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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.

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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.