Monday, February 28, 2011

Believe it or not!

Emreen awarded me this.....but it comes at a huge price. I cannot just graciously accept it and sit back and purr! Nope, I have to now reveal 7 things about myself...dark dreaded secrets that no one knows about me! I've done this before, but there's plenty more where that came here goes:

1. I'm allergic to some of the best things in life - wine/champagne, chocolates and custard apples! Wine I can do mostly without and it doesn't bother me that I cannot have it, except for those special times when everyone is toasting a great event - yes, like at my son's wedding - and I'm sipping nimboo pani!!!! Chocolates I don't care for anyway, but those custard apples....I really wish I could eat those. When our tree is bent over double with thick heavy fleshy fruit, my husband gloats cos he knows he gets to eat them all!!! 

2. I'm a bit depressed....well maybe not depressed, that's too strong a word, but a bit bummed I'm turning 50 in about a month! I remember when I was 15 and I thought my 30 year old aunts were old! But I keep telling myself age is only a number...age is only a number....age is only a far its not working!

3. Speaking of age and getting older, I rashly promised my son - oh about 15 years ago when I still had ALL BLACK hair - that I would NEVER color my hair! I safely and confidently assumed I had taken after my mom who today at 70, has 3 grey hairs on her head! But...I took after my dad instead, who turned completely gloriously grey by the time he was 50, and am beginning to see signs of the "G" on my head! But a promise is a promise (and he never lets me forget it either)...maybe it will end up being the arty, sophisticated salt and pepper look...?

4. I love babies. The fatter and cuddlier the better, but I love all babies. Till they're about 2 years old, then I'll hand them back to the parents willingly. Ok maybe not, cos I love kids too! People always tell me "you love babies and you're so good with kids, how come you had only one?"...and I tell them "its because I love kids that I had only one". Since I strongly believe kids should be brought by by parents, and not baby sitters or even grandparents (I know this will invite some comments), two kids would have meant sticking one in day care, and that didn't sit well with me! So I stuck to one, and took care of him  till he was ready for full time school! Now in spite of all my lecturing about this, if my son hollers from across the seas for helping out with babies, I'd be off in a jiffy....mumbling and grumbling about the parenting style these days, but I'd be off nonetheless!

5. I'm allergic to fragrances and perfumes. Again its the dad, the grey haired dad, who has kindly bequeathed this bit of sinusitis on me! So a little whiff of jasmine in the air I can tolerate, but anything more than that, I'm a goner! And those perfumes they spray in those rental taxis and cabs??? By the time I get to my destination my head is pounding and my nose is sniffling! So all "scent" loving relatives visiting us have been forewarned and are forced to leave their eau de colognes behind! 

6. I can play the drums! Not the heart pounding thrilling frenzied drumming of Santana's drummer, but I did take lessons back in Seattle and have accompanied my husband's band (yes, he played lead guitar in a surf music band) when they jammed in the garage and the drummer was late (or too stoned) ......I even have videos to prove this for those who may not believe......

7. I'm a health freak! I bully everyone on their exercise and eating habits, my mother hides her snacks in her cupboard when she comes to stay with me and rejoices when I leave town and have her house sit, my dad eats chocs on the sly when I am around! My hubby poor man has no choice but to eat what I cook, though he is more amenable and I think finally realizing the value of why I nag. I measure the daily dose of oil I use for cooking, I avoid sweets, I snack on dry poha and peanuts and almonds and apples...yes, that's how freaky I am.

So I'm done with 7, but on a whim I decided to ask husband dear....if he could think of something about me my readers should know....this is what he shot off even before I could complete my sentence...

I am fair minded
I have a short fuse
I am intolerant of as he says "crap going on around me"...I think he's trying to say "impatient" in a nice way....
I have a zest for life, I don't like to sit around and moon about things
I love to travel.....

Ok, not done yet! I have to pass this award on to 7 fellow bloggers. But if its OK with everyone, I am going to change the rules a bit. How about everyone who comments reveal one thing about themselves - good, bad, funny, serious whatever! Even this is purely voluntary, but a lot of fun! Or if anyone wants to claim the award, feel free to do so and then follow the rules and reveal 7 things!

Thanks again Emreen

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Artist profile - Abhilasha Jain

Many of us have a lot of talent and dream of starting our own venture, but few of us have the entrepreneurial spirit to translate that into a reality. Meet Abhilasha Jain - artist, dreamer, art lover, painter, photographer, jewelry designer and merchandiser who defied the odds and did exactly that. Now meet Abhilasha's creative baby - MISH MASH DESIGN.

