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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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Thursday, 30 September 2010


Today is a crucial day in India for reasons unconnected to the Commonwealth Games.

On 6th December 1992 the Babri Masjid Mosque was demolished in UP.The history in a nutshell is that in 1528 Mir Baqi under Babar built the Mosque which the Hindus claim is the birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya.Since then this particular site has been in dispute between the Muslims and the Hindus and has been the reason for communal violence and unrest for years.

The ASI (Archaeological Survey India ) undertakes an excavation of the site. In 2003 the ASI delivers its report to the Court suggesting that a 10th century temple was found under the site of the Mosque.The Muslim community challenge this finding and since then the sides have been locked in battle in the Courts.
This is possibly one of the only times when the adage the "wheels of justice turn slowly" might serve a public purpose. People are fearful of unrest erupting and the PM has made public pleas to all to respect the Judgement. Will time serve to dent the passion, and will the communities recognize the importance of not fuelling the extremists at this point which is a particularly sensitive one in Indian politics ?

Meantime offices and shops are not taking any chances and are giving a half day to their employees.
330 pm Indian time will reveal all.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The human cost of the Games

I am going to be a sport and wish the Games all the best and the athletes a memorable stay in India. No one can doubt the fascination that this country holds in terms of history, culture, and sheer volume.

It is on this that I want to dwell briefly today. Filth or no filth the Games look as if they will go ahead. I am hoping that they will be accident free and fun. When they are over, the newspapers report that Delhi will be left with empty Games venues and no less than 30 lakh  migrant workers who migrated to Delhi to seek work for the construction of the venues and who slept in makeshift tents on the sides of the road with no running water, electricity nor sanitary arrangements.My poor maths translates that figure to 3 million. That is more than the population threefold of my tiny country and a staggering figure.

These workers like thousands of others who lived on the roads or in unsightly slums have been conveniently shifted behind colourful hoardings for the CWG or simply ejected. These people have been paid a pittance to work at the sites, have endured unreasonable and hard working conditions, have even lost their lives,and now that the  job is done, are placed out of sight and out of mind. Citizens should be appalled by this.

An editorial considered the possibility of a boycott and then suggested that people wear black bands on their arms to express their anger and dissatisfaction with the way these Games have been organized. Well that is  anyone who is going to bother going. I wonder what will be the post mortem on these Games and the human cost of hosting them for India.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Mouldy Moments

So in view of the monsoon's strength this year I am thinking of renaming this blog Mouldy Moments in honour of the little creepy fungus that is having a field day in my closets at the moment.Other happy cousins are these weird looking mushrooms I came across on one of my walks. Fungal funworld.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Homai Vyarawalla

I am always enchanted by old people who did so many wonderful things in their lives.Two of my dearest friends in Geneva are 94 and 93 respectively and they are the liveliest and most engaging women I have met for a long time. Homai Vyarawalla is 97 in December and while I have not had the pleasure of meeting her I was able today to enjoy her achievements.
She was the first female photojournalist in India, born in 1913, she grew up as a fiercely independent young woman who dealt with the rough group of photojournalists that surrounded her and often managed to capture the more humane side of politicians by just staying that little bit longer and capturing the essential shot.
Her photos are currently being displayed at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Jaipur House and if you have an opportunity to go and see them, it is well worth it. C- Hexagon Near India Gate 110003.Tel 011 2334560.
Fabulous pictures of those significant moments of Indian Independence but also wonderful city scapes - an immaculate Connaught Place and a great black and white of the Janta Manta. Delhi was a swinging cosmoplitan capital and pictures of fancy dress parties,dances and plays in the swinging 60s abound.
Nehru with pet dog, hugging Indira and just being Nehru.
This is a picture of her with her beloved son Farook who sadly died prematurely.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Happy as a Pig in ...

Ok this made my day and for that moment I forgot about hardship and everything that goes with it. I have a thing for these animals and this one captured what pure happiness is all about. Have you heard the expression happy as a pig in ....

