Archive for August, 2011

Tapena wine, feta cheese, honey goat cheese, cilantro sour cream cheese, and indian cheese 280811

August 30, 2011

KM had brought back a selection of cheeses from the US, so when some friends suddenly decided to drop in, out they came, along with some Tapena wine….

Tapena wine, feta cheese, honey goat cheese, cilantro sour cream and indian cheese 280811 ca

Some of the cheeses were not very solid, and some rather crumbly, so we couldn’t really set it out artistically.

cheese spread 280811 ca

It was also an experiment, photography-wise…I realize cheese is not greatly amenable to a flash!

flash cheese 280811

Here we are, helping ourselves:

cheese guests 280811

I wanted to focus on the wine first:


And then on the wine, woman (and cheese!)….

wine WOMAN 280811

I then realized that the best way to get the colour of the wine was to get it against the light.

wine agnst light 280811 ca

Bannerghatta Zoo area, 280811

August 30, 2011

Though I had planned to go on the Bird Watchers’ Field Club 4th Sunday outing to Sarjapura, several friends persuaded me to go to the Zoo area instead (which is, anyway, a great favourite with me!)…so off we went in the cool, cloudy, misty morning.

ALL of my photos are on the Facebook album,


…but here are some of the things we sighted, and I captured.

After meeting up (the usual starting point is Shoppers’ Stop, on Bannerghatta Road), we had our mandatory chai stop at the Bannerghatta Police Station (not AT…near!) and when we started our trail, the very first bird to greet us was this



The NTP members were:


and myself;

The other friends were:


Chandu took a lot of trouble to come…he lives quite a distance away!

Alas, we were not allowed to go on the path towards the Butterfly Park, so we walked along the Hill View restuarant perimeter, and it was nice to see the mark of an elephant’s presence:


You can see the human foot for size reference!

The monsoon has brought out the


all over the paths, and here’s one variety, the

Nephila maculata


enjoying Sunday breakfast.

Another variety,

Nephila kuhli


also looked beautiful with its black body and orange-red legs!

Apoorva, Sanjeev’s daughter, is very sharp-eyed, and spotted this “jigsaw” of



in the ditch.

A little later, it was lovely to see two camp elephant calves, walking around, grazing, under the watchful eyes of their mahout:


Even when we wound up the outing and went for breakfast (our usual venue now is Upahara Banashree, near the NICE Road junction), we found a lot of interesting things just outside the restaurant, such as an almost-part-of-the-landscape Rock Agama, and these lovely


mushroom large 280811 bgz

Dr Sanjeev told us that these are called “art mushrooms” as very often, artists paint them and give them to visitors, in the UK!

In the grass nearby, we spotted these two mating Damselflies,


LRG 280811 dmslfly mtg

When we dropped off Radha at her apartment complex, the road was strewn with flowers from the


(Indian Cork)



We returned home after a very pleasant morning, with memories of this pavilion in the Zoo area:

How the day gets hijacked…mostly MY fault!

August 27, 2011

Today…was supposed to be a day of intense writing. Having watched the play, “Amrita, A Sublime Love Story”, at Ranga Shankara, I am supposed to do the research on Amrita Pritam (and her abiding love for the lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi) and write the review for City Buzz. (I typed City Buss…!) Then, for Citizen Matters, I am writing about Priya Venkatesh’s trip to the South Pole…the first woman from Bangalore to have visited this continent.

So what happens? I go for a walk with KM and two of our friends who live in Muscat. Then I go to the garage to give in the car for tinkering and painting and get back by bus. The power, and the UPS, both fail throughout the morning and I cannot use my laptop after the battery fails. I get a call from the Bank that my internet activation kit has arrived, and rush to pick it up. I realize that I must send the acknowledgement form by post, so it’s off to the Post Office. Then I realize I’d better try and activate AM’s account, for which I’ve sent off the acknowledgement form about 10 days ago (presumably they’ve got it now…they won’t deign to let me know, of course!)

