Introduction to Art

This weekend I had an opportunity to meet a painter Nispruha Desai. Her enthusiastic about travelling is infectious. But unlike most travelers, she shares her experiences through her paintings. Each of her paintings reflects her ability to notice exceptional things. Although all her paintings left me speechless, the ones which remained in my heart are the ones depicting monsoon. The painter had spent her childhood and youth in India. There everyone waits for monsoon. As soon as the first showers occur, everything seems to become fresh. People going around with colorful umbrellas is an amazing sight. All these memories are captured in her paintings. The colors are so vibrant that the effect is different in various volumes of lights. Her work is not only present in canvas but also on tables, lamp, etc. Her work covers both traditional and modern art. I was surprised to learn her painting exhibitions are conducted in Monroeville public library, which I visit regularly.

She simply inspired me to follow my passions. There is a huge misinterpretation of retirement. It is generally associated with following a uniform routine. But I learnt it is the time to go back to ones childhood and pursue all the hobbies which had got shelved. This meet turned out to be highly educational for me, as I learnt to look and understand modern art. Let us take some time from the daily grind of life and identify the colors of life. If possible let us express it someway. The results will help us discover ourselves. I hope to see many more works of Nispruha(Nipu) Desai. My best wishes are with her.

The Ultimate reason

They say a motivated person can meet any challenge. Also when you are focused on something, circumstances will complicate. This turned out to be absolutely true for me this weekend. I had qualified for the Toastmasters division contest for motivational speaking which was scheduled on 18th March 2017. The only problem was that the venue was 80 miles from my home. I had always had someone guide me while driving whenever I went for long drives. But this time, there was no one. If it were something else I would have cancelled, but it was public speaking my passion. Hence my only friend was google maps. A day before, it snowed heavily. Below is the status of the road.

A day before

My mother suggested me to go ahead and trust Almighty. I kept practicing my speech but all the while the drive was a big tension. A day before leaving I requested my manager to be available on phone incase I get lost. He replied, I would be able to make this drive if I have driven atleast 10 miles alone. This was very encouraging. Also everyone in my Monroeville Toastmasters club motivated me. My friends Ravi and Saritha also supported me. So on 18th morning at 7:00 am, I set out with google maps indicating the direction. After driving for 2 miles, the map holder slipped. I had to park at a nearby mall and fix it. Then I started driving. The snow on the road had been cleared but it was raining. At some places, the fog was so dense that one could barely see few steps ahead. Luckily there was less traffic and often it seemed, I was the only person on the road. At times I wished there was someone to take pictures of the road. There were postcard views with clouds shadowing the trees. I made it to the venue before time. I gave my speech at the International speech contest for Division C. Once I heard the speeches, it was worth the drive. Once done, I drove back home again 80 miles. This time there were many cars on the road. Although I could not make it to top 3 speeches, this trip will still be memorable to me as it was the first time when I drove all on my own. Challenges are difficult but all you need is the Ultimate reason to meet it. For me it was public speaking. I thank, Monroeville Toastmasters Club, my mother and to everyone who supported me. Without you all I would not have made this trip.

A Beautiful day

Sunshine in Winter (Sardi ki Dhoop) has often been used as a sign of soothing beauty in Hindi poetry. I was never convinced about it being soothing until today. Today morning I woke up early because the room seemed to be too bright. I was a bit grumpy but when was surprised when I opened the curtains. After weeks of rain and snow, it was sunny today. The temperature had risen by a few degrees. I decided to spend the entire day outdoors. The best way to start was by thanking God Almighty, so I went to the Sri Venkateshwara temple. Every building, shop, board and even the leafless trees, on the way, seem to be enjoying the sun. The temple too seemed to be shining in the sun and encouraging everyone to enjoy this day.

The Glorious temple

The Glorious temple

I was so inspired that I went to the community park. The entire park seemed to have come to life. The kids were just too happy to be outdoors.

The sprawling park

The sprawling park

After spending weeks with heavy woolen clothes, it was a relief to walk without sweaters for a day. The kids were running from here to there. Their laughter and cheer just made up for the missing flowers. The pets just couldn’t believe they were finally out for a long walk. The entire park seemed to be like a colorful pleasant picnic spot. Infact I felt so light that I walked for more than 2 miles at a stretch, a feat I could never achieve even on a treadmill. The sunshine seemed to have rubbed on everyone, as every person I passed had a broad smile. I left only after it started getting cold.

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I think this applies to our lives as well. We are so engrossed in our daily lives that we grumble whenever there is a change. But just remove the curtains and you will be surprised as someone truely said, Opportunities are like Sunshine.

Cruising through City

One day while returning from grocery store, me and my friends decided to explore Pittsburgh downtown. We checked various options and finally decided on the Gateway Clipper Fleet ride. Its a cruise ride which covers the entire downtown. We had booked the 7:30 pm ride but got stuck in the traffic and were late by few minutes. So we went for the 8:30 pm ride. We spent the next 40 minutes exploring station square.

Boarding the Cruise

Boarding the Cruise

At 8:30 pm we boarded our cruise. It was a marvelous cruise. We sat at the open deck. The guide gave us details about various landmarks of the city.

Approaching a Bridge

Approaching a Bridge

It was only on this ride we realized the city has so many bridges, each having its own story. It was twilight when we started but it grew dark in a few minutes. With darkness, the lights of each landmark came up.

