December 28, 2009

A winter morning

A flower's appeal is in its contradictions - so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance, so small in size yet big in beauty, so short in life yet long on effect.

~Adabella Radici

November 17, 2009

Arranged Marriage

We all know about arranged marriages - how they work and what all goes on before you say 'yes'. I always thought it was kind of funny and makes for a perfect subject for a film. But wait, there's more to it. And you cannot really imagine until and unless you actually go for a meeting like this one...

Whoever thought of the ‘arranged’ meeting
Was surely an absolute nerd
Leaving two strangers in an isolated corner
Is, to say the least, obnoxiously awkward

You are expected to chit chat
And find out if you gel well
If yes, the shaadi is fixed
If no, you are termed as rebel

Now imagine this sweet li’l girl
In such a dreaded situation
Facing a prospective suitor
After great procrastination

She begins with a hi and a hello
And asks politely, ‘What do you do?’
Behaving like a well brought up child
Atleast till the meeting is through

She is nervous and clueless
And stares blankly at the aquarium
Just then he pops the expected question,
‘So, are you vegetarian??’

‘Do you believe in God?’ he asks next
As if it were an imperative condition
‘Neither a devotee nor an atheist am I’
She replies smartly with great conviction

‘How do you spend your weekends?’
‘What all places have you traveled to?’
One after the other the questions keep coming
Shrouded in mystery & enigma - just like a deja vu

But slowly the uneasiness begins to fade
The interview transforms into interaction
And in a startling moment she realizes
Hell, there’s some sort of faint attraction

I quite like this guy, she says to herself
And prays he too shows some sign
But time seems to run out, he has to go
Oh, the pang of this damned ‘arranged’ design

The parents say they like the girl
But leave the final decision to the guy
She realizes it’s not the arranged meeting
But what’s worse is waiting for his reply

October 15, 2009

More Kettles!

A couple of months ago I talked about my idea of making handmade gifts like this. The idea was quite a hit and 2 of my aunts asked me to make the same for them. So here I am, with 2 more kettles as my Diwali gift to them :)

It’s no secret – I absolutely love warli and try to use it wherever possible.

This one turned out to be quite interesting and for once, I was really tempted to keep it for myself! ;)

I tried to bring in a couple of things together and even attempted some birds and beasts.

For the next one I took a brighter base and did a little freehand.

Though floral is not my forte, I quite liked the final result.

I didn't do a double coat of the base this time, so the aluminium is visible in some places.

Learning from experience, I didn’t put in plants this time.
a) not many species can survive in the little space that a kettle provides
b) without the plant, it can be used as an adornment in any corner of the house

I just hope after seeing each other’s kettles the aunts don’t complain, “Bhumi gave you the better one”. You know how aunts are...

In queue are two more friends. But I believe now I’m done with kettles. Looking for another interesting base. If you have any suggestions, do let me know.

And yes, wish you all a very Happy Diwali! :)

October 10, 2009

Kitchen Confidential

I still remember the day I watched my mother as she carefully took out a shiny steel box from the cabinet of the kitchen. An aromatic burst engulfed the steamy kitchen as she opened its lid. Inside were some six mini containers, holding spices which had very unusual shapes. My little eyes shone as if I had discovered a treasure I never knew existed in my very house. She called it ‘aakha’ (whole) garam masala. But for a 5 year old girl, it was nothing short of magic.

Over the years, not much has changed. I still stand in awe when I see the simplest of ingredients being transmuted into bold, hedonistic blends of the perfect flavour. Undoubtedly, Indian kitchens still remain the Holy Grail of gastronomy – churning out dishes that make for exalting culinary experiences. And it is not merely about the food, but about a whole culture that surrounds it.

“If you don’t measure the right thing, you don’t do the right thing.”

But interesting, in India we don’t really follow measurements. Here, ingredients are measured out by practiced ‘instruments’ – by hand. Indian cooking is not like preparing cakes where you can say, “add 2 tsp. of sugar”. Instead, it’s a more liberating practice where you follow the dynamics of ‘andaazan’. And after having cooked quite some meals, I defer from believing that ‘andaazan’ would simply mean ‘approximately’. It’s more than just that. It’s about having the freedom to experiment and add a bit of what you think would possibly make the dish taste more delicious.

At the same time, unlike western culinary quickies, traditional Indian cooking involves great patience. It’s about letting the curries simmer on a low flame; of grinding the spices leisurely, allowing the aromatic flavours to ooze; of churning the sheera at regular intervals for hours together until it attains that perfect golden allure…Definitely, it’s more than just patience at work; it’s passion.

And the love affair with food doesn’t end there. There’s always the dollop of ghee to top it all or the generous helping of ‘gud’ in the thali. In other words, it is an unadulterated vision of life as a pleasure-seeking activity, where the need to provide our bodies with the nutrients alongwith an unabashed portion of fat is really okay.