So it’s 3.15 pm now, and instead of getting started on the review, at least (oh yes, I’ve just *opened* the wiki about Amrita Pritam:

read the wiki, her life is fascinating!

and then, instead of going ahead with the task, I am, of course, writing this! I definitely am a citizen of a different nation….Procrasti Nation.

OK, let me crack the whip over myself, and get to the salt mines now…

Morning newspapers

August 26, 2011

This was brought on by a discussion on Facebook, after I’d posted an observation, that the front page headlines of newspapers remain the same all the time… Vikram Hiresavi suggested I begin to get along without newspapers.

But I still like my newspaper mornings!

When I am in the US, I do get along, for the most part, without the daily newspaper…I don’t find the need for them. However, even there, on most mornings, I buy the St.Louis Post-Dispatch, as I like to scan through it for the local news (that’s how I learn of many events…and, for example, I learnt that there were newborn Cheetah cubs in St.Louis Zoo), and I like to get myself my usual tiny cup of coffee and browse.

In Bangalore, of course, newspapers form a big part of our mornings.KM wants several financial papers, so we get the Deccan Herald, the Hindu, the Business Standard, and the Business Line. Sometimes I get the Economic Times, too, and on Sundays, the Times of India as well.

I come back from my walk between 6.30 and 6.45 am, and the Wait begins.

No matter how many times I tell my newsagent that I want the newspapers delivered early, it’s past 7am, and usually 7.15am, by the time I hear the sound of the newspapers. The sound of the newspapers?….our news delivery boy ( Chinnu, a young man who goes to college after this morning job is done) wants to save time, and to avoid another scolding for being late, by sliding them down the passage leading to our apartment, and vanishing down the lift or the stairs before I can come out!

When we moved into our apartment, the previous owners had used a longish slab of granite for something else. I had that made into a kind of bench, and I’ve put it on our balcony. The newspapers are placed on this, and I get KM’s tray of tea ( This KM Tea Ceremony requires a post of its own. Nothing other than Darjeeling tea will do, and it has to be brewed specially in a slightly warmed teapot, and served on a tray with a cup and saucer, and a strainer) and my tiny cup of filter kaapi (I’ve become used to the “baitu kaapi” amounts in the Darshinis…I love the small amount of piping hot coffee, that I can have without worrying about calories or caffeine.) Sometimes, I cut up fruits and we have a platter of mixed fruit, too.

You’d think that when we have so many newpspapers, we’d have got into an amicable arrangement about who reads what first. Oh no. BOTH of us want to read the Deccan Herald first, for some unfathomable reason. However, we generally compromise. I am the one who likes to read the various supplements of the newspapers…KM is the one who likes to read the weightier columns, the opinions and, of course the financial news. Sometimes, we compare notes after reading one newspaper, and it’s as if each of us has read a different newspaper, so mutually exclusive is the content that each of us reads!

Of course, one of the attractions in the newspapers, for me, is the cryptic crossword. I love doing the Economic Times and the Deccan Herald ones (the Deccan Herald Saturday crossword is like a treat that I look forward to every week…aha, tomorrow is Saturday!) and though I don’t like the Business Standard crossword too much, and actively detest the Hindu one, I’ll stoop to doing them, too, if I don’t have a choice (if the Deccan Herald is not delivered, for example).

Along with the Newspaper Ceremony, I also have the TV on. I say this because I don’t always WATCH the TV, mostly I just listen to the old songs…7am to 8 am, it’s Hindi movie songs, and then it’s Tamizh classic movie songs. At 8.45 or 9am, I also tune into Madras “A” and listen to Arangisai, which features Carnatic music. On Sundays, if I am home (it’s usually my nature trail day) I listen to Rangoli on DD1…again, old Hindi songs.

