Posts Tagged ‘summer’

The weather in Sweden

July 28, 2014

I was a bit worried about the weather when I was packing for Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. My friend, who lived in Sweden for many years, told me, “Sweden has two seasons: July/August, and winter.”

After all, I had this 23-kg limitation, and I couldn’t take too much warm clothing.So I packed one light jacket, a couple of shawls and scarves, and one ear-covering cap. I wore the heavier jacket on the flight.

But.

I didn’t realize egg-jackly what my friend said when she mentioned “July/August.”.

The temperature for the past several days has been 31 deg C (that’s 84 deg F) and a humidity varying between 75 ad 97 (I kid you not) per cent. I’ve been using a small, one-speed, folding bike with tiny tyres to get around, and believe me, one feels every degree of the heat and every per cent of the humidity when one is trying to crest the Himalayas (er, they feel like them) in the noonday heat.

Another fact I have learnt. These buildings (in one of which I am staying) have heaters, which are switched on in winter. But they have NO air-conditioning in summer, because probably they don’t HAVE summer. And forget fans.

Forget fans? When every muggy night, as I lie bathed in sweat, all I can think of is switching on the fan in my Bangalore bedroom and going peacefully to sleep? When I went to a couple of stores nearby, I did find pedestal and table fans for sale. But not wanting to put my friend to unnecessary expense, and adding to the junkola accumulation (I am here for aother week!) I didn’t feel like buying one.

I went to Denmark, and standing in the sun to watch the Changing of the Guard,in Copenhagen, I got blistered AND fried at the same time. Never has an ice-cream tasted as good as the one I got on the pier. I wanted to have another one to put down my perspiring back….Well, we got back to Sweden after some more travels which were, lucikly, not too bad. Once again, the temperature soared. cycled to and from work like a trooper.

But…by yesterday (Sunday) , both of us had had enough. “Let’s go fly a kite!” I yodelled. My friend looked at me in surprise. “Sorry! That’s a famous song from ‘Mary Poppins’,” I explained, I wanted to use the tune to sing, “Let’s go… buy a fan!” So off we went. Cycled off in the muggy heat, with Old Sol beating down on our helmeted heads as fiercely as he could, as if to make up for all the snowy, sleety, frosty, rainy mornings when he’d gone off to get some chai and left all the Scandinavians in the lurch.

We went to five stores. Why did we do that? Were we very choosy about the models of the fans and the colours we wanted (the fans we’d seen the previous week were all the reverse of Mr Ford and his model-T story…they were all white.) Oh, no! There was a simple reason why we went to store after store after store after store….there were NO fans!

Stores do change their layouts often, the better to trap the customer with more unplanned purchases, so initially, we thought they’d put the fans Somewhere Else. But when we finally located a store employee in Store no.1, we realized that the Else where they had put the Somewhere was…in Other Customers’ Homes! All the fans were sold out.

Having, ofkose, chosen the hottest part of the day (from 11am onwards) to do the FBE (Fan Buying Expedition), we went to Store no. 2. Then Store no. 3. Then Store no. 4. Puff-puff, pant-pant. Pedal-pedal-pedal. Puddle-puddle-puddle (of sweat.) Sweat trickling down along my ears, along my back, moistening the waistband of my trousers. I suggested to my friend in Store no. 4 that we just climb into one of the display camping tents and stay in the store for a couple of days. He wouldn’t listen, law-abiding nutcase that he is.

I made a Wise Prediction. Murphy’s Law mandated that we would find a fan, probably beat-up and not working, in Store no. 5. I was wrong, as usual. “Zere is a vairee few flaktar (fans),” the Pretty-Young-Thing-Who-Looked-Like-A-Nordic-Wax-Doll at the entrance told us. There WERE fans. They were NOT beat-up old ones, but new. There were actually three models. But…..

One looked like the head of a Storm Trooper from Star Wars. Another one was so small I had to close one eye to be able to see it inside its small metal cage. The third one had no wire or metal mesh at all. In each case, when I put my face about 3 inches from the revolving blades, I felt a faint stirring of a gentle zephyr. The beads of perspiration on my face laughed nastily, and rolled down a bit more victoriously. No wonder the third fan had no grille…it didn’t need one! All I needed to do was to put my pinky finger gently on one of the teensy-weensy plastic blades, and the fan stopped, timorous and worried, and eager to stop.

