Photo shoot at the base of Mount Washington

Mount Washington (highest peak in the Northeastern United States) enthralled me the first time we were there a couple of years back. So, I always wanted to go back and enjoy its unparalleled beauty once again…and autumn provides for a perfect time to witness the stunning landscapes the region offers.

But before I write about our 2nd excursion to its summit, let me give a glimpse of how gorgeous the base looked. We were on our way from the hotel in North Conway to the base of the peak.new hampshire fall colorsI must specifically mention I have never seen such a picture-perfect scenery anywhere else (yet). The multi-colored trees, white and blue skies, mist atop the mountains playing hide-and-seek, the river stream below – all take our breath away!

We just parked our car (free parking) in a large open lot and enjoyed for about an hour before buying our tickets to head up to the summit.base of mount washingtonmount washington nhfall in new england regionHere’s the entrance to the summit just a few feet away. The road to the summit is formally called Mount Washington Auto Road.best of new hampshireYou might feel like you have seen the best nature has to offer by just being there, but imagine seeing all this from the elevation – I will cover that in my next post on New Hampshire.

Notes:

  • We had to pay $29 for the car and myself and $9 for the wife as fees ($7 for kids of 5-12 yrs of age) to drive to the summit.
  • If you are traveling in winters, chances are the road might be closed because of weather. I suggest visiting their site for current information.
  • One can also take the Cog Train to have a different experience. Though we didn’t take it, I will show how the train looks in my next post. Details on the same can be found here.

Basics to keep in mind while Investing in Stock Markets

stock marketI am a fan of Stock Markets! But when I bring it into my discussions, some people avoid talking about it. The reason – they might have either lost or fear losing their hard-earned money. However, if you ask me, you will never lose sleep if you follow some basic rules.

Here are the ones that I have learned over the years:

  1.       Indulge with your surplus money.
  2.       Do your own research, not go by recommendations.
  3.       Go for quality stocks.
  4.       There can be dips too, maintain calm.
  5.       Don’t get greedy if a stock performs well.
  6.       Never put your eggs in one basket.

Each of them is explained in detail in my post for Money View here.

If you are not invested in the India markets (I like US markets too, but don’t have any exposure here though), you have missed out on some serious money in the last few years. And if you still don’t invest, you will surely miss on much more!

*Money View is India’s No.1 Money Manager app and has one of the top blogs in Business and Finance. Though I am paid to write for them, the thoughts are genuine.
**Image sourced from here

Wahweap Overlook and the Horseshoe Bend

One of the iconic attractions in Arizona is the Horseshoe Bend. It is a natural horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River. A part of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area, it is a few miles downstream to the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.

We had chosen to stay in Page after covering the Grand Canyon since Antelope Canyons (Lower and Upper) and Horseshoe bend lie within the city limits.

Being an early riser, I chose to start my morning by driving to the Wahweap Overlook, a vantage point to see the sunrise over Lake Powell. I must mention some mornings provide for a gorgeous view there…and smoke billowing from the factory far off added to the beauty that day!wahweap overlooksunrise at waheap pageI must have spent a quiet hour or so before heading to the Horseshoe, which was just about a 10-minute drive (on the other side of the hotel).

The bend itself is about 1.5 miles round trip from the car parking. There is no other way than to walk, though it is not strenuous!sunrise at horseshoe bendI went to the bend a couple of times and once with Saru during our 2-day stay in Page. The first time I saw the bend, I could only wonder how the force of nature created the bend over millions of years…the same force of the Colorado river that created the majestic Grand Canyon too!

Here’s the best what I could capture across days. The 2nd day provided for much better shots, even the Sunrise-view was spectacular – see the golden stream in the distance in 2nd image below.horse shoebend arizonawhat to see in usaLuckily, a lady gave me a nice click early morning…she had her arms up and looked as if thanking God! Btw, I used this shot for a paid promotion by an International Client on my Instagram account 🙂beauty of horseshow page az

*There is no fees for either the Overlook or the Horseshoe bend!

