27 March, 2022

Gratitude List

 It's been a long time since I wrote a Gratitude List. But, it's better to be late than never!

So, here it is - My Gratitude List for 3 months :-)

Gratitude List

A Move to Warm weather

Moving from a place after living 5 years is not very easy. Though change seems scary at the beginning, I am glad that we took that step to move to a warm place. 

I have put my health on high priority which is the main reason for the move. I was mentally prepared to move to Austin from Colorado Springs by December and was planning to celebrate the new year in the new place.

This mental preparation took some time before December.  The good thing about me is that I don't waver from my decision / don't think negatively after the decision. I usually prepare myself for the impact of the decision.

This move proved to be good for my health and also for a lot of other reasons. I am grateful to all my friends, colleagues, and students in Colorado Springs where I made many great memories in my life.

New Beginnings and Change

I am grateful that the new beginnings and changes are not as painful as I expected them to be. 


I happily transitioned to my new work at office due to a supportive team and manager. My team made the transition smooth and I am thankful to God for the opportunity to learn a new programming language. It's really interesting and challenging to learn Kotlin, Appium, and mobile testing. Being promoted to the next level is an added bonus of course.

Dance School:

I am grateful to the temple committee of Sai Baba Temple, Austin for giving me an opportunity to teach Kuchipudi in the temple. I am also grateful to the Parents and students who enrolled in the dance classes here. I settled quickly in the new place and started dance classes from March itself. I am also thankful to the students who are continuing their online classes from Colorado.

The best is yet to come regarding dance classes and I am very excited to train students in Austin, TX.


I loved the house that we live in. We watched the house only once through video chat and I didn't expect it to be perfect. We faced some problems initially but we all loved the house as well as the location. We could walk to the park and a lake nearby. Kids are enjoying biking and playing in the playground nearby. We could find art classes and a Library not very far from here. 

I am really grateful to the old friends from Colorado Springs who moved here one year before us. Their guidance and help are much appreciated. 


I didn't achieve much but I am happy to be staying nearer to a park where I can go for a walk any day. I could start my Yoga classes again though I could join only twice a week. Due to dance classes, Yoga, and walking, I feel fit and happy. 


I have been reading a lot of books lately. I am enjoying my reading time every night before I sleep. I didn't get time to review them on my blog, but the recent one - Inner Trek by Mohan Ranga Rao is impressive. 

If you want to see all the good books that I read, here is my Goodreads link. You can follow me there.

How is your year so far? we will complete our first quarter of the year soon. Should I say this as My Quarterly Gratitude list? 😁

Until next time,

22 March, 2022

Inner Trek : A Reluctant Pilgrim in the Himalayas by Mohan Ranga Rao - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: Inner Trek: A Reluctant Pilgrim in the Himalayas

Author: Mohan Ranga Rao

Genre: Non-Fiction, A travel Memoir

Publisher: Coriander Press (November 30, 2021)

Print Length: 248 pages

Source: A free review copy from Rachel's Random Resources


After being threatened by a Bangalore mob boss, a retired Indian businessman Mohan Ranga Rao makes a vow: if he somehow gets out of the situation, he will thank the gods by going on Kailash Mansarovar, a holy mountain pilgrimage in Tibet. What starts out as merely a challenging high-altitude trek soon becomes a life-changing adventure. With a blend of humor, honesty, and keen insight, Mohan journeys toward a deeper understanding of the world around him.

A memoir of a road less traveled and a true story of self-discovery at 18,000 feet.

“A modern Canterbury Tales, telling of a fascinating real-life adventure.“ Dr. C Naganna, University of Mysore

“A heartwarming read; a spiritual adventure.” Anuradha Goyal, The Mouse Charmers

Purchase Links:


Amazon -UK

My Review:

Inner Trek is a travel memoir of Mr. Mohan Ranga Rao, a businessman in Karnataka, India. The book is specifically about the Mt. Kailash Parikrama (Circumbulation) and the visit to Manasa Sarovar lake. This trip is considered holy and auspicious by many religions including Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

This trip is not only sacred as Lord Shiva's adobe, considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience but also very dangerous due to the unpredictable weather at high altitudes.

