Hello welcome to my Blog

Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

Search This Blog

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

My lovely family and friends

I have just returned from Cyprus - my little island in the mediterranean which is where I come from. It is ridiculously small in the scheme of things, less than a million in population and struggling to find a just solution to the Turkish Invasion of 1974 which has deprived it of some 30 % of its beautiful land but against all odds Cyprus and Cypriots continue to flourish and enjoy the good life.Restaurants are overflowing, road rage is not uncommon as people fight for a parking space for that last minute shopping expedition. Women, mercifully not all of us, but an astonishingly large number, are decked in Louis Vuitton and Gucci and Fiorucci and the fast cars are a pedestrians nightmare.
For all of its issues, and there are many, I love the place to bits and even more family and friends who I leave behind every time I depart. They are so precious to me and for all their quirks and vanities, idiosynchrasies and peculiarities I could not have chosen better even if I could.
The family is always there for me, hopefully at a distance I for them too, and they are talented, multi- faceted  lovely people.

The friends I grew up with all those years in school are my equivalent of Desperate Housewives. A wonderful collection of bright and articulate women with professional backgrounds and each time we pick up where we left off the last time we met. They are all special in their own way.The friends keep up with my life in India on the blog and said they needed to be part of it to find fame if not fortune.  So here they are in full glory.

Friday, 25 December 2009

An Indian Xmas

I write to you all on the 25th of December to wish each and every one of you who celebrate a very merry Xmas and a great new year. This is our first Xmas in India and it feels somewhat odd.
I have given up on Xmas Cards. That is the end of the road for them. Instead the money goes to supporting an Indian child's education for a year. Less cards, less paper another consideration.
Back from a week's trip to my home country I am now in the count down to Xmas. No queues in shops, nothing more than the usual traffic jams. Only the smallest signs of consumerist Xmas goodies and spending and no Xmas lights to talk of. In some respects this is welcome and absolutely right as this is a largely Hindu country. There is no snow on the ground, just sunshine every day.Does it feel strange...
Well we have wrapped presents and put them under a tree. The tree was a quest in itself as I was determined not to succumb to an artificial tree but there were no farmed xmas trees to be had so I went to the closest nursery and bought a fir-looking tree in a pot which is a pathetic little thing but which can be used year in year out while we are here.

But my little xmas miracle ...finding a turkey for Xmas lunch.

Now all I need to do is negotiate cooking it with Parmesan who promises that special indian twist to roast turkey and tatoes.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Auto rickshaws

Ever since we arrived in India my son has been fascinated by auto rickshaws and said that the best Xmas present would be an old one that he could slowly and lovingly restore. I scoured the market for a toy one and found a poor replica but I am also keeping my ears and eyes open to see if one of these days I could fulfil that wish. They never cease to amaze us these three wheeled wonders that go back a long while.This one took my fancy at the house of a friend who rescued it to serve as a Bar to family and friends. 

The first licence given to Bajaj to manufacture them was in 1959. In 1971 the three-wheeler goods carrier was introduced and in 1977 The Rear Engine Autorickshaw.

CNG-propelled auto rickshaws are green and yellow in colour while petrol-run auto rickshaws are usually black and yellow (or yellow in southern states).In July 1998, the Supreme Court of India ordered the Delhi government to implement CNG or LPG fuel for all autos and for the entire bus fleet in and around the city. Delhi saw a dramatic improvement in its air quality.Typical mileage for an Indian-made auto rickshaw is around 35 kilometres per litre of petrol.

Did you know there is an Indian AutoRickshaw Challenge (IARC) ?This is a 1000 km (590 miles) rally through the most scenic roads of South India in a Auto rickshaw. The race is open to everyone. Rickshaws are provided by the organizers. Participants have 2 days to prepare their vehicles before the start.The (IARC) takes participants deep into the heart of Tamil Nadu. Once there they travel through an incredible course of misty jungles, balmy coastlines, flooded streets, monsoon rains and Indian crowds. They have to overcome these challenges to become AutoRickshaw Rally World Champions. Now that is something I would love to experience.Has anyone done it ?Would love to hear from you if you have. Any willing participants ?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A muddled moment

Was rushing to go to Delhi today so brushed my hair and tidied myself up.