How to Spend Your Bonus in 2017

Many of us get our annual bonus payouts this time of the year. Though the in-hand component depends on many factors, but the prospect of a significant sum hitting our bank account makes us go crazy with the planning to spend to it. However, how we make the best use of this sudden splurge in money is what differentiates the wise from others.bonus payout.jpgFor me, a major part of it went into Equities this year since they have been witnessing a phenomenal run. Even otherwise, Stock Market would give you (more often than not) better returns than any other investment option. The remaining has been allocated across Travel and ‘Keep-the-wife-happy’ budgets 🙂

Over the years though, I would suggest allocating the Bonus to following categories:

  1. Pay off your Debt
  2. Save for Emergencies
  3. Invest in Future
  4. Upgrade your Skills
  5. Have fun with the Leftover

You can read more on each in my post for Money View (MV) blog here.

*MV is India’s No 1 money manager app with over 5 million users. Their Blog is one of the best in Business and Finance. Though every post I write for them is sponsored, my thoughts are genuine.
**Image sourced from here.

A different sort of AtoZ Challenge – with Stocks!

April is when many of us take the rigorous AtoZ Challenge. For the record, I have never taken part in any challenge because my full-time job and other of my hobbies don’t allow me to do so.a-to-z HEADER [2017] - aprilThose who follow me here or on Facebook would know I have been pretty active in the Indian Stock Market in the last couple of years. I have written a few posts here and also on Money View Blog as to why the times have been (and are still) exciting and that there is a bounty to be made in the markets!

In fact, my active churning of portfolio is the main reason I have cut down drastically on the blogs I visit (not that I want to). The other reason is spending more time on the work-outs and Instagram, where i’ve had a good line-up of sponsored posts by international clients. Hope God continues to keep showering his blessings!

Coming back to the challenge – Just yesterday, a passing thought on the Stocks I have either bought or sold in the month of April made me realize they could easily fit into the prompt. So, I put them down alphabetically. And, voila…I didn’t do terribly 🙂

The ones in Sea Green in the table are my buys or sells in April; the ones in Gray make me guilty of not completing the challenge 😛

A Adani Transmission Ltd
B Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing Co
C Cineline India Ltd
D Delta Corp Limited
E Emami Infrastructure Limited
F Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd
G Geojit Financial Services Ltd
H HOV Services Limited
I IDFC Ltd
J JM Financial Limited
K Kopran Limited
L LT Finance Holdings Limited
M MEP Infrastructure Development Ltd
N NCC Ltd
O Onward Technologies Limited
P PTC India Financial Services Ltd
Q No favorite stock
R Royal Orchid Hotels Limited
S Sanghi Industries Ltd
T Triveni Engineering and Industries Ltd
U Uttam Sugar Works Limited (sold in March)
V Vijaya Bank
W Welspun Corp Ltd (favorite)
X No favorite stock
Y No favorite stock
Z Zee Media Corporation Ltd (favorite)

Nevertheless, I guess I still qualify to be awarded for taking part in the challenge (though unintentionally). Had the thought struck me in March, I would have certainly completed the task.

P.S. Please do your own research before investing. Profitable investments are a result of extensive analysis on multiple factors.

*Image sourced from here

The Lakes Region of New Hampshire, once again!

We have been to the Lakes Region in New Hampshire a couple of years back. I was so amazed at the natural beauty there that I always wanted to go back in the fall. So, right after I came back from the Echo Lake in North Conway (see the last post on travel), I and Saru headed to the largest lake in the state – Lake Winnipesaukee!

Our first stop was Meredith Marina, about one-and-a-half hours away from the hotel. We have fond memories of the Marina, as it is one of the cutest places we’ve been to. In fact, I am feeling nostalgic as I am writing about it. Look closely at the sight below and see why it could be anybody’s favorite place!

The Bay Point hotel in the view provides unparalleled lake views, and one can witness sunrises and sunsets from most rooms. I captured the reflection of the structure in the lake both times (check the link above for similar shot from the previous trip) and it provided for a postcard-type setting.meredith marinaThere are many towns around the lake and we explored quite a few of them that day. However, we were not speechless this time around…maybe we had high expectations because last time we had a bit of mist in some of the views.

