A Breathtaking Hike in the North Cascades

When you are in Seattle and the weather is great, its time to go hiking ! ๐Ÿ˜Š

On Sunday, we went on a hike called the “Lake Twentytwo” in the Mountain Loop Highway area. It was a 5.4 mile hike (round trip) with an elevation gain of 1500 ft and was rated as easy-to-moderate. The hike to the lake let us explore beautiful mountain rainforests, alpine wetlands, old growth hemlocks and cedars along with stunning views of Mt Pilchuck.

It was a pleasant two hour drive from Bellevue to reach the trailhead. The drive was beautiful with alpine and cedar trees on both sides.

Drive to Lake Twentytwo
We wanted to make a quick stop to grab some food for the hike. We drove too far and couldn’t locate any food joints. We stopped at a local store on the highway and bought some snacks.

Pit stop
Always yes for a Magnum almond bar !
We reached the trailhead around 1 pm. The parking area was quite crowded.  The weather was around 12 degrees centigrade.

Parking area
Information board
At the trailhead, we learnt that Lake Twentytwo is regarded as a Research Natural Area which means that the natural ecosystems in the area are preserved to facilitate research.

We started our hike at around 1.30 pm.

“Leave no trace of your visit.”
Starting point of the trail
The trail started out to be flat as you can see above. It then went on to become a mountain rainforest trail. There was dampness in the ground for most part of the trail.

Entering the rainforest
Dampness along the way
In about a mile, there was a puncheon bridge to cross the waters. There were several tiny creeks and beautiful waterfalls along the way. โ€‹โ€‹

โ€‹Puncheon Bridge

โ€‹Water falls along the way

Whispers of the woods
After 1.5 miles, the trail turned into a talus slope with stunning views of Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers. The ground was rocky and moist and was more challenging.

Climbing higher

Some more mist
Beauty in each leaf
Views of White Horse Mountain and Three Fingers
After 2.1 miles, we re entered the rainforest. There were wetlands and the ground got rocky. This was the final part of the hike.

Almost there !
Blocks of snow
When we reached Lake Twentytwo, we stood speechless before the magnificent panoramic view of the pristine lake with  backdrop of the magnificent Mt. Pilchuck. We sat there absorbing the serenity and sheer beauty of nature.

The Breathtaking View !

Mountains, mist and magnificence
Speechless !
The lake was so clear that it perfectly reflected the magnificence of the mountains.

How clear the lake was !
The tired hikers
Below is the panoramic video of the view.

โ€‹The Lake Twentytwo hike was an amazing experience for us with its beautiful trail and spectacular views at the end. As rightly said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than what one seeks”.

The end !

It all starts with a dream ! ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐ŸŽ“

Three years ago, I had the dream of pursuing my Master’s degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. At that time, I had no idea how I would make this dream come true. All I had was unwavering faith and the willingness to work hard towards my dream. Along with hard work and dedication, things worked out in my favor. I cried in joy when I received my admit which read that only 11 students were selected among hundreds of applicants from all over the world. With courage and faith, I flew halfway across the world to pursue my degree from my dream university.

Miles away from home!
This post is about my Graduation Day, the day that gave me immense satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment. Graduation day in Stony Brook University is celebrated with an all red theme in which the graduation gowns and caps are also in red. There is an atmosphere of celebration and joy all over the campus. Graduating students bring their families and friends from all over the world to celebrate the joy of graduating.

There are typically two ceremonies that a graduating student attends. First one is the Main Ceremony where all the graduating students assemble in a large stadium. The President of the University addresses the students and awards the honorary degrees to the selected recipients. The second ceremony is the departmental ceremony held by the respective departments where the degrees are handed over to each student on the stage (in my case, it was the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences).

Tickets for the Main and Departmental Ceremony
We were given a booklet containing information about the commencement (schedule of events, names of the graduating students etc).

