Hello welcome to my Blog

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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Saturday, 31 March 2012

Living in Delhi

Some of my friends are curious about my life here.On reflection perhaps that is a bit of a lie, most of them are not really interested, some are appalled  I live here,  but there is a small group who are engaged and curious and it is up to me to welcome them here when they visit, make them feel at home but also give them the reality of India which is not confined to going from one five star hotel to another. The beauty of the country of course is not to be forgotten but that will form the subject of another blog.
My starting point therefore for all visiting friends is Salaam Baalak Trust - the NGO that I have decided to support and fundraise for and which has been such an important part of my life here. So recently when a group of friends were visiting literally from across the globe it was heartening to see how they too felt its good work and how with some support and education the lives of these abandoned and often forgotten children can be turned around. I therefore want to share those moments with you all.
 At the contact point at New Delhi Railway Station a little boy is waiting to be seen by the doctor on duty.
At Ashra the holding centre of the trust in Paharganj making puzzles and playing games with them.

From an earlier visit when the weather was warming up and they were all on the roof painting with the help of volunteers from Main Tendue

 With some of the girls in Arushi Home

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A fine balance

Living in cities or anywhere in the world is always a compromise. Where you were brought up and your memories of that place  and what living environment is good for you is subjective and sometimes irrational. Often cities may have some elements of what is important to you but not all.

One of the things I have missed living in Delhi is proximity to water.I was brought up not far from the sea and then lived in a number of places where again the sea or rivers were central.  I found Brisbane to be a city that had a fine balance of all that matters to me. The river offers the proximity to water and though we had no time this trip to explore further the Gold and Sunshine coasts are not far. The high rises gave me the feeling that the city was on the cutting edge of business and efficiency but also looked attractive and modern on the sky line and the older parts of the city and the beautiful gardens offered me the sense of history and culture that is instantly appealling to me and enables me to better understand a new place. Remarkably the only place we saw graffiti was on the bamboo growing in the botanical gardens !

So in this final blog about Oz I will try through the pictures I took to give you a glimpse of this fine balance. Perhaps you will feel it is a good mixture too. It may even make you reflect on what it is you look for when you visit a place whether for a visit or as a new home.What is good for you and what do you look for in a city?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Parliament House Ozzie style

The Parliament Building in Brisbane
An old drawing of the Parliament Building
Parliament House was built at a time when the state had timber and sandstone and that was about it. It was started in the 1860s and built over a fairly long period of time as they kept running out of money but it has painted and stained glass windows with Queen Victoria and Parliament behind her, Minton tiles for the floor and elaborate chandeliers.
The Legislative Chamber itself is neat and impressive with four flags exhibited by the Speaker's chair.
The Queensland flag which incidentally was pretty much Queen Victoria's creation. The suggestion that the province be called Cooks land was quickly dismissed by Queen Victoria who said this was her land and so should be called Queensland. She was also keen to put her face on the flag but she was dissuaded from doing so and only the crown appears on it.
The other flags are the Australian flag with the stars representing the Southern Cross, the Aboriginal flag and the island flag of the Torres Straits.
What I found impressive about this lovely sandstone building which has been carefully and lovingly restored is the way the Australians use it.
Single house truly representative - they got rid of the upper house where money could lead to appointments and strife so they abolished it and have only one house and it is the only one house parliament in Australia.
The parliament building has a modern extension at the back where all MPS have accommodation, a recreational area and a BBQ as well as a well stocked library and media facilities. All there, organized and at their doorstep.
The library 's old majesty with Hansards and comfortable leather chairs.
The old parliament can be used by the public when the members are not sitting so it has been used for marriages and for celebrations as well as for shows and poetry readings thereby maximizing the use of the space but also connecting the people to it.
Tradition is upheld so a mace is taken into the Parliament when it is in session but when it is not then it sits in a glass cabinet next to a didgeridoo ( a musical intrument used by aboriginal groups )which has the most beautiful representations on it of how the land was owned by indigenous people,( represented by the black circle and footprints)  then the whites came and carried on as two distinct groups, then the indigenous and the whites mixed travelling along one path but perhaps taking different directions.  

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Mum knows best ?