In the afternoon, we came across this spot a bit off the road. Though there were some trails there which few of tourists were enjoying, I just got satisfied with the reflections 🙂lake winnipesaukeeAnother highlight of the day was this shot from Ellacoya State Park. If you compare it to the similar shot from the earlier post, you would realize both were taken from exactly the same spot…just that the mist over the mountains was missing this time.rv park in new hampshireIt was a relaxing day for us (and intentionally so) as we sat beside the lake in many small towns…each had its own beauty though.new hampshire vacationWe were back at the hotel well before dusk and looked forward to an adventurous day up ahead.

*There was no fees at any of the places…one might have to pay negligible parking fees though.

5 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Stock Markets in 2017

Exactly 6 months back I had mentioned on this platform that this is an excellent time to take the plunge in Indian Equity Markets (read that post here). Looking back, the markets have had a phenomenal run, and things are still looking bright for the remainder of this year at least.

I was bullish all through 2016, and my Investments did perform quite well! Here is how my Portfolio has stacked up compared to Market returns. I invest both in Equities and Mutual Funds (lump sum and via SIPs). On all these aspects, my investments have beaten the market comprehensively!*Indian Equity ReturnsIndian Mutual Fund ReturnsJust to put things into perspective – If you had invested Rs 1 Lac when I had recommended in October, you could have easily made at least Rs 20,000 on any decent stock…that too just by buy-and-hold strategy (no active trading). Many stocks have more than doubled in this time frame! Compare it to the current instrument where you have parked your money, and you would be at loss of words!

Nevertheless, there is still time to pour cash into the market as there are many positive factors that would push it further. Read my detailed post on what lies ahead on Money View blog.

*Tail Stocks comprise less than 2% of my Total Portfolio value.

**Money View is India’s No 1 Money Manager app and has a user base of over 5 million.

The early morning Nature’s Charisma…

Our first day in New Hampshire (NH) last fall started with me visiting Echo Lake in the wee hours. A small water body in the Echo Lake State Park in North Conway, the lake is situated at the foot of the Cathedral Ledge, which is known for rock climbing in the White Mountains area.

As I drove up the elevation to reach one of the rock ledges (the other being While Horse Ledge) with scenic views, I was feeling lonely as it was too dark. But, soon, there was a car to accompany me, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Once at the top, I realized I was in the company of young lady photographer. It hadn’t been too long and a few more people joined us to witness sunrise over the mountains in the distance. I could also see the Echo Lake on my right.

cathedral ledge new hampshire

As the Sun started showing up, the scenery was enchanting. And the falls colors added to the magnificent beauty!

echo lake state parkcathedral heights new hampshire

Just after Sunrise, I drove down to the lake, which is flanked by hills. I have been lucky in the past with some lakes giving me the time of a lifetime, so I don’t miss any opportunity now!

 

Guess what? This time I had another unique experience. I saw mist taking off of water and creating a spectacular view – it was a first for me! I was in the company of another photographer, this time a male who said he spent the entire night there stargazing. Being a small lake, I could cover it from one end to another in just about 5 minutes. I simply can’t express my feelings in words, so would let a couple of shots do the talking…

morning at echo lakeecho lake new hampshire

I spent a couple of hours in total and about 8 am I was on my way back to the hotel 15 minutes away, and another journey awaited us – to the Lakes Regions of NH, where we had been 2 years back also!

The Power of Believing in Yourself!

Some of you know I am a member of Toastmasters, working on my Communication and Leadership skills. I recently won the Area-level contest, having won in the club last month. I would now deliver the speech at the Division-level in April.

Here’s the Speech text. Since delivery matters as much as the content, if not more, think of all the hand gestures, facial expressions, body movements, vocal variety etc that go along as you read through.


Always believe in yourself! I have always believed in myself!

Toastmasters and Guests…

Are you ready to get inspired? Yes, Yes? Let me take you through my Toastmaster’s journey and how just a small belief turned around the fortunes of my current club in Warren!

I was working for Morgan Stanley in New York when I first heard about Toastmasters. Soon enough, I joined a very active club near Times Square in New York. They had about 50 members back then, each ready to grab any role they could get in any meeting.

