Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trip to Vaishno Devi – The Mother goddess (November 14, 2009)

When I came to India, I wanted to do one hiking trip at least, and nothing crossed my mind but to do Vaishno Devi hike. Last time I did this hike in 1982. I am thankful to Dr. Tarun (my brother) and Dr. Kapil (my high school classmate) who agreed to quickly drop whatever plans they had for that weekend, and joined me. It was quite reassuring to have two Doctors along with me, just in case I needed some medical attention durin

g or after the long hike of 30 KM ( 20 miles) and elevation gain of 3700.

We booked reservation in train using Tatkal (immediate) service, for which they charge 30% premium. Some time back there was a study, in spite of being Government run, why Indian Railways has been ridiculously profitable, even though they did not raise fares for a long time. Dr. Tarun explained some of that mystery. Some trains, only had 12 tickets in general category, and rest of the 128 tickets, available in Tatkal reservations only. If you want to book return ticket, there is extra charge for that in addition to regular fare; you get the idea. I was simply amazed at ingenuity and creative ways Railways Administrators found in making it profitable, of course, it helps that there is no competition.

We boarded the overnight train, from Delhi to Jammu. The compartments were comfortable, food was provided, along with water, blankets, sheets and pillow. Most of people who boarded the train, are meant to go for the Vaishno Devi pilgrimage. Our neighbors (two families),

confirmed that they are heading for the pilgrimage, and they have done it over 15 times. I was impressed, though they looked much younger than me, some of them were out of shape. Out of

curiosity, I asked them, how much time did it take for climbing up? After a brief pause one of them answered 3 to 4 minutes.


They mentioned that they used helicopter service. That explained some of, as why India is now Diabetes Capital of the world. Even though there was a very well maintained trail with over 15 restaurants in 15 Km and tea shops through out, (literally, as shops were blocking most of the views of mountain/valley), I saw lot of young people using Helicopters and mules. This was not true 27 years ago, when I saw a lot more people on trail, chanting Jai Mata Di (hailing mother goddess), through out.

In my opinion, this shift in culture is primary due to increased affordability, import of western TV channels/programming coupled with fast food concept. North Indian food itself is heavy, and if you further add TV programming to it, it seems like 4 of your 5 senses (sight, listening, smell and taste) have immediate gratification. Apart from 4 movie channels which show constantly

western movies, you could see Seinfeld, Friends and other popular sitcoms. Then there is Indian equivalent of American Idol, Bachelor, Big Boss (where you see outdated celebrities) and similar other programs. Besides, you have Indian Soaps which are hugely popular and Indian movie channels. Then there is cricket, 3 hours, one day and 5 days version.

After reaching in time at Jammu, thanks to Dr. Kapil, we had a taxi waiting for us to take to Katra (50 Km). It took us one hour to reach and another hour to find out that hotels at the top (Bhawan) are all full. So we decided to go and come back on the same day. We stayed at Niharika hotel, managed by Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Shrine board has made the pilgrimage extremely affordable and facilities were real good. The whole trail is paved, the food is extremely cheap at restaurant managed by Shrine board. They have free sleeping facilities through out the trail; and also dorms, rooms and AC rooms at nominal prices. Toilets and cloak rooms are available every where. Basically, from Katra to Bhawan hike, you do not have to carry anything, if you are planning to return the same


I thought, based on my weekly hike experience, I would be up in 2-3 hours. However, Dr Kapil decided to make use every rest room which came along the way. It was clear something was

bothering him. He would not admit it. However, masseuses, which were available through out the trail, kept coming to him and offering their services. Soon, he succumbed to the pressure, and got a massage. Dr Tarun took the opportunity to shoot the video, which killed any further chance of getting a massage. We were offered mule ride also. It was painful to watch people who were riding the mules, as they seemed highly uncomfortable, and from their grunts, it appeared pained had shifted up from their legs. Some women and kids were crying on mule as

they were afraid to fall down. Palkhi or palanquin (four people carrying you in a chair with four poles) seemed more comfortable.

We reached at top, and have to wait around 30 minutes for a locker to be available, as camera, mobile, leather belt, valet were not allowed in the holy shrine. Again arrangements by Shrine Board were excellent, it took us no time. Shrine board controlled the offering which you could bring to the mother goddess, coconuts were not allowed. We bought offerings from Shrine board shop, and were little disappointed later on to find that it did not have customary walnut and dried apple.

We then visited Bhairon Ghati, which was another 2 KM (1400 feet elevation gain) away from

main shrine. For those who are interested in story of how this Pilgrimage came into being, please follow

We did not take much time there and started climbing down. We started the hike at 11 AM, and it was around 6 PM when we started to come down. There were a lot of monkeys on the way down, they were somewhat aggressive. By this time, Dr Kapil was liberally using the Bengay, I brought. He was remembering his wife, Dr Alka, every 5 minutes. Whenever, we see Maggi stall or corns, he would say Alka really would have loved it; how she helped him with his diction etc. Needless to say he was missing (read fearing) her. Somebody has rightly said that a man's wife has more power over him than the state has.

On further asking, as why did not he bring her, he told me that only those people could come to the pilgrimage who had been called by the Mother. This may be somewhat true, as 27 years ago, when we visited the shrine, my dad had the dream of the place. On describing the dream to

coworkers, they told him that it might be Vaishno Devi. I remember still that on reaching the place in night, he did mention that this was what he saw in the dream. I did feel some energy/vibration before entering the holy cave.

At 9:30 we finally reached back, ate north Indian food at Sagar Ratna; a South Indian Restaurant in extreme north of India. Food was good. Back at hotel, Dr Kapil was liberally using Bengay, took a pain killer and we all had a sound sleep. In morning we took breakfast again at Sagar Ratna, and ready for some local sight seeing.

We went to Patni Top, which could literally means, ‘Wife on Top’. A lesser known hill station,

which is not frequently visited by visitors, it still had the neat outlook of a small hilly town, at

elevation of 6500 feet. It had few resorts, almost no recognized restaurant chain. It was chilly, foggy and picturesque. On asking what generally people do here, like hiking trail etc, locals told us that tourists spend most of the time inside the hotel room there, probably inspired by the name of the place. We visited Nathatop, which was further up and it was raining there, so we quickly came back to Jammu. We still had time after dinner in Jammu, so we visited famous Raghunath temple.