Reached for the toothpaste in the cup and spread it on my toothbrush. Put it in my mouth and brushed vigorously. It was minty but somehow the bubbles and froth were missing and I looked at the tube to see if my husband was experimenting again with new brands. Kumari had found the tube lying in the bathroom and popped it into the cup. I had brushed my teeth with a mosquito repellant cream !!

My mouth tasted tingly and furry and was mosquito-proof for the whole morning!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Abandoned Lives

Every day this week when I have read the paper I have come across stories of babies being abandoned in various places, from the hospital in which they were born, a case of twins recently, to a baby being abandoned on a train track today, to countless others which perhaps go unreported. A web page that I receive confirmed the suspicion which is that perhaps this is on the increase and I quote an NGO:

“A total of 15 babies have been rescued from across the
city in the last 65 days. These babies, less than 20 days old, had been
abandoned in garbage bins, bus shelters, hospitals and railway stations”
“Normally, four or five babies are found abandoned in the city every month.
We have never seen so many children being abandoned.”

Recently when we were in Orchha we went to the cenotaphs that were built by the Bundela kings at the time to honour their dead. They are found by the river Betwa and are enormous and imposing and really of not much significance except as empty reminders of lives gone by.

There was one life however at the entrance that touched my heart strings and which I often return to in my thoughts. Tired of looking at the cenotaphs I wandered to the entrance and there under a great banyan tree there was a little boy who seemed to spend hours sitting happily and playing with the merchandise that the woman was selling. He was totally engaging and took great delight in stacking the Lux soaps and then moving them all away and I sat by and watched. This is his story.

He was abandoned by the tree when he was a few days old. No one came, no one claimed him. The woman who sells chai and cigarettes to the few locals and even fewer foreigners who stop there, called him Ramu, and since there was no one else to look after him she adopted him and there he sits happily, rootless but loved, abandoned but cared for.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Chandni Chowk old Delhi- a little history

Having walked the streets of this area I became a little curious about its history.Even more so when my driver mentioned that Chandni means moonlight and Chowk means intersection or crossing. Chandni Chowk is the major street in the walled city of Old Delhi, which was originally called Shah Jahanabad. The walled city which includes the Lal Qilla, Red Fort of Delhi was established in 1650 AD, by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan and designed by his daughter Jahanara Begum Sahib, who contributed to the landscaping of her father's new capital of Shahjahanabad.Chandni Chowk runs through the middle of the walled city.

Originally a canal ran through the middle of the street as a part of the water supply scheme.It is said that moonlight reflecting on the canal, earned it its name, 'Chandni (Moonlit) Chandni Chowk was once the grandest of the markets in India.With the most famous mosque of Delhi Jama Masjid (Delhi) built in 1644 in the vicinity, it is an unusual street that has several famous religious shrines, belonging to different religions making it such a wonderful melting pot of people and cultures with the most perfect name. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Chandni Chowk old Delhi

A friend came from Geneva so I thought it would be nice to shake her clean sensibilities a little. We took a cycle rickshaw into the inner streets of Chandni Chowk and what a time we had. Hassan was our guide and he took us to places that perhaps foreigners don’t often go, so we climbed dark and dirty staircases and visited rooftops and looked down across old Delhi but more immediately at the filth and the squalor. The chilies by the sackful made us choke and the scent of the cloves filled our lungs. We visited the wholesalers of wedding saris and followed Hassan into dark allies and inner sanctums. We looked at doors and stood in admiration of their colour, contour and class and he looked at us perplexed. We wondered how on earth they work out the electricity lines and then watched a baby monkey chewing on one.We visited the simple house of a poet and looked at the beautiful handwritten manuscripts. We went past the great mosque where thousands of Muslims congregate every Friday.Opposite a butcher’s shop with decapitated goats heads all in a row. We smiled and waved at the school children and bought delicious fruit. On the way home a naked man walking serenely down the road. Her sensibilities were shaken and stirred and sizzling hot.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Marriages all around

We live in an area of South Delhi which has a preponderance of so called “farmhouses”.

No much farming goes on here but “milking” the wedding industry ah that is a whole different ball game. These massive houses are built and often rented out as hospitality places and as wedding venues.

