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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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Sunday, 24 April 2011

A comment I wanted to share with you

My blog on Coronation Park raised this comment from a reader and with their kind permission I would like to share this with you all. She said:

Your pictures remind me of the poem "Ozymandias" by Shelley:

"I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear --

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Shelley captured so well how imperial power ends in wrecked, broken and neglected statutes, even as it always imagines that it will be permanent.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Coronation Park

Some distance from the Civil Lines in Bhai Parmanand Marg, little known and visited is Coronation Park. This is the famous venue for the last Durbar in India on 11th  December of 1911.The first Durbar was in 1877 to commemorate Queen Victoria as Empress of India. The second was to commemorate the accession of Edward VII to the throne in 1903 but it is the third one held in 1911 which actually had the King and Queen attending. On this occasion King George V proclaimed Delhi as the new capital of India and Queen Mary laid the foundation stone. The capital was moved from Calcutta to Delhi and Lutyens was the architect encharged with taking this forward.

It was Lord Harding however, the Viceroy at the time, who organised the Durbar of 1911. For any of you wanting to see what this splendid event looked like go to the "1911" Bar at the Imperial Hotel, order a drink and then wander round inspecting all the wonderful pictures of that time.

The park now is a huge expanse on which boys play cricket. In the middle rises an impressive Obelisk to commemorate the Durbar of 1911.

Just to the side of the obelisk is the park. When I went I was at the same time shocked and saddened by what I saw. The park is small but dotted with red stone plinths. On some of these plinths stand imposing figures of the era commemorating their importance in the history of India.

The most impressive is the gigantic statue of George V whose cape is totally splendid and rivals that worn by Princess Diana on her wedding day. The statue is mercifully intact though pigeons use it as a perch and there is a tree root growing from the plinth.The light was fading so sadly you cannot see the fine detail of his clothes and cape which show the meticulous details of the sculptors of the day.

To the side, lesser statues but no less significant of important personalities of the day. The park is shamefully neglected, with weeds growing out of control and the pigeons damaging the statues. Some have been destroyed or lie on the ground. It is sad to see this and since I visited I was asking various people  about the park in an effort to find out more. Is it the British High Commission who have neglected this or the Indian Government ? It is more likely to be the latter and this was confirmed in the Times of India recently in an article to say that plans are afoot to restore the Park in time for the centenary celebrations in December of 2011. I will hopefully visit again and blog about the changes.
Till then, do not be put off, this is a fascinating step back in time and one well worth seeing.

Friday, 15 April 2011

British India of Bygone days

One of the most appealling aspects of living in India is that it is almost an open history book. With little imagination and some background you can actually visualize places and people as there is so much evidence of past times here still. So it was with considerable interest that I visited North Delhi to explore that time in colonial history at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th Century.
I wanted to see the Civil Lines - the area where the British lived and look at the community around there which includes the cemetery and St James's church.

The story is a captivating one, not unlike some of the relationship aspects of mixed couples in "White Moghul"  written by William Dalrymple.
Skinner was the mixed race son of a scottish father and a Rajput mother. He was rejected by the British army but he fought in other battles and was badly wounded. He prayed to God that if he survived he would build a church and he built St James's Church near Kashmere Gate which became the Church attended by the Viceroy and all the Anglican community. Skinner is actually buried in the church. Afer surviving Skinner started a cavalry regiment  called Skinner's Horses or the Yellow boys (from their uniforms) and he went on to win many battles. His regiment was finally made part of the regular Indian army and still exists today. Skinner had fourteen wives and countless children some of whom are buried in the church ground.
Just a little further is the Nicholson Cemetery- The grave of John Nicholson can be seen just near the entrance on the right. He was one of the officers who fought during the first War of Indian Independence in 1857.
It is well tended, clearly less used these days, but the headstones talk loudly to you of a troubled time, of a time of battles and lost young lives. I looked carefully around and there were few headstones of older people, most losing their lives in their 20s and 30s in battle or through disease.