I had just finished a blistering summer in Bangalore, and come to Sweden. I knew that from here I would be going to St.Louis in August…triple-H…Hot, Humid, and Horrible. So I was very happy to be going to Sweden and Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, where the nip in the air would be very welcome.

Nip? Even the BUSES are not air-conditioned in the summer, they are only heated in the winter!…and remember..there are no water fountains…one has to BUY water, expensive Swedish Kroner water, everywhere!

Nip? The only nip I want to do is to NIP the rest of this trip and fly off to St.Louis, where at least everyone knows what summer is, and there is blessed air-conditioning, and my poor daughter bought me a table fan last year….

One thing you can say is very true…I am NOT a fan of the Swedish summer!

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Ales Stenar, Sweden, 040714

July 14, 2014

“Ale’s Stones (or Ales stenar in Swedish) is a megalithic monument in Skåne in southern Sweden. It is a stone ship, oval in outline, with the stones at each end markedly larger than the rest. It is 67-metres long formed by 59 large boulders, weighing up to 1.8 tonnes each,” says the Wiki.

We took the road from Tomelilla to Ystad:

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We passed some beautiful buildings on the way:

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It was wonderful to see so many cycles!

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One cyclist reminded me of me!

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We went through fields of poppies:

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and potatoes:

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We entered Kaseberga:

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I’d made a packed lunch, and we sat and ate it with relish!

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(That dahi is TEN PERCENT FAT!!!)

Both the cultivars and the wildflowers, like this Swedish Jasmine (or perhaps it is Mockorange?) were beautiful!

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This Hollyhock was nearly black!

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Nina id’d the Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), which can be medicinal or toxic to humans, depending on its use:

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Bluebells nodded in the breeze:

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Poppies laughed in the wind:

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They were beautiful, whether or not I knew their names!

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Imagine having rambler roses growing wild!

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The souvenir shop was very colourful:

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Some gates were obviously not used!

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Some wall decorations were lovely:

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We walked past this ancient cottage, dreaming in the sunshine.

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Who’s more beautiful…Nina or the poppies?

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Fat, woolly sheep were grazing everywhere:

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We approached the stone “ship”:

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We found some paragliding attempts in progress, but there was not a stiff enough breeze.

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We sighted the Baltic Sea:

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the cove had a sandy beach:

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At last we were near Ales Stenar:

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But you think I’m going to let you see it? I’d got sidetracked by some beautiful butterflies in the grass:

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The sea called everyone:

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Ok, ok! Here is the stone ship, from prehistoric times…

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I was again sidetracked by many larks, that went up in the air to sing:

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They landed again (I had to keep far from them!)

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Here’s a short video of their behaviour:

Back to the awe-inspiring Ales Stenar!

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Amongst the ancient stones, a traditional pastime, kite-flying, was being tried out:

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The grasses and the sea made a stunning combination!

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So did the wildflowers and the sky:

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A puff of wind would play parent…

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The product of this seed would set me dreaming in a different way 😀

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Houses talked about the past, too:

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Windows were works of art:

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Treasures lay spilled:

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Some houses were mute; it was their thatched roofs that harked back to ancient times, and it was as if an eye was open in that roof:

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Some of the houses were pretty old, too, if not pre-historic!

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I caught these two Hooded Crows, feeding:

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Avoiding the ice-creams and other calorific snacks, we got into Nina’s car and drove to Glimminghuse Castle…but that’s the next post!

July 11, 2014

I’ve been wandering around a good deal, and have got back to good internet connectivity. Here are two of the very interesting places I visited in the Skane area of Sweden, thanks to Nina Pries and her affectionate hospitality….

We decided to start with visiting Carolyn Pihl, who used to live in Sweden before she moved to the UK, and Donna Ruth Zabielski-Morillo, who came from the US to Spain to live, at the stuga (cottage) they’d rented out in Tomelilla. I dragged Prashanth Chengi along, too.

Here are Caro and Nina, who brought colour into my life when they visited me at Bangalore earlier!

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The cottage actually used to be the stables, and the weather-vane bears that out:

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The cottage is well-decorated and comfortable inside, too:

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A cute loft:

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A cute staircase to the loft:

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The old stable windows look wonderful:

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Some pleasant modern windows, too:

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Nice pics on the wall:

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We sat outside in the garden,

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scoffing doughnuts and swilling coffee:

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No one realized that there was a spider on the sun-umbrella over our heads:

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…so I didn’t tell them, either!

I liked this whale-in-the-wood just behind us:

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Manolo is a great raconteur, with a great sense of humour.

