Monday, June 4, 2012

Let's wrap it up!

How easy is it to fix a wrap dinner!

A humble roti+chopped lettuce+broccoli bake+mutton      mince sausage+relish= ta da!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Two weeks back J and S visited us.To welcome them and gift them something personal I chose to make one of my signature pieces. Fabric that had been silk-painted to begin with, and then, quilted and embroidered. My inspiration was to do a little Tamil Nadu-Texas-Tango. Why not take the iconic Kolam and meld it on to some saguaro motifs ( more Arizona, I agree) and a central, silver and turquoise accent to complete the pic? This is how things went. These two frames show the progress of my work. This was lastly trimmed with hand-painted, blue-green silk and packed away into a certain suitcase and will be winging its way to Texas very soon!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Story of Two Busy Birds

Last week we spotted a beautiful, orange-backed bird with a sharp hooked beak. This bird had dark, kohl-lined bright eyes. We checked our bird-book to find that she was a shrike.

This shy bird darted in and around the honeysuckle arbor. We stopped to watch the shrike quietly. We found they were really a pair of them working very hard. It was fun to hide and spy on the goings and comings of these birds.

Little did they know that they were being watched. Both brought twigs and bits of old, tattered pieces of cloth to the arbor. Hmmm....a nest! When the birds were away on one of their trips, we decided to take a peek... and guess what we found.....!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, every morning and evening we'd take quick peeks into the arbor..but try never to disturb the Daddy bird and Mommy bird. This continued for two whole weeks. The shrikes seemed very puffed up and proud looking each time we spotted them on a nearby tree or bush. There HAD to be a good reason for this. We carried a chair into the garden and stood on it to get a good look... and you are right! Yesterday was a sweet surprise for us. There were eggs in the nest..Not one, not two, not three..but FOUR cream colored,speckled eggs! Oh what a delight!
Now the wait begins..16-20 days later these eggs should hatch .....if all goes well. We have our fingers crossed and our camera ready. Are you curious to see the next stage in this story?

Ok.. here goes..first the excitement of the eggs having hatched! Hurray!..The sight of 4 fleshy, pink, bald birdies was a bit anti-climatic.. no cuteness here.. rubbery creatures..

we were willing to give them time to put on some make-up and get their feathery costumes on...  

From sealed-shut eyes the chickees went on to develop black-berry eyes, just like their parents. Their beaks remained wide.. but their ..goodness.. their mouths were open wide all the time! They were eating machines. The parents were, I am sure, running/ flying ragged feeding these monsters..( well in a cute way)! Tick tock tick tock... with the passing of 3 more weeks this is the pic I have for you!                                                                              

It's now, two weeks since the chickees made their first test-flight... they made short flits from branch to branch. The nest could no longer hold these furry feather balls! Mum and Dad fed them diligently.. they now had to make long-distance sorties to locate their babies from the myriad cheep-cheeps we heard from around the garden..The "cheeps" sometimes sounded like "Hurry up Dad..I am starved!"..haha

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reaching out!

If it's Tuesday then it must be time for some health outreach work in Pallangi, a village some 10 kms from the heart of Kodaikanal town. A local hospital has begun a small clinic for the benefit of folks who live in Pallangi and its surrounding hamlets. Two good-humored doctors and two volunteers make up the team. A variety of volunteers have enjoyed giving of their time. We have had teenagers (currently on school vacation) coming here to spend 4 hours of their otherwise "sleep/ laze/ Facebook" time. I have been in Pallangi for 5 Tuesdays and am beginning to know faces, remember names of the villagers there. Its a health check-up time as much as it is a time to socialize.
The usual complaints that the doctors attend to: colds, coughs, aches and acidity. The average age profile of patients is between 55- 70 and a majority of our patients are men. We have registered over 200 new patients in just over a month. But from my experience, one thing is clear. If we could improve the basic hygiene and nutrition of Indians across the country then the need to visit doctors, consume tablets and the quest for the next "oosee" ( Tamil for 'injection') would be put to rest.
Another sad reality that hit me hard was the fact that the elderly ( 70 and beyond) folk even in rural India are facing destitution. The concept of the joint family is but a weak one. Families are increasingly likely to turn out the unhealthy, penniless elderly members. It was very very depressing to see an old man by the name of Ramasamy who was completely hard of hearing. With great effort and much shouting we learnt that he lives in a bus shelter and all he eats is the free rice he obtains from the PDS shop. What nourishment is this man ever going to get?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Middle Eastern Magic

