-day vacation to the western side of America- Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana- and visited 3ish specific locations. Yellowstone National Park, The Grand Tetons, and the Salt Flats/Arches National Park. I want to share my most favorite moments during the break, and give some of my opinions.

Top Moments:

Hiking in Grand Tetons

We spent our entire day- 3rd day- in Jackson Hole and, it was just magnificent there. We followed the Earth Trekkers schedule to plan our day, and it went really well. Starting from driving early morning to Schwabacher’s Landing, to Oxbow Bend, to Signal Mountain, to hiking up to Hidden Falls. My favorite two places were Oxbow Bend and Hidden Falls. 
Even though you had to hike about 0.5 miles up to Hidden Falls up a mountain, it was worth it. (I was slightly out of breath when I reached due to my quarantine adventures.) I think the only thing that would have made the experience better if there were fewer people. That way you can hear the sounds of nature more clearly, and watch the rapid falls while only hearing that.  

Hidden Falls

My mom took a picture of me taking a picture of my dad
Oxbow Bend was also my favorite because of the view. It’s nothing fancy, but the location and view of the mountains are just indescribable. ( Also because of how peaceful it was. Despite there being a few other groups of tourists, it was pretty quiet.) The water from Snake River is so clear you can see the reflections of the mountains and landscape in it. It was just stunning. 
Absolutely beautiful… 
My solo picture at Oxbow Bend

Family Picture at Oxbow Bend

 Natural Bridge

Along the way to Jackson Hole, we stopped by a campsite to rest. Near the campsite was this hike to a bridge that was naturally formed. The trail to the bridge was so long, that whenever someone who was coming back showed up, we would promptly ask them whether there is one or not. There is one, and it is just wow. It was also higher up so, we had to do some more hiking, except up a mountain. Totally worth the exhaustion though. I and my dad crossed the bridge and got a view of the scene below us. I was, honestly, a bit nervous when crossing, but, upon hearing my dad’s shrill voice scream, “WE MADE IT!” I felt better. 
Natural Bridge from below

Me and my dad on Natural Bridge

Salt Flats

The main reason I really enjoyed the Salt Flats was because of the Salt Flats themselves. Usually when we think of something formed naturally we think of weathering and erosion and images of canyons or mountains come to mind. Even though the salt flats aren’t “naturally formed” they are an act of the weather cycle. The evaporated water from the ancient lake Lake Bonneville left behind the salt that is called, Salt Flats. What’s intriguing, is how so much salt is piled up and is left behind to create this flat, solid, white structure. It’s really unbelievable. What’s also fascinating is how solid the salt is. I personally was surprised at how easy it was to walk normally on the salt. It felt really weird- like a more solid version of sand. 

Arches National Park

I’ve always seen pictures in class or online or even on one of my collected quarters of the Arches. I’ve never thought much of them or really have been THAT fascinated about them. But, after I saw them in real life for the first time, I was impressed. There were about 10, I think, arches and rock formations that we saw that day out of 2,000 arches in total. ( The 10 that were on the tour guides and were able to be visited.) The most common Arch is the Delicate Arch. That is the common Arch you see in pictures and stuff. And, yeah we saw it…from the overlook because there’s no way on Earth we would hike that much up a steep hill when the sun is high and it’s burning outside. Plus, I was already exhausted and drained from the 1.6-mile round hike to Landscape Arch. 
One very interesting thing, for me, about the Arches was “Fallen Arches”. I was reading online and in the newspaper, they give you about fallen arches and I was really fascinated. When you look at these Arches your mind wonders about the formation of these Arches and how they came to this form over millions and millions of years. You almost think that they’re invincible and they won’t break- especially for Balanced Rock or even Landscape Arch- but they can break. Landscape Arch had a trail that went up to the Arch in the past, but after a slab on the right side of the Arch fell off while hikers were resting there, it was closed off. ( The Arch has been stable after that, but there is a dilemma about whether it is stable to let hikers hike up there again, or whether it is stable because people aren’t near it.)  Another Arch that is believed to have previously been 2 arches- connected- had fallen. There is also Wall Arch, which is more common. It just proves, things created over a long period of time can be destroyed in less. The power of nature truly is incredible. ( Now, I can’t help but wonder when Balanced Rock will fall…)
Can you see Delicate Arch in the distance? 
( I can only see my extremely tired self)
Family Portrait in front of Pine Tree Arch
Balanced Rock…from a distance