Much to my delight, I got the opportunity to do my Ice Breaker pretty soon…in about a month. I can’t be proud of my speech though…I was all over the place. I spoke more about myself than even my parents know about me 😦 Anyhow, the feedback was overwhelming with a good number of suggestions to improve, and I did take them positively. But, before I could settle down in the club, I changed my job and joined Citigroup in Warren. The new location meant I couldn’t go to New York anymore. However, by then that club had motivated me so much that I couldn’t think of my life without Toastmasters!

I looked up on the Toastmasters website to find a club near warren and saw a club in Citigroup itself. A big relief, I was ecstatic! However, my happiness didn’t last long as there was no contact from the club mentioned on the website. Huh! I called up Toastmasters help desk and got the name of the founder of the club. After speaking to him, I came to know the club was practically dormant with only a couple of members around, including himself!

I felt dejected! I questioned myself if this was the right club to join. After all, why would you want to join a club with only 2 members around?

But didn’t I say ‘I believe in myself.’ I joined the club (yay) and vowed to give more than 100% to have the club up and running again. The club had had a pretty good run up until the recession of 2008/09, so there was nothing wrong fundamentally with the club.

I was soon assigned the Membership and Public Relations officer roles for the club. We started with an Open House and got a few members. In another few months late 2014, we did another one and got a few more people. In the next 1.5 years we grew up to 28 member-strong! A fantastic growth! And we have never looked back ever since! It’s a journey that the senior members of our club are proud of and we learned many leadership skills on the way – including patience, communication, motivation, and others.

However, one aspect that stands above all is that we came back from a very critical and crucial situation to being a very active club. Many of our members have started the Youth Leadership Programs (YPL). I’ve also conducted the sessions. We have competed at the Area and Division levels and won a few awards too! Moreover, we went on to achieve 2 Distinguished and one Select Distinguished awards in the last 3 years. Yes, we did it all! And we did nothing different than just believing in ourselves, facing the troubles head-on, and overcoming them.

You can do it too! You can do whatever you want to! You don’t have to go to Harvard or read expensive Books for that. It’s all with you already – Just Believe In Yourself!

Can you all repeat after me? I can do it; I can do it, We all can do it!


Wish me luck. If I win, I would then go to the District contest and then to the International Speech Contest (wishful thinking, eh!) 🙂IMG_1254-2

Another day at the majestic Grand Canyon…

I must have dreamt about it innumerable times. But the dream of witnessing a Sunrise at the Grand Canyon became real the very next day I saw a spectacular Sunset there.

Since we were staying very close to the entrance of the South rim, it just took me about 15 minutes to drive through the curvy roads of the Grand Canyon (GC) and park at the Maricopa point in the week hours. The point is on a projection just off the main road of the GC.maricopa point grand canyonsunrise at grand canyonAs the Sun started peeking through the canyon mountains, I could hear a few voices in the distance. The tourists at the other viewpoints were in joy as we all welcomed another beautiful day!best views of grand canyonphotography at grand canyon.jpgI must have spent not more than an hour as it was quite chilly that time of the day, but I was amazed to see another wonder of nature. It is not often that I get to be at the best of attractions!

After going back to the hotel, I picked up Saru, checked-out, and we were again at the Visitor center to cover the Desert View scenic drive of GC – about a 25-mile (40-kilometer) stretch towards the east of GC that culminates in the Desert View Watchtower (see below map taken from official site of GC).desert-view-map-grand canyon

I would highly recommend the drive as there are many amazing spots that give you unique views of the GC – Moran point, Lipan, and Navajo being the prominent ones.desert view watchtower

However, the most important structure on the east end of the drive is the Desert View Watchtower. It is a 4-story and 70-foot-high stone structure that was designed by American architect Mary Colter and was completed in 1932. It is now a historic landmark.

There is an enclosed observation level at the upper level, which provides majestic views of the canyon on all the sides through large glass windows. The highlight of the tower though is the bold murals by Fed Kabotie, and other petroglyph-style decorations by Fred Greer – which may be the only surviving representations of the now-destroyed rock art paintings in Abe, New Mexico.watchtower murals grand canyonbest of grand canyonIt was about 4 pm by the time we were done seeing everything and I was keen on seeing another Sunset the GC, but we finally decided to call it a day and head to Page in Arizona, which was about 2 hours from the watchtower and the place of out next attraction – The Antelope Canyons!