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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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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Morning Greeting

Colour palettes with gossamer wings
Around them bumble bees sing.
Butterflies in such delicate shimmer
Oh the world is a- glimmer.

My friend Ruchira Mittal's greeting to me this morning !

Monday, 28 March 2011

Matches made in political heaven.

I am quoting from an extract written by George Joseph at george.j@ians.in and can only say that this was a tasteful, fragrant event, with wonderful Kashmiri -Gujerati food offered to all the guests.On three days of the marriage celebrations the flowers and the colours changed from Marigold for the mehendi, to white jasmine for the wedding day to sweet scented purple red roses for the reception last night. The saris were to die for as were the girls wearing them and the evenings were warm and welcoming for the couple who begin their life together with the heavy duty of family and responsibility weighing "lightly" on their shoulders.

The loveliest touch in my eyes was the white highly decorated electric car with the usual array of tuneful tins trailing at its tail and a "Just Married" sign. A welcome change from the helicopters and the BMWs that seemed to be the more "in " presents for recent society weddings. Perhaps an indication of how close they are to the PM and Mrs Gandhi both of whom were present and who are averse to displays of conspicuous opulence.

"Two hearts and a VVIP political wedding
Their families like to call it a meeting of intimate hearts. But when Faisal Patel weds Zainub Nedous in the capital Friday, it will also be an alliance between two influential political families, one from Gujarat and another from Kashmir.

Faisal is the son of Ahmed Patel, who hails from Gujarat and is political secretary and right-hand man of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Zainub belongs to Jammu and Kashmir's well-known Nedous family, to which union Minister Farooq Abdullah's mother Akbar Jehan belonged.
The capital's political and social circles are abuzz with the Faisal-Zainub 'nikah' ceremony Friday and the reception Sunday. Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are among those likely to attend the reception. According to reports, Faisal will wear a sherwani designed by Tarun Tahilani and Zainub will wear a lehanga created by Rohit Bal. "

We wish them the best and happiness evermore.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art closer to you

I have blogged before about this wonderful initiative. At the time it was in Noida but more recently the Museum has opened a new branch in an unconventional setting perhaps even controversial. It occupies a large part of the ground floor in South Court DLF Saket Mall. Yes, a shopping Mall, that haven of Indian free time. There is some method in the madness or so I would like to believe, in that the art work which is completely free and open to the public is so approachable,so inclusive- half an hour to kill between your big Mac and the next shopping frenzy ?- pop into the gallery and BE AMAZED.
The surroundings are smooth, streamlined and beautifully lit. The paintings and art work are hung and displayed to maximum effect. This is one of the only places you can escape the congestion of the street as there are few bodies wandering around in here but there is a little part of me which wants to return to it seeing it crammed full of interested onlookers.

The aim is undoubtedly to bring art closer to the people, to make it more accessible and as I spoke with the assistant curator it was obvious that ambitious programmes were afoot to devise workshops and projects which would have that effect. I built a bridge immediately and put her in touch with Salaam Baalak Trust so it will be lovely to watch and report what comes out of that initiative.

The gallery is divided into rooms where a particular theme or subject is displayed. The Body Room with the captivating casts of A Balasubramania of South India, capturing his own body in contorted shapes, deflated, distorted, elated and shadowed are particularly powerful.

The fabulous fibreglass elephant of Bharti Kher whose bindi work all over the body lends itself to countless interpretations.We walked round and round the elephant, a tired one, a dying one, a weighed down one, listing all that come into our head just viewing this piece of art work that must have taken months of careful planning and hugely detailed work to create.

The impressive and expensive art work or S.H Raza and how his background as the son of a forestry official was influential in his choice of colours and shades when creating his abstract art.

Mrinalinis Mukerherjees upright and proud jute work of orchids and flowers and suggestive female sexual organs are staggering in their complexity and composition as are the iron works of Ranjani Shettar that fill a whole room with the most delicate creations suspended in mid air.

A room celebrating Ghandi, a room celebrating the city and urbanization, many more. One art work which I particularly liked by Surekha was "The Fragrance of Jasmine" with her representations of women and children wearing the braids of jasmine in their hair which are shown to us by way of a mirror through a photograph. Beautiful in the simplicity of its execution but complex in its message. The museum is open to the public and is a treasure of creativity, originality and imagination. These are the kind of gifts I am ready to embrace on all levels.


Sunday, 20 March 2011

Holied- the Festival of Colours

It happened early in the morning- I was walking out of the house with Tara and little Rituu came along with her paint and painted me pink. Bhaju, the gardener followed, ringing my doorbell and while it is done with reverence, a touching of my feet first, he proceeded to dab bright pink paint all over my face and neck.

This is the first Hindu festival in the Hindu calender and marks the end of winter, we have put away the duvets and hot water bottles this very weekend and enjoyed a wonderful party in the garden.
The Holi festival commemorates the victory of good over evil, with the burning and destruction of the demoness Holika. Holi got its name as the "Festival of Colors" from Lord Krishna, a re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who liked to play pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and colors.
It is full of fun and spontaneity and magic
Even Tara got holied !

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A day at Tiklibottom

Nestled close to the Arivali hills beyond Gurgaon is a little haven of tranquility and tastefulness. Some years back Annie and Martin Howard found themselves being propositioned by friends to take on two acres in this area next to a stud farm.They did so and Tiklibottom is the outcome - Just the name conjures up all sorts of interesting thoughts but actually visiting is an even richer experience and very happily so for the whole area.

