bhargavkesavan

Travelogue, Nostalgic memories and more…


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Best Food carts in Avenue of Americas!


If there is one thing that you need not worry during your visit to NYC, that’s Food. There are plenty of options to eat when you are in the Big Apple. You will get food from $4 to even $3000 a meal!

They say that if you want to try out all the eateries in the Manhattan, you will need 84 years! I know we don’t have so much time left, so I’m going to list the best three food carts in the Midtown Manhattan or in fact the best in entire New York City.

When you enter Avenue of the Americas from 42nd street or from any of the midtown streets, you will start seeing food carts in every corners; especially during lunch hours. There are food carts which functions just during the lunch hours and only on weekdays.

Trini Paki Boys

First time I’d food from here is during Fall 2014. Mohamed runs his cart for 17+ years now and his Mom use to take care of their business before him, so for close to 25+ years this cart is right in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

I usually have Veggie over rice and Veggie over Dhal roti. Dhal roti is very special in this cart. Mohamed is very kind person, he gets along his customers very easily, in fact it should be said in other way, customers get along with him very easily for his friendly nature. He always know what I was going to order.

His cart is so famous that he got published in print media in Japan, He was published on Travel & Living Channel and several other media has praised his food over the time.

If you are in city & like to enjoy a tasty food on a weekday, do stop between 43rd and 44th street on Avenue of Americas.

Here is the google map marker http://bit.ly/TriniPakiBoys

This is Mohamed
Trini Paki Boys

Royal Grill Halal Food

When Mohamed is out on vacation or takes a day off, my next best food cart is Royal Grill Halal Food, it’s just two streets from my office and I’ve had at least hundred lunches from here. Mohamed Alam and his wife are the best people ever to run a food cart.

They are so kind and hardworking people. They start their day as early as 7 AM in the morning and their cart is open until 11:30 PM. They’ll change their shift with their employee at 7 PM but the food taste will remain same.

Alam serves Veggie samosa in his cart along with veggie rice. Falafel over rice, Veggie Biriyani (Not the typical Indian biriyani), Veggie rice with Dhal are the best food here for vegetarians. My wife likes the falafel rice from here, so whenever I order falafel at evening hours, Alam makes it fresh for me before I take bus to home.

This cart has been published in so many news articles & is featured on ABC 7, PIX 11 tv channels. Alam and his wife has won best food cart award a few times and they have also won The Vendy Award. What makes his cart special is that he remembers all his customers favorite food from his cart. He will always welcome everyone with smile! He also provides a loyalty card, which gets punched each time you have food form his cart & your every 8th meal is free for being a regular customer. I’ve missed tens of such cards, sometimes purposefully.

Here is the google map marker to his food cart – http://bit.ly/RoyalGrillHalalFood

That’s me with Alam & his employee inside food cart.

Moshes Falafel

You know Little Brazil? It’s on 46th street, two streets further from Royal Grill Halal. Little Brazil is famous for food carts, you will literally see a fleet of food carts during lunch hours. This cart is here for close to 4 decades! You will see few elderly youth running this store who attracts their customers with their witty talks.

It’s the best ever cart specially for falafel, I love the pita that comes with the yummy hummus & a pickle. It costs a couple dollars more than the previous two carts but it tastes equally excellent! They have a happy hour during evening hours, so if you miss that prime lunch rush hour, you can have little discount in price.

What I like here is that since its not rice and no gravy in food, you will get the food in a paper bag for take out. So we can say Moshes Falafel has banned plastic bags way before NY’s plastic ban!

Here is the google map marker for this cart – http://bit.ly/MoshesFalafel

Fruit Cart

Yes this is not favorite for most people, yet when you prefer fruits or like to see what varieties of fruits available, just stop by the Fruit cart next to Trini Paki Boys. A mom and daughter from Vietnam runs this cart for more than a decade. You will see ample varieties of fruits.

You can get fruit juices of various combos and custom combos as well and all for less than $5 you might get the same juice in Jamba Juice or other fancy branded stores but this cart is no less than any of those. You will get two stomachs full of fruits for just $4 a small order and don’t even ask about the large order which I struggled to finish one whole day! (nope! no exaggeration!)

Google map marker – Just go to Trini Paki Boys from above, the cart towards city bike stand is this! You can’t miss them. They’re open throughout weekdays.

Small!

What makes New York City best is that you will find hundreds of food carts run by people from all over the world, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Iran, Turkey, China and every single country in this world & you can taste every one of them and have your stomach full.