The result an enormous amount of glittery bits, generators by the half dozen to supply the electricity, baubles and ribbons and all manner of over the top decorations, including but not limited to statutes of Greek Goddesses, come and go but specially at the weekends when the lights flare up and the music, not always soothing to the ear, starts from early evening to the early morning hours.

We wish each and every couple well but is it really necessary to spend so much money for the wedding and then leave behind a vast trail of rubbish, broken bottles, plastic debris and waste?

Some might argue it is a job creating scheme, but schemes which have promises of a future life should set examples that all can follow.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Marriage X 3

 A tribe in India called the Newar who live in the valley of Kathmandu marry their girls three times. Once before puberty to Bel the fruit of a wood apple tree, secondly with the sun and finally with a human.
I wonder if practice makes perfect and by the time they get to a human they have sussed it all out !

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Taj Mahal, Agra, revisited

The Taj Mahal, Agra, revisited

This is my third visit but it is not until now that I realized that the name Taj Mahal came from her name Mumtaj Mahal. In other words it is her house …and what a house it is.

This is the story of Emperor Shah Jahan building this as a memorial for his third wife and great love Mumtaj, who died giving birth to his 14th child and it is at this point that my feminine side kicked in and said:

“OH PELEEASE did he not realize that anyone would expire after 14 kids and why did he not give her a break and visit the other wives once in a while? Surely even in those days 14 was quite a number. Poor girl she deserved every brick and inlay on that mausoleum but I know what I would prefer- contraception.”

My cheekiness does not detract from its beauty but this time I felt I wanted to capture something different from this sumptuous place. The evening light was fading and the air was cool and the pilgrims and admirers were snaking around the marble barefoot. Their shadows domino dark, their faces alight with expectation. The school parties were plentiful and playful. A party of school girls walked in from the main gate and in an instant of instamatic wonder, sadly no longer, they digitally imprinted the Taj. This building is still so wondrous.

We followed the flow, snaking round till finally we entered the mausoleum. This wonder of the world had not one electric bulb to its name and the intricacy of the marble and the translucence of the precious stones was flickered on and off with lights off mobiles and an occasional torch. It seemed astonishing but perhaps appropriate that this monument is not brought into the 21st century and that it remains as it is, in the light of everyone’s mind.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Humayum’s Tomb 1570

This is the tomb of the second Moghul Emperor Humayum and his story is the opposite of the Taj Mahal.

He was well liked but died young. He fell to his death from the stairs in his library and was buried in various locations until his wife,Hamid Bann Begum, who was devastated by his death, decided to build a wonderful mausoleum to him.

This is the first mausoleum built for a Moghul Emperor, the first to introduce the garden of heaven around it and the first to bring so much of Persian architecture to India. The architect was Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son, who completed the Mausoleum over a period of nine years and under the watchful eye of the Begum who apparently camped there to oversee the works.

Meticulous symmetry, the introduction of the char bagh, beautiful water gardens set in 30 acres representing the four rivers in heaven, red sandstone, coloured geometrical patterns, and perforated marble screens formed the surroundings for the final resting ground of the Emperor and members of his family.

One fact that struck me is that his barber was also buried there as he wielded some power being the one who approached the emperor with a razor which perhaps were a little crude in those days and needed a lot more skill for the perfect shave.

He had three sons like me, but also wives and daughters and grandchildren and by the size of some of the tombs we saw there the grandchildren died young.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A glimpse of what India was like

If you are curious like I am you will not want to miss this. Hurry Delhi-mates only a few days left of a beautiful and select exhibition all the way from the V&A which is being displayed at the National Museum of Modern Art and specifically Jaipur House until the 6th December. Indian Life and Landscape by Western Artists is well worth the visit. 94 watercolours,oil paintings,drawings and etchings by artists who visited India between the 18th and 20th century gives you a wonderful insight into what it was like and in some cases how little has changed. I loved George Chimey's view of a ruined tomb with bathers. The sepia shades were superb. The palace of Pirana Malwa by John Sell Cotman is a vision of colour and the Golden Temple in Amritsar by William Carpenter seems to be such a vibrant scene even in those days. I saw William Simpson's painted gateway to Sanchi at a time when it was being discovered and I realized what a difference there was to the Sanchi Gateway I visited in October.
And if you want something completely different go next door (on until the 30th Nov) and see Claudia Hakim's Signs of Skin, a Colombian artist who has chosen metal, chain mail, screws and metallic sheets as her medium. She is described as a weaver of dreams. She weaves the most life- like skins through the coldest metals and gives them depth and colour and substance in an unnerving quality of snakeful manipulation. A correlation perhaps between cold blooded reptiles and her favoured forged fancies ?  

