Monday, December 31, 2007

Desi style and Pardesi style wedding

On 29-DEC-2007, Aruna akka/Murthy bava rallied the gang and got the troops ready early in the morning for the initial phase of the desi style wedding.

All of us, dressed up in traditional Indian attire headed towards the Balaji temple in Riverdale, GA for the proceedings. We had prasaadam for lunch (pulihora, curd-rice and pongal - pongal the best of the three)

Desi Wedding

The next day, Sunday 30-DEC-2007, we attended the pardesi style wedding in the afternoon at a presbyterian church in Duluth, GA. It was a unique wedding in its own way. A true mixture of appropriate portions of both the cultures (Western and Eastern.)

The bride and the groom came up with an excellent idea of intertwining the important phases of a Hindu wedding with that of a Christian wedding. We thoroughly enjoyed this creative spin to a new kind of wedding.

Pardesi Wedding

Rehearsal dinner

Padma bhabhi made lovely breakfast (medhu vada and sambar) and all of us had a heavy meal. Immediate family went for the rehearsal while we lazed around after a heavy breakfast.

Towards the evening we got ready for the rehearsal dinner. The dress code was business casual for gentleman and desi/pardesi for the ladies.

No alcohol was served at the rehearsal dinner and that upset a few of the stags. After returning from the rehearsal dinner we got some "flavored" liquids to control the commotion.

Rehearsal Dinner

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Trip to downtown Atlanta

We woke up late after a late nighter. I booked tickets online to visit Georgia Aquarium and Coca-cola museum. We had a quick lunch and left for our tour of Atlanta downtown.

We spent about an hour or so at the Coca-cola museum first and then went to spend the next couple of hours at the Georgia Aquarium. I would highly recommend spending at least 4 hours at the Georgia Aquarium. It is definitely worth a trip or two.

We came back home exhausted and spent the rest of the evening with the family. Mehendi and Karaoke are the main events of the night, in addition to the routine savoring of the colored liquids.

The highlight of the evening was the "samoohika lungar" - community dining

Coke and Aquarium

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Stone mountain in Lilburn

After a good brunch we stepped out to see Stone Mountain Park in Lilburn home of Stone Mountain - a 1 trillion pound, rock formation from volcanic eruption 3 million years ago.

We went up to the top of the mountain on a cable car. From the top of the mountain we trekked 1 mile down from the other side of the mountain and back to the top to get down to the base camp on the cable car.

Southern states are not immune to cold weather this time of the year. It was cold in the evening and we reached home at about 5:30pm, had hot cup of tea. Other relatives started pouring in - pick up from airport, dinner settings and sleeping arrangements.

We had a pizza dinner with Steven and his parents, followed by Happy Birthday to Ramanesh Bhayya.

Stone Mountain Park

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas in Atlanta

After a late night, long tour of the town we came back home, slept and woke up late - to a Christmas carol by Metallica.

Santa put some gifts under the Christmas tree for all of us - Steve and Pummy had the honors of distributing the gifts to everyone.

We had a fresh round of family picture time (one of the many more to come). We had a "baithak" (sitting at night), played couple of rounds of carom board games and hit the bed very late.

Christmas in Atlanta

Monday, December 24, 2007

Atlanta, here we come

After spending a couple of days at Tega Cay, SC we continued our journey towards Atlanta, GA. We reached Lilburn, GA at around 2:15pm (24-DEC-2007.) I met my extended family after about 14 years and boy! it was an awesome feeling - reminded me of my childhood times.

We received a warm welcome from Akka and Bava. We had a big (late) lunch, then in the evening the "gentlmen" went out on a tour of the town.


