5 Reasons to Book your Vacation to Hawaii RIGHT NOW!

sunset-1686605_1920Hawaii is one of my favorite places to travel to. I have been to Oahu and Maui islands and they have indeed been my FAVORITEST holidays ever. The breathtaking beaches, mountainous landscape, yummy cuisines all come together in these islands and make it “the experience of a lifetime”. There are way too many reasons to love these islands, but I have done my best to bring down to 5. These reasons are enough for you to pack your bags and take the next flight to this Pacific gem.

The Beaches & the Sunsets
The first thing you notice while landing on the islands is the varied color of waves on the beaches of Hawaii – sea green, light blue, cyan, deep blue…..the different shades are a visual treat to the eyes. The pristine beaches, warm water, sparkling sea and the perfect waves breaking on the shores do make you feel like heaven on Earth.
On the Maui Island, the Road to Hana is a 45-mile stretch which is embedded with high jungle cliffs, bamboo tress, sacred waterfalls and tropical flowers on one side and the other side of the road with the panoramic Pacific Ocean views and beaches like Ho’okipa Beach Park. Oahu’s eastern shoreline reveals more wonderful sights like the Hanauma Bay lookout known for snorkeling, Lanikai beach which is ranked among the best beaches in the world and the trendy Kailua waves.
Of course, the beauty of the beaches is incomplete without the mention of the sunsets! Every sunset here blows your mind and no photo can justify its true beauty. It’s incredible how the sky lights up with vibrant colors and makes it so picturesque!

Hanauma Bay

The Volcanic Mountains
Driving the way up to the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala is not for the faint hearted. I got the opportunity to see it and the sight was worth it. There are also the Koko Head Stairs – which is the StairMaster workout for the day with a rewarding panoramic view up top. The Nu-unanu Pali lookout is worth a mention for the panoramic views of the sheer Koolau cliffs and the lush Windward coast. Named “Pali” meaning ‘cliff’ in Hawaiian, the Pali Lookout is the site of the Battle of Nuuanu, where in 1795 King Kamehameha I won the struggle that finally united Oahu under his rule. This fierce battle claimed hundreds of soldiers’ lives, many of which were forced off of the Pali’s sheer cliffs.

Rare plant on top of Haleakala

Culinary Buds
With the islands nestled in the Pacific, it is an eye opening experience to taste the unique, delicious flavors of Hawaii. You can literally stop anywhere on the side of the road and the food is good. Here the cuisine is influenced from Asia, Polynesia, parts of Europe and other regions of the islands. Abundance of fresh fruits in this tropical area is enviable. Also on Kona Island, there are hundreds of coffee farms that grow, harvest and brew their own coffee. It has a distinct strong taste owing to rich volcanic soil and environment.

Adventures Galore
With the mountains to hike and the whole ocean floor to explore, there are plenty of activities on the islands. Oahu’s north shore are great for underwater and surfing activities while Hanauma bay is famous for snorkeling. Helicopter rides to watch the island from above, as well as Waterfall hikes to get mesmerized by the beauty of Nature. For the History lovers, there is Pearl Harbor on Oahu where the USS Arizona Memorial can be seen and history about the WWII attack can be learnt. The USS Missouri which was the last US battleship ever built and which was the site of the Japanese surrender for WWII is also situated at the same place.

USS Arizona Memorial at the Pearl Harbor

Spirit of Aloha
Hawaiian way of life focuses on a relaxed lifestyle, balancing between yourself and those around you. The people seemed to be happy and friendly always with a fresh smile. It’s unique and amazing to meet the locals who are carefree. I had the pleasure of watching some traditional Polynesian dancing which is one of the iconic things to see on the island. Apart from the lovely dresses and the leis (flower garlands), their graceful swaying with the folk songs was wonderful to watch too.
The pace is slower on the islands but they give us time to take everything in, enjoy the little things, pause and breathe.

Hula Dancing

Inner Peace

Inner Peace
The key to true happiness
The keeper of my thoughts
She is a companion, immortal.