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Fun Snow Tubing at Camelback Mountains


Winter is here! So is the Snow and snow sports and games! My wife and I decided to visit Camelback mountains to enjoy the Snow Tubing. Since the weather was good over the weekend, we’d planned to go out. It takes about an hour from our home to Camelback mountains.

They’ve Snow Skiing, Snow Tubing, Mountain Roller Coaster, Zipline and other adventure sports. As soon as we reached the mountains, we’ve got a slot for 2 o clock. It was less than half an hour for our slot, so we have filled the contract forms – we need to acknowledge the form stating they’re in no way responsible if anything happens during the adventure sports.

We bought our tickets, it’s $35 per person, military personnel have $2 off. Each slot is for 3 hours, so our slot was from 2PM – 5PM. We stood in the line to enter the snow tube area. It was not crowded like our previous visit that was last year. There are two lines at the entrance of snow tubing – one is for single tube and the other one is for double tube. Single tubes can be attached to make it double, they allow up to four tubes to form a chain. So it’ll be fun if you go with friends or as group.

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There are 22 lanes in each of the two snow tube mountains. We collected our tube and climbed up the mountain – basically an escalator/lift that goes from down to the mountain top. There was a short line in each lanes, as each batch goes down, we get our turn. The fun part is to hold the tube until we’re allowed to slide down, their staffs ensures that until previous batch moves out from downhill, next batch doesn’t slide down, as there are high possibilities for accident.

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So we waited until we were asked to slide down. And our turn! We’d great time sliding for 9 times in three hours! It basically takes 20 mins for us to get one ride down, as it depends on the crowd! Last year we were able to go only for 5 times in three hours.

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Since the weather was not too cold, we wore ear muffs, gloves and normal jacket on us. The first two lanes are photography lanes, meaning their photographer staffs takes snaps of the people slides in first two lanes and gives a tag to collect the photo later from the store. It’s little expensive for the photos, $10 each photo and $40 if you want all pics of yours. It’s not guaranteed all your photos will be good, depends on the day weather lighting etc. It’s not mandatory to collect the photos, we can just see and say no if we don’t like it. Anyways we can always take selfie – but selfie stick is not allowed as it might fall during the slide and cause trouble to others. Just take it with hand and make sure you can balance the tube.

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My wife and I’ve spent a nice day and headed back home with fun memories. Here is the video I took during our Snow Tubing day before yesterday. 🙂 Do comment if you like it!

Do checkout more pics in my instagram page & my photography page in Facebook.


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Watkins Glen State Park – Gorge Trail


My wife and I decided to visit Watkins Glen State Park. We decided to make it as a one day trip & started from Parsippany after having our favorite Bagel from Wawa for breakfast. We started around 9:30 AM and reached by 2:45 PM. It’s a 230 mile drive. We stopped twice in between, first stop to make call to our parents and next stop to have lunch.

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My wife had prepared lunch for our trip this way we can have lunch at our convenient location, we’d lunch in a beautiful spot, spent some time there and headed to the Watkins Glen, New York. Since it’s fall the trees and the mountains still had the majestic colors and it was very beautiful to witness the colors.

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My wife did research and identified the trail for our hiking. We reached our destination at 2:45 noon. We took a glimpse of the trail map & started hiking immediately. We entered from the southern entrance as the main entrance was closed for renovation. As we entered the bridge at the entrance to the trail, we could hear the sound of water gushing & a lot of people hiking the different trails. People looked very tiny as the bridge at the entrance was at the peak of the trail.

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We took the Gorge trail as the Indian trail almost covers the same path as the other trail. The gorge trail has 19 falls and several caves. As we moved on the we started exploring the beauty of the park. The fall color throughout trail & the slight drizzle made the place most beautiful. It was a great workout climbing the steps before entering the central cascade & later near the Jacob’s ladder. The rock steps were built in the year 1908!

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We enjoyed the rainbow falls and couldn’t move away from the pool at central cascade as it was so beautiful. We spent a lot of time near this spot and then proceeded with the trail. They even call a small water flowing rocks too as a water falls 😀

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One of the main agenda in this hiking is to take photos of the water falls. I’d ordered a 55mm ND filter in Amazon as a expedited delivery but amazon failed to deliver it in a day as promised even after charging a $6. I have called them on Friday night which is when it was supposed to get delivered but they didn’t had any info and told me that I might get it the next day. I was very disappointed and sad that I won’t be able to take the photos I’d imagined in my mind.