After boarding the train, we noticed that there were some girls who, sitting in the next cabin, were limping. Dr Kapil, started squeezing the last ounce from half a kilo of the Bengay (Indian Iodex) tube, liberally applying to his knees, hoping that some girls in need might approach him. However, one girl, who was limping, said loudly that where was this bad smell of Iodex is coming from, and that she could hardly breath. This naturally curbed Dr Kapil’s enthusiasm. Train was 3 hours late, so we got down few miles before our station, on tracks, and got a taxi to head back home.

As per Dr. Kapil, this is his secret of keeping the balance between Mother and Wife, i.e. to visit the Mother first, followed closely by wife (Patnitop); not sure if Dr Alka would agree with that. This is somewhat true that no man succeeds without a good woman behind him. Wife or mother, if it is both, he is twice as blessed indeed.

For photos of the trip visit

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Year 2009

2009 proved to be a memorable year with a lot of hikes and camping with family and friends. This year I was able to document most of my experiences throughout the year on my blog.

I remember that one of the highlights of 2008 update was Prem’s asthma control. This year proved to be another good year for Prem, he had couple of episodes, but nothing which we could not control at home; visits to ER seemed to be a thing of the distant past. Again diet and some natural cures continue to control his triggers very well. And I am very thankful for that.

In tail end of 2008, I had an elbow injury, so I stopped playing tennis. This proved to be a big blessing, as I switched to hiking. Starting in January 1 of 2009, Rajesh who was my tennis buddy, joined me for the first time in hiking. Looking back in 2009-January album, I see that Raj Oberoi, Thomas, Deepu, Prakash, Jitu joined the group. And in the same month, Promila and Radhika started hiking too. In later months we were joined by a lot more people. There was a lot of energy in the group, and apparently hiking proved to be very addicting to most of us. People were itching to do more than Mission Peak; so we decided to do Half Dome in Yosemite as soon the cables were put up. Most of the group was able to do Half Dome on June 6. I did Half Dome second time, giving company to Som on father’s day, June 21. Hopefully, hiking Half Dome would become a tradition in the coming years. Most of you have read my blog for both the trips; if you have not, here are the links

In March 2009, Promila did Mission Peak for the first time, and I am hoping she would do Half Dome in 2010. Thanks to Promila, while I was hiking Half Dome, Prem made it to Yosemite Jr Park Ranger and Little cub. He also joined baseball Jr Giants, followed by soccer league Little Tigers. Promila accompanied Prem on most of the school trips, whether it was going to Oakland zoo or going to a play “Charlotte’s Web” at Chabot College.

Prem was finally able to climb all the way to Mission Peak on August 22. This was a very proud moment for the whole family. Prem again did it in December, a lot more easily the second time around. To read about Prem’s conquest

We went to Hiller Aviation Museum, Cal Academy of Sciences in April, followed by Prem’s favorite place, Snoopy town (in his own words) – Santa Rosa to see Charles Schulz Museum.

In May we visited Monterey Bay Aquarium and Chabot Space Museum. In June we visited Bass Lake with Maria and Mimi’s family and I was able to do Half Dome with Som at that time. In August we went camping with Raj, Ajith, Thomas and Renuka’s family at Little Basin. After that we went to New Jersey and New York for a week. I was able to meet two of my cousins – Garima and Vivek; and we were able to spend time with their families. We met Promila’s friend Jaysree and her family too, besides meeting briefly with Nidhi and her kids. Prem enjoyed NYC skyscrapers. We made a trip to San Jose Family Camp in Yosemite with Jose and Sathish’s families.

In November, I visited India for 3 weeks. It was great to catch up with family and friends. It was a great experience listening to mother’s sitar and father’s singing. I was able to do pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi with Tarun and Kapil. For that trip, see my blog at

Promila’s parents visited again this year. Promila and Prem was able to have some fun time with them. While I write this today, we are at Lake Tahoe resort enjoying snow on Christmas. We did some snow play and sledding with Sathish’s family. To steal from one of my earlier blog –
Somebody once said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” This was one such year, where there were plenty of such moments, literally, while pulling up the cables on Half Dome, being chased by the bear, looking at the Giant Sequoia trees, reading what Prem wrote for ‘Father of year’ entry, taking oath to become US Citizen, Prem & Promila completing Mission Peak hike, looking at tile mural at Charles Schulz Museum made from cartoon strips, listening to mother play Raga Yaman on Sitar, Papa sing, sliding down in snow on sled in Tahoe.

For year2009 in pictures, please visit

Happy holidays and we wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year 2010, filled with laughter and joy.
with love (Prem)
Promila - Maneesh

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

San Jose Family Camp

Thanks to Jose, we were able to enjoy the San Jose Family Camp. Do not confuse it with camping, as you are provided with tent, bed, electric outlets and great food with lots of selection. Yes, there was no cooking or cleaning involved at all. It was truly geared towards ensuring that you enjoy as a family.

With 5 boys ranging from 3-7, it was lot of fun for Prem. Camp grounds offer variety of activities for kids and adults, like Tetherball, Ping Pong, Archery, camp fire and hiking to Rainbow Falls. Of course, we did it all. Our team, Prem, Jonathan and myself won the Ping Pong tournament and were awarded with Ice Creams. I soon found out though archery might look easy and a lot of fun, it took me three tries to get a hang of it. On my first trial, I hit only 1 arrow, second try Zero and third 4 out of 5. For record, women did better than men here, which was not a surprise as they were better coordinated, flexible and more open towards learning something new.

Besides, there was a stream which went through the camp grounds, and this was where we spent a lot of our time. Again, thanks to Jose, we all were able to enjoy the boat and tube. And as you can imagine, it was a lot of fun to soak each other. Jose ensured that nobody felt left out and we were all drenched multiple times by end of the day.

After the campfire and marsh-mellows, kids slept quickly, and between 5 of us, we emptied 3 wine bottles; though women would naturally argue that between me, Satheesh and Jose we finished it. The discussion was very pleasant, when we started talking about drinking shots and throwing up. Jose shared some ‘throwing up’ photos at the right moment. Needless to say, we did not drink anymore after that.

Promila and Sebi failed to understand as why men drink shots and then suck on lime to overcome queasy feeling? Where is the fun in this? Is it just a typical boy thing to show off that one can do it or how much alcohol one can hold? Well, I know that it is more typical for boys to play and enjoy competitive sports; that’s the way they learn and relate. I would not be surprised, there may soon be Tequila Shot competition on ESPN, now that they have Live Poker on it.

