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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, 30 October 2011

TJ 's

TJ's  not TG's.  Yes, you heard me correctly. This is TJ's as in TIHAR JAIL. Tihar being one of the largest prison complexes in the world. The total population in ten prisons is around 12000 prisoners. It was built with a capacity of 6250 prisoners.
So if you are in it you might as well learn a skill and recently in one of the busiest malls of Delhi there was a whole market to advertise and sell products, baked items, furniture, paper items, pottery, you name it they do it. I was impressed. Now, that is no reason to go to jail, but this is one place where you can say they make the most of their time there ! I picked out some items for you to admire and loved the paintings of the laid back tiger and the woman and child. I should add that a lot of the paintings were of women and children, probably the families the inmates miss so much.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Rangoli time-for Diwali

Diwali and the festival of lights is a festival of light and colour and giving. The colour comes from the wonderful Rangoli that every indian family will have at the entrance to their homes
Most of the patterns are circular, indicative of the endlessness of time. The day-to-day Rangoli patterns are simple or intricate. The most common rangoli designs start with dots which are connected to form lines and other geometrical shapes such as swastika, aum, stars, squares, circles or triangles These geometrical patterns must be formed in continuous, unbroken lines often made with coloured sand and rice.
We had the pleasure of being invited to a particularly beautiful Diwali celebration. Our hosts cooked a special meal for us and wrote out the menu and explained the ingredients used in all the delicious dishes.  Then each woman was offered a coconut, a fruit, haldi, spices, betel leaves and a gift.
We helped light the small lights and then sat back and enjoyed their warmth.
Happy Diwali to all. May the year ahead be happy and prosperous.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sweden, Nobel and India

Last night we drove down our pot holed road to north Delhi, gave biscuits to the poor begging at the window of our car, took deviations to avoid the gridlocks that were forming everywhere because of the heightened traffic for Diwali shopping and made our way somewhat painstakingly to the Swedish Embassy which was celebrating Nobel Memorial Week 2011, a week long fest of seminars ranging from public transport by Volvo to seminars on sustainability, creating innovation and operatic performances. Last night was the party to close the week which was a fantastic lavish affair superbly organised by the Ambassador, his delightful wife and I am sure an entourage of staff.
We were treated to the most incredible laser show, a firework display which was just explosively mind blowing and no less than three bands, including an all female ABBA sound-a-like band who got the invitees dancing to the rhythms of Dancing Queen.There was an ice bar serving cocktails and a man with a power drill forming sculptures from it.
This paralleled with a buffet which had paneer tikka on the one hand and smoked salmon and herring on the other which the guests could eat in the comfort of IKEA furniture while looking at the various pictures of Indians who had won the Nobel prize. Mr Nobel of course having made his money in discovering dynamite all those years ago.
Bizarre, mind blowing, paradoxical - yes, all those, exactly what we have come to expect of India on a daily basis except that there is no system or meter in the expectation - the degree of amazement remains unabated each time.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Red Fort in Agra

Walking through this amazing collection of beautiful buildings I felt very much the sense of what it would have been like to be living there at the time. Its location optimum, its vantage point over the surrounding land perfect, its attention to detail unparalleled. It started out way back in 1080 as a fortress and was rebuilt in the red sandstone by Akbar in the 1570s. His grandson Shah Jahan embellished its buildings with fine marble ones and it was used as a palace before it became the place of his incarceration. He was imprisoned there by his son Aurangzeb.Agra Fort played a part in the 1857 uprising and if you want to read a first hand account of those times pick up "1857" the account of two Brahmin itinerant beggars who were caught up in the fighting.
For me it has an aura of glory superior to that of Delhi and my two most favourite scenes there are looking out onto the Yamuna over the bend in the river with the Taj in the distance, and the exquisite marble fountain which sadly now has been cordoned off to visitors.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Fatehpur Sikri

This is a ghost town on the outskirts of Agra. The interesting thing about this wonderful place is that it should remind us of two things and two things alone.
The first is that Akbhar built it to honour Shaikh Salim Christi (a Sufi ) who lived here, as it was the Sufi who told him he was going to have a son. No expense spared, it was the first planned Mughal city, it took nearly fifteen years to build, they lived in it for fourteen and then it was abandoned - WHY ? They made a  HUGE miscalculation on the availability of water and the rest is history. I wonder in 50 years time how many cities in the world will face similar problems.

The second, and to me this is even more fascinating, is the secular nature of this city. Akbhar was not called the great for no reason. He was a visionary and an aesthete and a lover of learning. He built three palaces for his three wives who came from different backgrounds and had different religions and he was sensitive to these differences but also conscious of the need to be inclusive and accepting of all. How liberating and how forward thinking in a man of the 16th century. His secularization is a lesson for every ruler in every country. Well at least that is what my friend Celia and I believe !

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Mehrauli Flower Market NO MORE

This, to me, was always my first port of call for any visiting friends. Mehrauli Flower Market- up the road from where I live, tucked away in a side street off the busy main road and thriving,buzzing,dazzling with the garlands, rose petals and marigolds.The colours were arresting, the fragrances breathtaking. Even the pigs feeding on the debris at the end of the road were a feature I really enjoyed. Here are some of the lovely stalls I captured at an earlier time.
Last week it was destroyed. Brought down and this is all that remains. I have no idea why or what for. I can only think of all those poor people looking for another place to sell their beautiful flowers especially in the run up to Diwali and suspect that some municipal corporation is being hasty in its action, unplanned and unthinking, where no alternatives have been put in place and people's livelihood and security are taken away in a day. A sad loss for all.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Power out - head out

The weather in Delhi is almost perfect now, warm without being hot and bearable without outside aids. Sadly though in spite of the lesser consumption Delhi is currently experiencing daily long power cuts and water shortages which are troubling and inconvenient but also a sign of worse to come.
What to do when this happens, turn everything off and head out and take in all that is around. Nature is free of Delhi Municipal Corporation's trying systems and flourishes wonderfully in the lead up to Diwali the festival of lights. The lights, the festive nature, the gift exchange are all ahead but also around us.

Just up the road from me are flowering teak trees. Broad based leaves with strong and sturdy bases but look at the flowers - little baubles of delicate Diwali lights in the most splendid of greeny yellow hues. The bushes sprinkled with a dust of snowy patterns and the ubiquitous poinsettias which are so in your face but an unmistakable sign of festive times.The purple bells and finally the flowering amaltas which are the neon lights of the season.
Come back in and you may find power restored but then again perhaps not....

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Dussehra The triumph of Good over Evil

A special day in India today and after the fasting comes a massive celebration of the triumph of Good over Evil - Evil is represented by the evil Ravana and Good is of course King Ram around whom the whole of the epic Indian story of Ramayana is based.
Just some thoughts about this year's celebrations. The Ravanas this year are promised to be Technic ! A bit like Lego Technic with articulated arms and apparently fire and tears and even cries of pain as they burn.A real marriage of the traditional with Indian techie expertise put to best use.  Eyes will light up and the evil Ravana will appear larger than life and very menacing ...or maybe not....

....as the Ravanas are reportedly getting smaller because of inflation and transport costs ....so are we hoping that Evil is a much diminished commodity these days ??

Anna Hazare doesnt think as he will set off his Ravana which will symbolise the evil of corruption over society.
Happy Dussehra everyone and may the good in you shine out over the evil.