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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, 29 November 2012


I knew nothing about this state, other than that it is one of the most industrialised states in India and perhaps one of the richest. So I travelled there with great curiosity to see what it was like. It is, like a lot of states in India, huge and houses some 60 million people so what I saw was probably a smidgen of all the state has to offer.

Some titbits I enjoyed :

It is the home state of Gandhi, Jinnah and S.V Patel all giants in Indian history and for very different reasons.
It had one of the earliest ports in Lothal, so trade in goods and slaves was plentiful.
Slaves - yes and mercenaries - who came from Africa and made their home in Gujarat. Some tribal groups are still very evident here and they are called Sidis or Habshis.
What with Gujarat being the only place in India which still has asiatic lions you could well be confused for wondering where you were occasionally.

It is a dry state - alcohol is not sold or served. Maybe that is why a lot of Gujaratis left !

Its cuisine is quite special and they pride themselves on the wonderfully delicious dishes they serve which often have a sweet, sour taste and while spicy are not fiery hot.

The roads are quite good which helps travel.

The people are a real mix of Hindus and Muslims and tribals.

There has been a history of communal riots involving both communities. More recently Narender Modi who is chief minister was exonerated of any blame. It seems that he has been instrumental in the rapid industrialisation and development of the state.

And yet wonderful scenes from the middle ages still appear with bullocks pulling a plough and shepherds wearing traditional dress like this shepherd here.

We received warm hospitality wherever we went and were invited into beautiful, well ordered houses.

More on the wildlife and the flora in my next posting. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Urinating men

A young girl has just been shot dead in Delhi because she objected to a man urinating near her house. Her mother was injured in the attack. Last week a court in Rajasthan apparently said that they would name and shame men who urinated in public by getting people to bang drums and blow whistles to expose them , for want of a better word. Then they changed it and said they would reward persons with INR 500 if they caught them urinating or defecating in public. I am not quite sure how they expected the evidence to be forthcoming once the citizen's arrest was made but that is another subject altogether. Are they completely without reason and aforethought even in the Courts?

Is it really a question of naming and shaming or rewarding or catching the so called perpetrators or is is a question of addressing the problem that millions of people in India have NOWHERE ELSE to go to the toilet other than the open or other people's property?

Their whole approach is totally wrong, dare I say even farcical and I think every Indian in this huge sub continent would agree with me. Isn't it really time they tackled this issue once and for all and before any more people lose their life over it? What a shameful loss of a young girl's life. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

My bank and our account manager

We bank with HSBC and we have done so for years. I remember when the bank was part of Midland Bank which may age me a little or a lot depending on how you see it. In India my bank is small but friendly and a little unusual so I want to tell you about it. It is a shop front in a busy shopping precinct and to see my account manager I have to go down a fire escape.My first office was down a fire escape in Cyprus so it brings back sweet memories.

My account manager is a spirited and efficient Sikh. She comes to the office dressed in western dress but she invariably wears her Sikh kirpan, her ceremonial sword and her bangle. She does not cut her hair as is the Sikh tradition and she bears a very Sikh name - Kaur,  but which marks her origins and religion.

The branch recently celebrated Diwali, the coming of the new year, so it was decorated in all its traditional finery with lights and banners but also the more traditional rangoli drawings on the floor.

 You can see the fire escape at the back
 You can see her bangle and the small sword
She very sweetly gave me some additional information about Sikhism which I am including here as this is one of the religions I admire.

"Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region of INDIA, by Guru Nanak Dev which continued to progress with ten successive Sikh gurus.Sikhs engage in social reform through the pursuit of justice for all human beings. Sikhs embody the qualities of a "Sant-Sipahie"—a saint-soldier. One must have control over one's internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib.

A Sikh also has the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of their colour, caste or creed.

Sikhism advocates the belief in one pantheistic God (Ek Onkar) who is omnipresent and has infinite qualities. Sikhs do not have a gender for God nor do they believe God takes a human form. All human beings are considered equal regardless of their religion, sex or race. All are sons and daughters of Waheguru, the Almighty.

Sikhs defend, safeguard, and fight for the rights of all creatures, and in particular fellow human beings. They are encouraged to have positive, optimistic and buoyant view of life.

It is every Sikh's duty to defeat these five vices: ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust in his/her being with contentment, charity, kindness, positive attitude and humility."

I can honestly say that she is espouses all the above and I see the work that the Sikh gurdwara does in my neighbourhood. HSBC has a well known campaign about the importance of local knowledge and how they apply it. Perhaps this is a good example of it.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

A bounty of bunnies

A few posts ago I wrote about the Hares in my garden. Well all is well on that front and today look what we found. Too cute. Hare population growing well in South Delhi.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Port Blair

Port Blair is the capital and it is a thriving and bustling little city with a rich history which is very evident everywhere you go. According to Wikipaedia in 1789 the government of Bengal established a penal colony on Chatham Island in the southeast bay of Great Andaman, named Port Blair to honour Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the British East India Company.

A very British looking post box in the Prison grounds. Letters back home ?
The Cellular Jail which you can visit today was a modern example of a prison, mainly for political prisoners which was very widely used under the British administration.

We walked around the city and enjoyed seeing the fish market and the goat on the roof. We stayed in a very atmospheric hotel with a great view of the bay and had the best crab curry ever at the restaurant that night. As you can see from the hotel swimming pool crabs get into everything including the baby pool.

How it got there I have no idea

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Havelock Island

Havelock is a ferry ride from South Andaman and named after Henry Havelock who was a British General. The astounding thing about the islands is that they still, to this day, retain most of their British names, Lawrence Island, Sir William Peel Island, Interview Island and Table Island. Perhaps it is a sign that the mainland actually is not really engaged with the islands except the few that are of military importance to them so largely speaking there is little change and creeping but not galloping development. 

Havelock is perhaps the most developed with a thriving back packer and diving community all built on the wonderful white sanded beaches. There are two roads on the island. One going to the eastern beaches and the other to the western where we were. 
Barefoot resort is lovely. Nestled in a clearing of the rain forest the tents are comfortable and spacious and there is a palpable serenity to the place. There is a restaurant and a yoga centre and a great bar where everyone hangs out in the evenings and exchanges stories of the day's adventures. 

The resort is a short walk from the beach which is one of the loveliest on the island. There are no umbrellas or organised outlets on the beach, just the shade of the forest which literally comes down to the water in some places. 

This remind me about mad dogs and Englishmen in the midday sun 

The butterflies were so impressive and extremely large. 

The reef off Elephant Beach is well worth visiting and there are trips for diving and snorkelling there on a daily basis. 

We also loved the rain forest so we took one of the guides from the resort and headed on a four hour round trip which took us into deep and dense rain forest and then back along the beach. A beautiful but demanding walk where our guide had to cut a path through the forest which was lush and overgrown from the monsoon rains.A word of warning, however, the next day when we headed off on our own to walk to Elephant beach we had to come back. The path was slippery and muddy and the forest path often had different directions and it was impossible to know which was the right one. We had to admit defeat and come back covered with mud to our knees but grateful that we managed to find our way back to the main road. 

 The trees were gigantic and went up to a 100 ft 
The sunsets were amazing but inevitably I didn't carry my camera so this one was sent by a Spanish friend we met on the beach. 

The best moment was coming across this sign :

More on Port Blair in my next blog