Tiklibottom itself is built by an Indian architect in a style I hugely admire- rooms around a basic courtyard. In this case an attractive courtyard with a fountain and a lovely airy rooms leading off. They look as if they have come out of House and Garden and I suspect that this is a lot to do with Annie's wonderful style.
The lawns at the back have flowering beds and guinea fowl walking through. A camel with a wooden cart lies on one side to take its guests for an amble in the countryside. Annie and Martin have four double rooms to rent out and this is a perfect weekend gateway but in our case it was a day excursion with a purpose- to enjoy the lovely lunch they had prepared for us complete with the quintessential english apple crumble and the most wonderful banana pancakes but also as an opportunity to see the Howards' school which they started with the purpose of educating the children of the three villages that surround them.

It is a private school and it is run like one with motivated teachers, rigorous but engaging educational programmes and the proof of how successful this is, was the statement from the headmistress that the children come to school early and want to stay after school is over.

We visited the school and had the opportunity to listen to one of the classes belting out "This old man, he played one he played knick knack on my drum...we all joined it and really enjoyed it.
The school has been built in bits and pieces, basically as the money comes in and the latest and encouraging benefactor is none other than Sir John Major who had the opportunity to see the school and who offered to build additional classrooms which were much needed. The Howards are constantly raising money for the school because there are so many running costs like staff salaries, subsidies for books and uniforms and much more but they are doing a great job and you can see the results in the childrens faces and their engagement with a truly vibrant learning environment.
If you want to get involved, visit or donate please do - this is such a worthy cause.
Go to http://www.tiklibottom.com/

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Garden of Five Senses

February- March is Garden time in Delhi - from the wonderful Presidential Gardens which are open to the public at this time to the various parks and gardens scattered around this lush green city.
The Garden of Five Senses located in MB road near Saket is worth a visit at this time. It is spread over 20 acres and the brochure says it is "a park designed to stimulate one's sensory responses to the environment.
As we were going in we saw a sign saying "maintain standards of decency" which we thought was a bit strange but all was revealed. As with all outdoor parks and places in Delhi whether archaeological or natural they are a haven for lovers and flirting couples. I love the fact that there is a courtship time for so many young people here but perhaps the reality is slightly less romantic and suggests a lack of freedom where they can openly meet and interact. Whichever case the park was packed with couples and my mother in law and I were a bit like the Odd Couple in their midst.We walked through the lovely entrance of stainless steel birds round to a pool (empty) with impressive elephants made out of red stone. Through the formal garden to enjoy the dahlias and the hollyhocks and daisies. Up to the hillside to admire the lovely sculptures representing the seasons and on to the tree of wind chimes. Sadly some of the water features were not in operation.We saw the various restaurants dotted along the far end of the park and walked past the amphitheatre and the park of colours.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Chandni Chowk -All change

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take some friends who were visiting from Cyprus to Chandni Chowk. I never say no.It is always madly noisy, hugely entertaining and clearly one of the best loved corners of the city. Well it looks as if the Delhi Municipal Corporation has other plans for this famous landmark and before it disappears for ever I will register this post for posterity just in case.... for once the DMC is super efficient and goes ahead with its plans which apparently are due to be started at the end of this month.If the DMC goes ahead then Chandni Chowk will be car free and pedestrianized and only residents will have the right to take cars into this presently congested area and instead of cycle rickshaws there will be high tech battery operated golf carts.I can hardly imagine it.

Chandni Chowk is the major street in the walled city of Old Delhi, which was originally called Shahjahanabad. The walled city, which includes the Lal Qila or Red Fort of Delhi, was established in 1650 AD by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It was designed by his daughter Jahanara Begum Sahib who perhaps knew a thing or two about the importance of shopping !
Chandni Chowk runs through the middle of the walled city, from Lahore Gate of the Red Fort to Fatehpuri Masjid. 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 its canal, earned it its name, Chandni (Moonlit).
This moonlight corner of town never fails to move whether it is transport or tempers. Personal space is an unknown and bargaining is best. Eateries are bursting and chilies choke the hell out of your lungs but every little bit is breathing and bold and very very beautiful in the only way such places can be.  

Friday, 4 March 2011

Devanagari uncovered and shameless showcasing

A few days ago was pay day. My amazing helper signed for her salary and I stood looking at it for a while and said to her with the biggest smile on my face as if she had just paid me instead, " I can read what you have written."
That was quite magical for me. The uncovering of a whole new world and a whole new script. Its a pain in the neck to learn but I am getting there.

Talking about pains in the neck, this weekend the neighbourhood was all agog and distrupted with fireworks, traffic jams and very loud music at the wedding taking place between two wealthy families. I can understand why they want to give their children a good and happy start to their life but this, this was beyond the pale -
Why did I feel so affronted about this?  After all weddings are so frequent around here and they are all noisy and joyous and highy decorated. This one was something else though and it leaves me open mouthed and unbelieving.Everyone has a right to do what they want with their money but those who hold public office should have a heightened sense of propriety and decency and charity.
A reported 100 crore (a unit in the Indian numbering system equal to ten million (10,000,000; 107), or 100 lakh )was allegedly spent on this wedding which included a seven seater helicopter as a present to the groom and a setting resembling Venice which took months of hard work to prepare. And just in case you are wondering what on earth 100 crore is, it is something in the region of 22 million dollars- even if it was 20 or 23 - it would not matter- the number is a shameful reminder of how money is spent in this emerging power, with little regard for the picture it paints to the rest of the world but more so to the average Indian who surely can no longer feel that this is an example he would want to follow nor dare I say would he be confident that this particular politician had his own interests uppermost at all times.