Great Fountain Geyser

So, this geyser actually erupts every 12-15 hours and we just so happened to be lucky to find out about the geyser that day, and be there to see it. And, it was worth it. The most common geyser and well-known one is Old Faithful, and that mainly is because it is the only geyser that erupts on a predictable pattern. The geyser erupts about 20 times a day and because of that, more people can visit and experience a geyser. However, in my opinion, Old Faithful isn’t that great. Compared to the Great Fountain Geyser, Old Faithful looked kinda weak. Old Faithful does/can erupt higher than Great Fountain Geyser, but eruptions usually last about 1.5-3 minutes long. Great Fountain Geyser erupted for about 10 minutes. Plus, Great Fountain Geyser has more of a before-show performance where the pools start to overflow before it bursts. 
After some research, I have come to find out that Old Faithful is kind of not as faithful as it used to be. Really depends on what you mean by faithful. Before the 1959 earthquake, Old Faithful used to erupt 21 times a day. Now it erupts 20 times. Not that huge of a difference, but, it is a significant decrease. 

Miscellaneous Photos:

Me and dad in front of a hot spring in 

Just enjoying the view~

Another hot spring

Picture of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

A non-edited picture of the scenery
( It looked so majestic *sobs*)

Full view of the Teton range
( And us)

A mammoth (right) and an elephant (left)

Hiked up to Landscape Arch very tired,
 hiked down from Landscape Arch very tired

Part 142- Why isn’t there a State Monument?

I started this post by listing out everything I did during my break. I got to my 5th day before I changed my mind. Why should I write out a bunch of events that happened, when all I’m doing is describing something? What is really happening there? I’m not really explaining anything I felt other than how beautiful the landscape was. So, I scrapped that post and rewrote a new one. Here it is.

To start off, I want to explain the difference between a few things. Such as a State Park and National Park. National Park and National Monument. Etc.

National Park:

  • A national park is a scenic, or historically important, area that is protected by the  federal government for the enjoyment of the general public

National Monument:

  • A historical site or geographical area set aside by the national government and maintained for public use

National Forest:

  • A large expanse of forest that is owned, maintained, and preserved by the federal government

State Park:

  • An area of land that is protected by a U.S. state because of its natural beauty or importance in the history

State Monument:

  • There is no such thing called a state monument.

State Forest:

  • A forest that is administrated or protected by some agency of a sovereign state or federated state, or territory ( In the United States, it is a forest owned by one of the individual states)

The main difference between these two categories is by what type of government maintains it. A National Park, Forest, and Monument are maintained by the federal government while State Parks and Forests are maintained by a state government.

Comparing Further:

National and State Parks:

Like I said before, the main difference between a State and National Park is by the government that maintains it. This results in how a state park is regulated and kept, depending on where it is located. Also,  National Parks officially belong to the American People while state residents have less control over how their parks are managed. Lastly, many state parks are free, and there are over 10,000 across the nation. 

Considering that National Parks are maintained by a federal government, the parks must be extremely strict. When we visited Yellowstone, there wasn’t a single piece of trash anywhere. People were very diligent in throwing away their litter and making sure the park’s nature is undisturbed. I’m only making an assumption, but perhaps the state parks aren’t as strict. I haven’t been to a state park so I can’t confidently say whether it is as strict or not. But, I am assuming, since it is maintained by a state and state residents have less control, it may not be as litter-free or even strict as National Parks. 