The dictionary defines mish mash as "a confused mixture of things"....but Abhi's work is anything but that! Boo to you Webster! Mish Mash designs is a collection of the most vibrant, colorful gorgeous Indian inspired hand painted items you will find. At MM, Abhilasha paints all of her products. When I asked her about the design ideas and inspiration behind them, she said they come to her at any time - while she is walking on the beach, while she is day dreaming. Abhilasha has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember and has always been part of some creative process or another all her life. Her work does not belong to any "school of art" persay but every piece is unique, handmade and made by her single hand. When I see her work, I am reminded of this quote I read  along time ago..."There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect".  What her heart conjures up via pure imagination and creative genius, is translated directly to her work.

As of now Mish Mash Designs is focussed on cushion covers, pillows and tote bags and the fabric used is silk cotton and organic cotton. The entire range is grouped under 3 collections:

The Royal collection which is based and inspired by ethnic India, Jodha Akbar, Mumtaz, Shah Jahan and the royal Rajput princes and princesses and evocative of an era in our history when India was the richest country on earth, handsome mustached Maharajas ruled gently and fairly, while the Maharanis strolled the palace grounds with perfumed roses in their hair, gossamer veils on their faces and tinkling anklets on their feet!

The Tribal collection features paintings of bold faced men and doe eyed women amidst the eternal theme of love and romance, brave rugged tribal men wooing and courting shy coquettish women with flowers and songs, Krishna serenading Radha with his bansuri/flute.

The Dreamer collection aptly features the dreamer in all of us....moments of quiet solitude, a girl deep in her thoughts smelling a flower before the fragrance disapperas, ethereal butterflies and dragonflies hovering by.
 In addition to these 3 collections, Abhilasha has also made some miscellaneous designs which fall under the Mish Mash Potpourri collection!

Gorgeous stuff! To browse more and lay your hands on her work go visit Abhilasha's site here!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

You say tomato I say tomahto!

Am guest blogging over at Anu's blog today! If you've never visited her blog, do so NOW! And no, not because I posted there today :-)....but cos its chock full of fabulous recipes and food ideas!

My husband and I (more him than I) have been dabbling in some organic pesticide free hydroponic gardening for a few months Anu wanted me to write about it on her blog, and anyway that's a more appropriate place for the post anyway! So hurry on over to her blog....and read the post!

And while you're doing that let me try yet another recipe with tomatoes...(you'll know what I mean after reading the post)!!!

Happy cooking!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sensational Spaces VII-Anita Kaushal's London home

I was doing my usual favorite soporific post-lunch thing - web surfing and blog hopping - and one thing kept leading to another till I spotted THIS house and did a double take! I went no further because I could not tear away from the gorgeousness and beauty of this home except to move my fingers and immediately e mail the owner and find out if I could do a post on her home! I love designers - but when I see an Indian designer doing such fabulous work and who has clearly carved an incredible niche in the design field in another country, my desi heart swells with pride! 

Anita Kaushal is an author, a stylist and a designer. In addition to writing and styling for leading UK publications which include The Observer, The Guardian and London Magazine, she regularly contributes quotes and tips for lifestyle and interiors titles, and this lively home has been featured in design publications internationally. She has also written design books namely FamilyLifestyleHome and The Family at Home. Her books clearly underscore her design philosophy when it comes to family and children...."I think the first thing to remember is to see the family as a unified whole and not a as a “them” and “us” because frankly, no matter how much space you devote to them, they will always want to be where you are anyway.  Treat the home as on family space but bedrooms as private retreat. The house is so much better for the personalities that live in it and if you relax, they will too. I don’t see any sacrifice in having children in the house – it just opens up so many more possibilities". 

I love it! For more of an interview with her, read thisBut wait, before you head off, take a look at this stunning home!

