TRAVEL DIARIES || SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

After our whirlwind few days in Atlanta, we drove down to Savannah. It's a pretty easy drive, just under four hours if you don't make any stops. I couldn't wait to get to Savannah because of the absolutely gorgeous photos I had seen of it, and all the recommendations that my photographer friends had made. 

The outskirts of Savannah weren't as pretty as I expected, but as we got closer to the historical district, I began to see the charm. Our very first stop was Monterey Square, one of the many charming squares peppered throughout the historical district of the city. We parked and decided to explore on foot, as this was the best way to take in those amazing details that the city is known for!

Despite the heat, humidity, random rainstorms (don't get me wrong - I LOVE rain, but not when I don't have an umbrella and am carrying my camera!) and the mosquitoes that bit me alive, I loved every minute we spent in Savannah! 

I just couldn't get over the details that we saw in each of these buildings - the wrought iron railings, intricate frescoes, gorgeous arches, and beautifully curated gardens. Even the colors were bright and cheery! Not to mention, the bright, sunny day only made everything look that much prettier. 

One of my favorite things about Savannah was the foliage - a mix of tropicals, gorgeously towering live oaks and other trees, and familiar trees and plants that you find in the DC area, too (like hydrangeas and crepe myrtles - which we saw around every corner!). The tropical plants - bright green palms, giant, colorful hibiscuses, banana trees - made me feel like I was in India, especially with the heat, humidity, and rain! The architecture, too, reminded me of India - there was something about the colors and details that made me feel like I was home.

Once it rained, everything took on a magical quality - the cobblestoned walkways glistened, the air cooled down, and the foliage looked bright and quenched. Our first day in Savannah, we caught the rain right after dinner - and to our surprise, the the sun shone brightly on one side the street, while the other side looked like the apocalypse! The sun illuminated the raindrops into beautiful, molten gold droplets, and we even got to see a gorgeous double rainbow in the sky! 

Despite the rain, we made an excursion down to Tybee Island, which is just a 20 minute drive from Savannah. As much as I had been waiting to explore the beautiful beaches, the pouring rain and wind deterred me from going too far near the ocean on that suddenly chilly day. I took a few photos on my phone and called it a day! 

While in Savannah, we also got a chance to visit the historic Wormsloe Plantation, which features the famous 1.5 mile long driveway lined with towering live oaks. The day was hot and extremely humid, but the drive and our bit of exploration around Wormsloe was absolutely worth it. The driveway was as scenic and gorgeous as I imagined it would be, and the live oaks - draped beautifully in feather light Spanish moss - had a quiet majesty to them that I loved. 

One of the highlights of our trip to Savannah came at the tail end, when we visited the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has a 4 mile long driving trail, which we slowly made our way through, taking the time to stop and look at the foliage and birds. During our drive, we spotted not one, not two, but six alligators in the wild! I wish I had brought along my telephoto lens, but made do with my 50mm and phone. Some of the alligators were a mere 10 feet away from us, so it was a bit of nerve-wracking experience to watch them, but so so exciting at the same time! 

Can you spot the gators in these photos? (Hint: they're in the 3rd and 4th photos!)

Savannah certainly has its own charm. It may not be for everyone, but if you feed on beautiful details and aesthetics, gorgeous foliage, and semi-tropical weather - like me - you'll love this charming little city. Definitely a must see for photographers and lovers of beautiful things! 

TRAVEL DIARIES || ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Whew, it's been a minute since I last blogged! It's been kind of weird month, and I decided to take a bit of a break from blogging, just to feel a little more grounded. At the end of June, over the long holiday weekend, we took a family trip to Atlanta and Savannah, to visit my younger brother Trinish, who is currently stationed in Atlanta for his summer internship with AT&T. I'm back from this short trip feeling refreshed and re-energized, and ready to dive headfirst into my to-do list!

Atlanta and Savannah were both lovely, but in different ways. In both cities, we got to eat some amazing food, take in a bit of culture, and see beautiful things. You'll see a TON of food photos in these upcoming posts from this trip, because everyone who knows me knows that I love to eat! 