Garner State Park in Texas
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

National Parks and Monuments:

While both are maintained by the NPS and other federal agencies, the primary difference between a National Park and Monument is who creates them. Although both do emphasize historical and scientific importance, they both also protect the natural world.

Congress decides national park status while a national monument is a presidential proclamation. While National monuments focus on a single attraction and are smaller, national parks offer various points of interest.

An example of a National Monument is Mount Rushmore or the Statue of Liberty. These are small and are mainly one thing while a National Park, such as Arches National Park, focuses on multiple points such as the variety of unique arches. 

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota

Arches National Park in Utah

National Parks and National Forests:

National forests often surround or neighbor National Parks. National Parks are made to preserve the landscape while National Forests, taking a conservationist approach, allow commercial activities such as mining and logging. There are also fewer recreation restrictions, meaning, for tourists, more relaxed rules at the national forests which may permit hunting and bringing dogs on the trail. 

I think National Forests are just recognized as forests and are federally managed to make sure there aren’t any problems when mining or logging. It’s like a kind of protection and to make sure the tourists and “resource-gatherers” don’t get injured and are heavily affected.

 State Parks, Forests, and natural areas:

State parks are managed in a way to conserve the forest, preserving the unique flora and fauna and habitats, and also ensuring the continued supply of resources such as timber. They are usually divided into three categories based on primary function: production, protection, and conservation forests. 

State parks and natural areas are a different story. State parks are areas of natural or scenic character developed to provide “recreational opportunities.” State natural areas, on the other hand, preserve areas with excellent natural attributes. The primary focus for natural areas is on protecting those resources.

State Monuments:

Even though there is no such thing called a State Monument, I wanted to make a separate section for it. First, I’m curious about why there isn’t such thing called a State Monument. There are State Parks and State Forests but no State Monuments. Is it because, unlike parks and forests, monuments aren’t really natural landscapes, and having two categories for them would be unnecessary? Most likely yes. If so, I would really like to know what a State Monument, if possible, could be. 

Part 142- Summer Trip

The clouds look like they’ve been brushed down to wisps from the sky as they circle the mountains beneath them. The weather echoes a gloomy sky, yet the sun still shines from its cracks, hitting the rocky formations gently. Seeing such a sight makes you awe nature, and want to soak in its beauty. 

I was able to experience this sight and so many more during the past 7 days on my summer trip. From Utah to Idaho, to Wyoming and Montana, and back to Utah before returning home in Texas. 7 days away from home, 6 on the road, and a few hours in the air. Here’s how it went.

Our trip consisted of staying 2 days at each place. 2 days to spend in Yellowstone, 2 days in the Grand Tetons, and 2 days in Salt Lake City. Originally, we were supposed to fly to Jackson Hole and visit the Grand Tetons first, but since our flight got canceled, we ended up flying to Salt Lake and driving to Idaho first. And to be honest, I’m glad. 

Day 1:

Waking up early in the morning, we drove to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, we saw multiple hot springs and we were blown. Even though this was the beginning of the sight we were to see, I couldn’t help but be amazed at it. I had always seen pictures of hot springs and geysers in pictures, but I couldn’t imagine the contrast between the heat radiating from the springs and the chilly temperatures early in the morning. You can always admire a picture, but seeing something in person is another level. That’s why we were so blown just by seeing them. 

Me and my dad in front of a hot spring
A hot spring

After that, we visited the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and saw the Upper and Lower falls from several viewpoints. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, a couple of times, and it’s always wonderful to see the landscape.  Even though it was the same in Yellowstone, the added touch was the waterfall that leads into a river and slowly created the steep canyons. Plus, there were hundreds and hundreds of trees and plants lined along with the formations, and that made it more beautiful. The Grand Canyon in Arizona has some if not very little vegetation and wildlife growing around it which makes it look really barren and dry. However, the one in Yellowstone has a lot of wildlife and nature growing along with it and adapting over the years, making it much more interesting. ( Sorry, Arizona.)  

