Fall 2016

•October 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This fall, I turned 10! 10 years since I moved to US – first two years as a student and the next 8 years working. But never in these last 10 years have I really ventured out in search of fall colors. Well, I’m not all that surprised, esp. since I’m yet to visit the Niagra falls which was just an hour an half away from where I lived the first two years in this country. So this year, since I had some time in hand, and since my parents decided to visit in fall, I thought it might be a good idea to visit the land which some call as a heaven during fall – Vermont.

Now, fall hits Vermont rather early. Wise men from the mountains say the fall “foliage” moves from north to south. And for this same reason, last weekend was deemed as perhaps a tad too late for viewing fall colors at its peak in Vermont, by many. But then the beauty of Fall is not just its colors on the trees, but also the fallen leaves that create a carpet of colors on the ground. We picked Ludlow, VT as the spot to “camp” before venturing out to the mountains, a small village close to the vast expanse of the Green Mountains, 4 hours away from the busy traffic laden roads of Manhattan. We chose to start the drive on a Sunday afternoon, when most people decide to stay at home and soon reached those mountainous highways in Connecticut, without much delay. We caught a glimpse of what we were to expect as we went through the Heroes Tunnel in New Haven, CT, a half a mile long tunnel through the mountains, with a sign board at the entrance which says “Drivers please remove your sun glasses as you enter the tunnel”


The traffic was uneventful through the rest of the trip and after meandering through the dark VT103 state highway, we reached our hotel. From the outside, it looked rather old and dark. However soon enough we realized it was just the reception and the actual condominium that we booked was up at the top of a hill. Now one thing that always amazes me is how dark the streets are in the villages around US. It does not just go for local streets but also the state highways. The drive up the hill was no exception. It took us a few wrong turns and a couple of private roads to finally figure out our home for the next two nights. The house itself did not disappoint – a three bedroom apartment atop a hill, looking down unto the colors of fall was everything I could have asked for. After a fireside dinner a glass of whiskey and tired from a 4 hour drive and the high beam lights that kept flashing at my eyes along the way, I decided to call it a day.

Next day morning gave us a little bit of a scare. We realized as soon as we woke up that it rained through out the night. A drizzle in the middle of fall can bring all those colorful leaves flying down to the earth. So it was with a bit of skepticism that we decided to head out to our first stop – Killington Mountain Resort, the start of the Appalachian trail in Vermont. As soon we hit the “Scenic Route” on the state highway VT100, those apprehensions went away. The colors over the mountains and the trees along the way truly took your breath away; add on the sun that peeked out of the dark clouds to add a glisten to those color filled mountaintops and lakes beneath them.



We took several stops along the way to pause and capture the beauty of nature through lenses both natural and artificial. Although the closed Killington Mountai resort turned out to be a disappointment, the Lye Brooks Falls, that followed made up for it. An hour away from Killington with a not-so-obvious entrance, it did offer the best of both – a carpeted ground and a colorful treetop.



And I should make a mention of the “great american breakfast” place we stopped in between, with its “Frying Pan Hall of Fame”


After a half an hour hike at Lye Brooks Falls, when the rocks started to get slippery, we decided to head to Okemo Mountains and the ski resort around it. I must say that it was perhaps one of the best decisions we made. A 4 mile drive through the winding roads up to the mountain top offered some of the most spectacular views of fall I’ve ever witnessed.

From the ski slopes


to the roadside trees,


everything was “picture perfect”!

As darkness slowly started to settle in, reminding us of the impending winter days, we settled for a great american pie dinner, a glorified wood-grilled pizza and called it a day by the fireside.

The drive back to Manhattan the next day was rainy and foggy.


The pleasantness and serenity of the village roads soon transformed into lengthy traffic blocks and noisy horns and we realized it was time to wake up from the dream and get back to reality. A truly blissful weekend to kick off the week refreshed!

Adios Philadelphia

•March 6, 2016 • 1 Comment

When I cam to Philadelphia back 2008, I had no idea, I would stay this long. 8 years hence, as I get ready to “relocate” (as the wise men from the mountains call it), I realized that I have quite a lot of memories with this city of brotherly love. To be honest, ever since I moved to Philadelphia, all I had in my mind was to find a way to move to New York City, a city that I’ve always been fascinated with; a city which I captured the most through my lens; a city where I always wondered what would happen over a minute. But now that I finally managed to find a way to move to New York, I decided to take a stroll around Philadelphia to capture some of the moments I decided to casually ignore.

Here’s to the view from the Art Museum – the very steps of which were made famous by Rocky!

Boat Houses


And here is a collection of the few captures I managed through my lens over the 8 years.

Pennsylvania Passtime

Dusting off

•December 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Weird are the ways in which life shows you some of those things from the past which should have never been let go of. One of those came knocking on the door today, when I got added to the Ghosts of the Bloggers past reminding me of those wonderful days of blogging. Things were simple back then. Thoughts were much more free flowing. Emotions could always be put into words. IdleThoughts were “Scourges” back then. And every day of my life was chronicled.

As years passed by, things changed, perspectives altered, hurdles of life started to catch on and I slowed down on my blogging. Now what “Ghosts of the Bloggers past” gave me is an impetus to write again.

So here’s to a rainy day spent amidst the books.

Rainy Day

I promise to update this place more often from now….

Hats Galore!

•March 18, 2013 • 1 Comment

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Hats off!