As she sweeps her waves
Hitting the shores, splashing on me,
Patiently listening to my thoughts
Reflecting my voice & calming my mind.

Soothing through her touch
Pushing sand under my feet
Makes me aware of my own air
Inhale & Exhale

Through clear waters, whispers to me
What she holds in her universe
The rocky & the soft silky
The warmth & the shiver

Showing the way
In the vastness of the ocean
To find a calmed mind
& Inner Peace

Mahalo Hawaii !!
You are indeed a beauty to behold!

How I revived my love for reading books


Back in late 90’s and early 2000’s, smartphones and computers were less common or nonexistent. On a boring Sunday, it was common for teenagers to pick up a book and hunker down to some reading. In the last couple of years, there has been a steady decline in reading patterns among kids and young adults in the medium of books. An article in Forbes shows that although people are seeing words all the time – Google, Facebook, Twitter etc., they are finding it harder to pick up a physical book and read.

Two years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. Graduating with Master’s, I had a few weeks before I would start my new job and had lots of time to idle. I had lost touch with reading books not related to my studies. So I decided to revisit my childhood hobby and picked up my first book from the public library. As I was taking up this hobby after a long time, I found my concentration waning after a few pages. I had to take a number of steps to increase my concentration span and keep my interest in books.  Here are some things I did to revive my love for books:

#1 Start with familiar books

I realized that it was important to choose my books carefully, in order to renew my interest in reading. I started with reading books from authors that I was familiar with, like Agatha Christie, Robert Ludlum etc. When I got comfortable with their style of writing, I started enjoying reading all the more.  Gradually I was able to experiment with new authors and move back and forth between fiction and non-fictions.

#2 Using Book Recommendation engines

A chance conversation with an old friend introduced me to the book recommendation, social website – Goodreads. This website gave personalized recommendation based on books I had read and my favorite genres. I found this website extremely useful in finding what books my friends and peers were reading, and also keep track of what I had read in the last couple of weeks. Goodreads also runs a year-long reading challenge that motivates readers to keep a track of their read books. Here is a wonderful blog outlining how one can benefit with this challenge .

#3 Keep track of Book lists

There are plenty of book lists available that you can take a look and use for inspiration in finding your next read. One of the common book lists which was voted for by writers from around the world is the Top 100 books of all time. Surely, 100 books are enough to keep anyone busy for a considerable amount of time.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft also maintains a wonderful blog of his books that he has read and reviewed. Some of my favorite books that I read from his list include the two books series – The Rosie Project, Hyperbole and a Half and How Not be Wrong.

Also one of my role-models, Andrew Ng is an avid reader. He recently published a list of books that he recommends. I would definitely vote for this one from the list.

#4 Frequenting the neighborhood public library

Books can be expensive in US and one tends to be more cautious in buying books when we are not sure if we would like its contents or not. So I prefer to get my books from the public library, so even if I don’t like the book, I can just return it without any hassle. Most public libraries have a centralized system too. So if they don’t have the book you wish to read, they can order it from a neighboring library for you. Reading in the library also gives a good reading environment and peaceful atmosphere. I found to easier to read a book while being surrounded with similar like-minded people.

Hope this was a useful primer in ways to find books to read and improve your reading skills. Would love to hear from folks on your thoughts, challenges you faced in getting that right book to read etc.


Trip to Computer History Museum, California

The Computer History Museum (CHM) is located in the heart of Silicon Valley and contains hallmark artifacts which have transformed the way people around the globe live, work and play. This museum explores the history of computing, its ongoing impact and its future technological, social and economic implications, through unparalleled collections and exhibits.

As a technology geek, when an event at my company was going to be hosted at CHM, I naturally jumped at the opportunity and registered for it. After the event got over, I decided to tour the museum with my colleague.

We started off the collections tour with the calculating devices, compasses, slider rule, logarithmic tables and early calculators. Using the Multi-media exhibits, we were able to understand how the slider rule and the abacus were used.

slide rule
Understanding the Slide Rule

The tour continues with the Birth of the computers, Memory & Storage devices, Supercomputers and then ventures into AI & Robotics, PC, and Mobile Computing and to the latest Web technologies.