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The UN hardship and poverty

In a recent post I expressed some outrage at the fact that the UN equated living in Delhi to living in Geneva.There are reasons for this anomaly which are likely to be political and financial and which might be corrected in the not too distant future and at least for that due process can be engaged. There are a lot of people here working for the UN and for them and their families the going can be very tough but never as tough as what we see every day.

I attended a concert last night called Make Noise for the MDGs
For those of you who are unfamiliar with UN speak these are the famous Millenium Development Goals when a large number of members of the UN pledged to End Poverty by 2015. This is an effort to remind people, states and stakeholders to strive to attain these goals.

2015 everyone, is frighteningly round the corner.

The concert was held at the Purana Qila. The backdrop was magical, the musicians were wonderful, Bollywood was present as UN ambassadors and lots of UN dignitaries and Indians connected to the UN.
We applauded the speeches and the commitments and loved the music.We made noise but is that enough ?

The reality is stark and different.

On Monday leaders from all over the world will be in New York to attend the MDG Meeting. India will undoubtedly have a large delegation going there but reports in today's neswpaper would suggest that it is far from being anywhere near its goals. So the hardship continues not only for all the members of the UN whose mission it is try to move towards these goals but for the people on the ground who daily are being affronted by the hike in prices, the lack of sanitation, the lack of health services and the "cleaning up exercise" going on before our very eyes of all the dhabas, slums and makeshift accomodation of  the poor in case the CWG delegates see the real India.
End Poverty Now -
A pie in the sky ?
Diverted because of the CWG ?
When will it be the reality that India will want to show and not hide?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

My Vegetable seller

He is young and bright and he has a stall just off the road on the way home.Now that the rains have come in such abundance you can see the gains on his stall.  What is lovely is that there is so much on offer that I often buy far more than I need but they look fresh and enticing and I am curious about each and every one of them though I have NO IDEA what some of them are.
These are beautifully arranged lemons and baby Brinjhals
But what is this below complete with fly on it ?

This I now know is called Tinda and is the Indian round gourd.
Some form of courgette ? I understand from an Indian friend who corrected the other indian friend that this is not a snake gourd but a ridge gourd. Oh dear I really feel I dont know my gourds very well at all !
Prickly cucumber ? I now know this is the famous bitter gourd or Karela. Great for your health, particularly if you are a diabetic but not very nice tasting.

Dried roots ? No, these are Bhen or Lotus roots. A friend has suggested cutting them in rounds, soaking in water and lemon juice, boiling to soften and then baking in the oven to make chips. Yum.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

An uncomfortable reality

Everyone I talk to is affected or close to someone who is down with Denghue, typhoid or virulent viral infections. EVERYONE.A friend reported that when she went into hospital she was put on a hospital trolley as there were no beds available.These illnesses, while mostly not life threatening, make people extremely ill and put them out of action for days, if not weeks.There is a certain inevitability about it and it is worrying because you know it is only a matter of time before you or a member of your family succumbs and there is precious little you can do about it.

And YET the UN has classed Delhi as a Level A hardship post- in plain english they equate living here and living in Geneva as the same - NO HARDSHIP.

All my clothes, my shoes and god knows what else that I havent yet discovered are becoming green and mouldy from the constant rain and humidity-

The roads - well there are few without pot holes-  are a nightmare with constant construction going on and congestion.

And the UN considers that living here and living in Geneva is the same. How absurd it that.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Dazzling dragons- damsels, flutters and spray cans

Over the weekend in the Jim Corbett National reserve where I was staying I can quote from their brochure, with awe, that there are 37 types of dragonflies in the area. A dragonfly belongs to the Odonata family, characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but adults hold their wings away from, and perpendicular to the body when at rest, whereas damselflies hold them closer to the body The eyes on a damselfly are apart; in most dragonflies the eyes touch.Dragonflies are great if only because they eat mosquitoes and other small insects.
The name dragonfly actually came about because of an ancient Romanian Folktale. In the folktale, the Devil turned a beautiful horse ridden by St. George (of St. George and the dragon fame) into a giant, flying insect.

One reader when seeing dragonflies wrote:
"Dragonflies are considered as a symbol of strength, happiness and courage...they are believed to help you see through your illusions and allow your own light to shine in a new vision..."