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Yellowstone is actually named after the Yellowstone River, the major river, running through it. The Minnetaree Indians called the river Mi tse a-da-zi which translates to Yellow Rock River. This is most likely due to the yellowish formations of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. These formations are from the rocks rusting. The colors represent the absence or presence of water in the individual iron compounds. Most of the yellows are the result of iron present in the rock rather than sulfur, which people commonly mistake. 

After that our journey begins. After going to the farthest point in our plans, we slowly made our way back, stopping at the other various locations we were to visit. This includes Hayden Valley, Norris Geyser Basin, and Mammoth Spring. Throughout Hayden Valley, all you can see are the mountains in the distance, trees, sometimes elk or bison, and rivers. It is absolutely beautiful. Despite that there were so many tourists and people around, the landscape is immaculate. It was all-natural and completely undisturbed. You could go up to a herd of bison while keeping a safe distance and enjoy watching how calm they and the scenery look. In fact, when we went to see the bison, there were so many of them you could see them from one end to another. 

The bison are a little hard to see, but they’re there

A close-up photo

Norris Geyser Basin, on the other hand, was….well, a disappointment. Even though you don’t see mud pots, geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles every day and it was exciting to see them, they weren’t as great as they sounded, or even looked. Pictures often deceive us, and in this case, they deceived us well. There were a few hot springs and mud pots that were impressive, but overall, none of them really wowed us. None of them were incredible. There weren’t as many vivid colors and sights as described in the newspaper or descriptions, and in reality, it looked a bit dull. The disappointment hit harder when we walked for almost half a mile and not be impressed. 

But, the most impressive geyser was the Steamboat geyser. This geyser was located in the Back Basin at Norris Geyser Basin. Even though the geyser would erupt from 4 days-50 years, we couldn’t help but wait for some time and hope we get lucky to see this geyser erupt. I don’t have a proper explanation as to why I think this geyser was the best, but I can say it is more promising than Porcelain Basin. 

We ended up not going to Mammoth Spring and ended our day there. 

Well, not exactly. When we were going home, we stopped near a river and spent some time sitting near it and dipping our feet in the water. Resting your feet in cool, flowing water while it’s at least 90 degrees outside is the most relaxing thing ever. You’ve just got to deal with the sudden coldness of it at first, and then it feels amazing. The experience was great, except when I was trying to get up from the rocks and my foot got scraped against a jagged one. So, yeah. I know that next time when walking on rocks, not be impulsive.

We also ended up taking the longer route by accident when going back home. So, we could have been home in an hour but it took us 3 hours to get home. Which, I really don’t mind because we got to go through two cities we weren’t supposed to go to and had dinner in one. Happy accidents. 

Day 2:

Our second day in Yellowstone was also our last in Yellowstone. We packed up our stuff from our cabin that morning and drove to the park again. Our plans were to visit Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic, and some other geysers along the way. In the morning we saw a lone bison cross the road and took some pictures before driving to Old Faithful. We made it just in time for Old Faithful. A few minutes after we arrived, it erupted. It was amazing. It does live up to its name and was faithful in showing us its power, erupting for about 3 minutes. Despite that it was quite a performance, Old Faithful really isn’t that great. I think it’s popular because it’s the only geyser that has a predictable pattern. Which is fair, but I think it is a bit overrated. 

We then went to Grand Prismatic, and it was absolutely stunning. We didn’t hike up to the overlook, but we saw it from the boardwalk and it was incredible. I never knew that a place like Grand Prismatic existed. It didn’t give off the regular, white color but it gave blue and red. It was really beautiful and would have been even more beautiful from the overlook. 

In front of Grand Prismatic
( We only captured blue here)

For me, the main attraction of that day was the Great Fountain Geyser. In my opinion, it’s the best geyser. Even better than Old Faithful. Old Faithful erupted for about 3 minutes while this geyser erupted for a whole 10 minutes. Even more water and steam and height than Old Faithful. My mom and I were sitting at the benches near the geyser, and we had to move back to avoid being splashed on. We thought the water would be hot but the water was cool and the steam really masked the water. It made up for the sulfur smell though. Oh yes, to be surrounded by heavy steam and the stench of rotting eggs while only getting to see a glimpse of the geyser. Mmmmm, how nice. 