More poignant however were the countless messages from grieving parents who lost their babies and toddlers at very young ages to fevers, disease and malnutrition. There was a resignation and a graciousness in these messages giving their children up to God's will.

They touched me deeply as there is no greater loss than that of a parent burying a child.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Indian twists and charms

In Europe you microchip pets. For those of you who are not aware of this system, your pet has a microchip inserted by a small shot gun into the back of their neck. This microchip which is the size of a grain of rice has a unique number on it.You are then the registered owner of this animal and if the pet is lost it can be traced to you. And believe me this works - our cat, lost in Geneva, was traced back to our vet in Liverpool who contacted us and told us that our cat had been found.The woman who found her had gone to her vet with our cat and her unique number was traced to us.

Here, as with all things Indian, there is a twist to the tale and it is snakes, like king cobras, that are being microchipped. As the art of snake charming has apparently being banned this is the way the government is giving some limited licences to the owners of the slithery creatures.

Just glad I am not the vet in charge of this job !

Photo: A king cobra with head raised


Sunday, 10 April 2011

Jazz at Nehru Park

Nehru would have liked this - a collaboration of European embassies and learning institutions coming together to bring Jazz to Delhi on a beautiful evening in Nehru Park. The event takes place over three nights and if you havent gone along, tonight is your last chance.
I was there last night and was probably the oldest thing there, with a few exceptions, but enjoyed it just as much as the young things ! The event is free and the stage is set under a wonderful neem tree decorated with lanterns of silver strands shimmering in the evening breeze.
We caught Frakal, with the rather experimental Amyt Datta and Jivraj Singh playing some very loud music that almost bounced off my chest, as we were sitting quite close to the front. They were followed by Jump4Joy which did exactly what its name says - it made the whole audience JUMP FOR JOY.
No mean achievement and the energy brought to the show by Ulf Sandström was just astounding and electric. Part preacher, part philosopher, big part performer he wowed his audience who couldn't get enough of him. He was supported by his excellent band with a talented woman saxophonist which is quite a rare sight.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Life here is like this ...

Amidst the more serious news  -

A seventy year old man called Anna Hazara is on a hunger strike to protest at the level of corruption in the country. His cause is spreading like wildfire and protests and support rallies are being reported on a daily basis.

There is a superbug in Delhi water - as if the normal bugs were not enough !

Are scenes like these :

How to transport a door or several.
Dubious at the best of times and written in English a language NOT understood by millions of people living here.
Well would you be happy heading off with them ?
In case you missed it she is carrying that enormous branch.
And finally the Pet shop with everything even Dog.

Monday, 4 April 2011

India Cricket Champions

For anyone who may have missed it in the world INDIA have just won the WORLD CUP IN CRICKET.
Congratulations Team India !
The parties went on all weekend.

Friday, 1 April 2011

In the right direction

It is easy to be critical in India - so much, on so many levels, isnt right but today is a reason to be cheerful and encouraging.
Sometime back I reported on the 1411 tigers left in India - the news just out is that  the tiger population has increased to 1541-1875. This is one of them that we saw recently in Madhya Pradesh and what better advertisement than her to emphasize how important their care and preservation are to India.

Even better news is that for the first time since Independence there is a slowdown in the population growth. I81 million added this decade as opposed to 182 million for the last decade. Still huge and it is the cities that are exploding but some of the poorer states show a drop in population growth.
India is 17.5% of the world population !
The gap between the male and female literacy rates has become smaller and literacy rates in general are up to 74 % if the figures are to be believed. Better than 51% in 1991 but way to go before it is up there with other developing countries like South Africa at 88%, Sri Lanka at 91% and China at 93% .
So Sri Lanka has the edge in literacy - but does India have the edge for the WORLD CRICKET CUP ??
On Saturday in Mumbai billions of people will be watching.