Commencement Booklet
On the way to the ceremony
The Main Ceremony was held the the Kenneth P Lavelle Stadium at 11 am. There was a long queue to enter the stadium. We entered the stadium following the procession which was playing the Spirit of Stony Brook and remained seated for the majority of the ceremony.

Standing in the line calls for a selfie !
Entering the Stadium
Before the ceremony
Honorary doctorates were awarded to Prince Emmanuel De Meriden (anthropologist and conservationist), Michael J. Fox (international film star) and Jonathan Oringer (founder and CEO of Shutterstock).

Following this, President Stanley announced the conferral of our degrees. We sang the Stony Brook Alma Mater song in unison.

End of the Ceremony !
Stony Brook Alma Mater song
As soon as the Main Ceremony was over, we headed to the IFCU Arena for the departmental ceremony. There was a procession followed by which we entered the arena with our respective departments guided by the Grand Marshal.

โ€‹Biomedical Engineering students were called upon first to receive their degrees. I received my degree from Dr. Clinton Rubin who is the Chair of my department. The video below shows my walking up to the stage to receive the degree. 


The video below shows the tossing of the caps towards the end of the ceremony.

โ€‹After the ceremony, we headed to the nearby lawn where we had a group photo with the department and clicked photos with friends and family.

Biomedical Engineering Graduates of 2017 (Credits: SBU BME Facebook Page)

Friends like family !
Favorites !
The cheering squad !
After the photo session, we all headed home to cut the cake baked by Niv for all of us (I helped too ๐Ÿ˜›). It was a two tier cake made with white chocolate mousse and chocolate base which took two days to bake !

Happy Graduation to Us !
After the celebrations came the hard part for me where I had to pack up and check out of my Chapin apartment. This apartment was my home for the last two years. I will always cherish the beautiful memories I made here with the best people who are now like family.

My Room in K1162
Countless memories – K1162
grad photo
The tassel was worth the hassle !
The two years I spent for my Master’s at Stony Brook gave me more than just a degree. It was an experience of a lifetime !

Photo & Video Credits- Bharath Venkatesh and Ashish Kulkarni

Ondu Motteya Kathe- A Movie Review

(By Medha Bharadwaj)

I had the privilege of attending the world premiere of the Kannada movie “Ondu Motteya Kathe” directed by Raj B Shetty and produced by Pawan Kumar (director of Lucia and U-turn) and Suhan Prasad. The movie premiere was held at the Village East Cinema in New York City as a part of the New York Indian Film Festival. Here is my review of the movie.

Ondu Motteya Kathe- The movie
Plot Summary 

The story revolves around Janardhan (played by Raj B Shetty), a Kannada lecturer who is in his late 20s. Though he is a soft natured man, he faces difficulties in his life due to his premature baldness. He finds it difficult to find a woman to marry due to his baldness and also because he is a Kannada lecturer. His mother is desperate to see him get married. The story continues with his efforts to find the woman of his dreams.

Movie Review

First of all, this movie is a great entertainer and is most likely to become a big hit once it is released in Karnataka. It is predominantly of the comedy-drama genre and has some very funny dialogues with the perfect comic timing throughout the length of the movie. The lead actor Raj B Shetty has done an excellent job in portraying the character of an innocent, soft natured boy who deals with criticism of his looks and tries to stay positive about finding a girl. He has portrayed some complex emotions in a subtle manner when he faces dilemma in a few parts of the movie. His brilliant portrayal of the role makes it impossible for you not to connect with him and feel what he is going through.

The movie has only a handful characters and each of them have an important role in the story.   Usha Bhandary who plays the mother’s role has  done a great job and makes it evident that she is a seasoned actress. Prakash, the actor who plays the character of Srinivas (the college peon) has given a brilliant performance. His dialogue delivery and expressions are outstanding. Maim Ramdas, Vitla Mangesh Bhat and all the other actors have done a good job and convince you of their role. 

