Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dare we hope? at Copenhagen?

Last June this blog mentioned "The Story of Stuff". The same presenter has come out with another video on The Story of Cap & Trade ahead of the Climate meet at Copenhagen. Host Annie Leonard introduces the "energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you’ve heard about cap and trade, but aren’t sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you."
While on the subject - listen and pass on this message too (message from a 12 year old, delivered at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which is now more relevant than ever).

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Friday, September 25, 2009

If a picture = 1000 words, this cartoon = million essays

Surendra's eloquence leaves me rather lump-throated. Methinks the entire nation has to find the right answers and respond to that kid satisfactorily.
See the cartoon here

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ganesha sharanam sharanam Ganesha

Does any other deity lend Himself to such devotee-specific imagination as, well, my Friend Ganesha? He happily takes whatever form one wishes to see Him in and has lent Himself benevolently to abundant variety in artistic 2-d / 3-d designs and forms. Image courtesy
It's Ganesh Chaturthi this Sunday 23 Aug, and here's an offering to help remember Him when you are online. :)

Try to list all the 16 words / names of everyone's favourite deity that you can make out in this picture (original artist unknown)

Ganapati Bappa Moriya!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Are you Krishna conscious?

It's Krishna Jayanthi later this week. Here's a quiz (prepared for a local event) on the Lord and His doings. Hope you feel blessed enough to take the very simple challenge. :)
1. To whose ashram did Krishna and Balarama go for their education?
2. What is the name of Balarama's mother?
3. What is the Gurudakshina that their Guru wished from Krishna and Balarama?
4. Name Krishna's Conch.
5. Name the brothers who naughty Krishna released when He dragged the mortar to which Yasodha had tied Him. Whose sons were they?
6. Krishna had 16008 wives. Name at least four of them.
7. To whom did Sukha narrate the Bhagavatam?
8. Who was Krishna's BPL childhood friend - both his aliases, please?
9. What is the other name for Deepavali?
10. Krishna's favourite food items - name at least two.
11. The theme of India's biggest and oldest insurance company is a phrase from the Bhagavad Gita - which company? What is the phrase?
12. How many slokas altogether feature in the 18 chapters of the Gita?
13. Suppose you were to ready a set of clothing and accessories for the Lord, what would you include?
14. Name at least 5 demons that Krishna killed.
15. In how many days did Krishna and Balarama complete their education under their Guru?
16. In South Indian homes, there is a particular way in which the entry of Lord Krishna (as a child) is marked on the evening of Gokulashtami - What is it?
17. What is the name of the hunter who mistakenly sent an arrow that ended the Krishna Avatar?
18. Whose curse caused the death of Krishna and His clan?
19. The hunter who shot Krishna inadvertently was a well-known character in his previous birth. Who?
20. Who resided on the flag of the chariot that carried Arjuna to war?
21. Name Krishna’s son who abducted the daughter of a Kaurava prince.
22. Name Krishna’s garland.

Look forward to seeing your answers as part of your comments. Amendments, corrections, clarifications are very welcome!
Image courtesy: ISKCON
Your responses are welcome over the next 4 days. The comments and the answers will be published on Friday 14 Aug at 6 pm.
Update -4 responses (with answers) thus far

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sangeet Natak Academy's treat to Delhi-vaasis Part 2

(continued from the previous post on recent Sangeet Natak Akademi winners)
L Heiramot Meitei (77), Thang-Ta, martial art of Manipur
Birabar Sahoo (79), Gotipua, Orissa

Hilda Mit Lepcha (53), Lepcha Music of Sikkim
Catch more of the Gotipua dance form next week at Travel Jottings


Monday, July 20, 2009

Sangeet Natak Academy's treat to Delhi-vaasis Part 1

The Sangeet Natak Academy awards for 2008 were given away last Tuesday, and over the last few days, the Akademi has strived to present the awardees' talents to the public. We enjoyed the rare treat, for treat it was! - at CCRT, one of the venues that was happily next door to us. These pictures convey only in a very small way the immense joy of watching talented performers who belie their age in the worship of their ageless art forms.
Saroja Vaidyanathan (73) Bharatanatyam
Ramani Ranjan Jena (68), Odissi
Ramhari Das (56) Music for dance, Odissi
Narasimhachariar (67) and Vasanthalakshmi (55), Kuchipudi
B Sasikumar, (60), violin and Mannargudi Easwaran (62), Mridangam
Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar (54), Hindustani vocal


