NYC Sketching

Of all the cities I have ever walked the streets of, New York is special. This Memorial Day weekend, Nini and I took the train from Dover to go to the Big Apple. With cameras in our hands we stepped out of the Penn Station and walked all the way to The Ink Pad, a stamp store on 7th Avenue.

After a brief stop for lunch, we walked to China Town. It was not a short walk. But after being cooped up indoors from the cold and rain for months, the cool breeze and the warm sun was such a welcome respite! We walked, we watched people, we had bubble tea, coffee and ice cream. We walked across Canal Street into the busy alleys of China Town where Sunday is market day. There were fresh fishes and seafood, fruits of all kinds, steaming rotisserie chicken, handicrafts and souvenirs and incredible colors and textures all around. The Starbucks was housed in a pagoda like old building.

Just around the corner, we walked into Little Italy. Sidewalk cafes were brimming with people. Tourist groups walked past us in tight lines. We watched the graffiti while enjoying scoops of Lemon and Tangerine gelatos.We shopped till we had no cash left to spare.

We walked more – past landmarks, with our eyes set on catching the details beyond the landmarks – the occasional lion head knockers, the seasonal flowers cascading from a small window sill with white lace curtain blowing in the wind, the peeling green paint on wooden doors, the lights strung outside a Lebanese restaurant where the smell of the smoke was divine. We watched the pigeons whose feather gleamed like rainbow in the afternoon sun, all the dogs that crossed the streets with their people, the photographers who looked disappointed to see our big cameras while I stood in front of the Flat Iron building, the odd painted tiles here and there.

I took photos of buildings because they fascinate me the most as do their water tanks. I knew these photos would be the references for my future sketches. Speaking of which, here are the first two sketches from that day.

With 22,000 steps and about 10 miles on my i-watch, we ended the day with a train ride back home and took Tylenol before going to bed to soothe the aching feet.

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Day trip to D.C.

Washington D.C. is always a treat! At every turn is a monument or museum. Statues and gorgeous buildings at every angle of the camera. I can never get tired of this city.

This Sunday, Nini had a recital at Lincoln Memorial. So the rest of us tagged along.

After getting ready, Nini went on to join her company. I snuck away for a few minutes to take a long look at one of my most favorite Presidents. There’s always huge crowds around him and not easy to get a clean shot, especially because I’m so short!

But I found a spot to sit on a ledge that most people avoid for the fear of falling. In my peaceful spot, I sat and sketched the incredible view that stretched before my eyes. Only a few minutes, but blissful none the less.

I walked around some, taking photos around the bridge to Arlington Cemetery.

Once I caught up with the rest of the family, we couldn’t find parking ANYWHERE. So, we drove around and I took as many photos as I could. Blurry or not, I didn’t want to miss a single shot.

We picked Nini up and drove close to the Smithsonian. One of my main goals for this trip was to take Jia to the Natural History Museum, my favorite and her first!

Here are my girls in front of my favorite mammoth. I have photos of me before I was a mother and of all my kids at various ages and stages in front of this mammoth – yeah, it’s one of those family history photo spots for me!

Of course, we love all our primates!

And Jia connected with our long lost relative.

But Nini was tired. We had a LONG drive home. Jia was so excited that she ran from one to the other and we could barely keep up. So, we decided to call it a day. We got home around 11 pm. It was a fun impromptu kind of day!

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Art on the go

I always take a few art supplies with me when I travel. Just a sketchbook, a few color pencils, a black pen, some sort of watercolor paints and a brush or two. I look for little pockets of time to draw or color something. Nothing elaborate, just a quick sketch of what’s in front of me or something I saw, snippets from magazines or a photo I took because it’s not always possible to sit down on the spot to draw. And some brush lettering. Here are a couple of quick watercolors from the cruise.

On the second night of our cruise, we sat down to figure out what shore excursions we could go on. That task usually is not easy because we have different interests. None of the kids are old enough to go on any excursion by themselves. Jia is too young for most things. If I could help it, I would just pitch an umbrella and sit with my sketchbook but that is not doable at the moment. So, we divide and rule. Ashis takes one, I take the other two. He keeps the younger two, while I take the oldest shopping and so on. Plus, Nini is getting into photography and we go on photo walks together.

Everything in Nassau was heavenly! This was my second time to the Bahamas. Nini went snorkeling with Ashis. We all went on the glass bottom boat to the reef and saw colorful fishes. We took in sights all around us on this sunny day on the island surrounded by turquoise waters. I loved this lighthouse. We shopped for jewelry. When we came back to the boat, we took quick showers, had some snacks and I settled down to paint the lighthouse before the daylight died down.