The direction and cinematography of the movie are amazing which makes it a great experience. The story is set in Mangalore and dialogues are in Mangalore style Kannada which is a unique element to the movie. The movie has a “sweet and simple” feel to it and doesn’t have any extravagance.

The music and background score for the movie are absolutely delightful and soothing. Though the songs may seem to slow down the movie a little, they are unique and beautiful. The lyrics of the songs are equally amazing.

Here is the most important part of the movie review: Though the movie is of a comedy genre, it sends out a strong message to the society about accepting ourselves for who we are. It is so heartwarming to see the message come out strongly towards the end of the movie. It speaks against body shaming and objectification of beauty. The movie deserves great appreciation for this.

There was not a single boring moment in the theatre during the movie screening. The movie kept us entertained throughout. This movie is definitely a must watch for the Kannada audience.

Suhan Prasad deserves credit for producing this movie which attracted the attention of Pawan Kumar. The role of Pawan Kumar as the producer definitelys adds more value to the movie due to the quality of his work which he has proven with Lucia and U-Turn.

I hope this movie gets the credit it deserves.

My experience at the World Premiere:

I had a great time interacting with Raj B Shetty and Pawan Kumar. I felt very happy to be one of the first few people to watch this movie.

Interacting with Pawan Kumar (Lucia and U-Turn fame)
Fun chatting with Raj B Shetty (Lead actor and director)
There was a brief introduction from Raj and Pawan before the movie screening. See the video below. โ€‹


โ€‹Raj B Shetty was sitting right behind me. I congratulated him on his brilliant work in the movie.

Wishing the best for the team !
After the screening, Pawan and Raj had a Q&A session with the audience. They answered some questions about the idea for the movie, script, music, characters etc. Raj expressed his respect and adulation for Dr. Rajkumar which is also seen in the character he portrays.

Q&A session after the screening
This movie is definitely a refreshing and amazing experience for Kannada film lovers.

It is such a joy to see such quality movies being made in the Kannada industry. I wish the best of luck to the entire team. Hope you guys make more such amazing movies. Kudos !
(Author: Medha Bharadwaj

High Line Times ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

It was a bright Sunday morning in New York City. We headed out to explore the High Line Park in Manhattan. It was an hour’s ride by subway to reach the park from Brooklyn. 

High Line park is an aerial park built on an abandoned railway track. How creative is it to turn an old railway track into a park ! This is what makes it so unique. 

High Line Park, Manhattan
Since the park is located in Manhattan, you can see many skyscrapers around. As it was a sunny day, we saw happy joggers everywhere around us.

There were benches in the park where people were relaxing under the sun with a book in hand. Kids were jogging with their parents and kept waving at us. How happy they looked !

Railway track art !
Onset of spring
As high as the eyes can see !
 We started to feel a little tired from the sun when we spotted an Italian ice cream cart round the corner. The menu had Italian names for all the ice creams and drinks. I bought the “Stracciatella” ice cream made of milk cream and chocolate chips. 

We sat by the steps overlooking the busy Manhattan streets to eat the ice cream. 

Steps at High Line Park (Source: Big Apple Secrets)
The Italian menu
Stacciatella ice cream from L’arte del Gelato
 In the park, there were also artists doing their paintings and art exhibits were present in a few corners. It was so nice and refreshing!

Sunday goals ! (Source: Wikipedia images)
Art exhibit- Think outside the box !
Art exhibit- Colors of happiness
Little buds of hope and happiness
The views on the either side were that of the Manhattan traffic. But still, we enjoyed it !

When you get tired of walking and start posing ๐Ÿ˜›
Classic NYC
We felt great to strike out High Line from our bucket list ! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

For those of you who loved the TV series F.R.I.E.N.D.S, can you imagine the excitement of seeing Monica’s apartment building for real ???

Yes, my next stop was at the F.R.I.E.N.D.S apartment building which had been on my bucket list ever since I landed in New York. This is located on 90 Bedford Street in Manhattan. There were many excited people like us clicking pics of the building from every nook and corner. There were two best friends getting clicked in front of the building to celebrate their friendship. I was overjoyed and kept staring at the window๐Ÿ˜„. 