The newspaper time is often punctuated by a Skype session with KTB and her parents in distant St.Louis. Since MS took over Skype, the voice quality has become dreadful, so we tend to use Google video chat instead. It’s a delight to watch Miss Hurricane Hair at her dinner, playing with her toys, or showing us her books…and to speak with the several friends who drop in during the evening.

At about 9am, the NC comes to a close, and KM goes off for his shower and preparations for the drive to Hosur, and I begin to think of the kitchen chores, and my work for the day….I fold the newspapers neatly and KM takes some to Hosur with him, and I stack the others in a cupboard, to be given to the old-newspaper shop (the money is donated to a charity at the end of the month.)

So it’s going to be a long while before I give up the newspaper habit!

God and the priest

August 24, 2011

At dawn this morning, I was standing in front of the Raghavendra matth (religious centre), when the temple was opened, and I watched the priest:

rghvndra temple 240811

He brought a large vessel of water, and proceeded to ring the puja bell, and started washing down the various idols..Hanuman….Vishnu….

rghvndra temple 2 240811

No one was watching; the priest did his duties out of his own sense of devotion. What is the impulse, I wonder, that makes devotees perform these cleansing rituals on these representations of God? Is it the thought of indulging the gods, with very luxury that they would themselves like to have? But then, I do not think human beings bathe in honey, milk, curds and sandalwood paste, the way we bathe our gods. So why these rituals? I feel it might be better to spend this amount of time serving food to poor people…but I suppose each of us has a different way of looking at religious rites…and I was certainly impressed with the meticulous way in which the priest went about his duties.

Perhaps this is what true religion is…doing one’s duty, even when no one (except God, and in this case, an unknown observer) is watching.

Arranged marriage…a video, and my thoughts

August 23, 2011

They talk about 90% of marriages in India and show only the urban, educated people who are equal to each other, which is a miniscule minority in our country. In most marriages, the woman has hardly any say in the process. And the fact that only 5% end in divorce…is often NOT because the marriage is successful….it’s because other options are not feasible.

If all marriages could take place after such honest dialogue (and notice, the guy professes his strong predeliction within a short time and bowls her over)….probably marriages would be 100% successful.

Within the very narrow framework of the English-speaking, “both-are-equally-educated-articulate-and-honest” urban youth…it’s a well-made video….but extrapolating to the entire Indian scenario is not a valid step at all. The guy that brings them the tea/coffee…how does HIS wedding process go? In all probability, he goes to his village, where his parents have selected a girl for him, depending upon what she can earn, and what dowry she’ll bring (oh yes.)…and he’s the one who can agree or refuse, not her.

My maid got married when I was away in the US. She is all of 23, and her family has been very worried because three or four prospective grooms said “no” to her because she is “dark” and “fat”. She came back home to spend the inauspicious month (AshAdhA, or Adi) at her mother’s place.

Her husband was with her, and would not even allow her to come and visit the people for whom she worked (she was like family to me.) I just spoke to her on the phone, and I might not see her even when she comes for Deepavali, because, once again, she will be accompanied by her husband, who will dictate what she can and cannot do.

From being a free bird, who was earning well, had a happy circle of friends, she’s become a young woman who is not going to be allowed to work, must spend the days doing housework and gossiping, with the wings of her independence clipped. And why? Because the astrologer decreed that if she doesn’t get married now, she will never be married, and she will be an obstacle to the marriage of her sisters, and a waiting-in-the-wings cousin.

“They don’t beat her,and he doesn’t drink”, her sister tells me, trying to find some good in this alliance. Then she gets to wondering, “How is she going to live this kind of tied-down life?”

I have nothing against arranged marriages…when they are entered into with free choice on both sides. Alas, that does not happen often, in our country.

Sharing the pavement…

August 23, 2011

Walking down Malleswaram, I saw this strangely moving sight….it shows that our footpaths are put to far more uses than the BBMP envisions…

man and do large 200811

A man and a dog often share a home…but sharing a home on the pavement….and peacefully asleep together…the sight was odd, and eloquent of poverty in our city.