Again there was confusion on as why certain people throw up but not others. It seemed that Satheesh had PhD in this area as he explained the science behind it, that it depended on a lot of factors, as what you had eaten before drinking, how long ago you had eaten, body temperature, intervals between the shots, air temperature, music blaring/spouse yelling and smell of trashcan/restroom. He further explained that drinking of oil before could increase your capacity to hold more liquor. Jose modestly concluded the discussion that it generally takes him one drink to get loaded. Trouble is, he can't remember if it's the thirteenth or fourteenth.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kid is growing up fast !

August 22, 2009 (Saturday) – A very special day, as Prem went all the way to the top of Mission Peak (Elevation Gain: 2100 feet, distance 6 miles) by himself, for the first time, still couple of months shy of his 6th birthday. It took almost 4 hours, which included 1 hours 50 minutes to reach at top, 45 minutes stay at peak and 1 hour and 20 minutes to climb down.

On Friday, August 21, 2009, after completing a high energy day at school, followed by a grueling one-on-one swimming session, he came back and slept in living room at 6 PM. I thought he would wake up around 8 and then we will have dinner together. I still remembered my last week hike at Mission Peak, where we met a family of four, youngest girl 5, who reached at top around 7 AM. After talking to the family, they told me that they put the sleeping kids in car before 5 AM, and start hiking at 5. This gave me some perspective, as what should be a reasonable time for such a young kid to complete the hike. Also I took the photo of this family to show it to Prem. After looking at the photo, Prem was upset and spoke in tears to take him to Mission Peak. I promised that I would, some day. Now that Prem was in deep sleep even at 8 PM, I recognized this as an opportunity presented by some cosmic powers.

I thought, I would wake him in morning, and see if he was still as enthusiastic as he was a week ago. At 5 AM when I woke him up, and asked gently if he wanted to go hiking, he was alert, and immediately noticed the quiet of night, and opened the bedroom curtain and told me that he did not want to hike in night. I told him this was morning, and by the time we would start hiking, day would start breaking. He understood. Kid is growing up fast.

On previous occasions, when Prem hiked Mission Peak till Bench #4 (little bit more than half the

distance); though he had wanted to go all the way to top, he would complain about pain. He might have been sensing my impatience, and did not want to continue. Now armed with knowledge of expected time to complete the hike, and self promise of practicing patience, we started the hike at 5:45. Of course, I did not get any parking spot, and had to park the car another 1/2 mile away.

I remembered that last time Prem had hiked till bench 4, he had the company of two other 5 year old boys. It made the hike real easy. I was worried, that he might get bored soon. I had to quickly remove these negative thoughts from my mind, and decided to just go with the flow, take breaks and practice patience. We took break at each bench, and amazingly Prem was ready to go with in 5 minutes. Promila, as a typical Indian mom, brought tea, yogurt and sandwiches and did her best to stuff Prem at every opportunity.

After reaching bench 1, Prem said, “Look at the lights, so beautiful.” It was still somewhat dark, and you could see the lights of valley. Promila mentioned that it seemed like a mini-vacation, as family is enjoying something together, away from daily hustle-bustle. And I thought, “I am

fortunate to have such a low maintenance family which is so

easy to please.” She kept repeating this throughout the day, when we went to Prem’s last baseball game of the season, followed by a baseball pizza party given by Milpitas Police.

Through out the hike, Prem got lot of encouraging words from fellow hikers, going up or down, which made him more resolute to complete the hike. He started complaining about the pain in knee and feet after bench 4. I knew he was not pretending. I tried to pick him up, but by now, he was too proud to be seen in my lap. To my further amazement, he said, “Papa, my legs are getting stronger as they are in pain”. He remembered. Kid is growing up fast.

However, with a few minutes break, he wanted to move further. He did not like getting past by other hikers. On last stretch, where I had to hold his hand tightly, as the path was rocky, his hand was sweaty. And he figured out a way, by moving around me so that we changed our

hands every couple of minutes. One can say, that we tangoed all the way up to Mission Peak.

Met Rajesh just before reaching the peak, and he gave Prem a big hi-5. You could tell he was real thrilled to see Prem up there. Soon after that, Prem asked Mommy, that once we reach to the peak, she should take photos and put it on Facebook for all his friends to see. I reminded myself to talk to Promila later about Facebook impacts. Kid is growing up fast.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Half Dome Decoded (Father's day) June 21, 2009

Half Dome Decoded :

Hiked Half Dome on father’s day (June 21, 2009). Though the first time (June 6, 2009) was special, as it was my parent’s anniversary, and it was dedicated to them, this time was extra special, on father’s day, for Prem. This hike turned out to be more exciting than I thought. I knew that weather is going to be fantastic, and it was sunny, with cool breeze in 70s.

I asked Som, who was not regular in our hiking group, to hit the gym and do 60 minutes for last 10 days. He did. We started on Saturday morning around 10 AM, big thanks to Som, since he drove, I could enjoy all the scenery. This time we stayed in time share condos of Manoj E at Bass lake. Just for the record, they were fantastic for the price we paid. Three families with small kids could have easily stayed, it has fire place, full kitchen and 2.5 baths; heated swimming pool and hot tub.

June 20: We reached Bass Lake around 1:40, and just went into town, walked around and then went to beach (yes, lake had couple of artificial beaches). Maria’s and Mimi’s families joined us later. We ate dinner already, thanks to Swapna for very tasty fried lemon rice. She packed up so much that it lasted us three days, even after we all ate them twice a day. Som was complaining, that there was no way he could lose weight. Chris and Anand were cooking dinner, and boy they know their cooking; everything was sinful. I liked Shrimps, and on asking about the recipe, I was told, just grilled with a slab of butter and basil garlic powder. Now that explains why I weighed 3 pounds more after the hike; I felt corrupted. Just got my cholesterol checked today, it was 24 points up. Thanks Chris, Anand and Swapna, next time I will be careful !