Having cooked for a substantial number of years now, I would like to believe that I have only begun to unravel the mysteries that make any food well worth its salt. A friend once said, “Never cook when you’re angry; the food wouldn’t taste good.” Food, then, is as much about the ingredients as about the ‘jazbaat’ of the person who prepares it. The pangs of the hostel-fed stomach, when it thinks of ‘ma ke haath ka khaana’, is certainly no exaggeration in that respect.

Surely, cooking isn’t as easy as our mothers make it out to be. Like all great arts, it is something that requires dedication, passion and the ability to pick up those nuances that help create a masterpiece. It is a complex concoction of traditional methods, culinary secrets, social respectability, gratification and ofcourse a heady dose of love. In the words of Linda Henley, “If God had intended us to follow recipes, he wouldn't have given us grandmothers.”

September 11, 2009

Happily Unmarried

When it comes to getting on your nerves, there's nothing that beats aunts. They come, talk nonsense and walk away. This one's one of those many conversations - aunts in their oh-so-characteristic fashion.

Hello beta, how are you?
Saw you when you were this little
And now look at you!

You were so naughty
Kept pulling my hair pin
Now you are so well-mannered
Just grown darker and a little too thin

Oh, so you are working?!
That’s a good way to pass time
Now society is so modern
In our days, it was considered a crime

You must be knowing cooking-shuking
Afterall, that is a must even today
For no matter how much you study
Eventually, you have to make chapatis everyday

It's high time you get married
25 years is quite late
Then people will start talking nonsense
Leaving a sweet girl like you irate

But thank your stars, for I have brought
A perfect match your way
5.10’, fair and studied till class 12
But my my, what an impressive pay!

Don’t go by his criminal looks
Neither take note of his bulging fat
After marriage even girls gain weight
You know, in sindhis it’s like that

Now don't think too much
Or keep waiting for that 'soul mate'
Some compromises you have to make
Rest, i'm telling you - leave it to fate

I think I must leave now
But do think about this proposal
Any more details you want to know
I'm always at your disposal

July 02, 2009

When nostalgia hits

Like drops of water
that create a ripple
in the calm blue lake

Thoughts of you
enter my mind
and reverberate

June 30, 2009


I’m not in the best of moods
So please bear with my rants
The fucking client doesn’t seem to end
His uncanny wants

One day he turns copywriter
And writes some shit
Says, ‘This is what I want,
Just refine it a bit.’

The other day he’s art director
Oh, he even draws the layout!
Sends it to the creative team
And says, ‘Call me incase of doubt’

Never satisfied with 2-3 options
He always asks for more
‘Kuch aur naya dikhao,’ he demands
As if he’s shopping in a garment store

His whims and fancies
Grow vicious day by day
Turning every brilliant ad
Into just another cliché

At times I feel like going
And tearing him into pieces
Neither a pig nor a dog is he
Hell, he belongs to a different species

But then, there’s little I can do
Afterall he is the client
Our salaries are thanks to him
So I better not be defiant

After such series of attrocities
When you get tired and highly pissed
Even you’d agree with me and say
Well, demons on earth do exist

June 23, 2009

Coming back to life

Things change. More so after you start working. I never thought meeting up friends would become a luxury. That a Sunday would become just another day you work (never mind from home). That I wouldn’t bask in the beauty of a sunset for months. That my books would lay unattended, gathering dust. That going out for a movie would mean rescheduling the entire day.

But on some days, things change. Back to how they used to be. Away from the maddening crowd and the humdrum, you finally find a place. And your peace of mind.

You enjoy the slight tickle of grass under your hand

You walk the talk, noticing the pretty flowers on either side

You realize,once again, how different you are from each other...

yet, there's something that binds you together

You see the kids play and secretly wish to live their life

You sit back and watch the bricks changing colour as the sun sets...

and the birds making a beautiful silhouette against the fading sky

At the end of the day, you feel an inexplicable joy of just being there with someone you love. Of spending a beautiful evening without saying much. But sharing a lot.

Pics from an evening with neha at IIM-A

May 03, 2009

On gifting

Gifts reflect as much about the giver as they do about the receiver. As for me, I always prefer giving anything that’s handmade. So it’s nothing like going and picking up a hallmark card (not that I hate them), but something that’s personalized – something unique that’s made keeping the receiver in mind.

Last month, my aunt invited us for her house warming ceremony. Since she loves plants, I thought of gifting her one. But then, I didn’t want to give it in a usual pot. So I decided on experimenting a bit. An aluminum tea pot, some acrylic colours, inspiration from my rangoli designs and voila! I had a gift which I knew she would love!

My aunt loved it it and has placed it on a lovely mahogany table at the entrance. I’ll soon be making some more – have got orders from other aunts :P. Will try some more designs then.

P.S.: 30on30 was a huge success and Prashant collected almost double the amount for the initiative! A big thank you to all those who made a contribution towards the cause in their own special way.

March 31, 2009

Thirty on Thirty

What do you plan to do when you turn 30? Travel to someplace you've never been before, buy that diamond ring you've been eyeing for months altogether or just ignore it as if it were just another birthday?