While touring the museum, you can’t ignore the many contributions of IBM to the computer age. Some of the legendary products of IBM are put on for display. The Hollerith Machine helped US government complete the 1890 census in record time – and in the process launched the use of punched cards in business. The IBM/USAF SAGE Air Defense system in 1961 developed by IBM was a real-time computing system and at one time involved some 60% of the world’s programmers. Also we saw the IBM RAMAC Disk drive which was the world’s first disk drive invented by IBM in 1953 in order to process data faster than using punched cards. This stack of 50 disks held about 3.8 MB of data.

IBM RAMAC Disk Drive on the left side of the picture

In this museum, we also come to know of contributions of women in the history of computing, from business to leadership, from engineering to marketing the products. These pioneers influenced the design and programming of some of the first computers and languages, and laid the groundwork for women’s expanding involvement in technology and business. We took a look at the exhibit of Grace Hopper where her work in early computers and development of advanced software programs was showcased. She was also involved in the development of the COBOL programming language. Thereafter, we came across an interesting invention by Honeywell called Kitchen Computer which was a system for housewives to store their recipes.

Honeywell’s Kitchen Computer

There were many other artifacts like the Apple-1, Atari Ping prototype, Shakey the Robot etc. One of the notable presentations in Computer Graphics was the revolution that came when a Bit became a Pixel. It was very informative and showed the journey from Pong games to the latest computer-animated films.

Overall, I loved the presentation of the collections, combined with backstories and media stations with vintage footage, providing a rich and fascinating account of the evolution of computing. Without these countless innovations, discoveries and risks, perhaps I would not be sharing my enjoyable visit on this blog! Indeed, CHM is a good place to spend an enjoyable afternoon learning about the people who have made this huge impact on our society.


3 Strategies that can help Women thrive in Tech

While I am an early-career woman, I have attended a few tech talks, conferences, and some other technical events. These events have been mostly targeted around the dominating topics in numerous disciplines, lightning talks by innovators or sometimes presentations and demos showing results of their new research work.  On many occasions I have been dismayed about the number of women willingly participating or attending these events, where they have so much to learn and grasp. Even fewer women in these events play the role of speaker and lead these events.

Why is it important for women to contribute or partake in these tech events?

Tech events are a great source of learning for women who desire to develop their career and are looking for inspiration, ideas and connections. These events give an opportunity to women to voice themselves, their work and gain feedback. They get a chance to be passionate about new trends and also inspire more people to get involved in their conversation.

Here are 3 takeaways to share with women in tech:

1. Fear is a Four Letter Word

Public speaking can be terrifying but something women can master with a little (or maybe a lot!) of effort. Even if you are at the start of you career and infrequently called on to present, it is worth tackling the fear now. If you are able to confidently and articulately represent yourself, your work or your company, as well as do Q&A with others, you will definitely be noticed and it might help in your career. I know someone who was an engineering intern at a startup. Even though she had only a year of work experience, she was of high energy and very confident. When a communications manager asked for a volunteer to host an upcoming panel discussion, she jumped at the chance. After the successful hosting, she was appreciated for her skills and enthusiasm, and thus came in the public eye. People who succeed are those who are not just quaking on the inside, but also projecting a level of confidence with their opinions and thoughts, thus inspiring trust. So learn to speak up and say it out loud!

2. Build Networks within your Industry

Joining a group or groups within your specific discipline helps you build critical networks. Discipline-specific groups are filled with senior people as well as peers who are likely have likely encountered your problems and can offer targeted help, yet because you do not directly work with them, you are free to be candid. Encourage each other to speak at conferences or tech events, help prepare them for talks and be in the front row cheering each other on.

Building networks within your industry also helps in getting a mentor who can be a long-lasting resource of information for you. Mentors can help see your potential and take an interest in our long-term advancement. Good mentors can help overcome the “initial stage fright” and push you into voicing your thoughts and work.