Sunday, December 23, 2007


We reached Tega Cay, SC (read it as ThaygaKay) by 2:00pm Saturday (22-DEC-2007). Ganesh and Bindu received us and treated us with a full meals (sambar + appadum - paapad - deep fried, not microwaved + curd made out of whole milk)

This city Tega Cay, is spectacular in every way - stretching a vast 5 square miles, has a golf course, a natural lake (Wylie), about 200 houses (all upscale, half a million types), a fire dept and a "blue ribbon" (Gold Hill) elementary school. Thats all there is to that city (or a town, or a village, or a place...) Tega Cay is surrounded by satellite towns - ThayguThaa, ThaygaNoo, Thaygu.

Ganesh showed us Charlotte downtown (Bank of America and Wachovia headquarters), went shopping at the largest mall in America - concord mills mall and we spent the next day (a rainy day) at home - cooked delicious food and watched a comedy movie.

TegaCay-Ganesh Himabindu

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Driving down south

We did some shopping on Thursday (20-DEC-2007), packed our bags and started driving down south at about 5:45pm. We stopped a couple of times before reaching Morrisville, NC at about 10:15pm. We had a good dinner at Gowri annayya's (my cousin) house.

On Friday (21-DEC-2007) dad and mom pretty much took rest to recover from the exhaustion of driving around a lot. Gowri annayya took us to the Venkateshwara temple in Cary, NC on Friday evening.

We met another Garimella family here in Morrisville, NC. Rohini aunty, Satish Garimella's mother happened to be friends with mom back home in Bombay. In an engaged conversation, Rohini aunty coined a word "Gharana Musthivallu" to refer to families here who have migrated from India and trying to accustom to American lifestyle. "GM" - she meant going to parties, packing the left overs, storing the food in the fridge and eating brought overs in the later days...

Raleigh-Durham Trip

We had a good breakfast and started to drive down south west towards Charlotte, NC to reach Ganesh/Hima Bindu's place in South Carolina.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Temple tour

Mom and dad (on mukkoti yekaadasi - 19-DEC-2007) were engaged in a temple tour. We had a big breakfast and started driving towards our eventual destination, Pittsburgh, PA ("feetsburr" - as mom would call it).

There were some flurries on the way to Pittsburgh, but the snow did not settle on the road to cause any trouble. We reached Pittsburgh in 4 hours (including a short break in Breezewood, PA)

We went to see Sri Venkateshwara Swami temple, Gurdwara, Hindu Jain temple and Sai Baba mandir.

Temple tour

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We see DC

We went to DC darshan (sight seeing) on Tuesday (18-DEC-2007). It was a clear and sunny day, but the reality kicked in when we went to the Capitol. Mom did not wear thermals after noticing that it was a sunny day, but she realized that the weather could be very misleading this time of the year in the east coast.

Mom and dad saw Lincoln memorial, Washington memorial, Jefferson memorial, White house and the Capitol.

Raj/Shailaja and Santhosh/Sreedevi joined us for dinner on Tuesday.

We see DC

Monday, December 17, 2007

Grand Canyon tour

Sunday morning we woke up pretty early, savored Starbucks coffee, packed our bags and put them in the cloak room. Then we sat on a tour bus, 3 hr drive each way, to go see the Grand Canyon (Hoover dam on the way.)

One of the oldest, most spectacular, natural rock formations on earth, the visit is worth every penny. Grand Canyon, a part of the famous Mohave desert, native to the Hualapai (means "of tall pine tree") tribe, is laced with 5000ft deep gorges and valleys made up of sand stone and granite.

The grand tour is made up of a bus ride from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon with a stop near Hoover dam (constructed in 1931-1935) for pictures, a 5000ft decent on a helicopter down to the Colorado river, a boat ride upstream and downstream the Colorado river, an ascent on a helicopter back to the rim of the Grand Canyon, a sumptuous Hualapai-style buffet at the Guano point and a 3 hour ride back to the Las Vegas.

While at it, we learned a few words in Hualapai-lingo: "Chittha" = Mom, "Thalaa" = Dad, "Gamay Yoo" = How are you?