The magic of music

•November 20, 2012 • 1 Comment

It always makes me pause for a second to capture its essence….

Street singers

The Art of Bird Watching

•September 22, 2012 • 3 Comments

The term “bird watching” has a rather derogatory tone associated with it, back in India. It became notorious across the corridors of Indian universities and schools, as a term used to describe the “art” of watching women as they pass by. But it was not until a year ago, when I heard my colleague describe his adventures chasing the bald eagles at the Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania that the “real” meaning of the phrase started to take shape. Being a photography enthusiast, the thought of shooting a bird in its flight, as it glides across the high reaches of the skies, has always intrigued me. But the real essence of this hobby caught on only when I watched the movie – The Big Year early this year. Now let me admit, I would still not call myself a complete bird watching fanatic yet, having joined just once with my colleagues on their journey to find the rarest of the rare species, a week ago. The place was Hawk Mountain , an international center for raptor conservation in Pennsylvania. The annual autumn raptor migration was at its peak with around 1650 sightings two days before our planned hike.

The drive was an hour and half long and we decided to leave at the break of dawn. As we cruised along the highways, my colleagues decided to give me an overview of the basic essentials. It all started with what goes into the backpack. To that day, I had believed that all you needed was a camera with an exceptionally fast lens. But that notion soon began to fade away as they walked me through the wide range of tools that came handy.

One of the most important equipment is a pair of binoculars. Birds almost never come close to an “army” of humans with a hoard of fancy “looking glasses” and “telescopic” cameras. Now depending on the steadiness of your hands, you can choose from a wide variety binoculars – Nikon 8X40mm model seemed to be the more common variety, with the steadier hands opting for a slightly higher version in Nikon 10X50mm . The seasoned professionals however tend to lean towards the scopes with Celetron 100mm being a popular brand.

A quick reference guide is next in the list. Here again, technology has left a significant mark. While the older of the crowd went for paperback guides such as the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America , the younger crowd looked out for “greener” pastures such as Peterson Birds of North America , the iPhone/iPad version. The obvious advantage of the app was its ability to listen to sounds and map them to the amazingly huge repository (150MB of data) of birds and of course record your findings as you go. Reaching up to the point where you can sit patiently waiting for a bird to flyby is a trek in itself. So all those trekking shoes, backpacks filled with water bottles and trail mixes are always a common sight among those bird watchers. It might perhaps be a good idea to pack a small meal as well if you plan on staying up in the mountains for hours. Camera, being an absolute essential, a good tripod is a recommended carry on, esp. if you happen to have a lens that go beyond 300mm. Hanging it around your neck could potentially give rise to neck issues in future if you happen to grow serious with this hobby.

By the time I was briefed on all of these, we reached the foothills of the Hawk Mountain. We hiked up to the visitors center to buy the tickets. I decided to grab a few bottles of water and a chocolate chip cookie to quench my sweet cravings and more importantly to keep a check on my already grumbling stomach. Although we decided to collect a map of the trail, it turned out to be not as mazed as I thought it would be. All you need was to take a quick peak at this bronze trail map at the beginning of the trail.

We decided to hike up to the North Lookout, one of those more popular lookouts at the Hawk Mountain. The trek was short, yet arduous. The climb indeed wore me out, having been completely out of shape for over a month. The steps and stones along the way did however help my cause. And half an hour later, we saw the “scarecrow”, the landmark that told us that the climb had ended.

The "scarecrow"

As we meandered closer to this pole, I caught the glimpse of the real passion of being a bird watcher.

We soon found a spot to settle down, overlooking an array of peaks each named 1,2,3,4 and 5 as a reference to call out, every time someone spotted a bird lurking in the skies. There was an amazing air of silence as they waiting patiently for a bird to flyby. I found myself capturing the beauty of the fall colors that had begun to settle in across the mountains.

House beneath the woods

After almost an hour, someone in the crowd called out that they had spotted a Merlin at the foothills of peak 5 gliding its way down to the forest below. With the little that I could see through a naked eye devoid of a looking glass and through the rather amateur lens that I possessed, I caught a glimpse of this thing of beauty at a distance.

Up above the world so high!

Soon followed a Sharp-Shinned Hawk and an Osprey, one of which actually gained the courage to hover over the us. A turkey vulture was perhaps what excited me the most, with its majestic wings and V-shaped flight. And I saw myself clcking away to glory.

Turkey Vulture

Royal Aura - Turkey Vulture

But I heard later that vultures were rather too common to gain any significant excitement among those seasoned crowd of bird watchers. As it turned out, the day we chose was not the best of those, with winds rather stale and sightings, disappointingly scarce. I could see the look of disappointment in the faces of my friends as they stood for hours waiting for an American Kestrel that never showed up. Four hours later we decided to give up and start climbing down. We paused at the south lookout with the hope spotting some more but with no avail. As the sun slowly started to make its way into the mid skies, we left the place, with my friends slightly disappointed and me completely satisfied with my first experience watching actual raptors.

Some people call it a passionate hobby, traveling across the country listing down the number of varieties of species that they spot around the year. I for my own selfish reason call it a trek, with a chance to be outside watching the people around me silently waiting to spot one of those elusive raptors. With summer gone and winter soon to take over those colorful mountains, this was perhaps my last chance this year to be outside amidst the woods…..

Bird watchers galore

•September 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Bird Watchers

Hawk Mountain, PA