Without further ado, a glimpse of our trip in Atlanta! 

Our first meal was in Ponce City Market, located in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in midtown Atlanta. I loved Ponce City Market for its vibrant and lively feel - there was something about the mix of industrial steel beams paired with a worn wooden floor and warm lighting that made me feel right at home. We decided to try an Indian eatery called Botiwalla Indian Street Grill - and let me tell you, good thing we did! We had some of the best, most fresh naan wraps I've ever had. The naan - a staple Indian flatbread made in a clay tandoor oven - was thick, pillowy and buttery, and wrapped around freshly grilled paneer and freshly roasted veggies, and accompanied by yogurt sauce, tangy mango pickle, and hot sauce. Absolutely delicious! Besides the really good food, Botiwalla had some amazingly nostalgic decor - we found shelves lined with mango pickle, steel tiffin boxes, glass bottles of Limca (my favorite soda in the world - it's the Indian equivalent of Sprite, but SO much better!), mango Frooti juiceboxes and tiny packets of Parle-G biscuits. The walls were lined with vintage movie posters, and the "rules" for the restaurant were hand written on one of the pillars. We felt right at home eating there! 

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We followed up the meal with some fresh lavender-honey gelato from Honeysuckle. After a long stroll around the market to help us digest all that goodness, we called it a night and headed back to our AirBnb for the night. 

The next day, in search of more delicious food (naturally), we made our way to Chai Pani, in the outskirts of Atlanta (Decatur, to be exact). I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by more quirky decor - very reminiscent of the brightly colored trucks (or lorrys as they're often called) that you often see in India. Everything had a hand-made touch to it, making it all the more homely and inviting. Just like in Botiwalla (which is a Chai Pani affiliate - so the cool decor in both places makes total sense!!), vintage movie posters adorned the walls, along with beautiful photos, drawings and paintings. Even the bathroom was covered in art! Here too, the food was absolutely mouthwatering. We each tried a different burger, and of course shared. Now, I really am not a seafood person - I don't enjoy the taste, smell, anything. I eat it rarely, and only if it's really good. At Chai Pani, I happily gulped down a Bengali fish fry burger, while my family looked at me like I had two heads! The burger was made from fresh North Carolina tilapia, and the fish was perfectly cooked, flaky and delicious. If I could have fish like that everyday, I'd definitely be eating more seafood! It was a rainy day in Atlanta, and Chai Pani gave all of us some intense Indian monsoon nostalgia - the vibes were so friendly and wonderful, I hope to go back next time I'm in Atlanta for sure!

After lunch, we took a tour of the CNN studios and got to see the World of Coca Cola, both of which were very cool in their own ways. I don't have many photos from CNN as photography isn't allowed past the first point of the tour. It was so amazing to see the studios that national television shows are filmed on! My favorite was getting a glimpse of the newsrooms, where hundreds of employees worked like busy bees on hundreds of computers, gathering news, fact-checking, and getting things ready for broadcast. I did take a ton of photos at the World of Coca Cola, as I was going gaga over all of the the beautiful Coca Cola art we saw there! We even got to try Coca Cola sodas from all around the world there, which was pretty freaking awesome.

As we drove around the city, I also fell in love with all of the street we saw just about everywhere. It makes the city look so vibrant and artistic, and while I didn't get to photograph a ton of it because we were driving, I loved seeing it in person! 

Going to Atlanta, I didn't have very many expectations of how the city was going to be, but I loved the little of bit of it that I got to see. If you're into delicious food and some really cool art, it's a must see for sure! 

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Tarangi + Ankur || Hindu Gujrati Wedding at Hebrew Congregation of Washington

On Memorial Day weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing one of the loveliest weddings of my career so far - a stunning Hindu Gujrati wedding at the Hebrew Congregation of Washington, located in the heart of DC. It was especially exciting to shoot the wedding with my favorite wedding partner in crime, Dan Anderson! 