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Ray is rather quieter, but can come up with great one-liners! I wish I’d had more time with him…well…maybe tomorrow evening (we are meeting again, in Linkoping, hopefully.)

I wandered around the garden while the others chatted, and was enchanted by what I saw:

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This seemed to be the main house:

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Another house nearby:

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The view from there:

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The flowers in the garden included hollyhocks

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Pelargoniums (can I forget that I call Caro ….PQ, or Pelar Queen, or just Pelar Rani?)

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Daisies and roses:

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Snapdragons:

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Wild flowers delighted me, too:

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this, told me, is

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

…that is often used in preparations to help people sleep; it was also used as perfume in the past. Given its sweet scent, this is not surprising!

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Bees and other insects were at their pollination work, amongst the flowers:

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This barn had a Swallows’ nest, with the parents flying in and out:

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We went for a walk to a very old, ruined church nearby, which is still sometimes used for weddings:

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This Muscovy Duck was sitting in the stream that we crossed:

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A White Wagtail sat on top of the barn:

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We crossed fields of asparagus

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and horse-radish:

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A railway track, too…

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Local trains are purple!

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We came to the church:

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It lay, dreaming in the sunshine:

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The explanatory plaque was, of course, in Swedish!

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The gates were hospitably open:

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The very lichen on the rocks seemed mellow with age:

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Narrow, slit-windows spoke of defence against marauders, when a church was also a citadel:

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Photography was mandated!

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A pigeon seemed to be one of the present inhabitants:

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What scenes had these windows looked down upon? Now, like the eyes of a departed man, they were shut…

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The church did look like a face that was exclaiming at its own chequered past:

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Overhead soared a European Black Kite:

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The men were probably discussing how the hot weather was good for a beer!

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Here we are, photographing on our way back:

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The cattle made a pretty scene:

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Nina wanted to get to know the cattle better!

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I photographed my friends:

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After Tomelilla, we were going to Ystad…

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But that’s the next post!

Midsummer’s Eve, Linkoping, 200614

June 25, 2014

Though I’d asked Prashanth in the morning, he mistook the midsummer’s eve Maypole dancing to be taking place on the next day; at about 4pm, he realized his mistake, and we set off to the place where it was taking place.

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Here’s a video of the dancing that he took last year:

And of the music:

Though the dancing had finished, the maypole was still up:

We saw the Love Pavilion:

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There was a small stream:

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There was a pretty wooden bridge across it:

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Perhaps this gentleman was going over his memories, with that reminiscent smile on his face?

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There were plenty of flowers blooming:

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this Silverpil tree (Salix alba)

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had some beautiful bracket fungi:

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It is the custom on this day to wear crowns of wildflowers:

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But that doesn’t mean one can’t be in touch with modernity!

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The birds were there, too!

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There were some Vikings around:

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Some kind of game with wooden skittles was being played:

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I looked at some pretty old architecture:

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This is the Stora Hotel:

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Here’s coffee… by George!

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I loved this window:

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This one is from 1912!

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With some serpentine touches:

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Some shop windows looked inviting:

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So did this art gallery (it was closed, of course)

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Of course, the Tourist Bureau was closed, too!

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Let me close with this flower (probably a Columbine?)

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we then walked towards the Linkoping Cathedral…but that’s the next post!

When summer blooms…

May 9, 2014

The

GULMOHAR

is in full bloom in the heat of summer…to me, the red blooms symbolize Grishma Ritu.

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A tree from Madagascar, which has made itself part of the Indian landscape.

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An incredible fact is that in the wild, this tree is endangered!But it seems to have been introduced all over the world:

“Delonix regia is endemic to the western forests of Madagascar, but has been introduced into tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide. In the continental United States, it grows in South Florida, Southwest Florida, the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, ranging from the low deserts of Southern Arizona (to as high as Tucson), and Southern California. It also grows in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, Hawaii, Mexico (especially in the Yucatan peninsula), Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where it is the official tree of the islands. It is much loved in the Caribbean; many Dominican & Puerto Rican paintings feature Flamboyant Trees. It can also be found in The Bahamas. The Poinciana is the national flower of St. Kitts and Nevis. The island of Mauritius has widespread distribution of the Royal Poinciana where it announces the coming of the new year. The Royal Poinciana is regarded as naturalised in many of the locations where it is grown. It is a popular street tree in the suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. The tree is also found in India and Pakistan, where it is referred to as the Gulmohar, or Gul Mohr. In West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh it is called Krishnachura.”