 “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell

3. Be Passionate and Stay Curious

People who reach top positions are usually curious and always eager to learn. Curious not just in your own role but also from peers in different disciplines and functions. It is important to keep a growing mindset so you have a thirst for knowledge. Because people are motivated to learn more, they tend to embrace challenges, persist when they encounter obstacles, see effort as a path to mastery, learn from criticism and be inspired by the success of others. By participating in talks, tech events, and conferences; one increases their learning and gain confidence on their knowledge.

Curiosity helps women stay current in the latest technology, research and trends through tech events. This helps to carry conversation during networking events and build connections with people.

Curiosity also helps in listening to other people’s work and thinking outside the box. Sometimes what other people use to solve their problem can help you in exploring new ways on your own work. To have curiosity in your own work can be a powerful tool. If you can find different ways to stay hungry for knowledge and continue to be a lifelong learner, you will find your career to be much more rewarding.



A few books that you may find helpful to read:

Things to learn from Men

Women love to criticize the opposite sex and seem to always be on a crusade to equal them. However there are always some good characteristics of men that perhaps, women could learn from.  As we take the battle of the sexes forward, here are a couple of things that I admire about the men and feel that we can learn from them (Although I am not denying the possibility that some women already have these qualities in them !!!)

  • Men have more control of their emotions

    Most men can go through the toughest situations with a cool head and dry eyes. They keep their emotions intact and head straight. On the other hand as women we tend to self-pity and throw ourselves into a bucketful of tears at the first opportunity. Only after exhausting ourselves with crying do we wipe our faces and get back to work. One of the things I want to work on is how to cry less and face challenges with a brave face.

    Women must know that every situation doesn’t call for a huge emotional turmoil. Sometimes keeping a brave face wont make us hard-hearted or indifferent, but can also make us a bit rational and practical.


    • Taste of Reality

    Men are very realistic and practical in life. I feel that women tend to always fantasize about everything in their life, be it relationship or marriage or work life. Add to it social websites like facebook, snapchat, Instagram only increases the level of expectations that women have from their life. Men on the other hand are very realistic and accept that things can’t be eternally hunky dory as per their dreams.

    • Men are thick-skinned and don’t hold grudges

    Women could learn from men not to take criticism so personally, in both work and personal situations. Women tend to think that if you like a person, you express agreement with them in all situations. A women might feel attacked if her man disagrees with her in public. She may confuse opinions and intellectual engagement with loyalty. Men on the other hand tend to explore the idea by tearing it apart, by playing a devil’s advocate. But a women might just think “He hates my idea” or even “He hates me”. Also we tend to hold grudges for far longer time than men. It really doesn’t help anyone to hold onto bitterness, so why don’t we take a note from the men, and sort out the issue as soon as possible. I think women would be better off if we didn’t take stuff so personally.

    • Men have no problem being assertive.

    I hate when I hear women say “I am sorry, can I just…”, “Honey, please can you do this? “. Why are women always apologizing for? Why do they always engage in uptalk? A women tends to be too accommodating sometimes and be trying to please all the people all the time. It may seem rude and selfish, the way a man will demand and expect to get what he wants, but sometimes women could learn from this and stand up more for what they really want.

    • Men think once, think twice……then act!

    Women tend to overthink and play-back all possible scenarios and what-ifs of a situation, sometimes even when really we have no control over how things turn out. One the other hand, men do tend to let things be what they are. I wish we would learn that there is no point dwelling on the tiniest of details or wonder what will happen next. We should really learn to live in the moment.


    • Men are focused and persistent

    Men may be sometimes criticized for this, but they always are focused on one thing at a time. If they are enjoying a match, they will immerse themselves in the match and truly enjoy it. If they decide to fix the doorbell, they wont quit until they do.

    Women are proud of their ability to multitask, but this is a characteristic that we should unlearn at times. So when a women is working on a project, she does tend to stray her mind to what clothes she is wearing, the crash diet she was supposed to be on, the latest gossip going in her friend’s circle etc.