June 21: Thanks to Promila, both Som and I had a woolen cap, she knitted whole night, while chatting with Mimie and Maria. When we woke up at 3 AM, she finished knitting and made us breakfast. We started from Bass lake at 4 AM, after reaching at Trail Head parking lot, Som was not feeling well. The coffee and sandwich, along with windy road for one hour and 30 minutes, did not sit well with him. He had to go the rest room. When I told him that restroom is 10 minutes from here, he was incredulous. I could see he has some doubts about the hike. Just at that time, another car stopped near us, and there is young Brazilian woman came out and asked us if we are going to hike the Half Dome, and if she could accompany us. And in no time, all of the Som’s doubts disappeared. By the time we reached the restrooms, which were on the way to hike, he was comfortable; and was saying walking helped him. But we all know what really motivated him.

We took the Mist Trail, and were on top of Nevada falls in 1 hour and 40 minutes, took a break of 30 minutes there. We met the Brazilian woman there. After another two mile hike, we met Tom, from San Mateo, who chatted with us. He wrote a book on hiking in Santa Cruz mountains, which was apparently in 8th edition. He showed us his pictures, when he hiked Half Dome, first time in 1969; he was 19 year old. It was astounding to see that The Cables looked exactly the same. With all the technology advances in last 40 years, one would think that they would put an escalator up there ! He was backpacking and carrying just 15 pounds, which was 4 pounds less then what I was carrying.

Finally, we were at steps, took a break of 20 minutes, and this time I felt like the mouse in the maze who gets to his food faster second time. As per recommendation of my office colleague, James, I bought the latex coated gloves from Home Depot. They had a really good grip, and we were up in 20 minutes, and total time it took this time to go up was 5 hours and 20 minutes. This time it was much easier, no pains or stiffness or cramps at all. It is just amazing how much part mind plays over matter, if one is relaxed, know what is expected, the task get easier and easier. I felt like I could hike another couple of miles from there easily.

We spent over an hour up there and met Veru, the lone shy hiker, from southern part of India. It was his first time too. He wanted to do Mt Whitney and was preparing very methodically for that. We exchanged some information, like his favorite heroine, when he was 15, was Urmila; and he sometimes thinks about her, mostly in shower; he is 27 now but as we all know that childhood memories last forever.

Coming down, again this time, couple of women, got scared, and could not look downwards. It took much longer. After coming down the cable, Som’s backpack was bitten into by squirrels, they cut the zipper, so it was no longer working; and got two of his power bars and a sandwich. He was mildly upset and looking for a shoulder to cry on. Now he was chatting with everybody, showing up his backpack, men were laughing, and women were naturally sympathetic.

We climbed down at a fast pace. And met Nandu, my office colleague, coming down. He reminds me of a humming bird, thin and tiny and always full of energy. He was doing the hike after 10 years. Just before we reached Nevada falls, we were shushed by a couple of hikers, who showed us a rattle snake. In another 5 minutes of walking, Som stopped me, pointed a bear, less than 50 yards away. My perception of bear was from the zoo, that they are big and lazy, and move slowly. This bear was really big, probably over 10 feet but very quick and nimble on feet. We saw two cubs around. She saw us and charged towards us. At that time there was nobody else on the trail. There was no way we could have outrun her. We moved a few steps back. I think the bear did not want to move much away from the cubs, so she stopped. By now, other hikers had joined us, nobody knew any alternative path, and the bear and the cubs were just playing on the trail. Nobody wanted to come in direct sight of the bear.

Finally, we remembered, as Prem told me in his Jr Ranger training, if you are confronted by a bear, raise your hands and make loud noises. It did work, and bear, along with cubs, finally relented. Som tried to whistle, but could not. I thought his hands were shaking; first mauled by squirrel, then seeing a rattle snake and finally being chased by bear; it was only natural. But as per him, it was due to salt from the sweat.

After reaching Nevada falls, another woman started chatting with him, as if she knew him. “Good to see you again”. He kept playing along. “Did you complete the hike, I just went up 300 yards on cable and then came back; however, photos shot by me are better than my boy friend’s. He did go all the way up.” After few minutes of listening, he did not know what else to say, Som blurted, “Happy Father’s day”. And she said, “Thank You”.

When we were at bottom of Vernal Falls, a South Indian woman asked Som, “How far is it?” Som replied, “How far is what?”. She was confused, and asked incredulously, “Did you go all the way to Nevada falls ?” And when Som replied, politely, “No not Nevada falls, Half Dome.” She exclaimed, “Ayyoooorammma !”

We took a bath at Curry Village, and had a beer. Promila and Prem joined us and told me about their exciting day. Unlike last time, I did not have any pains. I think having good hiking boots, extra pair of socks, hiking poles with rubber grip at bottom, stretching your muscles periodically, good company and support from your family are key to a successful Half Dome hike. While I was hiking, the super mom was able to get Prem into a street play. This was an impromptu play and it was pleasant to listen to what Prem did in it.

June 22, 2009 - Morning we started for Mariposa Grove, to see the giant redwoods. These are the biggest living creatures in the world. Some of them over 3000 year old. This is the first thing that came under Government protection. Back when, there was no concept of National Park, Abraham Lincoln, signed up a law, that Mariposa grove is not to be touched or used for any commercial purposes. I think, everybody could sense, that this grove is sacred and needs to be protected some way. Gaylan Clark, in 1850s, was diagnosed with Tuberculoses, and was given 6 months to live. He came to Mariposa grove, and lived here for another 40 years. When ranger was telling us this story, an old man asked, I heard that later he married to a 27 year old woman, was that correct? Ranger did not know if it was true, but some said, yes that was true, and that the ageless nature of redwoods rubbed on the people who lived around it. Well, for all the good reasons to remember and visit Mariposa grove, this is the one that stuck in people imaginations.

Well, the day was not over yet. We reached back Milpitas at 5 PM. And were ready to go to Father’s day recognition dinner organized by Milpitas Post and Kiwanis club, at Omega restaurant. We walked to the restaurant, and I have to read what Prem wrote for me (as dictated by Prem to his mommy Promila). It was published in Milpitas Post.