Lesson: Eggs are very high in two proteins- globulin and keratin- and when globulin starts to decay it gives off a toxic chemical that is called hydrogen sulfide. This has a very potent sulfur smell, hence we think of rotting eggs when we smell it.  

Later that day we stopped at a nearby campsite to stretch our legs and do a bit of hiking. Near the site was a natural bridge so we hiked up. It was a very long and tiring route, so we couldn’t help but ask every hiker on their way back whether there was a bridge or not. There actually was, and it was really high up. More hiking. Except up a mountain. Great… A little more than halfway up I was panting hard and on the verge to give up. No wait, I did give up. I even told my dad to go back down. Luckily he was stubborn and made me go up, which I am thankful for. If he hadn’t pushed me to go further, I wouldn’t have been able to get such an amazing view, and also wouldn’t have been proud of myself. After that, we hiked back and drove to Jackson Hole.

View from below

We made it

What I loved most about Yellowstone was the quietness. Being cut off from the social world. I thought I didn’t use my phone that much but after being in an area with no signal for hours I realized how dependant I was on my phone. Being in that area makes you look outside since you have no option, and I loved it. I know, that if I had a signal there, I would probably spend my time on my phone in the car instead of seeing the wildlife and rivers on EVERY SIDE. 

Extra: Okay so I did a little mistake that day. See, we were driving around Firehole Lake and we would stop and take pictures of hot springs and such. After we got in the car after taking pictures of one, there was another. My parents, not wanting to get out of the car, told me to go see if that hot spring was interesting or not. So I got out of the car and I didn’t realize where I was walking until all of a sudden I hear,

“HEY!” I look up and see my parents looking at me seriously and that’s when I noticed. I was walking on the actual ground and not the boardwalk. The ground. I almost could have burned myself by stepping into the hot, boiling water around the spring or even from the ground. The ground is extremely hot, and I could have possibly faced intense, life-long scars if my parents hadn’t called me. It was pretty scary once I realized what I almost did. I’m glad I was caught just in time before anything bad happened. So, here’s a lesson. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. No matter where you are. 

Day 3:

On the third day, we followed the Earth Trekkers route through the Tetons and drove to Schwabacher’s landing to start. We were able to take photos close to Snake Siver, but could not at the Overlook. Due to the growth of trees near the area, the view was blocked, so we took a picture of how it’s supposed to look like on the reading panel thing, and saved that. ( My dad is such a genius. lol) After that, we went to Oxbow Bend. Oxbow Bend is one of my favorite spots that day simply because of the view. You get such a gorgeous view of the river, wildlife, and the Teton range in the background that it’s irresistible to take a picture. Some of my favorite pictures of us were taken there.  After that, we went up to Signal Mountain.

Close-up of the Tetons at Oxbow Bend

Family Picture at Oxbow Bend

The view from Signal Mountain was pretty okay, but I think I was most focused on the signal from Signal Mountain. As soon as I got reception there, even the tiniest amount, I went into rush mode and immediately started downloading everything I wanted to watch. I did pretty much waste my time in downloading those Netflix episodes when I barely watched anything during the trip. ( I mostly read.) But also, I was more focused on my phone. This is what I meant. In Yellowstone, if this happened, I am sure I would have also been on my phone and trying to download something. It’s funny how strong your addiction or how attached you can be to your phone without realizing it. Now, as I look back, I struggled with being off the grid when I had a signal. It’s easy to ignore the priceless view in front of you for something fake. 