Monday, 23 November 2009

A major heart stopping mezze moment.

Around my house there are some quiet side streets, a wonderful Sikh temple and an inter- religion seminary. I love to take Tara for a walks in the afternoons when the chanting starts at the temple and we walk around soaking in the sun, the peacocks jumping around and the kids playing.
My large slightly arthritic dog is very obedient and slow. The other day my mother -in- law and I set out on such an afternoon walk except that somewhere along the way Tara encountered a rather large burly Sikh on a motorbike who either dazzled by her beauty or a bit of a novice on his bike, ran into her, swerved and then fell off his bike. Our heart was in our mouth as she hit the bike, but much to our surprise and absolute relief she walked away a little dazed while the big Sikh was hauling himself and his bike off the ground. He mercifully decided not to sue us or send Guru Nanak’s worse curse on us and having dusted himself down went on his way. 

Oh my what a moment. Here is the one who singlehandedly unseated the whopping man.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Peaches from Parmesan or is that Cherries

Parmesan my lovely, loud and funky cook came to cook lunch for friends last week. After several hours of peeling and chopping, slicing and dicing he presented his buffet to us of butter chicken, an aromatic lamb with cinnamon and cloves, aloo gobi, stuffed aubergines and two types of rice, a plain one with cardamons and a pilau rice which he decorated beautifully with sprigs of parsley and glace cherries placed strategically on the top !
Tonight he made a pasta dish served in a cut crystal fruit bowl he found and then he went to the fridge looking for the cherries to decorate his dish. He looked appalled and turned to me and said incredulously “Gone?” Unperturbed he found the next best thing to glace cherries and homed in on the cherry tomatoes. He is a peach!

Friday, 20 November 2009

A visit to a Hospital in Delhi

My son had his pins removed from his right arm following a biking accident last May. We turned up at MAX SUPER HOSPITAL and super it was too. I am happy to say all went well -

Things we will remember from this day :

We were met and escorted everywhere.
The staff were delightful at all times.
There was little waiting time anywhere.
There was a SUBWAY in the main lobby of the hospital. My son,sadly, thought that was great.
After the operation he was given coconut milk to drink. He asked for more.
Hospital food was good. Another first.
I paid for the operation and care going in and on leaving I got a refund !

Now how extraordinary is that
Good health care, wonderful staff and a refund at the end of the day

Thursday, 19 November 2009


I went to a show of classical and folk dances of Nepal and India.
The theme was “Cultural understanding for world peace and friendship”.

In “Mangalacharana” a dancer dedicates herself to the Almighty and begs forgiveness from Mother Earth for stamping on her. The dance was beautifully executed but I loved the idea of begging forgiveness for trampling on Mother Earth.

Should we not dedicate a day to being kind to her and walk on tip toe ?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The onset of a Delhi Winter ?

Yesterday morning we were sitting in the garden discussing "The Impressionist" the notable first novel of an Indian author called Hari Kunzru.
Last night we were lashed by terrible winds and driving rain. NO POWER

This morning the generators are still on and the world is wrapped in cotton wool stretching and struggling to break loose from its cocoon of white. Dew drops dangle and the earth once again assumes the power of Uhu glue sticking to the underfoot of your shoe as if determined to be lifted from its place on this "uth" This blog is for my friend Doreen. A sharing of Foggy days. 

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Hauz Khas – the village

What is interesting about the village today is that it flourishes around the ruins and the deer park and it is frequented by loving couples, locals and expats. When we were there we followed a group of chanting women making their way through the narrow streets. We tried to find out what they were chanting about, probably the welfare of the wonderful babies that some of the women were holding with pride.