“Why is my dad is the best dad in Milpitas? Because he talks nicely and plays ‘Goal-Block-Goal’ with me and he does his work nicely. He watches cricket and he plays Cribbage on computer (I just played once on computer to teach him the rules). My dad also plays Cribbage with me too. I was teaching dad soccer. He is playing soccer well (not true). He hikes with me. He hikes on big huge mountains. He does rock climbing down the mountain (not true). We go to Snoopy town (Santa Rosa) and Snoopy Museum (Charles M Schultz Museum) with my dad. He cooks with my mom and eat fish sandwiches a lot for breakfast. And my dad picks me up from school and he puts me in the school (sometimes). I love my dad. ”

Somebody once said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” This was one such weekend, where there were plenty of such moments, literally, while pulling up the cables on Half Dome, being chased by the bear, looking at the Giant Sequoia trees or reading what Prem wrote for his father !
For all pictures and videos related to this trip, please click on

Friday, June 12, 2009

2008 Update

The year 2008 has been memorable for me in many ways. It has been proved to be a breakthrough year in controlling Prem’s asthma. I would like to hope and think that he is cured of it too. For last 3 years, Prem has been having asthma episodes almost once a month. Whenever he has runny nose, we were told to give him steroid (Pulmicort) for three days. We have nebulizer at home. Last time he had an episode was in June this year, when we were unable to control it at home. ER visits did not help much either, as Doctor said that keep doing what you have been doing, and it has been taking longer for him to come out of the episodes.

We have been looking for alternatives to western medicines for some time by now. Finally, it clicked. He had no more episodes, and mainly it is because we just did some simple diet changes and adopted some breathing techniques & natural cures to take care of his triggers. Yes, he has been drug free and I am not that anxious around him anymore. It is showing up in his overall growth.

I always want to be a role model for Prem, and after his birth, whenever I am in a fix or feel lazy, I would think what I would want my son to do in this situation. And I thought I had been keeping up very well in this regard, but alas, I soon realized why it was said that ‘Child is a father of the man.’

At the start of this year, Prem hardly could do the monkey bar. I wanted to encourage him, not by just empty words. So I tried doing it, and failed miserably. I rationalized that there are other areas I could still be role model. Well, one day in November we went to the Murphy Park, and he showed me that he could do all the three bars, continuously, forever. I tried it, and failed again, in spite of his courageous words, ‘Practice papa practice, you will get better. Do your best’. The kid is growing up too fast. After two weeks, I was able to do the monkey bar. And now he is encouraging Promila.

We have been reading to Prem since forever. Now this year, back in February, he could hardly read alphabets or write anything. When we put him in preschool, we were apprehensive and were thinking to keep him at home for another year. However, with Promila’s constant presence in school and help at home, he has been able to catch with rest of the class, and doing really well in Kindergarten. He is doing very well on reading chapter books, writing, dictation and Mathematics. However, given the choice between school and home, Prem is still a mama’s boy.

Promila has been more regular in teaching at Milpitas Adult Ed this year, however, her primary focus is still Prem. She even joined Karate class with Prem, and I can not forget the first time they came back from the class, looking all cute in white dress, he showed me the punch, his hands could only reach below my belly, and I was doubling over on the carpet next moment, not even able to scream. Both found it funny. They were again together in swimming class, but not in Lego, music and dance classes. Promila’s cooking has been great as ever. Apart from adding healthy contents like Flax, she has involved Prem in cooking. I do not think I could ever do that. Prem has been a regular helper in making dough, rolling puris and cooking ginger bread men. He looks forward to cooking. For Christmas they made Ginger Bread tree.

I was able to meet two of my classmates, Jit and Pankaj, during these trips and had a great fun with Deepak, Rajesh, Maria and Baskar’s families. With lot of activities for kids, and camp fire at night, these were memorable trips. Promila’s parents visited again this year and Prem was able to spend some time with them. We had a marathon of theme parks this year in Southern California, and enjoyed Disneyland, California adventure, Universal Studio, Sea World and Animal Safari.

Another new thing I learnt this year, apart from monkey bars, was juggling balls, and I was very proud of it. I also tried finger whistling, I can do it 50 % of time. Besides playing tennis and some times working out at gym, this year, with the help of Paul, I was able to start hiking every week, sometimes more. I never knew, hiking in Bay Area, with lot of trails like, Mission peak, Alum Rock, Almaden Quicksilver Park and Henry W Coe State Park, could be so enjoyable.

For a small video highlighting the year, visit

Happy holidays and we wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year 2009, filled with laughter and joy.

with love (Prem)
Promila - Maneesh
"People do not grow old, they become old when they stop growing."

2007 Update

This year most of my concerns regarding Prem’s health and speech delay have melted away. He moved from Mandala to Mission College in March. There were times, when we had to explain that he was not in college yet, but just in preschool at Child Development Center at Mission College. Mission college program has worked very well for Prem, he has grown in to quite independent and much more confident kid now.

At Mandala, Prem’s preschool, parents generally sits with kids during first 15 minutes of story time, to allow for smoother transition. During one of these story times, in February, after finishing the story, teacher asked, what each kid loved, and got answers like chocolate, ice cream, Dora, pizza and so on. When teacher asked Prem, he turned around and said ‘Mommy’, looking straight into Promila’s eyes. This was extra special, mainly because Prem was delayed in speech, and we did not have much spontaneous conversation with him at the time. Most of the conversations were need based, and to understand and speak about something abstract was touching.

The year was filled with a lot of fun filled activities. We visited, multiple times, Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, Tech Museum, Children Discovery Museum, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Great America Parkway, Gilroy Gardens, Limo’s Farm and local parks. We went to Morro Bay and New Port Beach and explored couple of Southern CA beaches this year. We camped at Mount Lassen and Camp Costanovan. Mount Lassen, in July, was amazing. We had temperatures around 90 at campsite and enjoyed outdoor pool, and did snow boarding, in the same day, at top in shorts and slippers. Besides Sulfur geysers, the area was blessed with couple of big volcanic lakes and water falls.

Promila continued with her dance class with Naach group, and did one stage performance. Besides being her usual energetic self and filling up our calendar with entertaining activities, she volunteered at Prem’s preschool, designed and taught courses at Adult Education and even had a stint at teaching 2nd graders in Rose elementary school. She could hardly speak clearly after 10 days of teaching. Now she really appreciates and understands how hard a teacher job is. It, probably, is as hard as parenting and also as rewarding.