The swing for kids and adults to sit on and gaze out into the garden

The kitchen sofa for the Sunday paper and latte indulgence
The lady herself in the living room
The Gorgeous kitchen..... (sorry to keep using the "G" word, but I honestly cannot think of another more apt word")

.........and cherished possessions
The hall - more a family gathering place with CD's, pictures and a piano, so its friendly and usable, not just an empty pass-through
The bedroom and bathroom are one, just divided by space (I don't think I could ever be this brave) but hey, more power to those who can!
 The bed with its velvet covered headboard which changes to light linen or voile in the summer for a quick update and change
Her 8 year old daughter's room where the pink stage is very much alive
 And the son's room with a little hatch in the ceiling above the bunk bed from where he climbs into the loft playspace
The children's bathroom given a dash of color by a needlepoint rug on the wall
Never have I doubted my colored walls in my home so much as after seeing this home! So I am off now to obliterate every orange, terracotta and red wall, and paint them a nice calming serene cooling summery shade of white!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photographer Beth Galton

Hello all, I am back from a longish break and before I proceed I must thank you all for your support and condolence messages. It really helped. All the ceremonies at home went off well, then my husband and I decided to attend a relative's wedding in Chennai, in honor of my FIL who had been very keen on attending the wedding himself. It was a much needed break, but Chennai's heat and humidity was as challenging as ever (yes, even in February!) and I emerged from my air conditioned room only for meals and such!

Now that the dust has settled, literally and figuratively.....I am finding it hard to put on my blogging hat and get back on track. So bear with me - its going to be a while before my blogging cells start firing again. Till them I have to thank fabulous photographers like Beth Galton, for giving me fresh and easy fodder for my blog without my having to exert my cerebral muscles too much.

I stumbled upon Beth's site while surfing the net for design inspiration. Her food pics had me drooling all over the keyboard......while her still-life photography made me reach out and touch the screen almost as if I could feel the objects. The crispness, the color, the clarity are breathtaking! Take a look at these pics and for more fabulous images, go visit her site!

Scrumptious isn't it?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blogging day off

Am taking a day off from blogging on MY blog, but you can visit Gagan's blog to read my guest post there.....
So grab a cup of tea, cos its a long post, and hop on over to her blog.
Thank you Gagan, not only for inviting me to participate but also for launching your guest post series with mine! 

Delving into the archives

We are right in the midst of funeral rites and ceremonies over here. And while I would love to share the sanctity and beauty of the rituals via photographic images, I obviously cannot do that. Three sons honoring their father with the utmost respect he so deserves, the chanting of the mantras and the incredibly moving step by step proceedings, the  mental images of these I must keep to myself.

But the house is full of people and even though the occasion is a sad one, we are all happy to be sharing our grief together. After all the morning rituals, and after every one is satiated with the catered lunch, we sit down and talk about my father-in-law and the old days, my husband and his brothers discuss their childhood with their father, old photographs are brought out, memories are re-lived, rash promises are made to scan these precious photos and e mail to one another, forgotten anecdotes about so and so are retold, peppered with corrections from other family members, there is lots of laughter and joy as all this goes on.

Today was no exception. My mother brought out an album with photos taken a 100 years ago, photos developed in interesting shades of blue and purple, when photography was not quite the graphic art it is today and when cameras were boxes with pin holes in them! And while there was a lot of heated discussion as to when they were taken, what the occasion was, who was that lovely lady in the puffed sleeved blouse was.....I sneaked out the album and scanned a few pics to share with you readers. Pictures that tell you where I come from - literally! Pictures of my ancestors - beautiful demure women in silk saris with stunning jewelry and flowers in their hair; handsome men in traditional South Indian attire or elegant Western wear. Pictures taken during an age when pressures were few, stress was non-existent, when women had time to laugh and gossip and chat, and children had the time and the inclination to play outside.

Some of the FIL's mom, Janaki, is the lady in the middle with the enchanting smile, his sister, Mangalam, is the lady to her left (to the extreme right of the pic as you are looking at it)
My grandpa is the gentleman with glasses, my grandma, yes the same teeny tiny grandma from this post, is the lady behind him, my grandaunt is the other slender lady standing, her husband is seated in front of her.
 My grandfather again with his siblings
My maternal grandparent's wedding May,1939...according to teeny grandma, it was quite the social event of the year!
 In their flower bedecked car/chariot......cruising down the street!
My grandmother's maternal grandfather, that is, my great great grandfather.....Manjeri Rama Iyer, a very eminent lawyer in Calicut, Kerala.
 My grandmother's paternal grandfather/my great great grandfather Ramanujam, who was a priest at the Srirangam temple.
My grand aunt and husband
 Maternal grandpa (with glasses) with his sister and other members of the family
 My grandfather's maternal uncle, Mr. S. Chidambaram, secretary to the Dewan of Tranvancore
My fav picture - the baby is my grandmother Kamala, the couple standing in the back are her parents, the one holding her is her grandmother....that is my great great grandmother/my son's great great great grandmother!!!! WOW! The other lady is my grandmother's aunt.