Everyone identifies…

August 23, 2011

Not everyone is capable of starting a revolution, but sometimes, when one person stands up for a cause, many others identify with him.

One of the moving scenarios about the slave, Sparatacus,occurs in the movie of the same name ….when the Roman masters come looking for him and ask, “Who is Spartacus?” so that they may punish him, each man in the hordes of slaves stands up, saying, “I am Spartacus!”..identifying with the rebel, and confusing the Romans utterly.

The same sense of identifying with someone has occurred recently, all over India….

large 200811

I hope we continue to identify with Anna Hazare in our actions, as well as in our thoughts.

The Knife-sharpener

August 23, 2011

knife sharpener

Though the small streets and the lanes he goes,
His voice echoing around.
He calls aloud, this sharpener of knives:
They hear him, the mothers, the sisters, the wives:
Each busy housewife knows
That he’ll set the wheel on the ground:
The sparks will fly as he steps on the pedal:
Sharper and sharper gets the now-shiny metal:
He pockets the small sums that he’s paid,
Perhaps drinks a cup of tea that someone’s made…
Then he’s off again, with his clarion call,
Whoever needs his work…he goes to serve them all.

I heard his “clarion call” (in Chennai, what he calls is, “katthi shAAAAAAAANAAAAA!”) and rushed out on to the balcony to photograph his retreating form…

This post was made in LiveJournal on Dec 4, 2009:

A sense of humour….my questions

August 23, 2011

On my Facebook page, I posted a joke that was sent to me by a friend, and talked about one of the first jokes he’d enjoyed…and that set me musing about that sense that seems fairly rare in the animal kingdom…the sense of humour.

All babies seem to start laughing and smiling quite early, but at some point in their lives, it’s not just happiness that prompts the smiles or laughter, but “funny” situations. When we pull faces at them, or make “funny” noises, they react with laughter.

But unlike other milestones, the development of one’s sense of humour seems to pass almost unnoticed. When does one learn to appreciate absurdity, irony, and parody? When does one learn about the fun of wordplay and puns? Humour, to a great extent, is the putting together of unexpected elements…when does one learn to do that?

Often, a sense of humour also means, being free of ego and being able to laugh at oneself. Is this the same as laughing at other things in the world?

We all know some people of our acquaintance who are more “humourous” than others. They can say things which set people laughing. What sets these people apart from those who don’t have the ability in the same measure? How are they able to spot the humour in a situation, and articulate it, in a pithy few words or sentences?

What makes people suddenly come up with very humorous words? Why is a sense of humour sometimes cruel and biting as well? How often have I seen someone taking a witty dig at another person..who is discomfited at the ensuing laughter! What distinguishes “cruel” humour from “kind” humour? Why is unkind humour still so funny?

I don’t find that a generally happy outlook in life is a pre-requisite for a good sense of humour; sometimes happy people are so contented that they don’t seem to need a great sense of humour. But I do know that the nicest people can sometimes be without a sense of humour, and that can make them utter bores!

Then there are the people who can appreciate, and crack, jokes about everything else under the sun…except themselves. Would I be able to say these people lack a sense of humour, when they can obviously laugh at other things?

What would be a more “adult” sense of humour, compared to a “schoolboy” sense of humour, with its implied crudity? How would I say that someone’s sense of humour is “sophisticated”…especially when such persons can enjoy the “slipping on a banana skin” joke as much as ever?

A sense of humour is one of the “subtle” senses that a human being has….I think it’ the best “sixth sense” that we have!

Oh..the “schoolboy humour” joke that set this train of thought chugging from the station?

Teacher to student: “Who is Gandhiji’s son?”
Student: “Dineshan”
Teacher: “What? That is rubbish”
Student: But sir, you taught us that Gandhiji is the father of Dineshan”

I don’t know if my sense of humour has stagnated…but I had a hearty laugh at this!