After that, we had lunch outside with the Teton Range in front of us. After that, we took a boat cruise across Jenny Lake up to the mountains where we hiked up to Hidden Falls. I was particularly excited about Hidden Falls after seeing the pictures online. It really was hidden in the mountains and was just beautiful to watch. The only sounds there was the sound of the water crashing onto the rocks, the gentle breeze, and a few murmurs from the tourists that were also there.  We stayed there for some time before hiking back down to the dock and putting our feet in the lake while observing the landscape. 

The feet in lake experience was similar to feet in river experience, but the view. Just, the view. The view was the biggest difference between the two and I love it. Especially after hiking down a mountain in close-to-but-not-exactly-scorching-scorching heat, it is the most calming thing ever. I didn’t even want to leave. I wanted to stand on the rocks with my legs on the cool water while watching the mountains look so majestic and calm in the distance. It was the only thing I wanted to do at that moment. I didn’t care if we had to leave to get home early or whether I had a reception for some time in that area. Just wanted to stay at that spot forever. ( Sadly I had to.)

Just chilling and enjoying the view

Extra: We took a boat shuttle across Jenny Lake to get to the mountains, and, on the way back, there was a small butterfly that landed on my dad’s watch. How brave was it to land on a human? I was fascinated, to say. Even though the wind was rapidly blowing, from the speed of the boat, the butterfly was calm and didn’t even flinch. It just stayed there for some time. 

 Day 4:

Waking up early in the morning at 4, we drove to Mormon Row to watch the sunrise. When we arrived it was pin-drop silent. No birds, cars, humans, anything. The air was still and it really felt like the world was holding its breath until the sun appeared. It was chilly, and it felt like the sun was taking forever to rise, but the view was worth it. The way the colors were blended with each other against the horizon and darkened the mountains was stunning. I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets in the past but never over the mountains. We later drove to Park City, had lunch, and continued driving to Salt Lake City. We crossed the Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah borders multiple times while we drove, and you could see mountains sloping down from every side. 
Mountains during sunrise

Lesson: Mormons sent parties from the Salt Lake Valley to establish new communities and expand their population. Some Mormons arrived here in the 1890s from Idaho establishing a community called Mormon Row. They established 27 homesteads here, up to which only 4 remain, and grew crops by irrigation. You can still find some of the old ditches the were dug today. ( We did.) 

Day 5: 

Our 5th day was actually a spur-of-the-moment planned trip. We went to Arches National Park after planning on it while we drove to Park City. At first, when we arrived at Arches there was a sign that said the park was full and to come back in 2-3 hours. Did we drive here for nothing? That was our first thought. But, a few minutes later the park was no longer full, and we could come in. Honestly, for a second when we thought the park was closed, I couldn’t help but be thankful. Sometime along the way, when we were driving, I suddenly got really anxious about hiking. I started thinking about the heat and the hiking and the heat and the HIKING and the HEAT, and I low-key panicked. But I got over it when we started our way on Devil’s Garden Trail. But then we started hiking and my worries got to me again. After the three of us hiked an easy trail to Pine Tree Arch, my mom went back to the car and I and my dad hiked the 1.6-mile round trek to Landscape Arch. 1.6 miles in 105-degree heat. Sheesh. 
The way up wasn’t that bad. I mainly took my mind off of the hike by observing the trail and thinking to myself, Okay, you may have to hike uphill right now, but at least when you’re coming back and are exhausted, it’ll feel better going downhill. Yet still, no matter how much you try to take your mind off of it, the heat will still get to you. Along the way, there were small areas of shade under trees or from the shadows and it felt like heaven whenever we stopped in one. Even the smallest amount of shade in such weather is enough for a quick break and feels cool. Immediately after we reached Landscape Arch, instead of photographing it, we sat in the shade, and on a tree. After regaining some breath, we took a few pictures and started our path back. 
Trekking back was even harder. It felt like the sun had just reached its peak and this was the hottest it could get. I was covered in sweat, walking like a crazy drunk person, and on the verge to collapse on the ground. We stopped at almost every small bit of shade there was, and tried to cool ourselves down by pouring water in our hats and putting them over our heads. There even was a time where I was so worn out and exhausted I said to my dad, “I’m dying.” Huge exaggeration, but I was out here hiking 0.8 miles in the scorching heat in a desert area. 
Solo shoot in front of the ever-so distant
Delicate Arch
( Too tired to hike up there so we took it from the overlook)