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I remember an avenue on the Maidan in Kolkata being called Red Road because it was an avenue of Gulmohar trees, and approaching aircraft during the British Raj, which used the road as a runway during WW2, seeing a carpet of red…which you can see in my photograph, too!

And here are the other colours of summer flowers on our roads:

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Am mad about Am….

April 15, 2014

Mangifera Indica-Summer in India

When you’re facing the summer sun
When your skin burns and it’s no fun
To walk in the sunshine, it’s too bright
The summer glare hurts your head and sight…
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

You pick up the fruit, scattered all round
Or in the market they can be found.
Small and raw, or with golden ripe sheen
Or any of the stages that happen in between,
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

Made into pickle or eaten with salt
Made into milkshakes or a thick juicy malt
Any of the numerous varieties you get
To crunch, or down your throat the smooth fruit you let
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

Other times of the year, you may not really see
The beautiful leaves, the bark of this tree
But when the fruit in bunches is hung
About the mangoes paeans are sung!
You’ve got mangoes on your mind….

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Summer is awful, hot and sticky,
About many fruits you’re choosy and picky:
But when it comes to the King, mango…
Into transports of delight you go…
You’ve got mangoes on your mind!

here

are pickles

and

here

is the fruit

Oh, this wonderful delectation…I am an Am aurat, and I am certainly an “Am Admi Paati”!

A foot…and four hands in summer….

April 1, 2014

I got two images at Bannerghatta, which I liked…

A decorated, adorned foot..I was amazed at the craftsmanship of the anklet, and I enjoyed the fact that the young woman obviously likes to wear such jewellery.

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And this image, to me is redolent of the joys of summer. Ice-cream, and a visit to the Zoo, with the family…

Will post later, about my outing to Bannerghatta Zoo area, where I concentrated more on clicking trees and less on the birds….

The pleasures of summer…Mango Pickles!

April 19, 2011

One of the pleasures of the summer is certainly….mangoes! From the most unripe to the most ripe, we can enjoy mangoes in a variety of ways…and with unripe mangoes, we can make a variety of pickles.

It suddenly occurred to me that right now, I’ve got three different mango pickles in my kitchen…all home-made!

When the mangoes are tiny, they are called (in Tamizh)…mA vadu. This particular pickle is made by a process where the juices of the tiny mangoes flow out with the salt in which they are soaked. With proper preparation and storage (and frequent “shaking up”), this pickle can last for a year or so. I no longer have the ceramic “jAdi” in which pickles are traditionally stored, but here’s my photo of “mAvadu”:

mAvadu 190411

When they are slightly larger, but yet without hard stones, mangoes can be chopped small, and made into “menthiya mAngAi”. This pickle also uses roasted and ground fenugreek seeds, as well as asafoetida. This pickle does not have a long life, but will keep in the fridge for a few days (the mango pieces lose their crunchiness after this.) Here’s menthiya mAngAi:

menthiya mAngAi 190411

Larger mangoes, with hard stones, cannot be cut at home, usually; the shopkeeper cuts them into largish pieces, and they are made into “AvakkAi”…a pickle that originates in the Andhra region. This, too, can keep for a year or so. Here’s AvakkAi:

Avakkai 190411

I also wanted to photograph the ripe Alphonso mangoes that KM had bought (the first and, alas, the most expensive, of the season!) but I realized that they were already eaten, too! Will wait for the next lot.

Some of the flowering trees of Bangalore…

March 17, 2011

As you go around the city, don’t forget to see the flowers of spring and summer, in all their glory…..here they are:

Schefflera actinophylla or
Brassaia actinophylla, the Rain Tree:

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Tabebuia argentea (or Tacoma argentea), the Golden Bell or Trumpet:

tabebuia argentea

Couroupita guianensis, the Cannonball tree (Nagalinga):

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The flower has a faint and lovely smell:

Cannonball(Couroupita guianensis)

Milletia ovalifolia, Moulmein Rosewood:

Milletia ovalifolia (Moulmein Rosewood)

Grevillea robusta, Silver Oak:

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Ceiba pentandra, a variety of Silk-Cotton:

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In this tree,the silk-cotton has burst through the pods:

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This one’s the flower of the Bombax (or Ceiba) malabaricum:

bombax malabaricum flower

Kigelia pinnata, the Sausage tree:

The flowers and leaves look like this:

sausage tree flowers on stalks

and the fruits look like this:

sausage tree fruits

Anthocephalus cadamba, the Kadamba:

kadamba flower with bee Anthocephalus cadamba and Nauclea cadamba of the Rubiaceae family

Cassia fistula, the Indian Laburnum, or Golden Shower :

indian laburnum in flower

Butea monosperma , the Flame of the Forest (Palash):

Palash (lac)  (Kumkum tree)flowers, Lalbagh 7 Mar 07

Saraca asoca, the Sita Ashoka:

Unknown flower, Lalbagh 7 Mar 07

Tabebuia rosea, the Pink Poui:

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Delonix regia, the Mayflower (Gulmohar):

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Carea arborea (I don’t know the common name):

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Erythrina indica, the Indian Coral Tree:

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Jacaranda mimosaefolia, the Jacaranda:

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Firmiana colorata, Coloured Sterculia (this is not a very common tree though)

Firmiana colourata (Coloured sterculea)

Plumeria species, Frangipani:

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Colvillea racemosa, Colville’s Glory:

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Spathodea campanulata, the African Tulip:

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Here’s a closer shot:

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Dillenia indica,the Elephant Apple:

Flower of the Elephant Apple Tree (a variety of magnolia)

Peltophorum pterocarpum ,the Copper Pod or Copper Shield Bearer:

In this picture, the yellow flowers that carpet the ground have not yet appeared, but you can see why the tree gets its common name:

Copper Pod or Copper Shield Bearer

Here, the yellow flowers have appeared:

copper pod tree 200311

Brassaia actinophylla, the Umbrella (or Octopus) Tree:

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Check out my Nature Guru (S.Karthikeyan)’s list

here

and

here

Mark the majesty of the trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, and release oxygen into the air….

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Enjoy the serial flowering (flowering of different trees all through the year) that was made possible by the botanist,

Gustav Krumbiegel

Sometimes, just the emerging new leaves look as beautiful as flowers….

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See these leaves of a tree of the Terminalia species!

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The best lists of all are Karthik’s,

here

and

here

Mango Pickles….

April 30, 2007

This one is for shortindiangirl,thaths and my non-Indian friends….

Here are four varieties of homemade mango pickles:

Mango Pickles, 30 Apr 07

Starting from the 3 o’clock position and moving clockwise (do youngsters today know what 3o’clock position is, and what clockwise is?)…

3o’clock: Maavadu

6o’clock: Menthiya Maangaai

9o’clock: Maangaa Thokku

12o’clock: Aavakkaai

(those are the phonetic spellings…all names are in Tamizh!)

Mavadu:

Some varieties of mangoes are plucked when really tiny to make Maavadu (Vadu means “small one”…it is often used to refer to a young boy who is having his sacred thread ceremony, too.) The tiny mangoes are washed, dried and then soaked in salt,and ground chili powder and mustard…they slowly let out their juices and become prune-like in their shrivelled appearance.

Menthiya Maangai:

Slightly larger mangoes, still very sour and hard to the touch, are used for menthiya maangai. Cut finely, they are mixed with salt, and chilli powder, roasted fenugreek seed powder, and asafoetida powder is put on top of them, and then hot oil in which mustard seeds have been popped is poured over the powder. Then it’s mixed thoroughly. This pickle cannot keep for very long.

Maangai Thokku:

When the mangoes are a leeettle more ripe, they are grated and then Maangai Thokku is made. Mustard seeds are popped in oil, and then chilli powder, menthiyam and perungaayam(fenugreek and asafoetida) powder added, and then the mangoes and a little vellam (jaggery) (optional)…and the whole cooked. This pickle also needs refrigeration.

Aavakkai:

The larger mangoes, in fact, mangoes which are specifically grown for Aavakkai, are used for this pickle. The shopkeeper usually cuts the mangoes into chunks. A lot of preparation goes into the making of Aavakkai, which involves,again, salt, chilli powder, sometimes garlic…and (I am not joking) some traditional ladies in one area of Andhra Pradesh make this pickle in the buff, for fear of contamination and consequent going bad. Well made, this pickle can keep for several years, until the chilli powder loses its pungency, or the mangoes become less crisp.

Everyone this time pronounced my pickles to be perfect. Ah, the delight of having mango oorgai (pickles) with thayir shaatham (well-boiled, sticky-soft rice mixed with home-set, slightly-sour curds/yogurt) is indeed heaven…hameen ast, hameen ast, hameen ast.