More than the 8th Wonder of the World


Taj Majal

I had some clue of what to expect going to a third world country such as India. I have been exposed to the culture, here in the states, for most of my life working with the hospitality industry. Needless to say, I was still in shock and in awe. One cannot really prepare themselves the way I thought I did by just absorbing information from people who have lived there. I saw a Hindu funeral, explored the vegetable markets, rode the streets on the back of a motorcycle, visited Temples, shopped, relaxed on front porch swings all day, visited a beautiful farm in the country, ate great, authentic Indian Food as well as food I don’t wish to eat again, saw poverty as I never seen before and met people who I consider as my new extended family that I will keep in touch with always. 

Hill Society Family

  I was so ready to get there by the time I had flown over19 hours and gone through umpteen time zones. I didn’t realize that I still had a 6 hour car ride to go from Mumbai. We arrived to the Hill Society in Navasari, at the home of Harshad and Roshni Patel, at about 6:00 am on December 17th. For the record, I flew out of Dallas on December 15th. It took a few days to adjust to the extreme jet lag but it took even longer to adjust to my new surroundings. The Hill society is quiet, peaceful and all of the homes are open to all of the families that live there. It is actually pretty amazing when you see the family bond between everyone. I felt at home with them immediately. We ventured into Navasari, which is a fairly large city.  A city filled with pollution, dust, slum areas, motor bikes, rickshaws and people everywhere. Did I mention there are no traffic lights, stop signs or driving laws? There are also restaurants, parks, schools and a wide variety of food vendors lining up and down the roads. The food on the side of the road is supposed to be the best and it was.  I was fortunate enough to stay with friends who told me what was okay to eat and where it was ok to eat from.

Although I did get sick at the end of the trip, it was well worth it. On our way to Dheli and Agra, I was able to visit Hindu Temples and Muslim Mosques in numerous cities such as, Ambaji, Ajmer and Boroda (which is where I saw the first traffic stop light of the whole trip). We visited the Swaminarayan Akshradam in Dheli. This Temple should have made the Wonders of the World list with the Taj Majal. It was fascinating.  After a very long journey via van of six people, we reached the Taj Majal in Agra. It was as breathtaking as I imagined even on the rainy, foggy day that we arrived. A ride on a camel cart up to the entrance made it sink in that I was definitely across the world. Speaking of animals, they are everywhere: Cows, bulls, goats, hogs, wild dogs and even an elephant crossing the road.  One village was filled with monkeys mingling with all of the people and of course trying to take everyone’s hats, glasses or loose articles. That was definitely a different feeling than waving at them in a cage at the zoo, but they were very friendly.  

 I spent most of my time in Navasari, Bardoli, Saroli and the surrounding

Vanita and Dheval just before wedding ceremony

 Surat area. The wedding in Bardoli was fascinating and much longer than what we are used to in the states (3 full days of events). 

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Tourists Flock to Bloom Boom Areas . . .

According to the experts (in Texas), they are anticipating a Bloom Boom with thousands and thousands of wildflowers to cover the fields and areas along the highways and byways with a profusion of color; notably blue, the color of the Texas State Flower, the Bluebonnet. Texas, along with many other states, had suffered a drought for the past few years, but the fall and winter … Continue reading Tourists Flock to Bloom Boom Areas . . .

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Festival of Flowers

Being described as the premier flower and garden event of the greater Gulf coast is surely enough reason for those of us who can barely wait to breathe in the fragrance of Spring to shuck off our winter attire, shake out those pastels, and head to Mobile, Alabama for the Festival of Flowers. The Festival, now in its 17th year, takes place in March which … Continue reading Festival of Flowers

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“March Madness”

If you were a basketball fan then you would definitely think that March Madness is referring to the highly anticipated college basketball team match-ups, which took place on March 14th.  As a consequence of this, the opening round began on March 16th in Dayton, Ohio.  And, the first and second rounds of competition began on March 18th going through the 21st

Each of these  in itself is a huge event, where the cities of New Orleans, Louisiana; Providence, Rhode Island; San Jose, California and Spokane, Washington will see action on the 18th and 20th.  That should be a reasonable boost in tourism for those areas.  Then on the 19th and 21st of March, basketball fans will be treated in Buffalo, New York; Jacksonville, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  I say it’s great to spread the cheer and help out the local economy.  

Flickr photo by Little Silver

Not to be outdone though, there are the regional tournaments taking place on Thursday, March 25th and Saturday, March 27th in Syracuse, New York and Salt Lake City, Utah, followed by St. Louis, Missouri and Houston, Texas on the 26th and 28th of March. 

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Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Who is St. Patrick?  Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?  Most of us know when St. Patrick’s Day is, March 17th, but how did it become such a celebrated day? St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He is best known for banishing all the snakes from Ireland. Is this true or false? False, the island nation was never home to any snakes; This was really a … Continue reading Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Natchez Pilgrimage…A Mississippi Tradition

   Spring comes early to the Deep South.  Mid-February usually brings daffodils and the budding of flowering trees. By early March, the dogwoods and redbuds are bursting into bloom followed closely by flowering bulbs and azaleas.  While Northern neighbors are busy shoveling snow from the latest blizzard, Southern gardeners greet the arrival of spring with joy and exuberance. My father always has his vegetable garden … Continue reading Natchez Pilgrimage…A Mississippi Tradition

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