Monday, July 13, 2009

Nutmeg (aka jadikkai) pickles

Meals in India's households are incomplete without dollops of pickles - those special spicy side dishes that can easily lend a 'taste good' factor to the blandest course.
At any given time, you're sure to find a few of the infinite varieties of lime, mango, gooseberry, garlic, ginger, tomato, tamarind... pickles in the larder of any home in India. (At this stage I feel it may be necessary to differentiate a pickled fruit - simple immersion in vinegar - from the spicy tropical preparations that belong to the class of chutneys and jams). The pickles are carefully prepared in bulk usually in summer or during the season of the particular fruit, and the jars stay in attendance day-in and day-out.
Non-natives may not have heard of the nutmeg fruit, much less of nutmeg pickles. The species is available aplenty in Indonesia, Kerala in south India, Malaysia and a few other tropical regions.
Thus far I was familiar with the potential use of only the inner parts of the fruit - the red petal-like delicate part called mace, and the seed kernel - understandable, because the mace and the seed profess several medicinal values, and are also used as flavouring for sweet and spicy dishes, and the outer flesh is forgotten, left to rot beneath the nutmeg tree.That's the fruit ready to shed the precious spices.

The vermilion coloured mace that covers the kernel has a leathery feel when it is prised from the kernel. Both the soft mace and the kernel that contains the seed are sun-dried before reaching the market.
For the pickle, you'll need the fleshy part (pericarp / pod) of the fruit - plucking it just when it's ready to split and shed the mace and the kernel.
Here are pictures from our pickle-making session, followed by the recipe.

For 10 fruits (about 300 gms of chopped outer flesh), you'll need about 75 gm red chilli powder (powdered dried cayenne pepper), 1 tsp roasted fenugreek powder, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, salt to taste.
Saute the pieces in oil till soft. Add salt and the rest of the powders, mix well, let cool and store in dry jars.
The nutmeg has a slight tangy taste, and the pickle perfectly accompanies any of the cooked rice dishes.
If the whole fruit is not part of your friendly neighbourhood grocer's stock, never fret; you could try out the recipe with raw mango, lime and other vegetable.
(Suggestion: Do arrive at your own proportions of the added powders. In India, we have regional variations in the degree of "hotness" of the pickle. You'll find some of the hottest pickles in regions of the hottest clime!)
Now that you've had a taste of our wonderful world in India, do visit many more worlds


Monday, July 06, 2009

Mangoes Gala - Man goes gaga!

Want to see mangoes, smell mangoes, taste mangoes, feel mangoes, and hear (the slurp of) mangoes all day? Answer Mango quiz, write mango slogans, buy mangoes, pickles, and plenty of other products by the crateful? Look out for next year's Delhi Mango Festival. We were lucky to have made it in time for the Delhi Tourism's 3-day show July 3-5, at Pitampura Dilli Haat), which more than made up for our sorely missed mango season in south India. ("what a harvest this year! you just missed it" was the refrain rammed into the ear all June when we holidayed in mango-rich Kerala)
Rows and rows of the aam-yet-khaas (common, yet special) fruit in umpteen shades of green, yellow, orange & red - Chausa, Safeda / banganapalli, Neelam, Totapuri, Rumani, Sukul, Cipia, Rari, Fazli, Lalo, Malda (Bihar's best), Aish, Mithua, Ichakdhari, kachakdhari, Dinga, Haldi, Sensation, Sharda, Ramkela, Pusa Surya, Amrapalli, 'Tommy Atkins', Kesar, Maya, Ambika,Vishwanath, Shubha Pasand, Dhobari, Lal sindoor, Motichur, Taimur Lang, Nawab pasand, Lakhan bhog, Arunima, Kalani, Dogala, Jardalo, Hathi dhol, Haldi chandan, kaale aam, Menaka, Prabhashankar, Suvarnarekha, Olur, Ram bhog, Krishna bhog, karela, sinchita, mahabali ....... Sonpari, Neeleshwar, Neelgoa, Neeluddin, (cross varieties) If only each of the 1000+ varieties reached the market!
This 2 kg specimen is named Mahabali, and comes from prize-winning Mustafa Orchards, Uttar Pradesh.

You could have your pick of pickled mangoes
The mango-eating competition. You are offered 3 kgs of choice fruit, and 3 minutes. I'd prefer to enjoy them away from the glare, perhaps curled up with 'The House of Blue Mangoes'!

ये आम फल थोडी है? ये ख़ास है! (pun intended)

Need I say more? This week we have all-mango menu chez nous.