I’ve seen photos like these a lot & always wanted to take it by myself. Without having a ND filter I thought it’s not possible to take, I remembered reading a blog about taking long exposure at day time without filters and gave a try & yes, it worked out very well.

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We breathed heavily by the time we finished climbing Jacobs ladder a 180 stone steps which marked the end of the Gorge trail. Huff!!! It started raining heavily but we had the shuttle service luckily to head back to the southern entrance. It was 5:30 when we completed the trail and took the shuttle back to main entrance. The shuttle driver was very kind and explained a lot about Watkins Glen & the Finger Lakes. I was very surprised and amazed to know that the lake was 700 feet and extends to 38 miles. Wow!
He stopped near the Elk farm and we saw few Elks wandering in the park which is raised by Germans. He also said that the main entrance is being uplifted by a $6 million renovation.

By the time we reached the southern entrance the entire parking lot was almost empty! We had fun time playing swing & it was a relaxation after the hiking 😀

We sure will visit Watkins Glen State Park again to explore more.

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Islands of Adventures – An amazing experience! – The Beginning


Universal Studios – Islands of Adventures! I’d no idea I’ll ever visit this place. On June 2nd, I’d visited Universal Studio’s Island of Adventure park in Orlando, Florida with Anu and my friends (Prem, Priya). It’s high budget & extremely adventurous Ramoji Film City of USA.

Two days before our trip, My wife and I visited the official Universal’s website to get an idea and pick the rides. We checked the names of ride and watched the videos in Youtube. After watching close to 10 videos, we felt like completing a virtual tour!

Two days later we reached Orlando. On our day 1 we started to the Park in our rental car Dodge Grand Caravan from the villa we stayed with rest of our group. While the other group were getting ready to their Disney park, we started to Islands Of Adventure.

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Anu & Bhargav (me! me!)

Since the park opens at 9 AM, we left the villa at 8 AM, since its going to be an all day activity we took food for lunch with us. Before reaching the park, we’d our favorite bagel and hot chocolate drink for breakfast from Wawa. My friends had their wishlist for the day and we’d ours. On the way to the park we four decided from which activity to begin our day. Prem did ground work already by visiting undercover tourist website and took printout of the maps already. It made very easy to plan the activities. Anu made a list of todo rides & not to do (Dragon coaster) list as well 😀

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Getting ready to leave villa!

While I checked the parking for Islands of Adventure, its a common parking lot for both the parks Universal Studios and for Islands of Adventures. I read some blog about parking which helped in choosing the parking. Yes, there are two kind of parking, regular & prime parking. Prime parking is close to the park while the regular parking is slightly far. But there are lot of moving walkways to make our walk easy to enter the park.

We took the prime parking ticket for $30 and reached the parking lot. They made it easy to remember the parking lot number by prefixing the number to movies like E.T, Spider Man, Cat in the Hat etc… It took just 5 mins to walk through the walkways, there was a security check in between and it was a moving crowd. We entered the park at 10:15 AM!

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Few people were issuing American Express credit cards to by pass the regular queue and get to the Express Pass for free! So here is the thing, there are two lines for every ride, regular line & express line. Just like dharma darisanam and 30 Rupees queue in Thirupathi temple, except that there is no dharma rides in Universal Park!

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After scanning our tickets and thumb print (over hype!) we entered the Universal Studios – Islands Of Adventure Park!

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Our day just started for the excitement! (To be continued… The rides we experienced, interesting photos & a short video)

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Islands of Adventure

Grace-ful Ice: Safari

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It’s the time of year where Live Ice Carvings are performed at the Grace building.

The artists from Okamoto Studio show their talents in giving a shape to the just plain big rectangle ice bars to a stunning animals (2016), the dinosaur (2015), microcosmos (2014) etc.

Here are the photos taken during this event on 12th December 2016 at Grace building, New York City. Because of the good weather these crafts are still good in shape unlike last year where it melted the very day because of high temperature.

If you’re in the city & reading this now, you still have time left to see these beautiful Ice animals before it melts down.

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Deers – Crafting in progress

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Lion King – Crafting in progress

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Zebra – Crafting in progress

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Crafting the details…

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Crafting the details…

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Small birds – Crafting in progress

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Oh!!! Not in the eyes!!!