There is no denying that some of the finest foods are from the Middle East and the Levant. The food in this region is diverse and yet there is a unifying thread that runs from as far west as Morocco to the eastern shores of Oman!Some commonly used ingredients that one can get easily enough now in India are Olive oil, Olives, parsley, apricots, dates. Bulghur wheat for tabouleh is widely available. Mint, honey, sesame seeds, chickpeas are generally handy in most kitchens. Healthy choices, colorful, flavored with herbs instead of being over-powered by masalas and easy to make! All these reasons make Mediterranean options a great hit in our home.Succulent skewered meats, dips, a variety of salads and that oh-so-comforting pita bread! Hmm.. If you remove the myriad dips you have removed the essence of the cuisine. Hummus, baba ghanouj, labneh, the smoky aubergine-walnut dip from Turkey called muhammara, toum from Lebenon! The list is endless. Get yourself a good food processor and some basic ingredients like sesame seeds, olive oil, and some sumac and you could be the king ( or the queen ) of dips.
I love Med desserts too. Baklavas are a tad bit rich but delicious. The ones that are easier and less calorific are the oft-made yakh dar behest, basboosa, mamool, aysh al saraya.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cinnabar dinners

Hmm..that struck me as possible fodder for blogs! At Cinnabar we mull over every meal. We make lists, we draw up plans..short of murdering one another we get our 2-bits heard. Meals are the all-holy moments in our lives. Anticipation precedes every meal. Eating our dinners quietly..oh forget it! Savoring, critiquing, suggesting, comparing, even photographing the meal once its been served! Ah these are the meal time rituals followed scrupulously in Cinnabar. Ah! I did leave out a critical aspect of meal times. We invariably PLAN the FOLLOWING meal then and there! Every fam has a host of meal time faves. Some of ours have been photographed and I think I will post some of these hits here. And build as I go along.
This was a particularly smackalicious sort of dinner. Fries, awesome avocados that only Kody can offer, a fork-lickin' good tomato herb sauce, and with it fish steaks marinaded 5 hours ahead of pan-searing in olive oil! Voila! How simple and how nutritious!

Menu 1 Potato latkes
Marinated and pan-seared boneless chicken
A big mug of emerald green spinach soup

Menu 2 French fries ( par boiled and then shallow fried ) I am a scrooge when it comes to deep frying!
Herbed tomato salsa
Fish steaks in a dill sauce ( marinade with salt pepper lemon juice dill & garlic) Pan sear 10 minutes before meal
Fresh avocado ..

The simpler the dinner the funner!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book cover illustrator..wheeee

Now, that's a lofty title -"Book Cover Illustrator"! Rini asked me to design the cover of her book. A book that covers Intellectual Property issues .Weighty, eh? Don't get carried away that a swish of the brush, stroke of color ( some luck, too) and some dab of paint is all it takes. To design a cover you need to know what goes under it, right? That was a task I had to surmount. Rini is wont for using large words, actually unknown to my 46 year old ears. I had to contend with concepts such as 'hermeneutic' theories and "tropes of nature and mind" which were casually thrown at me by this childhood friend of mine. I did the obvious thing. Scurry to the nearest dictionary. Meaning, I opened another window on my laptop..all fine..but I also had to engage the muscle between these 46 year old ears to understand what said. It amazes me how some folks which include Michelle, Madhu and Rini are all at it- on and on - in the pursuit of excellence in academia ( might I add, at this age!). Quitting work has brought on a comfortable sense of laziness in me. I am content to get up at eight!! I recall times when I would be up at the cracko'dawn. No more for me, those busy times. Get me that foot stool. Switch on the sunshine. Let me listen to the same old songs again and again and again. Let the world jump on to newer, faster treadmills. I am willing to smile and wave to the rats.
ok..where were we?? Ah ..yes.. designing the cover happened in 2 hours flat but not till I figured out what was in Rini's mind. This friend wanted me (moi) to work a certain Dali painting into the theme. She was enamored with "The Three Sphinxes". This involved reading reviews of this Dalian piece of art.
That done, I proudly arranged my wonderful collection of watercolors. Admired them. Got to work. Voila! Must confess.I produced something at the end of this labored, cerebral effort. Phew! Now lets see what the ( picky) publisher says!
OUP used my artwork and did a nifty layout!