Visit more worlds
A rather multi-lingual post, I notice.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Caution or Pessimism? You're welcome to decide

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Deft definitions - monlate season

It was nice to wake up to some semblance of showers this morning, as the India Met Department continues to await a change in season as eagerly as the citizens of Delhi and elsewhere in India.

Look up the Indian Monsoons

If you are thinking - "Don't tell me even cows do not move out without the umbrella in Kerala", you may just be right...

Whatever the etymology of 'monsoon', a bright, special someone-I-know aptly rebaptized this years's annual source of freshwater.

And now - the mon-sooner or -later winds beckon. Here I go..., after all, better monlate than monnever!

i am really, really, grateful to the monlates for ensuring that June did not go by without seeing an entry in this beloved-to-owner page.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Keeping it simple and sensible

'Sense and simplicity' may be a home appliance multinational's by-line, but a couple of entrepreneurs, one of them a Sainik School, Kazhakootam alumnus, seem to have demonstrated it in much more real terms.
SUVIDHA ELECTRONICS has recently come out with the pencil battery Mobile Charger - "a product that can charge any Mobile Phone using 4 pencil batteries.... This device will ensure that your Mobile is never switched off, even while travelling and you need not worry about power source. It is economical, handy, and easy to use. If you are interested to purchase this product, it will be couriered to you at your destination. The cost per piece including courier charges is Rs.200 anywhere in India."
(See Image and details of the product)
Kudos to the Kazhak spirit! Kudos also to the co-founder.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

holidays + summer rains = happiness

Why ever was I not down there with that kid? video
Here's another clipping - Dancing clothes-lines. If you have time, do watch!
PS - Did you wonder at the initial action? I guess he wanted a more powerful shower?

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cassia (Indian Laburnum) flowers - a 'Vishu'al treat

Many of Delhi's roads are lined by the Indian laburnum trees (Amaltas / golder Shower / Cassia fistula) , which are in full bloom in all their yellow glory in May (as summer travels northwards). Behold them, and celebrate Vishu with every eyeful...

More kanikonna / Indian laburnum / cassia posts here and here
(Views from Dwarka, a Delhi suburb, May 16)

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wry Take on the Election exercise

1. The index(ed) finger
For 5 Thursdays we will be watching candidates and voters showing off their index finger. To make out a voter from a candidate - just note whether the finger is pointed upwards (the voter invokes the divine superpower) or sideways (a pot/kettle calling his fellow kettle/pot black)

2. King-makers are more powerful
No candidate wants a decisive win. Everyone fondly hopes to 'play a major role post-poll' (aka king-making). Some perks of not being the major winner -
- You can take on contracts for ministerships for 5 years at the end of which you have sufficient funds for your next campaign.
- Someone else is wholly responsible
- you can critisize and wash hands off at the drop of a hat

3. Former speaker's Instructional Stint
Somenath Chatterjee is scheduled to open a different kind of 'Electoral College' to school old, new and rogue MPs. The syllabus will cover
- How to speak from the Well
- How to allow an MP to have his / her say
- How to participate in Q hour
- How to play to the (viewers') gallery
- Special classes to be conducted on shoe dodging. (It's not going to be long before an MP resorts to using shoes as projectiles)
(Commencement of classes will depend on minimum enrolment strength of 542)

4. Make hay while MP-ship lasts
5 years means endless opportunities for umpteen foundation stones that (grin and) bear your name, bountiful bytes with an ogling media, all-expenses paid holidays and trips whether office is in session or not.

5. Presupposing that at least a few MP's have public good in mind...
We could easily do away with the increasingly acrimonious campaign periods before poll date. The best and only occasions for campaigning ought to be the long and frequent periods between parliament sessions, whether the elected MP is part of the ruling coalition or part of the opposition. The MP and the party cadre can best use these periods of time to engage with the voters and take continuous stock of performance.

6. Claims of PM prospects
- I am the Illusionist, who can be Queen CM at state-level and PM at the Centre.
- I am a 'softy' by name only
- I was a deputy PM - for 5 years I had been so near yet so far!
- I have Gandhi as surname (non-Mahatma variety)
- I prefer PM-ship bestowed on me!
- I have the support of Indian Cricket ethos.
- I am the "rock star of saffron politics"


For a refreshing, forward-looking outlook, read this well-articulated piece "How we can reform the politician" by former IAF pilot MP Anil Kumar (who is listed in my attempt at Ideal 542!)

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Friday, March 27, 2009

There Is An Alternative!