It’s tiny and can be walked though in a short while but there is not much chance of that happening when you know what is on offer. The Cotton shop at the entrance with wonderful bed sheets and spreads. The “Touch of Gold” shop near the school where they use old saris and brocades on their designs. The shop which I know my eldest will love full of sixties madness and floral flounces. The miniatures and lithograph shop, the rare book shop tucked round the back, the designer wear, furniture from Kashmir hand crafted and scented, the Bollywood Poster shop for the fans, the Living Room Café and on it goes…

When you are tired and in need of a drink or a nice curry pop up four flights of stairs to the Gunpowder café, with a wonderful view of the tank and the surrounding forest. My 90 year old mother- in- law got all the way up without stopping so that is your challenge for the week.

When you are seated and enjoying the view, have a buttermilk ( lassi ) with chilies and a hint of ginger to quench your thirst and cleanse you of any lurking winter bugs.
Delhi – icious

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Red Sky on this 11th day of the 11th month

Red Sky by Malcolm Coleman

As I walked today I saw black angry clouds,

staring starkly against a flaming red sky,

and yet I was not afraid I could see no anger in the sky.

The sky was displaying, in the way that only it can,

that life, although hard, has moments of incredible beauty,

without which we would all fade out, and I thank you for being my red sky.

The red sky I saw, was not red with anger,

but it was tinged throughout, with the red of love.

A pure form of sweetness, that lasts forever....

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Official name Yoghurt as she looks as creamy as one, commonly known as Yogi. My lovely little Indian pup met with a car accident today. We were so upset as we didnt know the extent of her injuries but we drove her immediately to Jeeverashram and she was X rayed and operated on immediately.She has a broken femur but the vet said all went well and that she is on the mend and I know you will all join me out there in wishing the poor little thing a full recovery.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hauz Khas

This is a little corner of South Delhi well worth exploring. It is tucked away and mercifully preserved. Its history is what appeals to me. You wander through forested parts as it was perhaps in those days and you come across a Moghul tomb, resplendent with its dome and beautiful arched doorways. Inside lies the tomb of Firuz a really progressive leader who wanted to promote learning. On the top of his tomb and to signify it is a male tomb, a stone pen holder. For women it is a slate. The obvious comes shockingly to mind, their lives are clean slates upon which men dictate!
Hauz Khas means “royal tank” and while it was excavated during Alauddin Khilji‘s reign (1296-1316) in the second city of Delhi it was Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) of the Tughlaq dynasty who re–excavated the silted tank and cleared the clogged inlet channels. Firuz Shah built the Madrasa (Islamic School of Learning) which became a very important centre of learning, the small Mosque, a tomb for himself and six domed pavilions in its precincts. You can wander through the park and enjoy these ruins which are well enough preserved to give you an accurate picture of what life must have been like all those years ago for the young scholars who came here to learn.

During his rule he abolished many taxes, changed the laws on capital punishment, introduced regulations in administration and discouraged lavish living styles. He is credited with a large number of public works, 50 dams for irrigation across rivers, 40 mosques, 30 colleges, 100 carvansarais, 100 hospitals, 100 public baths, 150 bridges. Firuz died at the age of ninety- not a bad age for a leader in those days. Walking through the Madrassa you have a real sense of how inspirational a place it must have been, a real centre of learning and culture. The tank is now much lower, smaller and perhaps greener than all those years ago but the young couples who stroll around its edge and who sit among the ruins, as well as the countless birds that perch on the trees and in the nooks of the ancient buildings think it is a little paradise in itself.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The preferred way to travel India style

This blog is dedicated to all my animal mad friends, Ronnie, Ginny, Marie-Claude,Helen Lacy, Laurel, Debbie, Jennifer G, Tina, Christine, Auntie Anna, Ninimou and Aspa who would get a kick about what I saw on the streets of Delhi today. We were travelling into Delhi and saw them and then completely by chance and several hours later we saw them on our return journey. THE way to travel India style.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Oh God is my Hindi that bad ?