Well, my friend Prashant who turns 30 this month, wishes to do something really significant. He has initiated project 30on30. The idea is on raising 30,000 INR for a cause - For Child Education and Rights - by selling 30 photographs taken by him. 100% of the funds raised through 30on30 would go to Sankalp, a project of ASK , which is based out of Moradabad.

Gift a smile. Support 30on30.

'Falling in Love' - one of my favourite pics taken by Prashant

You too can contribute towards a child's education. All you need to do is go to 30on30 and buy one of the many beautiful pictures displayed there. The details of the print size, shipping cost, receipt, etc.are mentioned on the site. You can also help us spread the word - write about it on your blog or simply mail a couple of friends. A little gesture by you will go a long way to brighten up someone's life!

Thanks Prashant for including me in the 'team' and to Swati and Subhadip for making this come together :)

March 23, 2009

On killing a tree

Today, while returning home, I saw a tree being brutally cut down at the University Road. I had to stop and ask them why they were doing so. 'Yeh jhaad sadh gaya hai,' came the reply. I couldn't have done anything; the tree was dead.

All those years of greenery and shade had come down with a chop. The huge tree lay there, helpless - being cut from every nook and corner. The sight was so deadly, it could only be compared to a brutal 'killing'. I had read 'On killing a tree' by Gieve Patel long time back, but as I read it today, I well know what he might have witnessed to have written such a powerful poem.


It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of the knife
Will do it.

It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out if it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leprous hide
Sprouting leaves.
So hack and chop

But this alone won't do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out-snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,

Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.

March 03, 2009

Emotional Atyachaar

She picks up the cigarette in her hand. Rolls it between her fingers. Back and forth...slowly...very slowly, as if trying to derive at the exact measure of its diameter. Her mind, still clouded with indecisiveness, she observes the little white stick in great detail. The symbol, the text, the fine lines running across the brown filter. The rolling makes the tobacco pop up on the surface. The coarse curled insides look like wood shavings to her. I musn't be doing this, she says to herself. But her hands are not ready to let it go. She draws it closer to her nose. The stick running just beneath her nostils in a smooth fashion - the kinds she'd seen in movies umpteen number of times. The smell is familiar - nothing more than a faint memory though. But she knows it well, it doesnt take long for the faint to become clearer. She puts the cigarette in her mouth and lights a match. The light touches the tip; she takes a drag and sees the edges glow in a fiery orange.

She inhales, only to let the fumes swirl in her mouth for a couple of seconds. Then, slowly she lets it out. The white smoke makes its way up but the smell of the nicotine teases her palate. She takes another drag and then another - inhaling a bit of smoke each time. Finally, the cylindrical stick reaches its safety end. The last drag is long, as if trying to make the end the most rewarding.

The euphoria ends. She looks at the stub, the intoxicating smell still surrounding her. She sighs in disbelief.

Things she does to feel close to him.

February 01, 2009

The Jaipur Literary Festival - 2009

It was nothing less than a dream come true for me and Neha, who have been planning this trip since the last 5 years. Finally, we made it to the Jaipur Literary Festival ‘2009.

For 3 days, we roamed in the company of literary giants; we inhaled the air of creative freedom and were intoxicated by the aura of the majestic venue. It seemed like a world far away from the mundane life we subject ourselves to. It invoked the free-spirit that seeks some space every now and then.

The list of speakers was breathtaking - Vikram seth, William Dalrympme Simon Schama, Pico Iyer, Hari Kunzru, Nandita Das, Shashi Tharoor, Prasoon Joshi, Barkha Dutt and many others. On the very first day, we witnessed the book release of Bachchanalia.

Mr. Bachchan walked in and you could see why they call him the most charismatic man of Bollywood. Be it a 10 year old school-going kid or an 85 year old uncle, there was not a single soul out there who was not awed by his presence.

From reel to real

Book release of Bachchanalia

And for two crazy girls who were trying to soak in as much as possible, this was just the tip of the ice berg. The talks that followed did every bit to spark our creative imagination. From sessions on transgressive literature to scripting for bollywood, from talking about the history of America and its new President to the state of Kashmir and its reflection in Indian literature – the sessions raised many questions, stirred up many voices and invited new perspectives.

Shashi Tharoor and his huge fan following

Tharoor and Simon Schama on the history and future of America

Prasoon Joshi

Munni Kabir and Nandita Das talking about her film Firaaq

Michael Wood of Discovery's 'The Story of India'

Barkha Dutt and Ashis Nandy

Arthur Flowers 'performing' his stories

While the days stood immersed in the aura of intellectual freedom, the nights ended in a trance of music and the arts.

Music of the Bauls

Poetry readings and dance performances gave warmth in the chilly nights. Every night we left mesmerized, only to return the next day to give in to it once again.

At the end of the 3 days, we couldn’t believe the festival had ended. Hell, hadn’t it just begun?! We stood there, seeing the halls getting emptied, the beautiful arrangements being removed one by one. With great difficulty, the feeling began to sink in. Yes, it was all over.

But then, it’s always good to leave when you’re hungry for more. It only makes sure that you come back to it the next time.