Tryst with Ikebana

Ikebana is a traditional, disciplined art of flower arrangement that has originated from Japan. It has been dated back to the 7th century when the floral offerings were made at altars and has grown over centuries. “Ikebana” is from the Japanese ikeru (生ける?, “keep alive, arrange flowers, living”) and hana (?, “flower”).  In contrast to Western flower arrangement which is heavily influenced with flowers, Ikebana also uses twigs, branches and stones to symbolize heaven, earth and man. Their placement shows the relationship between each other and with the environment too.


Ikebana comprises of three main stems. They are called “shin” which is the longest branch, “soe” – the medium branch and “tai” which is the shortest branch. Sometimes, these are used to relate the heaven, earth and man. “Heaven” is the sky, the freedom and aligns with creativity. “Earth” is the ground, the disciplines and the rules. Without disciplines and rules, things will fall apart. “Heaven” and “earth” are indeed “Yin” and “Yang”, they cannot exist alone. Man is the one that forms the balance between heaven and earth.

My Mom took me to the Ikebana class when I was 12 years old, where I learnt the Moribana and Shatai style. Moribana is one of the most popular style and was influenced by Western blooms. It is less structured than other styles.I participated in a lot of flower shows and won in competitions back then. Although I do not practice Ikebana regularly now, I do turn towards it from time to time when I sought peace in my mind and heart. Creating an Ikebana arrangement is indeed supposed to have a meditative quality, as the designer reflects on the beauty of nature and gains inner peace. It takes years and years to practice and master this art form. My Mom regularly influences me with new flower arrangement pictures, vases and decor that she collects from various stores.

I am not an expert in this art form. However, that does not deter me from being a lifelong student and practicing it whenever I get time. Below are some of the arrangements I have made in the past few months:





My Top 4 Books of 2016

In the words of Baron de Montesquiei “A fondness for reading changes the inevitable dull hours of our life into exquisite hours of delight”.

One of my New Year Resolutions for 2016 was to read as many books as I can, as a step towards expanding my knowledge as well as self-betterment. So I was delighted to be introduced to Goodreads by a friend, where I could explore what books my friends are reading, read reviews, add books to my “to-read” lists as well as get recommendations on books I can read based on my tastes.

I setup a 2016 Reading Challenge for myself with a target of 22 books to read this year. I am delighted to write that I have completed reading 21 books for this year, all of which were carefully selected using Goodreads ratings, Reviews from readers, as well as referencing other people’ recommendations of must-read books.

These top 4 books below are simply the ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep. As I curl up on my sofa with the 22nd book of this year ( P.G. WodeHouse’s Plum Pie) , I hope you find atleast one of these books here below that inspires you to go off the beaten path when you get sometime for yourself this coming new year.

The Rosie Project
By Graeme Simsion

This hilarious, feel-good novel was a pleasant surprise for me. I was hooked to it an entire weekend. It’s a fun, quirky story with a great storyline. Read it for a good laugh as well to understand the differently wired men in this world!

Interpreter of Maladies
By Jhumpa Lahiri

I picked this one solely because I have not read any of the works by this award winning author. This book is a set of short stories, each filled with lessons to learn from lives in strange lands, extraordinarily empowering! Jhumpa Lahiri’s writing has so much grace and elegance with a delicate touch of feelings through words.

“As ordinary as it all appears, here are time when it is beyond my imagination”.

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics
By Tim Marshall

This is an outstanding work! I would suggest this book to anyone who reads foreign policies and politics and how geography dictates standpoint for countries. The facts are upto date which makes this book an excellent and relevant read.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
By Gretchen Rubin

I could not finish this book as the book was full of information on how to make small changes in life that help make a positive impact. But each chapter divided by months of the year, is inspiring and has a point to prove. Reading and incorporating her suggestions in my life has definitely made me a happier person.

Dear, 16 Year Old Me

Dear Shubhi,

Hello there! It’s me! You ! Us!

I am writing to you from the future. I am now 25 years old and it feels great here. You want to know how I am doing ? Well I have a great job, and am happily married too, just like you wanted!