I traveled for office work to Puerto Rico twice, Scotland, Pennsylvania and Ft Wayne Indiana. I met my high school friend in London, after a long time during my visit to Scotland, and it was great fun to do sight seeing with him. Promila’s parents came to US for 6 months this year, and Prem thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Happy holidays and we wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year 2008, filled with laughter and joy.
(From - Prem, Promila and Maneesh Agarwal)

2006 Update

This year reminds me of greeting write up I did in year 2004. I did not do it last year, and Promila sent beautiful handmade cards to more than 80 families. The card had sand and seashells pasted from our Florida trip, with a line at bottom saying ‘See you in 2006’. As my normal lazy self, when Promila showed me the design on the first card, I gave a quick OK to speed up the all consuming process, which usually takes around 3-5 days every year. Later, after 15 days in January 2006, Promila got couple of calls and emails from India, asking if we were really coming this year to India. At that time, I really looked at the card, and realized how it was interpreted. We sent the same design to all our friends in US as well. Promila kept looking at me quizzically to find out how she should respond to these queries from India. After all, last we visited India was in February 2000.

I laughingly evaded her queries, and told her to clarify on misunderstanding. Being my hyper anxious fearful self and looking back Prem’s frequent ear infections and breathing issues in 2005, I was not looking forward for any travel, much less international. Promila left her job in the end of 2005 to be with Prem. It made the huge difference, Prem was less sick, still hyperactive and I felt much relaxed in a long time. Though house is still a mess most of the time, and I am half the nag I used to be (Promila may beg to differ), I can’t think of a better care for Prem. Side benefit, of Promila being home and be her usual energetic and enthusiastic self, is a great tasting warm fresh food everyday, almost. She enjoys cooking and takes her time. I generally have to watch myself so I do not overeat. Soon I have to replace my morning breakfast from Paranthas (stuffed fresh pan breads) to delicious whey protein fresh fruit smoothies. Promila was able to join Bollywood dance class and gave couple of stage performances with group ‘Naach’, and I was able to play tennis. We were able to go to gym more frequently, and able to bring more balance in our life.

With Promila at home, she had been finding very creative and cost effective ways to enjoy through out the week. Whether it is $1 Tuesday at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, free 3rd Saturday of the month at tech museum, winning passes for Bonfonte Gardens, Rossecrucian Egyptian museum and other gardens, tour at local bakery, chicken & horse farms, cold stone creamery, there is never a dull moment in the city. She has been editing Milpitas Moms and Tots newsletter for over a year now. Courtesy her, we did find time to attend a few of free fun parenting workshops where even childcare is provided for. Apart from good food, and some relaxing time at these workshops, I remember very little.

In one of these workshops, the instructor asked the audience to use descriptive words to describe a perfect parent. Parents came up with words like - loving, patient, caring, enthusiastic, creative, energetic, fun, forgiving, calm, consistent, disciplined, planned etc. Now, if you look at these descriptive words, you will find almost opposite adjectives, with creative/enthusiastic/energetic/fun at one end of spectrum and patient/calm/planned/disciplined at other. This made me realize about ludicrous expectations I have.

We went to camping twice this year and both were memorable. This was the first time we camped at New Brighton Capitola beach, along with other families in Las Madres 2003 mothers group. Some body once told me that more you spend on vacation less you enjoy. Though I do not believe in cliché but it seems true for both of our camping trips.

In October, after celebrating Prem’s 3rd birthday, Promila asked me to at least apply for Prem’s visa to India, just in case we want to go to India in future. November and December, being the busiest time of for travel, we never thought that we would get tickets to India. I started planning for vacations in US. However, few of her casual inquiries, resulted in getting tickets to India. It is still considered a minor miracle to get those tickets at last minute. Looking back at last year greetings now, I realized that it was not a coincidence. The strong desire to go visit families in India surfaced from underneath, and as Paulo Coelho would say, that the whole Universe conspired to fulfill that wish. Fortunately for us, India trip was very gratifying. Prem was able to get blessings from mine and Promila’s grandmothers. Besides, visiting my birthplace where a lot of my fond childhood memories were associated, I was able to meet 11 of mine and 3 of Promila’s uncle/aunts and their kids. Through out the trip we all kept good health. It was heartening to see Prem’s close companionship with his first cousin Parth, and love he received from Smiti, Urvi and grandparents.

It was great to meet my old school and college friends, and playing badminton after so many years. It was great to talk to Papa, mummy and Tarun exclusively. At the end of the vacation, it reminded me of a Hindi poem, which means something like this –

I have 1000 of such desires, that even to fulfill one, I am prepared to give my life away. In the end, though a lot of my wishes got fulfilled, but it still feels less.

Happy holidays and we wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year 2007, filled with laughter and joy.

2004 Update

I will not be honest if I do not admit that I felt a lot of warmth and love, in increasing intensity, through out this year.

You guessed it right, it is mostly due to Prem*. He turned one in October. It was pure joy watching him grow. At a personal level, as a parent, I felt acutely under scrutiny. Let me explain. There are some physiological and behavioral similarities which I can identify in Prem. Like his nose, which has dry mucous falling from it all the time, totally gross and completely on me. His tongue, hanging out most of the time whether there is food in sight or not, is on Promila and her mother. If this is not enough, he hits his head with his hand with some force to show his frustrations when we feign not to understand what he is trying to say. I remember that I used to do that some time back and so did my father. One good thing is that he smiles like Promila, easily. Thank god, smile is not on me.

Prem is a charmer and very social. Besides gymboree, we attended Music Together sessions together. Prem enjoyed them a lot. Prem was on NBC news, when they showed a 3 minute clip on one of the Music Together session. The clip opened with Prem and Promila.

We hosted baby sign language classes at our home, which I enjoyed immensely. Now when I make a sign for ‘No’ to Prem, at times, I get a single finger sign from him, which I am sure is not a proper ASL sign.

We went to couple of one day hiking trip at Little Basin this summer which Prem enjoyed very much. I hope to do more in next season. Thanks to Promila and 2003 –moms groups, we attended two Halloween parties and four Holiday parties. I never imagined that these parties could be so much fun. Besides, we visited Bonfante gardens.

On professional front, I moved out of independent consulting and joined Johnson & Johnson this year in September. I loved independent consulting. In order to be closer to family, slow down and enjoy these early years of Prem, the decision came easily.

Promila, on other hand, has been able to work from home. It is a lot of work for her to manage baby feedings, baby sitter and work at the same time. Being an engineer through out, now in this new light, she understands and appreciates her managers’ efforts (read pains). She generally ends up working for long hours. I hope to share some of baby feedings and nanny management more actively soon.

Happy holidays and we wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year 2005, filled with laughter.