Family picture in front of Pine Tree Arch

Me and dad in front of Landscape Arch
( How tired do I look?)
One thing I want to highlight from that day was the roads. The roads were so long you could see them from miles away. They were straight and curved and sloping and everywhere. You could get such a perfect view of the road ahead with the horizon and landscape in one picture. It was just amazing.
Day 6:

Day 6, our very last day of vacation. On our 6th day, we drove out to see the Salt Flats. The Salt Flats were more of a curious wonder for me. Whe I first walked on the Salt Flats I was really surprised at how solid it was. Usually, when we feel salt it easily falls apart in our hands and is grainy, but here, it was sturdy and easy to walk on. It felt like sand, except it was more solid. Plus, it was completely white. It was just this huge area of pure- not exactly pure- white salt that was leftover from the ancient lake Lake Bonneville. It was incredible. But, what is also amazing, is that the salt is edible. I was doing some research and it turns out, the same salt that is a wonder and is solid to walk on, was once mined and was eaten. ( A bit disgusting, but also fascinating.) 

On a car on Salt Flats

Mexico Trip- 2019

On Friday, March 8th, we headed out to Cancun, Mexico. The 2-3 hour flight was on American Airlines and was an amazing trip. Tip to y’all, don’t wear long sleeves under a thick jacket, it gets hot and sweaty once you reach places like Mexico, and Hawaii, and places with similar weather. The Fiesta Americana Condesa, All inclusive, is an amazing hotel. The entrance is a cone looking bungalow, with three-tiered gapes, and giant triangular openings at the top, and is an outdoor hotel. They have beautiful plants and vegetation all around and in the hotel, and had a waterfall displayed across the granite in the entrance area. Once you walk inside you will see couches and chairs and tables everywhere on the open ground, and pathways or entrances to restaurants, the buffet, the bar, and the outdoors. To start with the ground floor, I have to say amazing.

The restaurants all have very nice, traditional Mexican food, American food, and many more different cultural ones. To start with the buffet, it is open every single minute. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert with many scrumptious, and amazing different choices. For example, for breakfast, they have the best food there. The most delicious pancakes and waffles you will ever have. They taste so sweet, and sugary, and fluffy, and buttery, that you will love them so much you will never want to leave. They have tropical fruits, and you can get your own blended smoothie or you can try their versioned orange juice, green juice, pineapple juice and more. Ongoing omelet stations, tasty sweets, sausages, bacon, eggs, fried beans, potatoes, hashbrowns, french toast, waffles, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate, anything I’m definitely sure you will love.
For lunch and dinner, they spread out the food into themes. Once they did a sea theme and carved fish and seahorses out of bread. MIND BLOWING!!!!! They display soups, build your own salads stations, potatoes, veggies, meat, meals combining them all. They only plan them by theme. Let’s say Indian. They would have these veggies fried in a batter which fries and becomes a crunchy coating.  We call bhajji, and they taste amazing. ( I recommend spinach or potato ones. They taste incredible.) They would also serve yellow rice with it, or anything else, to help you experience the cultural food.  Now, we get to the desserts. YUM. I have to say, I was impressed with the chefs’ cooking skills. They were amazing. For the sea themed night, they created little boats, which were mint custard, hardened on the outside and the soft, sweet custard on the inside. They were so good and minty. Other examples were cakes, and tarts and fruits. The also had these deserts which were in a glass. It would be like a fruity custard, maybe a filling, at the bottom, and then another layer, just plain vanilla at the top, and to finish they had hardened chocolate strips or a design wedged in, with fruits for taste. For a more cookie-like dessert, they had this soft cookie looking piece that was pink, caramel in the middle, and a yellow “cookie” on the bottom. Then stuck to the side was a bit of caramel and another pink “cookie” on top. It was soft and delicious and the caramel tasted like peanut butter for some reason. It was regular caramel that looked and tasted a bit like peanut butter. It was delicious. For a start, they had a tart crust that looked like a small coffee filter and was filled with chocolate, and fruits and hardened chocolate were laid on top. The food was so delicious and amazing that the taste would linger in your mouth for so long that you would crave for it.

