Monday, May 30, 2011

Kitchen makeover

Does it ever happen to you that one day, suddenly out of the want to change everything in the house? I mean, you're going about your business as usual, doing the things you do every day and then BAM - you're just tired of seeing the same old things in the same old room, the same old way!!!! You want to change things around.

Well, that's how I have been feeling about my kitchen lately. My cook left more than a year ago, and ever since then I have been spending a lot more time - happy time - in the kitchen. I love to cook and as long as she was there, I didn't bother too much about how efficient or user friendly it was. But for the past year now I have sort of been adapting....! Now I really want to change things around so I'm not dashing around madly between the food and the frig. and the dishes and the sink and the stove, tripping over my one dog who is ALWAYS there while I cook!

I need a LOT of counter space, I mean a lot. I guess we all have different ways of cooking, but I cook sort of like they do on cooking shows. I get all my ingredients measured out, my veggies all chopped and lined up, so when its time to cook I have everything right at hand. So obviously I need a lot of space to keep all these things.

Then secondly all my nice pottery and dishes which I never used when my cook was around, have all come out now. So I need a place for them.

So you see....why I need to redo things? So for some inspiration and ideas I checked out Elle Decor's Lookbook. I just loved some of the ideas and over the next week am going to try to incorporate some of them...take a look at these lovely kitchens.

Will post some pics in about a week's time. Let me see what ideas I can get (and successfully execute) from these pics. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's Dam wrong!

The things we do in the name of "progress"!

Have you read or heard about the Gilbel Gibe III dam project in Ethiopia? 

The 1,870 MW Gibe III Dam is one of five large hydro schemes currently under construction in Ethiopia, and more are being planned. Even with an aggressive national grid expansion underway, the coming rush of hydropower development will far exceed the nation’s electricity demands. More than 500 MW of Gibe III’s electricity are already earmarked for export to Kenya and other neighboring countries.

Photojournalist Daniel Sullivan has been documenting the lives of the tribes of the Omo Valley and how they will be affected by the Gibe III dam, Africa's most destructive dam that will condemn half a million of the regions isolated and vulnerable tribes to hunger and conflict. The tribes Sullivan has been documenting, live in a state of constant hunger, relying on the river for their drinking water, fishing, agriculture and livestock. For the people of the Omo, the water is a lifeline.

Many of the tribes do not know yet about the dam, which is scheduled for completion in 2011. The construction of the dam will cause, what many are saying, the greatest ecocide of our generation. 

The Omo basin is also home to the last riparian forest remaining in sub Sahara Africa. The Gibe III dam will cause the forest to dry out, taking with it the last of the big animals living there...baboons, hippos, elephants, hyenas, cheetahs, lions and countless birds. 

To learn more about the tribe and how you can help, go here. To sign the petition to stop the dam, go here. I just did. 

And incidentally, here is some incredible photography by Daniel Sullivan. Just a small sampling....

To see more, go visit his website. And let's put an end to this Dam business!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The ethnic vibe

Its all about going global these days! Ethnic is in! In food, in clothing, in design, in decor...and even though "Global" encompasses any place on the planet...I am almost always drawn to the warm colors and tropical vibe of Asian, Mediterranean, African and Indian influences.

So until I get my blogging hat back on - this heat (and recent flu) have really sapped my energy and motivation - here are some pics to fill in the gaps!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Two thousand names and counting.....

When I first heard about Patty's "A Thousand Words" idea for the month of May, I knew immediately what I wanted to post. A project that has been ongoing in our house for years now, about 39 years......yes, that's what happens when you have a geeky left brained "doggedly pursuing" kind of husband! 


He started this even before we got married when in the summer of 72' his great uncle came to live with them. An old rambling sort of uncle who went on and on about things that happened in the family, half the time that no one listened to, until one day my husband (then a mere 19 years old) asked about certain names of certain people. The "rambling uncle" shot off each and everyone's name and thus inadvertently planted the "family tree" seed in my husband's brain. 

So all through our married life, this document has emerged periodically and has often been the target of my ire - not because I was jealous of the time my husband spent on it, instead of, because the darn thing which was growing longer each time, like Pinocchio's nose, was always a mess, its pages strewn around all over the pristine clean floors....
What was 4 pages when I met him in 76' - each sheet 12" x 18" - is now 50 sheets and counting. (To give you a sense of how big it is - if you have a room 50' x 75' big, the sheets will cover the entire floor area!!!!) Each marriage in the family brings with it not just the name of the bride or groom, but their entire you can only imagine how big this tree has become. And I am resigned to the fact that it will never end and will continue to grow and - because more names = more sheets = more mess......always be my nemesis!

But all that aside, it has been a painstaking work in progress and I admire him for the tenacity and doggedness with which he continues to update it. Helpful friends and relatives have often suggested new software available that can update all this information easily, but he continues to do it the old fashioned way. Visiting relatives are all grilled and questioned, and they are all happy to oblige to help fill in the gaps in the tree, their stories peppered with funny stories about the ones they remembered....and these have dutifully been added to the tree alongside the name.
Now, as if all this wasn't enough, he has now decided to digitize this tree....into an excel spreadsheet. So manually, mind you, he has been transferring all the 2000 odd names from the tree to the xls. with 1100 rows and 16 columns! Once someone gets married, their name gets "hyperlinked in blue" which when clicked will take you to their married family's information.....quite a task!
Page 1, rows 6 to 22, columns A to F - where it all begins.....
Rows 523 to 552 - about half way through

Now here are some interesting observations we have made from researching 7 generations of families.....