If you think of the political scene in our country, over and above despair, the query ITNA (Is There No Alternative) invariably brings up the cliché 'TINA'. Perhaps we can now look forward to an immensely possible alternative.
You'll find Hasan Suroor's explanation on exactly such an idea
A Gandhian idea gets a British makeover extremely heartening - a change for the better is after all quite possible. In the UK there is a "high-profile campaign to reduce the dominance of organised political parties and provide a platform for citizens to contest elections as independent candidates".
Captain Gopinath of Air Deccan seems to have precisely these ideals when he decided to enter the election fray.
One would like to think there's still time now for someone to put together the Indian equivalent of The Jury Team - Politics without Parties (started by Sir Paul Judge)

(I realize I may have gone around in circles around this very same idea in these two posts - 'Leadership in short supply and Fittest minds in Needy Places.)

1. The Professionals' Party of India (PPI) is fielding candidates who want to make a difference.
2. Mallika Sarabhai, Meera Sanyal are candidates with intentions of making difference, independently of any party.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And now, Tipu's throne finial under the hammer

Here's an opportunity for India's diplomatic corps to do something worthwhile for the country. Time to launch a diplomatic offensive and retrieve our treasures from the plunderers. Either that, or ensure that they remain in museums for public display. If one were to give in to emotions, news of auction of (plundered) colonial takeaways gives a rather sick feeling.
Is there no one in the Empire who has a sense of right and wrong? Can't the Queen order the return of all things that were taken away for personal gain from one of her erstwhile colonies? They may have been intended as a victor's mementoes, but they should belong to the state, and remain as historical memorabilia, and not objects of personal greed, vanity or profit.
One of probably eight gem-studded gold finials (a decorative attachment to a larger structure) from Tipu Sultan's throne is scheduled to be auctioned on the 2nd of April. A search leads one to a project called The Tiger and the Thistle that 'focusses on Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India, 1760-1800', and makes interesting reading about items from Tipu's Srirangapatna.
These are images of finials from Tipu's throne from that Scottish exhibition.
Hope the diplomats put together their act soon, lest we continue to read about blatant misuse, typified by the phrase from a popular Tamil lyric 'kada thEngAyO vazhipuLLayArO' - meaning rob Peter, sell to Paul, pocket the loot...

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Monday, March 09, 2009

The Mughal Gardens

The Mughal gardens at India's Presidential residence are open to the public for a few weeks in Feb-March every year. We were able to log a visit on Sunday, just a couple of days before Gate No 35 is closed. And now I attempt to describe the visual delights on offer without the right kind of pictures.

That's right - being a VVIP enclosure, you are not allowed to carry the camera / mobile / handbag / car keys. (Good ideas of course for a proper, unencumbered stroll). Even my son's small notepad had to be deposited at entry.

How to get there - Reach North Avenue in the Presidential Estates, then you'll find ample parking. Sufficient arrangements are available for visitors - lockers, lounge areas, waterholes (only water), first aid, a horticultural info stall.

Herbal Garden - India's rich daily-use herbs basil, mint, fenugreek, ginger, garlic, asparagus and so many more, are well marked out. [If I had blindfolded my life-partner, he would have easily scored full marks in a 'find the herb' contest using just his nose - honest! We got to know of the herb in the next patch before we turned to see it or read the placard. Me - I am not very proud of my olfactory senses].
Musical fountain - You can sit in a lounge and enjoy watching the water dancing to popular numbers, and the very huge hybrid dahlias.
Bio-diversity park with 10 species of local fauna.
Main Mughal garden - If we had been the lone visitors, I would have felt like a queen (or Madame President!) having a private stroll amidst millions of flowers. As it was, this is about as close as you can get to the Indian President.
Rose Garden (also called purdah garden) A straight stroll under pretty creepers, with patches of rose varieties on either side.
Circular Garden - This is a set of stepped, annular riots of flowers, with a central fountain. If you ever wish to go round in circles, there is no better place!(picture courtesy http://presidentofindia.nic.in/)
Spiritual garden - A special enclosure for herbs and trees mentioned in India's ancient religious texts (tulsi, henna, kadamba, hibiscus, amla, olives, bamboo, to name some of the well-known species).
My takeaway (apart from pleasant memories of a family stroll in haloed precincts) - these flowers - the silk cotton flower and the flame of the forest.A welcome change from the concrete jungle I live in! I'll now look forward to a Nature Trail at the Presidential Estates.See more visions from around the world in My World Tuesday

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