The wedding was nothing short of resplendent, and I couldn't have asked for a sweeter couple to work with. I already knew that Tarangi and Ankur were super sweet and wonderfully kind from their engagement shoot last winter, and it was a pleasure to work with them throughout a very long and eventful wedding day. Despite the ups and downs of a wedding day, Tarangi and Ankur were sweet, calm, goofy, and treated Dan and I like their own family. We had a blast spending the day with them! 

This blog is a bit special as I got to talk to Tarangi and Ankur about each other, and they each gave me some lovely stories. Without further ado, presenting Tarangi and Ankur! 

How did you meet? 
Tarangi: You may expect that because we were both in the same place at the same, we have the picture-perfect “how we met” story. The reality is I apparently don’t remember the first time we met! While I remember the people he was with and the day he describes, I don’t recall meeting the man who has become my best friend. I know Ankur is never going to let me live this down! Anyhow, Ankur and I shared mutual friends at Ohio State. I first noticed-noticed him when he smiled across the room at me during his 21st birthday party. We gradually got to know each other better as we went to concerts, festivals and parties with mutual friends. I say it doesn’t matter how we met, but that I grew to love his big heart and ability to make me laugh to the point where my nostrils flare.

Ankur: Tarangi and I first ACTUALLY met our freshman year at Ohio State on an elevator in Lincoln Tower. We were introduced to each other by mutual friends, but the conversation ended there. We occasionally ran into each other at different events around campus for the next couple of years, but we did not actually start being friends until the beginning of our junior year. After growing closer throughout the year, we ended up going on our first date in the spring of 2009. Since our first date, I have appreciated Tarangi's smart sense of intuition and ability to bring me comfort in all situations. 

Where did you have your first date? 

For their first official date, Ankur planned an evening of what sounded to him like a ton of fun. The catch was that the plans were going to be a surprise for Tarangi! One of the first questions she asked him was, “Well how will I know what to wear?” Ankur soon realized Tarangi was going to keep things interesting.

Ankur granted Tarangi three questions to ask leading up to the date. Once she got the answers to her detective-like questions, she pieced together Ankur’s secretive plan, but decided not to tell him in the spirit of fun.

Ankur took Tarangi to a Columbus Clipper’s game that evening. After they returned from the game, they went for a stroll around campus and talked until dawn. It was a picture-perfect evening that Tarangi managed not to spoil by spilling Ankur’s surprise! 

When did you know that this was it?
After graduating from Ohio State, Tarangi and Ankur decided to continue their happy relationship despite the distance between their homes and their desires to pursue demanding professional degrees. Ankur moved back to Chicago for work and then started law school in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Tarangi moved back home to Gaithersburg before her transition to Roanoke for medical school. Thank goodness for Skype and text messaging! Over this time, they learned more about each other, fell in love with each others’ families, shared in milestones and created new memories together. There was no aha moment when they knew this was it. Rather, Tarangi and Ankur grew to realize they couldn't live without one another with each passing day. 

Where did the proposal take place?
Ankur planned the perfect proposal in Washington, D.C. that was private and sentimental. They immediately shared their excitement with both families as they moved one step closer to their "happily ever after!" 

What made you decide to get married at the Hebrew Congregation?
Since the engagement, Tarangi and Ankur loved the idea of getting married in the city where they hope to establish their home. As soon as they visited the Washington Hebrew Congregation, there was no question that the beautiful chapel with large windows would provide the perfect setting for their wedding. They were also stunned by the grand foyer and gorgeous banquet hall where they cannot wait to celebrate with their closest friends and family.

Where are you going for your honeymoon? 
This is for Ankur to know and Tarangi to find out after the wedding! You know how much she loves surprises! 

Vendors
Venue: Hebrew Congregation of Washington
Hair and Makeup: The Beautique by Sapna
Decorator: Liz Walters
DJ: SVP DJ
Video: My Video Inc.
Cake: Classic Bakery
Caterer: Godavari, Bollywood Bistro
Banquet Services: Black n' White