Was at a reception last week and had just finished dinner so I turned to one of the waiters, there were a few of them on hand, and said :
“Can I have a glass of water please”
He looked blank so I repeated it a bit more slowly this time.
“Can… I…. have…. a glass of water please”
His face was puzzled incomprehension.
So I thought perhaps his English is not good and I said eagerly.
“Pani please?”
His face lit up and off he went.
A whole five minutes later he was back carrying a little plate with a teaspoon on it and the smallest pot of ….honey ! 
You could have knocked me over! Is my Hindi that bad !!
Pani – honey ??

I put the honey pot in my bag, and couldn’t stop smiling all the way home.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Truly a Mezze

Driving into Delhi today and the car slowed up by some traffic lights.

On the left some shops, a high pavement as you often find here and an alleyway.
Coming down the alleyway a middle aged woman in a sari holding a wire framed box.
She got to the pavement and I could see something was stuck inside the box and she was trying to shake it loose. She fiddled with her finger and prised it loose.
She opened the little box and literally shook it out onto the pavement. A mouse fell out. 
Almost before it hit the pavement a crow swept down from a tree and took it.
Christmas for crows ?!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Guru Nanak's 541 st Birthday today

In the summer I wrote a piece on the Golden Temple and the way Sikhs flock to this place of pilgrimage. Their Guru is Guru Nanak and today is his Birthday. The word Nanak means "Fire"  and he brought fire/ light to his followers. He was totally non secterian and when asked about his caste he answered " My caste is the caste of wood and fire."

Guru Nanak was a reformer. He attacked corruption in society. He strongly protested against formalism and ritualism. He carried the message of peace and of love for everybody. He was very liberal in his views. He did not observe the rules of caste. He tried his level best to remove the superstitions of the people. He preached purity, justice, goodness and the love of God.He said "There are no Hindus and no Muslims. There is only one brotherhood of humanity.

Nanak has given a beautiful summary of his teachings in one of his hymns as follows:—

Love the saints of every faith:
Put away thy pride.
Remember the essence of religion
Is meekness and sympathy,
Not fine clothes,
Not the Yogi’s garb and ashes,
Not the blowing of the horns,
Not the shaven head,
Not long prayers,
Not recitations and torturings,
Not the ascetic way,
But a life of goodness and purity,
Amid the world’s temptations.

A small step for MM and all that jazz

While not earth shattering it was an important milestone.
Yesterday for the first time I drove on the Delhi roads. Yes, I acknowledge it was Sunday and the streets were quiet but we negotiated the Mandy Road, the bicycles and the carts, the trucks and the people and reached our destination without any serious mishaps. On the way home I turned to my son and with a new found confidence said fancy going anywhere else?

“Yes” he said laughingly “Connaught place!”

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Half Marathon in Delhi today

Sometime ago I mentioned that Indians and Greeks are not the keenest on sports but this seems to be rapidly changing. The Greeks brought the Marathon to the world and the good people of Delhi nearly 8,000 of them are going to be out on the streets today to run the half marathon which is attracting a great deal of interest and media attention.
It is being sponsored by Kingfisher, one of the local beers here and Airtel, a mobile phone company and on Saturday I was invited to a wonderful pre marathon party where we were treated to a great fashion show of sportswear with a number of sporting celebs like Cathy Freeman and athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia (all here to compete) taking to the cat walk to strut their stuff. This was followed by a sumptuous dinner and dancing – not particularly good for those who want to get into shape as it really was tempting and delicious but we did our little bit on the dance floor.

Delhi does not do things in half measures, well except for this half marathon. Delhi wallahs love any excuse to party. There must have been three parties going on simultaneously at this hotel and if you were really adept you could probably go from one to another. You chances of winning the Marathon however would be woefully reduced.

Go out there and support the runners today. Last year the event raised 1.6 Crore for charity.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Indira Ghandi

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the day she was assassinated and the papers are full of tributes to her.Two thoughts come to mind: I remember her assassination, like JFK’s and Diana’s death but am I really that old? Where were you ?

Her words which are such a chilling reminder of what it is to be a politician and to have foresight into your destiny:

"If I die a violent death as some fear and a few are plotting I know the violence will be in the thought and action of the assassin, not in my dying – for no hate is dark enough to overshadow the extent of my love for my people and my country; no force is strong enough to divert me from my purpose and may endeavour to take this country forward."