Oh, I have a spoiler for you! You would go to Disneyland before you turn 25!!!! Yayieeeee… Oh it would be your life’s best experience till date, I bet you. And guess what??? You are going to travel a lot and see new places, all by yourself !! …Ok Ok, I should not give you any more spoilers now, really !!! I ll let you discover your adventures yourself!

I dont want to give you too much gyan – that’s not how we are , right? So I realise how hard you are working day and night to get good marks in board exams. Believe me, it ll be all worth it. You are going to do a fantabulous job in college, so have faith on your self and work very hard. Stop worrying about the opinion of others and be yourself. Everythng is not going to be hunky-dory, of course. You are going to face a ton of challenges. Stick to what resonates. Follow the path your heart feels is the right one. And Oh! if you make a mistake, dont shed your crocodile tears right away. I wish I knew this earlier, I would have wasted less energy contemplating over my mistakes then. Chose courage over fear and dont fear from mistakes. People will say mean and hurtful things to you. You might hurt someone too. When you do, dont be afraid to apologize. And lastly, Happiness is the key to success. Keep yourself jolly, carefree and always be adventurous. Love yourself and enjoy what you do!

Your Older You!


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.


To my Dost

Oh, My Oldest Friend! None other than my dear Bhaiya – My Big Brother

Oh bro, you have been the oldest and ‘Bestest Dost’ ever that I have known since childhood! The age-gap definitely has helped us bond more as friends rather than sibling. So this day urges me to think more about you, wish you and thank you for being the best ‘buddy’ ever!

Of course I know how you don’t like to read emotional posts or anything rona-dhona. So I have put down some of the memorable instances we’ve shared and I know these would make you laugh, get embarrassed and maybe make you bang your head on the wall. SO here we go!

  1. Starting from Friendship’s day, I remember how you kept your collection of friendship bands in a pouch, and I would steal it from your desk whenever I got the opportunity. Your angry face used to be EPIC! I have also stolen innumerable erasers, pens and even your music cassettes (just in case you never noticed!).
  2. Tagging along with you every time you went out with your friends to play! I know you hated me coming along, but I knew how much pampering I would get from your friends. And of course when you didn’t take me along, the devil in me would sometimes lock you in your room or bathroom and you would howl at me.
  3. Raksha Bandhan used to be such a celebration for us in childhood. I remember preparing for the celebrations weeks in advance and would look forward to the gifts you gave. I treasure all your gifts to this day!
  4. Being the younger child of the two, I was used to having all the attention and being the Queen of the Universe, much to your annoyance! I made sure you got the blame every time I did something wrong! And also got pampered double times you by everyone.
  5. Eventually, I realized that you were actually a very caring brother and we would join forces to have a united front against Mom and Dad whenever we wanted something, which was way cooler than I ever expected. And sometimes, we would sneak out on your Scooty and grab a Kati Roll after classes. Through your Scooty, we would travel the whole city!
  6. Growing up, you were always called the ‘Maths Pandit’ and I always wanted to be on par with you. I remember you teaching me Physics and Maths when you would come home for summer holidays.
  7. Parting from you at the Mumbai Airport when you went for Master’s in 2006 was an incredibly emotional moment. It took a couple of months to digest that we would now be staying several miles away from each other. Of course, Yahoo Messenger and Skype helped in keeping touch with each other. But admittedly, I looked forward to seeing you return home and doing masti with you.
  8. Traveling abroad alone for me for the first time was a scary thought too. But your detailed list of to-do’s were so comprehensive and well planned, that it turned out to be a piece of cake. All throughout my Master’s, you guided me and were my Messiah for all my problems. I am so grateful for this.
  9. From siblings we became buddies. You were the first person to teach me what friendship means. We were secret-sharers and storytellers. We fought fiercely with each other and fiercely for each other. We were friends to the fullest.

So I finally wish you a very Happy Friendship’s day (and Happy Raksha Bandhan too, since it’s coming up in a week or so) and thank you for being the best friend ever. You have been a great brother, a foe, a teacher, a well-wisher and everything a person could be and you have been incredible in all these roles.

Lots of Love,

Your sister!


‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’