Grand Canyon tour

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

We packed our bags and set out for Las Vegas Friday night. My employer Axon, invited its employees for an annual dinner event in Las Vegas. We barely escaped an impending inclement weather in the east coast and reached LV by 10:30pm (14-DEC-2007), where our company sponsored valet service put us in a limo and promptly dropped us at the MGM Grand Hotel.

Dad and mom exhausted from a 5 hour flight, hit the bed while I went down to the casino to meet Pradeep and Rajesh. We had a lovely dinner, gambled a bit, hung out at the club "Tabu" and went to bed at 3:00am.

In the morning at 8:00am, all of us went to the grand breakfast. After the breakfast, myself, Pradeep and Rajesh headed to a half-day company meeting. Mom/Dad and rest of the crew spent time in the casino. After the meeting, all of us went to a lovely lunch on "the strip".

At 7:00pm me and Dad attended the "formal" dinner (4-course meal, live music and magic show.) We got back to the room and rested to get ready for a day-long trip to the famous Grand Canyon, next day.

Viva Las Vegas

More dinner invitations

A couple of our friends invited us over for dinner on Wednesday and Thursday. I spent most of the daytime working and my parents would spend time reading books. In the evening we went to my friends place (Rajnikath/Shailaja and Swarna/Jagan) for dinner.

Mom spent a couple of hours on Thursday night when dad made his infamous request to mom to make some "Janthikalu" (muruku).

Mom and I went to the Gems show at Dulles Expo and mom bought Italian corals.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Visiting Rinay

Sitapati and Madhuri had their 2nd baby boy on 11-DEC-2007. We visited them at the hospital.

After our visit to the hospital, we got some "heat-n-eat" dishes for dinner from a desi store and watched Maya Bazaar before hitting the bed.

Today mom fed me while I was busy working. I miss the good old childhood days...

Visiting Rinay

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lunching out and shopping

After 3 days of hibernating due to the snow here in VA, we stepped out to eat a nice vegetarian buffet at famous Woodlands. After loading ourselves with a full meals and topping it off with a sweet paan, we engaged in burning some calories by shopping around in a nearby Kohls.

Lunching out

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First snow in USA

The last couple of days mom and dad pretty much hibernated at home. Other than a visit to the nearby temple on Monday night and grocery shopping on Tuesday night, they were at home doing the eat-sleep-tea-eat-sleep routine.


We watched "Bhookailas" last night and re-lived my childhood times.

Today we went to Sitapati's for a lunch (and an eventual dinner.) It snowed here in Virginia, a rarity this time of the year (it did not, in the last few years - global warming???)

Mom and dad were maha-thrilled at the sight of the first snow and embarked on a picture session en-route to Sitapati's house.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday late lunch

Mum offered to make whatever Ravi wanted and Ravi quickly jumped and said "Veg Biryani" - guess the taste is etched in his mind from our childhood times.

Sunday morning we had a dosa breakfast and mom got busy in preparing vegetarian biryani. All of us met at Shanker's house and forced ourselves to a "full meals". The rest of the Sunday was filled with couple of rounds of hot tea and a small dinner.

Sunday lunch/dinner pics

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Luray Caverns

It was a rare December weekend (Saturday ~ 01-DEC-2007,) warm and lovely day. We had a good breakfast, packed some more idli's in a tiffin-box and set out to check out Luray Caverns, a decent hour and half drive from where we are.

On our way to Luray Caverns we took a detour and paid a visit to the Stillhouse Vineyards in Hume, VA. My x-boss owns the vineyards. Dad had experienced the first wine tasting gig here in USA and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dad and mom were totally excited to take the 1.5 mile tour of Luray Caverns, about 200 feet below the surface of earth. In the beginning it was all good, but halfway into the tour, Dad started panting heavily and sweating profusely. We were a bit worried about his condition, but he was determined to complete the trip and paced his walk perfectly to complete the tour.

On our way back we forcefully invited ourselves to Ravi's place for dinner. Padma made lovely dinner in no time, while we spent some quality time with Rohan and Rithi.