Though the show ended more than 10 years ago, I will always be a huge fan ! 

The F.R.I.E.N.D.S Apartment Building

In the evening, there was a concert by the Raghu Dixit Project at High Line ballroom. I attended the concert because I love his music and also because the violinist of the band is my friend from my undergrad days at BMSCE.
The Raghu Dixit Project performing in NYC !!!

It was an evening filled with music, fun and excitement !

Manhattan is not just a place, it’s an experience !

As rightly said, NYC is always a good idea ! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Weekend in NYC- Part 2ย 

We were tired and hungry after our visit to the Statue of Liberty. We decided to have lunch and headed straight to Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

Smorgasburg is a popular food festival in NYC where there are numerous stalls selling unique (also, strange) food.  It is located on the banks of East River with a nice view of the city skyline. The place was very crowded and we had to stand in long lines to buy food from any stall. 

Crowd in Smorgasburg, Brooklyn (Source: Smorgasburg website )
We walked around the rows of stalls deciding what to eat. Everything was so unique. 

We saw a stall called Goa Taco which had paratha tacos ! We went for the vegan option in which the taco was made of tofu banh mi and the stuffing comprised of shiitake mushroom pate, crunchy vegetables and peanuts. It had an interesting and saucy taste, like nothing I’d ever had before. 

Paratha Taco !!! ๐ŸŒฎ
Though it had terms like “paratha” and “Goa”, none of the cooks were Indian ๐Ÿ˜„

We were walking around deciding on the next best stall when I spotted a dessert place called “Ring Ding Bar”. They had tiny round shaped cute sweets in different pastel colors which caught my attention. I liked the green colored one and asked the chef what it was made of. He said the green one was called Pistachio Raspberry ring ding and was made of Pistachio and raspberry cake with raspberry jam covered in white chocolate ๐Ÿ’š 

It was just as mouthwatering as it sounded. It had the perfect sweetness and melted in my mouth. Some of the other flavors present were dulce de leche, strawberry shortcake, red velvet, lemon crรจme and funfetti. Yummy much !

Ring Dings, baby !
While I was savoring the green delicacy, P was standing in the queue for 30 minutes to grab fries from Home Frite. I did not understand why someone would do this for fries. Then I learnt that these were handcut fries served with gourmet sauces like herb-ocado, smoked honey mustard, lemon garlic aioli etc. All options here were vegan. 

Gourmet handcut fries ๐ŸŸ
These were hands down the best fries I’d ever tasted. 

Our next and final stop was at Roll-n-Chill which served homemade Thai inspired rolled ice cream in attractive colors. We chose the unicorn flavor and went near the banks of the river to relax and relish on this. 

Happy colors !
The menu ๐Ÿ˜
Ice Cream by the East River
There was a flea market with interesting items near the river. We walked around enjoying the sights. 

All things vintage !
Bling โœจ
So studded !
 Smorgasburg was a lovely experience with its unique and gourmet food. We had lesser options since we were vegetarian but we ended our afternoon with a full stomach and happy smile ! 

Weekend in NYC-Part 1

I live about two hours away from New York City (NYC). I had a week’s break from classes and wanted to make good use of it. Hence, I decided to visit my friend P who lives in Brooklyn. We made plans to explore the city.

I had to take the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from Stony Brook to reach Penn Station, NYC with a connection in Huntington. I left on Friday afternoon and reached the city by evening.

LIRR train station at Stony Brook
I took the subway to reach my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. We went for a walk nearby to the 69th Street Pier. Though it was cold, it was a calm and peaceful evening.

Sunset at 69th Street Pier, Brooklyn
P is one of my close friends from my undergrad days at BMSCE, Bangalore. The 69th Street Pier is the place where we meet to reminisce our good old days and have our conversations about every topic ranging from mundane everyday things to deep philosophical ideas. I will always cherish the beautiful memories and meaningful conversations I have had in this Pier.