*Prem à means love in Hindi.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Half Dome Hike

Hiking Half Dome – Started on June 5, Friday in morning. Weather news was not good, there were chances of thunderstorm, rain and snow. It started raining Friday morning and everybody had some doubts.

One of the lines from my all time favorite book, ‘Alchemist’ by Paul Coelho
“when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

We saw snow on the way to Curry Village. Weather got wet and there was constant drizzle, but no heavy showers. Prem's shoes got wet very soon, and we bought him waterproof hiking boots. It worked really well for him, as he jumped into every puddle and was hyper without any sugar. Yosemite brought some real wildness in him. He was calm and excited at the same time. Of course, he slept very well both the nights. Sleeping bags helped as temperature went down to less than 30 degrees on Friday night.

June 6: I was too excited and woke up at 1:30, did some breathing exercise to calm myself, and then finally woke up at 5. Did my warm up exercises in the tent cabin, and was ready to hike with the group by 6. My backpack was ready a night before, however, I had to put food outside in bear-proof locker for the night. Weather was clear in the morning. We started the hike at 6:30. Nobody seemed worried about the weather any more.

First stop was top of Vernal falls, Manoj Nair was leading. He was in extremely good shape as he was hiking without much previous hiking history, no sticks and no hiking shoes. We waited for the group for few minutes, and then thought we can wait for them at top of Nevada falls. Reached Nevada falls in 1 hour and 40 minutes. I thought we kept up a good pace and almost covered half of the elevation. We waited for 40 minutes on Nevada falls, and then decided to go further. Long wait totally refreshed us and we felt that we just started the hike. We met with the rest of the group which went ahead of us as they spent most of their time on Vernal fall.
I thought we will be at base of the cables in another 2 hours. However, we were getting slower and slower with elevation gain and finally we came to the granite rock. I was under the impression that cables would come immediately, they did not. We have to climb endless uneven stairs carved into rock, somewhat narrow and dangerous, for a long time. I saw couple of women dragging on their bottoms coming down as there was no hand rail or any kind of support. This was an uncertain element, rock was somewhat wet and if one panicked, it makes it more difficult. I was not sure whether to use sticks or not, as there was no dirt, just hard rock. Waited for a sign, and let other climbers pass by to assess how are they doing. Some people did put the sticks back in their backpack and were using their hands for support to climb up. However, some people were using sticks. I calmed myself down, did some breathing exercise and decided to just follow the next person with sticks. It worked.

Heard Rajesh from behind, he was hobbling and broke away from the group behind. Now it is Rajesh, Manoj and I. Another 20 minutes, we were at the base of the cables, exhausted. It was getting extremely foggy, clouded and there was a drizzle. We could not wait for long, decided to dump our backpacks and just took a water bottle. The weight lifting gloves/grip did not appear to help much on cable. Cables were wet and cold. Climb at some places were extremely steep, couple of times I thought it was insane (why could not they carve the steps here like they did at the rock below !!!). Cable was crowded, and ascent was slow as people were coming down. Slow ascent proved to be a blessing, as we did not take proper rest before the ascent.

After reaching at top, legs were stiff and required a lot of stretching. However, we could not stop more than 15 minutes on top as it started snowing a little. Rajesh was cramping and his hands were numbed. We then saw Ajith, Jose, Manoj TN and Thomas. Took some pictures. Ajith was speechless, Jose was cramping, but Thomas was the only one dancing. We looked the watch, it was 12:30. It took us 6 hours climbing up. It was longer then my expectations of 4 hours.

I thought climbing down the cables and then uneven steps in rock would be more difficult, it was not. Checked my socks at bottom of steps, both the pair (inner and outer ones) were wet, changed both of them. Waited another 20 minutes for the rest of the group, but then decided to go down with Manoj and Rajesh. Came back the same way, Mist Trail, now all the rocks were wet and slippery, drizzle was steady. It made the descent slow. Finally it took 11 hours, one apple, one kashi bar, two liters of water/Gatorade, 300 ml of chocolate, milk, couple of sore muscles but no blisters and lot of support from the hiking group to complete the hike. I think for any other day, it could have been done in less than 10 hours. In hind sight, without the insanity factor of cables and uncertainty of steps, this hike may not have been so memorable.

Came down to find out that Promila saw a bear outside our tent cabin in the morning, just after I left. Our neighbor took pictures and showed it to me. As expected from a super Mom, it did not slow Promila down. She had her day planned with Prem, full of activities. Prem made it to Jr. Park Ranger and then Yosemite Little Cub; he had to earn those badges, one cannot simply buy them. I learned from the Jr. ranger that one has to raise their hands and shout if they encounter a bear to scare them away and that human food is bad for bears as it decays their teeth faster (with all that soda and chips), it is better to eat berries and grass.

Ate at Curry Pavilion buffet, excellent food; gained back all the weight and much more. Met the group outside, figured as there was no alcohol in the Pavilion they would not be coming in. Prem was not interested in adult chatting, so had to leave. Promila asked me later as who brought their wife with them and why I did not introduce her to this woman, and I replied nobody brought wife except me. She again persisted, did anybody bring their girl friend, and then it dawned on me, she might be confused by Ajith long locks in dark. We had a good laugh for quite some time.

I stretched a bit but my legs were getting little stiff in night. Put some Bengay, and it helped immediately. This is the first time in my life, I slept with pain reliever on one side and constant pain on other!

June 7: Had a great sleep, and ready to do couple of other hikes and explore the valley with Prem. Did Lower Yosemite Falls hike and Meadow loop with him which has breath taking view of Half Dome and North Dome. These were easy hikes, but spectacular sceneries, Yosemite was at its best, as it was sunny on Sunday and with two days of rains and snow, all the falls were on their full majestic flow. Ate lunch at Village grill, another really good place to eat. Watched Indian museum and saw Sprite of Yosemite film; excellent sound track.
Headed back home at 3:30, ate cherries and apricots at Oak Dale, reached home at 6:30.

Big thanks to Manoj E for his planning and organization skills in making this trip happen. Some hikers mentioned that this was the hardest thing they had done in their life. I still think parenting is the hardest thing. However, there were some parallels, just like parenting, there was some
uncertainty and you had to go with flow at times, you needed patience, it was a serious endeavor; however it was fun, felt quite fulfilling and exciting; and a memory to cherish forever.