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Adopt a Monument

I came across this interesting news item the other day. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has launched a project which allows a school or college to adopt a monument in their neighbourhood. The kids are given an orientation day and then they can participate in cleaning up monuments that have been defaced or have graffiti all over them.
It was the students who originally came up with the idea and the ASI started its implementation on its first monument round the corner from where I live on the famous Qutub Minar.
What a brilliant idea to instill civic responsibility and pride in one’s heritage. It should be adopted by other countries all over the world.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sunday morning bird walk on the outskirts of Gurgaon

Picture this, mist in the fields, a slight chill in the air, in the distance the skyline of Gurgaon’s high rises, the new satellite town that has grown exponentially in the last ten years. We are standing next to a sewage water channel. Promise at this point you will read on.The sewage we are told, leaves the city and heads,(treated or untreated it was not clear,) out and from there to the Yamuna river. The channel and the pipes occasionally overflow into the flat and fertile fields causing  wetlands to form.The stench is unmistakable and the thought a little disturbing, but this has become a paradise for birds and wildlife.Paddy fields abound and women toil.

This is where we were at 700 am on the Sunday morning to join an eager group of Twitchers. For those unfamiliar with the word it means avid Birdwatchers!

In the space of a couple of hours we spotted an impressive array of bird life, from pond herons, to green parakeets,  black headed ibises, to iridescent kingfishers and painted storks, sandpipers and stints and lots of wire-tailed swallows. We exchanged bird trivia with others, and heard even more wild and wonderful facts from our guides. By 10 am we were fast asleep in the back of the car and looking forward to our first cup of coffee.

Thought for the day:  Water lilies and birds unlikely outflows from sewage but so uplifting.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

UN Day 2009 in India From Grass to Gold

The UN was celebrating the International Year of Natural Fibres and we went along to the reception. Their brochure was entitled from Grass to Gold which I thought was a winning title. Last night the gardens were set up with looms and basket weavers to show us the special relationship that India and its people share with natural fibres so many of which are intrinsic to the Indian way of life.

Think about how many you know coming from plants: Abaca, coir, cotton, flax, hemp, jute, ramie and sisal.
And then do you recognize all the animal ones? Alpaca, angora, cashmere, camel hair, mohair, silk and wool.

India is the world’s second largest producer of cotton and silk but sales are declining so do what you can to sustain people’s livelihoods here by buying its products.

The evening’s titbit: Meeting a small, chubby man with a winning smile and needing orthodontic work who was at school with Cliff Richard in Lucknow all those years ago!!

Now who doesn’t swing to the tune of: “We’re all going on a summer holiday"

Thursday, 22 October 2009

A haven off the MG Road

Yes, it sounds like a contradiction in terms for those of you who know the MG road, busy 24/7 with metro works, deviations and sheer load of traffic but there it was at Metro pillar 165 coming from Delhi turn right and follow the road till the end into the Anandagaram Sanskriti Kendra. A secret haven.

“The leaflet says it was established in 1993 as a space where creative minds devoted to diverse disciplines can stay, study and interact.”

It is set in a beautiful garden, with lotus flower ponds and wonderful terracotta horses looking down on you. You can wander in and out of its three museums; the terracotta museum, the museum of everyday art of India and the museum of Indian textiles. It is beautifully kept, one of the few museums where the actual buildings are made of local materials, earth, dung and husk,where the items are well displayed and helpful boards tell you where they are from and what they represent.

What I liked about it - the founder's love of his country and his rich collection of all that is beautiful for us to admire.
The sheer intricacy and skill of objects used in daily indian life, whether it is the most amazing ornate baby walker, chillum pipes or lamps. Exquisite.

Looking forward to taking my vivacious mother-in- law there when she visits next month which will give me a chance to savour the exhibits once more.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Following on from friends and what they say

My friend Richa was telling me about her sons disappointment at not getting his first choice and she said to him :

Life comes with lemons, so make lemonade !

A new visitor, not quite Bollywood, but blessed on the legs front

Yesterday morning we had a new visitor in the house. We have no idea how and where she/ he may have come from but this is her/ his picture. Only grateful that Tara did not get to her before we did !