1. Families are much smaller in size
2. Life span is pretty much the same as now....they all seemed to live healthy long lives. There were more cases of infant mortality though....
3. Very traditional womens' names like Bageerathi, Pacchanayaki and Seshambal are no longer popular. "Modern" families now name their kids Ananya, Sheila and Anita! Easier on the tongue and for the passport officials to pronounce!!!
4. There were a lot of adoptions - children being adopted or being brought up by foster parents, the power of the joint family
5. Women never worked, men had jobs like court lawyers, teachers, judges, tutors, schoolmasters etc, today a large percentage of women work, the men are engineers, doctors, lawyers, IT specialists
6. Going to Burma, the Middle East, Baghdad and UK to work was like going to the US today to study

So there you have it Patty! You asked for a thousand words, I gave you 2000 names!!!! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My wish list contd.......

Oh, and how could I have missed these? A couple more things to add to that wish list........these fabulous Ikat rugs from here!

Now, the website doesn't tell the price, and you know what it means when a website or a magazine ad says "please contact us for pricing"?????? That it is outrageously expensive!!! But, I'm adding them on here nevertheless......I'll take the first one please.....

And thank you all for your cyber get well wishes. They seem to have done the trick cos other than a slight nasaly whine every now and then, I feel almost as good as new...99% back to normal. So thank you! :-)

My wish list......

I'm sick! Blech and Boo! I think it might be a touch of sunstroke......body ache, cough, cold, just all over yuckiness! Nothing tastes good.....making all my favorite comfort foods but nothing seems to work. The only thing making me happy is looking at all these fabulous new products out in the I decided to create a wish list. So if someone (with a lot of spare change) asks me what I want for my birthday, anniversary, or just because I'm me...I will point them to this page! I may never hear from them again....but...I'll take that chance......cos you never know, some magnanimous uncle or aunt may be feeling generous and oblige me!!!!


Its fun being sick sometimes. You get to do useless non-productive things that you would otherwise think are a waste of time!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bad Blogger :-(

Guys and gals......blogger is acting funny. I suspect it was that one day when things went haywire for all of us.
Friday's post is showing up later than Sunday's post, and all the comments I got for Friday's post are missing!!!
So you may have to scroll down a couple of posts to get caught up....

Bad blogger!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Street painters - the true artists of India!

Recently there has been an amazing effort by many people to revive some of India's dying crafts. Indigenous crafts that were slowly withering away due to the appeal of higher paying jobs in the city, are slowly but surely coming back, thanks to the untiring efforts of these people. We've all heard of these skilled crafts - rugs from Mirzapur, Gond paintings from Madhya Pradesh, shawls and sarongs from Manipur, silk and cotton weaving from Pochampally, bell metal work from Bastar, Madhubani paintings and so on. The list is endless.

But last week, some post-lunch googling brought me to this amazing artform - which until then, I had never thought to take a second look at, let alone a first look. Street painting!!!! And no, I am not talking about street art, but street painters who are artists, who thru their brightly and brashly painted images - on walls, on autos and trucks, on posters - used to keep our population of one billion informed of what's happening in their cities. Thought provoking political posters, lavish Bollywood hoardings, funny sports images, spiritual religious paintings - an amalgamation of the religious, political and cultural mélange that is India!

Each of these painters created their paintings in their own individual typeface, their own unique signature style, and their own personal distinctive, idiosyncratic design. 

Here are some examples.....
Painter Umesh from Gujarat
Kafeel from Old Delhi
Painter Vaghela from Gujarat's unique Fish and Bones typeface
 Painter Charan from Old Delhi who developed this Fruit Juice Style, so called for its 7 colors.....
But with time, technology is making its mark everywhere and this art form is in its dying phase. Hand painted posters are being replaced with modern computer designed ones printed on vinyl, at the click of the mouse! Customers don't have the time to wait for a hand painted poster to get done, they prefer to walk into a sign shop, tell the guy behind the counter what they want, a few clicks and the finished product is there to view on the screen, another click, and its done! 

So the painters are being forced to seek their wages elsewhere or, to remain competitive, sell their creations a a much lower price. To get a clearer picture, watch this video

Handpaintedtype! Hanif is determined to, if not revive the dying art, to archive and preserve this typographic practice as a resource for present and future generations. I was so impressed at what he was doing, I contacted him and asked if I could share this effort on my blog.

This is what he says when asked why he is doing this:

"My name is Hanif Kureshi and I’ve always wanted to become a street painter. I used to work with street painters during my vacations in school. My dad asked to me to join the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda, to become one and later I learned about graphic design and typography. Today I work with Wieden+Kennedy in New Delhi, which needless to say is a completely different world from that of a street painter. I now know both these worlds intimately and I felt that I should do something to link them before painters disappear from streets. I also thought it important to preserve this art form for future generations to understand and hopefully, appreciate. If you’d like to see more of my work, please visit"

If you would like to know more and contribute towards this mammoth project, go here!