The author mentions in the prelude itself that he is not a religious, but a spiritual person and he is taking this trip seeking an adventure. Eventually, he experiences a spiritual inclination at the end of the trip. He feels insignificant and small leaving all his ego before the majestic mountains in the treacherous trip.

The trek around Mt.Kailash covering 52 km in 3 days through the highest pass Dolma La reaching an elevation of 18000 ft above sea level is an impossible task for a normal person without fitness. Even for a fit person, the high elevation, and less oxygen might become dangerous if they are not acclimatized to the altitude.

What do I like?

I usually don't read non-fiction and I don't quite enjoy that genre unless it feels honest. I liked this book as I felt the author's experience was genuine. Unlike some biographies/memoirs that gravitate towards boasting about their good qualities, the author of this book focused more on the Mt Kailash trip and his experience keeping the unnecessary details to a minimum.

 Like many other Hindus, I also learned and read a lot about Mt.Kailash and this impossible trek. The mystery of the mountain attracts me to learn more. I am happy to have read this book and to know about the weather, sherpas helping the trekkers, treacherous conditions affecting the trip, the people visiting from places around the world, the beauty of nature and the experience of people who could complete circumambulation, etc.,

The photos printed in the book and the maps gave an idea of the trek and helped me to imagine the beauty of the place. By the end of the book, I was elated and had the great satisfaction of knowing about the myths, legends, and facts about Manasa Sarovar. The book is riveting throughout and I never felt bored reading it.

A few snippets that I liked from the book:

There is nothing that I didn't like about this book. It gave me immense satisfaction and I would recommend this book to many other readers who love to read about Mt Kailash and the experience of trekking the Manasa Sarovar. I would also recommend it to the readers who want to know about this life-changing adventure and the spiritual significance of this holy pilgrimage.

My Rating: 5/5

PS: I have received this print copy from Rachel's Random Resources in exchange for a review and this is my honest opinion on the book.

About the Author:

Mohan Rango Rao is an accomplished businessman, an avid traveler, and a generous philanthropist. He has visited over thirty different countries and is drawn to places of natural beauty and physically challenging trails. He plays tennis daily, takes frequent hikes, and reads anything from scotch labels to quantum physics to Vedanta.

Until next time,

26 February, 2022

The Oasis on Lake Travis - Austin, Texas - Photo Post

 The Oasis Restaurant on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas.

A Photo Post

Until next time,

21 February, 2022

Chalk Ridge Falls, Belton - TX - A Travelogue

Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Belton is 1 hr away from Austin TX near Still House Lake Dam. This park is free to enter and hike. It has a waterfall, suspension bridge, wooden bridge, water access, and hiking trails. 

Pin it for Later!

Here is our first day trip in Texas.

Chalk Ridge Falls Park

We were looking for a simple, un-crowded place for weekend hiking with kids. Chalk Ridge falls is really a fun place to hike with kids. The parking area gets full mostly on weekend, but people park along side the road. Restrooms are available at the entrance.


The park has around 2.5 miles of hiking trails. Not a well marked trail, but we walk alongside the creek and it is easy to find the waterfalls. We can reach the falls in 0.6 miles itself, but the trails continue further.

Chalk Ridge Falls

The hike is very easy. There is a swinging suspension bridge near the falls, which is cool to walk and experience it. Kids loved it. 

Iam not sure if the water is good to swim, but the water is warm in February. Good to wet our feet and relax. 

There are some viewing platforms on the trails to see the creek alongside. The blue and green colors of water are amazing.

The trail is mostly shaded and easy for kids. The place is serene and good to hike in Spring / Fall. 

The park is open daily from 8 am to Sunset. It is free to enter.

Still House Hollow Lake

The Park is just below the Dam.

We drove through the Dam after leaving Chalk Ridge Falls park. The views of Still House Hollow Lake from Dam are wonderful. We couldn't stop, but there might be a viewing area / park. Still House park is closed, but there is some lake access as we could see many motor boats on the lake.

We would love to visit the Lake some other day when the Still House park is open. I think, the park has some elevation and nice views of the lake. 

Still House Hollow Lake

If you are in Austin and looking for a quick hike which is not crowded, do check out this Park. Let me know how do you like it in the comments.