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Crafting the details…

After the final shape…

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Some moments that I found very funny when this crafting was in progress! View it in full size to see if you can find it fun 🙂

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The New York Times reported that Mr & Mrs Bhargav witnessed this event at Grace plaza on 12/12/16

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Anu cheering heyyy woww at the end of ice crafting 😉

Thank you for visiting 🙂


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Manhattanhenge, New York’s Stonehenge


I have seen photos of Manhattanhange (without knowing the name then!) several years ago. I was not aware of such event until last year when I discovered something like this happens twice a year. One in May & another during July. The dates are May 29 & July 12, also a day before the above dates as well.

When I was reading newspaper last year (2015) I saw the Sunset photo and the news referred it as Manhattanhenge, I then googled about it & got to know I’d just missed it by two days or so. The disappointment level will be very high when you realize you could have witnessed something that happens in the very street you walk every single day & it’s historic which happens just twice a year.

Immediately I checked the dates for 2016  Manhattanhenge, it was May 28, 29 & July 11, 12. After a year, on May 29th I’d visited New York to see this, unfortunately everyone was disappointed as it was cloudy! The crowd waited until the sunset but it happened behind the clouds! May be the sun was shy to look everyone as hundreds of people were looking at it at the same time after an year!

The last time of the year to witness this came! I totally forgot about it on 11th, on 12th I remembered it after I boarded bus to New Jersey! I couldn’t stop bus as they won’t stop it once it’s started from departure until the first stop arrives. I waited until the first stop & crossed the road & waited for the next bus to New York.

Arrived at Times Square at 7:50, the streets were already crowded. Both sides of road were crowded and none crossed the road for the walk sign! Some taxi’s lowered the window and asked what are people looking at? Some people got down from Taxis after knowing about it. Cops were on the fly & ensured people are not blocking the traffic, as center of the road is best spot to see.

Everyday there is sunrise and sunset, but how many days are we looking at it? When was the last time you saw the sunrise & sunset by standing in a position just to look at it? But there is a point here, it’s not just a sunset, it’s a sunset that aligns in center of the street. Just like the Stonehenge in England which was constructed somewhere around 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

At 8:10, like the curtain opens before play, Sun came out with glittering rays from behind the building it was hiding. It was so beautiful to see the Golden sun surrounded with reddish ring and orange and golden glittering rays! At this evening, Nature was the celebrity! People shouted out of happiness and I kept smiling 🙂 It was the moment everyone was so happy and some even clapped for the nature 🙂 I asked someone to take a picture of me instead of just taking a selfie, what’s the use of having hundreds of people when we don’t talk to them.

People kept looking at the spot for a while even after the sun was set. More than hundreds including may not get another chance to see it next year or in future! Next time when you’re in New York City around May or July, do not miss this! It’s for this 10 minutes I waited an year! 

Checkout the video below!

 


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Cycling at Central – Spring 2016


Since the winter is officially over and Spring has has begun! I was waiting for a day to ride cycle in Central Park again!

Since friends schedule (:D :P) didn’t match, I went alone on April 24th to Central Park. I was well prepared for the day and my goal for the day was very clear, it’s just a day for me and to enjoy the day well by cycling!

Carried a fully charged power bank, sunglass, Cap, wallet, a juice bottle and a box with apple slices for the day. Made sure my rope bag is as light as possible (which I usually do!) so that I’ll feel comfortable the whole day & the energy won’t be wasted in carrying the bag with unnecessary weight & won’t reduce the time to ride bicycle.

As I reached the rental shop, there were few people but no cycle! Yeah.. I was late already & the shop was almost empty, but there were cycles left for me. They seem to have changed the cycles & almost all cycles were new. Last year the cycles were silver color and this year the new ones were black color.

Rented a cycle and since there were no locks left & I was asked to wait until someone returns the cycle to get a lock for me, I didn’t spend time waiting for anyone, I just left saying I’ll collect it later if I need.

Left the rental shop just the same way I use to leave the rental shop in my childhood paying 1 Rupees for 1 hour 🙂 As I entered the park, I was among one of the thousands! And the rest were almost same as last year.

Here are the pics and video taken this year.

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This flower adds beauty to this post!

 

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Relaxing after completing first lap!

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ohhh… you too relaxing??

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End of lap 1.

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End of the day! After 5 laps.

As usual enjoyed my cycling & had fun with my friends Sriram and Kalai who joined me at evening after seeing the photos I’d posted in our whatsapp group!

Watch the short video that I took while cycling!

As I say in all posts, leave your comment below, when I revisit this post after several years, I could read your comment. Comments in whatsapp and FB will be long gone after few years! Thank you for reading!