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Back from the Bahamas!

Helllllooooo!!!

We are back from our spring break cruise to the Bahamas! Here’s the story of our trip in pictures.

Leaving the cold and rainy weather behind was not hard. As we drove to Cape Liberty to our cruise terminal, I took this photo of the Harbor Pointe light house. Blurry as it was on a cloudy, rainy day, it was still beautiful!

Car parked. Luggage out. Family shot.

First view from the cabin on board of the Anthem. Bon Voyage!

Since I take all the photos, I’m never in them. So, here’s one mirror selfie!

Day 1 was sea day. Nini and I took our cameras and explored the ship. Found several pieces of amazing art all around.

The Pulse Spiral by Rafael Lozano Hemmer, is a grand chandelier with 200 light bulbs that pulses rhythmically to heart beats. We added our own heart beats to this mix by placing our hands on the metal plate.

Also loved Andrew Myers’ Topographical Facial Series 1-4 and Kerry Miller’s Flowering Plants of Great Britain.

The first few times we passed by this chair, we found an older gentleman fast asleep on it. Much to my daughter’s frustration, we came back to it one more time and took this photo.

Because of inclement weather, our itinerary got an overhaul. Day 2 was no longer to be a day in Cape Canaveral but another sea day.

We made it to Coco Cay on day 3.

EVERYONE LOVED THE SAND, SURF AND SUN!!!

Ashis floated around in a surf mat for hours.

After that the boys went back to the ship with the baby and I stayed back on the island with Nini for shopping. Some cool local handicrafts and musical instruments were bought.

Day 4, we were at Nassau. We spent the whole day in the island. Ashis took Nini for snorkeling with the shore excursions.

Around noon, I took Ayush and Jia for our glass bottom boat excursion to the coral reef. Ashis and Nini made it back from their snorkeling trip just in time to hop on the boat. When we came back, Ashis took baby Jia back to the ship while Ayush and Nini came shopping with me.

This gentleman is a young police officer and was happy to pose for a picture with Ayush!

Oh the colors of this Bahamian island!

After a while, Ayush was done walking. So we took him back to the ship. Changed. And came back out again for more photos and shopping!!! Pretty jewelries were bought for this young lady!

The kids were the most excited to reach Port Canaveral on Day 5! It was strangely emotional to go back to Florida again, but this time as a tourist.

Jia embraced the ocean with open arms! Looks like she too is a sea girl at heart.

One word: BLISS.

I came to Tampa, Florida back in December 1999, a week after I got married. I had left my home and family back in India. A new phase of my life began unfolding in the gulf coast. We built our first home from ground up. We had our three children. We got our first puppy, Brave. Then sixteen and a half years later, we had to move. To New Jersey. Ayush and Nini were beyond upset. Jia was too young to know. I steeled myself and left my neighbors and friends behind who had become family to us. I promise you, I did not cry as we drove off 10748 Plantation Bay Drive at 3.20 pm on July 17th, 2015. But as the ship sailed away from Cape Canaveral, it hit me that I had left home once again. My Jia will not go to NASA for school field trips. Or pet manatees in ocean reserves. Or have an annual pass to Disney and Sea World. Or smell like chlorine swimming in the home pool. Yes, she will do other things in New Jersey. But that’s a part of our lives she will only know from our stories.

An excess of food was consumed EVERY SINGLE DAY. Desserts were had even at breakfast. Can’t tell if we liked the taste or the look more!

A large debate was had over whether this towel beauty was a peacock or a turkey.

At 6.30 am on Sunday, 4/2/17 the Anthem of the Seas docked at Cape Liberty.

One last photo was taken on the cabin balcony.

Luggage was hauled. Customs cleared. Last photo of the Anthem was taken from the parking garage.

And then, we drove back to routine. From luxury to comfort. Exhausted. Somewhat sunburnt. Happy. Full of beautiful memories and stories to tell.

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This too shall pass…

I spent most of March either waiting at a doctor’s office or in a lab or on the phone trying to get appointments, reports, release forms.

For my oldest whose heart rate dropped remarkably out of the blue.

For my youngest.

For my middle child who slipped in the snow while playing and hit a tree.

I was dealing with the black eye, swelling, pain but when I was sent to the radiologist to get his skull film to check for fractures, I felt I have reached the end of my line.

I’m trying REALLY HARD to believe that this too shall pass.

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