One of Australia's richest women is a mum of four - but not all is well in this family and unfortunately an almighty bust up is taking place which is splashed all over australian papers. Mum - Gina Rinehart  thinks her kids arent up to taking over the management of a family trust set up by their grandfather John Hancock. This was due to vest in the children in September of last year but it seems that Mum has extended the vesting date to sometime in the distant future. It may be because of tax concerns or because she doesnt think the kids can handle the management of the trust or more likely a combination of both but the result is that the mum and the kids are on opposite sides of the court room fighting it out. Forbes has estimated that her wealth is somewhere in the region of 17.2 bn and this is largely the result of mining interests.
So the situation has developed that three of the kids have taken their mum to court and are fighting it out with the exception of the youngest daughter who has sided with her mum.-It makes interesting reading on a daily basis but where would you be on this one ?
Siding with mum because she thinks she knows best or supporting the kids being able to handle their own affairs?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Brisbane Australia

Living in India has many rewards and there is so much about it that I love- but I have to be honest- Leaving it from time to time is good too.Flying to Australia via Singapore gave me that escapist feeling of elation, comfort and eyes bigger than my stomach. So a couple of glasses of champagne and some wonderful antipasti of good olives, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and smoked ham set the scene very well and that was followed by excellent Quantas service where I had a fish called Red Spot Garoupa, seared, with Peperonata, a potato tack and salsa verde.Delicious and different. Quantas even has an inflight wine guide and while this is not an advertisement for the airline I was seriously impressed.
We arrived in Brisbane where we are spending the week and for those of you who are not aware Brisbane lies on the west of Australia and is the third biggest city after Sydney and Melbourne. It is the capital of Queensland and is close to the Sunshine and Gold coasts.
It is a mark of a confident and positive people who can turn to you and acknowledge their humble roots as a penal colony. General Oxley discovered the river in 1823. It had been inhabited by aboriginal tribes prior to that. In 1825 it was said to have a population of 45 men and two women and had the reputation of one of the harshest penal establishements. Free settling did not happen until 1838 and it took many years for the city to develop and flourish. Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1982 and the World  Fair in 1988 and the influx of money and development in support of these two events helped to finally put the city on the map.
Today it is booming, a business district that boasts tall skyscrapers of glass and steel, sitting alongside the most beautiful old buildings with corrugated iron roofs and Fer forge balconies to die for. The state is rich in minerals, it attracts tourists from all over the world and has a very high quality of life with residential areas in the neighbouring hills which are reminiscent of San Francisco dotted with the famous "Queenslander" type houses.

 View from our very central hotel.
Fresh fruit and veg
It was the selection of meats and fish that made my eyes pop out of my head.
A very succesful marriage of old and new architecture
More on the river and the city soon.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Holi Fun

Season of colours

And it is upon us - almost overnight- the temperatures are soaring, 33C this week,  the sun is unfurling from its winter slumber and India celebrates the season of colours. With that of course the inevitable appearance of the mozzie brigade and more dust as the absence of water will last a lot longer.

So it is quite miraculous I find that at this time nature is at its best. The Indian silk cotton trees are all flowering in hues of coral, the amalthas are vibrantly yellow and the flowers in the garden have this in your face if transient quality to them. Holi, the festival of colours is celebrated today the 8th but already from a few days ago I saw school children with paint all over them.
I attended a lovely event organised by Dilli Saaga which is an initiative of  Global Adjustments and AGS Four Winds where the history of Holi was explained. Look out for their future programmes bringing the traditions and the mysteries of India to us. We were offered the wonderfully refreshing Thandai drink made from milk, cardamons and ginger ( but not with  Bangh ( Hash)  which is a great favourite at this time of year ) and delicious platefuls of Chaat, the snack par excellence.


Monday, 5 March 2012

Nosy Nilgai

We were walking in Sanjay Van and Tara was ahead. Suddenly I heard her barking and what with her barking earlier today because of the earthquake in Delhi I wasnt quite sure what the problem was. I turned the corner to find a lovely young male Nilgai who took fright initially and bounded into the forest and then as we walked on it would reappear and nosey around us. It was the sweetest thing and was quite intrigued by this short stocky pale furry thing prancing around in front of him.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A retrospective of Ramkinkar Baij

Retrospective Exhibition on Ramkinkar Baij at the National Gallery of Modern Art
The exhibition is a retrospective of Ramkinkar Baij by K.S Radhakrishnan who is a sculptor but also a pupil of Ramkinkar Baij. He has put together this expansive show of his pencil drawings, watercolours, oils and sculptures. Baij was a prolific and dedicated artist and the show is a wonderful collection of all that he has done.

Ramkinkar Baij (1906-1980) was born in Bankura, West Bengal, into a poor family and became one of the most distinguished early modernists in Indian art. In 1925, he made his way to Kala Bhavana, the art school at Santiniketan and was under the guidance of Nandalal Bose. Encouraged by the liberating intellectual environment of Santiniketan, his artistic skills and intellectual horizons blossomed. His work acquired greater depth and complexity. Soon after completing his studies at Kala Bhavana he became a faculty member, and along with Nandalal and Benodebehari Mukherjee played a pivotal role in making Santiniketan one of the most important centres for modern art in pre-Independent India. He died in 1980.
The show is very well put together with a lot of enlightening information throughout and is open until the 31st of March 2012 at the National Gallery of Modern Art. India Gate C- Hexagon Delhi .

Well worth a visit.