The rooms were as amazing as the building. The floors were tile, and the bridges to cross from one side to another were cased in an outer white stone and had a section for plants to grow. Like a mini garden. In the rooms were two beds, a Tv, a night lamp at the top of the bed frame, a closet, mini fridge, and everything else you see in hotels. The only thing that made this different was the view from the balcony. From our balcony, you could perfectly see the pools below you, and every seat laid out on the pavement. Every palm tree, bar, hut, and person would be at your view from there. RIght behind the pool would be the beach. You could see every wave crash down on the people as they wade into the salty cold waters lapping ferociously at you every second. At night the view would be more beautiful. Just at sunset, the sky would sink down, causing it to become a flood of red, yellow, blue, purple, pink, orange, and a tint of gray. Just gazing out at the beach, you could see how beautiful and calm the ocean would look like, and how much you would just want for it to stay like that so you could gaze at it longingly for as long as you want.

The adventures we had were snorkeling and going to Chichen Itza, an Ancient Mayans ground.
When we went snorkeling we booked a jungle tour. It basically was where we followed a driver around the mangrove trees and into the reefs. The reefs were beautiful. Not exactly as you would imagine. Colorful with pink, yellow, red, orange coral everywhere. The coral was just plain gray and rocky. Still, the way the anemones moved, and the rocks looked, it was an amazing experience.

Chichen Itza. I have to say, it was the most fascinating history lecture I’ve ever had.
Fun fact: in a popular game they played, similar to basketball, the winners would be sacrificed to the gods to play with them. Their thinking: You’re the best so you get the chance to play with the gods. My most favorite thing was the architecture. I found all that fascinating. The way the stone was stacked, what the purpose was for, the designs. One of the temples, it was like a square pyramid, I actually not what it seems. It looks big and tall on the outside, but inside, its actually a shelter for the second, smaller, actual temple inside. Cool, right! Another thing is that the Mayans believed in a bird that would be evil. The way the structure was built, was that every time you ran up the steps and you clapped your hands, there would be a sound like a bird calling or crowing out to you. Even standing on the ground at the very bottom, and you clap, you could hear the sound of the bird as loud as the clap.

Summer vacation

  My family and I are going on family vacation soon. I am planning to go to Harry Potter world.Amazing! I also want to go to Disney world. I just love it there. I get lots and lots and lots of autographs there! I am going to start taking swimming classes in summer. I just love to swim. I used to take swimming classes when I was little but I stoped because I was getting and ear infection at that time. My parents are planning to go o Europe for summer vacation. That sounds like fun. I feel excited about summer vacation and I just can’t wait  for summer to come!☺️❤️


On Saturday I went camping with this group called Marathi Mandal. We got ready and got in the car. It was a long long drive. When we got to the campsite we unpacked our tent and got it ready. Then I played with my new friends, Kitki and Eeera. We drew and played on the swings. We also flew a kite and ate yummy snacks. Later we grilled 50 corns and played. Then we went back to the campsite and played some more. Then we ate lunch. After lunch we agreed that we will tell stories and eat gummy bears in Kitki’s tent at night. Later we had dinner and played telephone, Musical chairs, and danced. Then they lit a fire and roasted marshmallows with chocolate syrup. Next we told scary stories and ate gummy bears in Kitki’s tent. My parents even let me sleep in her tent. The next morning we had breakfast,packed the tent,and went home. It was the best camping trip ever!