Whatever you see in them they are wonderful and delicate insects with a hugely significant ecological purpose so look after them and enourage them at all times.

Corbett was fascinating for lots of reasons which I shall share with you but the other subject today following on from the previous blog is butterflies and here are some of what I saw.
The varieties were amazing. Capturing them in photos was near impossible but I was delighted I could at least capture these. With dragonflies and damselflies and butterflies in my head you can imagine my sheer delight when opened the newspaper today and saw a notice for an exhibition called "Butterflies and birds +spray cans.
I set off to find the place and it took a while. It is a small but wonderful exhibition and it is on until the 8th of October 10.00 am to 700 pm Sundays Closed.
The artist is a young man called Graeme Brusby who became a graffiti artist at the age of 14 and he developed the tag "sense" which evolved into what he uses today XENZ pronounced "zenz".

Remember he creates all this beautiful art with spray cans.You can find this lovely little exp at W+K EXP, B-10 Triveni Complex
Sheikh Sarei Phase 1 New Delhi 110017

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

After the Rain

This time however it is not about the chaos and the destruction, the gaping holes in the roads, the erosion of the tarmac, the destruction of properties and livelihoods from the flooding but it is what happens around me when the rain stops and the sun comes up even briefly. The leaves glisten, the flowers open and the whole atmosphere is covered with these delicate dragonflies that incidentally come in all sorts of different colours, blue, black, orange and red. They are beautiful and I know so little about them I have resolved to find out more.

And then the butterflies which are just everywhere in the neighbourhood now.On a recent walk I counted no less that 10 varieties in one small area. Admirals, swallow tails, little blues and the names go on and on. So I now have the book of Indian Butterflies in an attempt to find out more about them too. Meantime enjoy.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Nul point for Indian Flip flops

So off on a walk around the leafy suburb of Chattarpur farms on a Sunday afternoon. Tara happily walking down the roads which were quiet except for when we woke the sleeping dogs and there were a lot of them.We came across two litters of the most adorable pups. She was attacked not by an Indian stray this time but by a male Labrador. Charles and I both carry sticks to protect Tara and luckily his guards quickly pulled him off her.
Off we went again and on a slip of a bit the bright green Indian flip flop came acropper. The rubber just sheared off the foot side and left us with a useless flip flop half way into our walk.
He gallantly took his off ( reminds me of one of the reasons why I married him)  and gave them to me and he walked back barefoot on uncomfortable surfaces full of shingle, while regaling me with the interesting fact that the advent of flip flops led to a reduction of hook worm incidents in the world because the poor people had some cover on their feet which prevented the worms from breaking through the skin on the soles of their feet.(another reason why I married him )
So NUL POINT for Indian flip flops which lasted barely a week. We laughed at the possibility of putting one Kenyan and one Indian together but unfortunately the damaged ones leave us with two lefties.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Joy of Rubbish

Today is the 1st of September and I am a very happy woman. We have been here for over a year and one thing that has always upset me is that there is no "organised " rubbish collection here, well not as we know it. There are rag pickers, and others who recycle bottles and paper so there is a lot that does get recycled.Here are some boys sorting through the rubbish.
 However the sad reality is that cans, plastic, wrapping, I put all this VERY reluctantly into my bin and I know for a whole year now it has gone into a hole in the ground around the back of the house and intermittently burnt. Just that nagging feeling of OH dear this is not really what I want to do but what is the answer ?

Well let me introduce Balram.( aka Bhart Lal 9873537074) Now all of you who have read "WHITE TIGER" will know this character. Chubby, humble, but sharp as a whistle and looking to make more out of nothing Gottit??Balram appeared at my door the other day and for the grand amount of 500 rupees per month (less than £10) he will take away the rubbish into government landfills and hopefully recycle even further. I feel elated and jubilant at this small step in my household organisation which also coincides with the organisation of my edible waste which is now going to be composted for the vegetable garden courtesy of the lovely terra cotta containers of the Daily Dump which I blogged about some time ago.

This is progress and I never thought rubbish could give such joy.