Though I had been in New York for 1.5 years, I had not visited the Statue of Liberty as it would take half a day for the visit and I never seemed to have time for it. When I realized my graduation date was getting closer, I decided to make time to visit this monument. Hence, we went to visit the Statue of Liberty on Saturday morning.

Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island. We had to take the ferry from Battery Park to reach the island. Along with the long queue, there was airport kind of security where we had to remove our jackets and shoes along with screening our bags. All along we hoped that the statue would be worth the time and effort !

In Battery Park, there is a sculpture known as The Sphere. This was originally located near the World Trade Center towers before the attack. The Sphere is structurally intact even after the attack but the damage is visible on the outside.

The Sphere, Battery Park
Miss Ellis Island, the ferry
The ferry had three floors and we chose to sit on the topmost floor which was open-air. The ride was enjoyable and we reached the island after 40 minutes.

Statue of Liberty is tall and HUGE and it was definitely worth it !

The Statue of Liberty !
It was hard to get this in one frame !
Paid a few cents to take a closer look at the Manhattan skyline
At the shores of Liberty Island
The ferry made a stop at Ellis Island (which has a historical significance for immigrants who came by ships) before reaching Battery Park.


Ellis Island
While we were leaving the park, P spotted a fancy looking place and wanted to go there. As we walked closer, we realized it was a carousel (with an underwater theme). P wanted to embrace the child within and dragged me to take a ride in the carousel ๐Ÿ˜„


Battery Park, NYC
The fancy carousel place

Underwater themed carousel
Embracing the child within ๐Ÿ˜„


It was a happy morning! 

Studious Saturday!

Weekends are hardly free for a grad student. I had to get some studying done today as I have exams next week.
I woke up, quickly showered, had breakfast and headed to the library. I decided to go to Melville Library which is the main library on campus. I had to take a bus from Chapin bus stop to get to the library. Clicked these pics while I walked to the bus stop.

Love the red leaves ! ๐Ÿ‚
Yellow flowers are always pretty !
Chapin bus stop
I got down at the Admin block and clicked a few pics as I walked to the library.

I love this hoarding !
Flowers in the lawn near Staller Center
Melville Library
Melville Library is one of the many libraries on Campus. It has three libraries within, called Main Stacks, North Reading Room and Central Reading Room. North is my favorite. I used to work in the library last semester as a Graduate Supervisor. I have fond memories in this place where I met and worked with some amazing people.

Art work in North Reading Room
I went to the upper floor of the library and found an amazing and unique seat to study. When I used to work here, my manager Rick would call these the “Business Class seats” ! You want to know why ? See the pic below !

Business Class Seat !
These desks have a separate compartment which gives you privacy. On top of this, they have a lamp and foot rest too ! You should be extremely lucky or arrive early to sit here as these are always in demand. There are only about 6 seats of this kind in the library.

The library closes at 6 PM on Saturdays. When I used to work there, it was always hard to close on time as some people would refuse to leave until it was 5.59 PM. After people leave, we have closing procedures to do which take about 15 mins. We are always supposed to close on time which didn’t happen. So, when I was the supervisor I came up with a plan. I used to inform all the people that we were scheduled to close at 5.30 sharp though the actual closing time was 6 PM. We would start the closing procedures by 5.40 and the library would be closed at exactly 6 PM ! My boss was happy with this and helped us in sending people out sooner than scheduled. Haha.

When I was studying today, the new librarian girl came to everyone and informed that they were closing at 5.30 PM. For a moment, I wondered why they were closing early today. And then it struck me !!! It was me who started this practice !๐Ÿ˜›

I promptly left my favorite business seat and headed home.

While I was walking home, I kept smiling as I saw beautiful blossoms everywhere. After seeing barren trees for months, this gave me so much happiness.

I just HAD to click a picture of these beauties in front of my apartment. It feels so good that Spring is finally here !

Flowers outside my apartment