Until next time,

23 January, 2022

A Day in SanDiego , CA - A Perfect One day itinerary

 This post has been due for so long. Other priorities took over and here we are in a new year! 

We moved to Texas from Colorado. You will read more travelogues about Texas and surrounding states in the future, but here is about a quick trip we took to San Diego.

When I asked a friend, what is great about San Diego, she told me - 

  • the all-year-around pleasant weather and
  • Sunsets to die for 

I 100% agree. We loved the weather, beaches, and Sunsets, though we couldn't visit many tourist destinations.

Here are a few destinations we could visit in one day:

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve 

Coronado Island and

Balboa Park

Pin it for later!


Sandiego is a city on the Pacific coast of California. It is renowned for the beautiful mild weather and 78 miles of wonderful beaches. It is California's second-largest city discovered in 1542 by a European explorer. The city was originally named San Miguel. 

Coronado Island

Coronado Island with many gorgeous beaches, a scenic downtown, and a historic Victorian hotel is a beautiful place to spend a day. It only takes around 20 mins to reach the island from Sandiego.

View from San Diego - Coronado Bridge

San Diego - Coronado Bridge

The drive through Sandiego - Coronado bridge is very scenic. This bridge is around 2.2 miles, and  5 lanes wide.

Hotel Del Coronado

The island gives a fantastic view of the Sandiego skyline as well. Once reaching the island, we parked our car and walked through the Hotel Del Coronado. This 130-year old hotel is very interesting to visit with amazing architecture and spectacular beachside setting. 

Del Coronado

Shining Sand on the beach

Coronado island

This luxury hotel is also known as one of the haunted places in Sandiego. There are Cabana and lounge chair rentals available at the beach. The beach is clean and good to relax with family.

We enjoyed some time on the Coronado Central Beach, tasted the homemade ice cream, and walked through the hotel. But, someday it would be interesting to stay in this resort.

The long sandy beaches in Coronado are famous for sparkling sand. The sand shines due to the mineral mica. Loved the experience of playing in the shining black sand!

The other beaches which we couldn't visit due to time crunch are Glorietta bay, Silver strand beach, and Ferry land marketplace

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is very unique with so many beautiful places to see in a single place. This park is home to more than 16 museums, buildings with beautiful architecture, many performance art venues, trails, parks, Sandiego zoo, and lovely gardens. 

Spreckels Organ Pavillion

Euclid statue

Balboa Park

Any family can easily spend the whole day there. But, We had only one afternoon. 

House of Pacific relations cottages has constructed the models of houses of 33 different cultures. This is very interesting to visit.

The Spreckels Organ Pavillion is the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world. The architecture and details are amazing to see.

Timken museum of art is highly recommended by many, but it was closed when we visited.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park has 17 gardens, out of which, some are free. The botanical building and Lilypond are the most photographed scenes in Balboa Park. The garden inside has 2100 different exotic plants. 

Botanic Garden and Lily Pond

The Old Globe

Balboa Park

Balboa park

There are many places to see here which are wonderful like - The old globe, Japanese friendship garden, Euclid statue, California tower, outdoor sculptures, etc.,.

We didn't go to Sandiego Zoo and Spanish Village art center due to time crunch, but we would definitely visit again.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

This 2000-acre coastal state natural reserve is located in the La Jolla community. The drive to this beach itself is dramatic with a beautiful view of the reserve and the beach. 

Torrey Pines


We couldn't hike but we enjoyed the beautiful sunset on the beach and kids played in the water. 

These photos are the best Sunset photos that me / my husband ever captured. It's serene in the evenings during Sunset.

The Glorious Sunset

Did you see the Plane?

So, that's about our quick trip to San Diego and just around 1 day of sightseeing.

If we had more time, we would have visited Sunset Cliffs natural park, USS midway museum, Seaport Village, Lajolla caves, Gaslamp quarter, Pacific beach, Potato chip rock, Cabrillo National monument, and Queen Califia's magical circle. 

We even wanted to visit Legoland, Sea World, Los Angeles, and drive through the scenic Pacific coast. Maybe some other day!

Until next time,


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...