Night view of Pittsburgh

Night view of Pittsburgh

Night view

Night view

Distant view of Mount Washington

Distant view of Mount Washington

We were mesmerized by the night view of the city. On the way the Point State Park fountain looked amazing with lights all around it. The shining fountain water and the darkness just seemed to complement each other. The rivers continued to flow in their simple rhythm in spite of this change of time.

Point State Park Fountain at night

Point State Park Fountain at night

We also came to know about the history of the Duquesne Incline. It was 9:30 pm when we got down from the cruise.

They say whatever happens, happens for good. We were upset on missing the 7:30 pm ride but had we not missed it, we would not have seen the Magnificient night view of the city. So the next time you miss a schedule on a tour, don’t be disheartened, remember there might be something better in store for you.

Pujo in USA

Goddess Durga

Goddess Durga

The biggest festival that a bengali looks forward to, for the entire year, the Durga Puja 2016 is going on. It is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. This is the time when the air smells of festivity. This year I had the opportunity of visiting the Durga Puja at Pittsburgh, USA in Hindu Jain Temple. Once inside the hall, I felt as if I was in India. The rituals, the decorations, the people and of course the food, all made it a lively place to be. Durga Puja is the time when people get together and discuss on all topics ranging from sports to food. Here also it was so, the hot topic of discussion was Pittsburgh Steelers. Simply proves no matter where they are, bengalis just love sports.

The Hindu Jain Temple

The Hindu Jain Temple

It was raining yesterday night and so the weather was cold from the morning. Thankfully it didn’t rain after morning. Once I reached the temple, the serenity of the atmosphere filled me with happiness. I offered my prayers with flowers. The most admirable thing was, the priest translated the meaning of the prayers to the people in English, thus explaining the prayers to everyone. After the puja we had the delicious meal(Puja Bhog) which comprised of Khichadi, fries, veggies and sweets. Also there was a small exhibition of clothes, accessories and jewelry. Cultural programs were held afterwards. The children were playing around dressed in traditional attire. It reminded me of my school days. I thank the Bengali Association of Pittsburgh(http://bengali-pitt.org/bap/) for keeping the culture alive so far from home. Happy Durga Puja to Everyone. May Goddess Durga bless everyone with happiness and fulfill all their wishes.

Remembering the Forests

A Fairy tale entrance

A Fairy tale entrance

I came across an interesting site(http://www.visitpittsburgh.com/events-festivals/pgh200/events/) while browsing through the internet. I realized 2016 is an important year for Pittsburgh as its the 200th year of the city. One of the events on this occasion was the Butterfly Forest at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. It seemed so unique that I called up my friends and we planned to go there next Sunday. It was a hot day, still we managed to start by 11:30 am. As it was a Sunday, traffic was comparatively less.

We reached within 40 minutes. As soon as we entered we were mesmerized by the decoration of flowers and trees in different sections of the Gardens. The royal gardens made us feel regal, the tropical gardens made us sweat, the sunken garden soothed us with its fountains and hanging flowers, the Japanese courtyard garden filled us with awe by its beautiful bonsai, the desert garden reminded us of the harshness of life with its cactus and the list goes on. I had never seen so many colors in my life. We were enchanted by the flowers in the Orchid gardens. Each flower was unique but its beauty became even more prominent when it was placed with all other elements of the garden, namely the leaves, branches and trees.
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Harshness of Life

Harshness of Life

A Chair of flowers

A Chair of flowers

Beautiful Mediterranean garden

Beautiful Mediterranean garden

As if this was not enough, we came across the Butterfly Forest. As soon as we entered, I felt as if I was in some magic land. There were so many butterflies. Each had its unique identity. One of them even opened its wings while I was taking pictures. We had to keep looking on all sides as every time a differently patterned butterfly rose from somewhere or other.

A butterfly posing for my camera

A butterfly posing for my camera

This whole trip just emphasized how important it is to maintain the forest. All this beauty will perish if we do not conserve forests. I was glad we visited the gardens in 2016. We even visited the souvenir shop which had eco friendly things for visitors. So the next time you are in Pittsburgh, make sure you visit the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Lamp in the middle of garden

Lamp in the middle of garden

A Fair to remember

The colorful entrance to the fair

The colorful entrance to the fair

This Friday a friend of mine messaged me about a fair going on in my city. I googled about it and found its the North American Martyrs Summer Festival in Monroeville, PA. We left around 7:00 pm. This was the first time I was going to attend a fair abroad. Once we reached there the biggest challenge was to find a parking place. After parking we thought we will have to walk a lot but there was a shuttle to the fair.

Amazing rides

Amazing rides

As soon as we reached there, I was reminded of my school days. There used to be a ‘Summer Mela’ in my hometown Baroda. Visiting that fair used to be in the wish list of every child. It used to be a colorful fair with rides and delicious food stalls. This fair had all these elements. All the stalls were decorated with colorful balloons. There were rides, games and food. The aroma of fresh fries and cold ice-cream just aroused our taste buds. Everywhere kids were running, playing and shouting. To make this entire fair musical a live band played songs from 50s, 60s and 70s. I loved the rock and roll songs.

Live band in fair

Live band in fair

In this age of high tech entertainment, nothing equals the satisfaction of attending a fair. They seem to have fun for people of all age groups. The presence of family brings in security. It also allows us to spend quality time with our family. These are the opportunities when all the generations of the family come together and have a great time. By the time we returned it was late night, but we were so rejuvenated that we walked till the parking lot. Next time you visit a new place, make sure you attend the local fairs.

Food stalls

Food stalls