Pictures at

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Real Age

At my recent birthday, retook the test, and was very pleased to see the real age as 27.4. is really good site

Supersize Me

Watched this movie today. It was very well made. The main character, very healthy, takes up a challenge to be on McDonald's diet for 30 days. He get himself checked with 3 doctors and one RD before the challenge, and keep testing his physical health/blood test throughout 30 days.

He is just eating 3 meals at McDonalds and he is supposed to cover everything in menu during his 30 days. What struck me that when this young man narrated his childhood memories of his mother, that she used to be mostly in kitchen, and they hardly every ate out. This is similar to my memories. I used to think that US has fast food and eating out trend for a long time. Apparently not. The fast food challenge is a challenge for us as a parent. It is easy to eat out, as it is cheap and save on time. Even with cell phone, computer, online bill payment and all technology advances, I think rushed life is one of our biggest challenge.

At the end of the movie, main character's cholestrol jumped from 165 to 225, and wait shot up by 25 pounds, however, there was no change in height.

I am not going to McDonalds anymore. Not that we are going any of fast food places for a long time, thanks to Promila's cooking. To be fair, among among all Fast Food which serve similar food as that of McDonalds, McDonald is the best in terms of ingradient use and calories.

Movie is highlt recommended.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine Flu A/H1N1

I attended today’s lunch and learn session on this topic. There were more people from Wellness staff then actual people who attended it. I was surprised by very low attendance, not sure if it was due to information overload already or people were scared to attend a meeting at a common place. As per the speaker, people couldn’t stay anxious for prolonged period of time, and they drop their guards after some time, and give up.

As per them, there is still uncertainty on severity of flu. The victims in US are recovering fine, and are responding to this strain with and without treatment. US is still trying to find out as why there were more fatal cases in Mexico, and since system in Mexico is different, it is difficult to find out details on 25 confirmed deaths in Mexico.

Present strain is sensitive (curable) to Tamiflu and Relenza, if you take it within 2 days of onset of symptoms; and if one has it, the disease is communicable for another 10 days after onset of symptoms.

Annually 36000 people die in US alone for various flu. Keeping that in perspective, this is not that bad. It is good to cautious and use commonsense hygiene, the video was a great hit on how to sneeze. The cloth traps the virus, and it dies quickly on cloth, however on other surfaces, it could stay there for 1-2 days. So mantra is sneeze in your elbow or armpit (and do not wear sleeveless dresses J).

This funny and informational video is promoted by CDC.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hiller Aviation museum

There were 4 simulations which we all three did. One particular simulation lasted for 30 minutes, and it was very close to actual plane flying, task was to take off from SFO and land it on Half Moon Bay airport. I failed miserably. The simulation had GPS, and all the gauges you would see in plane.

Museum has a lot of history; I was fascinated by Rotocycle and platform flying machine. There was a simulation for platform flying machine too. Prem had lot of fun. Highly recommended.

Cal Academy of Sciences

Only thing to watch out on free Wednesday is wait time before you enter. We reached around 10:15 (museum opens at 9:30), and have to wait 2 hours outside. However, wait outside was not bad, because the academy was in Golden Gate Park. We brought sandwiches. It also helped that there was another family which carpooled with us, so Prem played with other kid. I brought two flying planes (bought from Hiller Aviation Museum), so kids just had fun outside too.

Couple of other people who have been to museum on earlier free Wednesdays told that it generally takes around 45 minutes wait time, but may be because of spring break, there were lot of school busses which dropped kid yesterday, and they were not allowing people to enter till museum was relatively empty.

The museum created a Rain Forest which was unique (hot and humid in this 3 storey structure with in Museum), great aquarium, living roof, penguins, T-Rex, very good food, a few interactive screens and games for kids. We were the last one to come out of museum. Personally, I learnt a few new things and enjoyed it.

Charles Schultz Museum, Santa Rosa

This museum in Santa Rosa is a gem. Take your time to explore it, it is not widely advertised.

The exhibits at first floor changes (I think every six months). This time there were exhibits from NASA. Apparently, Snoopy was symbol which NASA adopted for their Apollo 10 mission (astronauts orbit around the moon, but did not land) and onwards for all their missions. So there was quite a history with NASA.

There was a wall mural created in the museum of 3500 cartoon strip tiles. The tiles are organized in such a way that they made a popular cartoon strip. It was mind-blowing. Do chat to volunteers there; most of them were personal friends to Charles Schultz.

There was an education center on second floor, where you can do sketches and cartooning. 2nd floor did provide a glimpse on Charles' life. To be honest, I only started liking Peanuts series just six months ago. Before that I just was not able to appreciate it, in fact that used to be only strip on Sunday newspaper which I would not read. I was not just getting the humor. However, 6 months ago, I watched a DVD of his strips with Prem (Prem loved it), and there was a 5 minute interview from him, and everything clicked. Charlie Brown is the story of the cartoonist who had a hard childhood, he was bullied and did not fit in among other kids, and CB was not a happy kid. He put that in cartoon, and even expressed some of his adult life lessons through the strip.

He drew cartoons for 50 years and died in 2000. He built a world class skating ring in Santa Rosa, where he spent last 30 years of his life, besides other things. Skating Ring is just across the road from museum, and there is Warm Puppy Cafe, this where he used to draw ideas and do breakfast and lunch. We ate there, and came to know that skating ring was designed by his wife based on some Switz architecture, it is unique, and you can see it while eating from the cafe.

The food was good in cafe, and you could see where he used to sit and draw cartoons. Skating Ring, Indoor tennis courts and baseball diamonds are few of the things which he did for Santa Rosa. He was active through out his life and played all these sports, and created tournaments for over 30, over 40, over 50 age groups, and participated in those.

In the museum, there is a holographic ring outside (which I think most of the visitors missed); there is a big screen movie theater and replica of his studio. It was very inspiring, in the sense, that here is the man who knew that he wanted to be cartoonist at age 5, and went on to impact lot of people's lives, his township, just doing that. He was Californian, came from a very simple background (his father owned a barber shop), who loved outdoors, sports and created a beautiful life around it. It is all there to see and experience.

We ate dinner in down town Santa Rosa and walked around Rail Road Square.

Before I forget, there is a snoopy labyrinth outside of museum, do not forget to walk it. Prem walked it 4 times. We took breaks, went for lunch, came back, and went to see three 30 minutes movies. We came back around 10 PM.

All in all, great experience.