Bury My Ashes In Dharwad

No Farewell To Dharwad

Bound by rope to bamboo, on a pyre of wood, you will soon consign me to the flames. Charred to ashes and swept ever so gently by the wind, I will blend with the Universe.

My remains are all but a handful of bones (can I really call them mine?) I exist no more ! A pot of stubborn bones and crumbly ashes, all that is left of me, you carry in your hands reverentially.

You weep and I weep too, but its different. You will prevail, but I have to depart !!! I weep at the thought of being sundered from my dear Dharwad !

No end to desires is the decree of the sages. Yet, I do have one final longing, will you hear me out?

Skirting the city where serenity reigns over a little pond ; where lush green cover abounds ; where cows, bulls and buffaloes stride by to quench their thirst herding their bantam calves – there, the soft tinkling of the cow bells around their necks, I must hear ; lilting notes of the cowherds’ flutes must be near. The distinct clinking of glass bangles as women folk troop to the pond to wash their loads of clothes must float to my ears. Learned banter of the Wise as they stroll out for fresh air must linger in my ears. All and much that happens in my dear Dharwad must I apperceive, while the rains of Shraavana drench every inch of me.

In such a spot, bury my remains, will you ? That I may dwell eternally in the bosom of my dear Dharwad.

(PS : Shraavana is considered to be a holy month in the Hindu calendar due to the many festivals that are celebrated during this time.)

A new literary attempt in 2017.

The above ‘poetry-to-prose’ is an attempt to reproduce a poem from a regional language to English in the form of a story, a Wordsong.

My father had a dream for me. He tried his best in his lifetime to get me to write. “Just write’, he would say “and you will soon write well”. It remains a regret to this day that I denied him that pleasure. If there is a way to make up to him for that, I dedicate all my blogging to my dad.

Not a man of letters himself, I mean academically, but write, he did – my father, N H Katgeri. In simple and colloquial words, yet moved minds and hearts when he let his emotions pour forth. He wrote in Kannada, a regional language from the south of India. In his first publication ‘Pratijnegalu‘, which is a collection of short poems or should I say his random musings, he reveals his reverence to his home-town, Dharwad, which he loves to distraction.

kannada book of poems pratijnegalu n h katgeri, my thought lane

Pratijnegalu, the book of poems by N H Katgeri in Kannada

Eight years after he passed away have I taken to paying a tribute to him, in trying to reach his literary work wider and placing Dharwad, the land of many fine arts (music, literature, handicrafts and folk-art) on a bigger map.

Dharwad : Used to be a sleepy town with sylvan surroundings once upon a time, but is now a throbbing city that is caught between the old world charm and the inescapable modernity of the times. My father did and I lament too at having lost a beautiful hilly town to the ravages of a city that tries hard to keep pace with the rest of the world. But some, like this college premises, the famous Karnatak College have managed to retain their old-world charm. More on the diversities of Dharwad soon.

Karnatak college once the railways building, my thought lane

The beautiful railway building of the British era converted to an Arts & Science College, the karnatak College

Dharwad is said to be at least 900 years old and is rich with its cultural heritage. It is now the district headquarters of Dharwad district in the state of Karnataka. It was merged with Hubballi, a neighbouring city in 1961 to form the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad. Located 425 km northwest of Bengaluru on NH 48, it is lodged between Pune and Bengaluru and makes for some excellent driving trips.

Wikipedia says this about Dharwad :

The word “Dharwad” means a place of rest in a long travel or a small habitation. For centuries, Dharwad acted as a gateway between the Malenaadu (western mountains) and the Bayalu seeme (plains) and it became a resting place for travellers. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dwarawata’, ‘dwara‘ meaning “door” and ‘wata‘ or ‘wada‘ meaning “town”.

Isnt it symbolic then that my father yearns to rest eternally in the bosom of Dharwad, the place of rest ?

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Herbal Aromatic Teas For Wellness And Rejuvenation

I am both a tea addict and a coffee addict. The time of the day or the mood sometimes dictates which addiction I lean towards. For some like me, the veritable wakeup is triggered by an authentic tea traditionally brewed the Indian way. Coffee during work time and green tea at tea-time. There are few that do not relish the two beverages, do you think they are missing out on something in life?

Any writeup on tea is incomplete without a mention of the Indian ‘masala chai’. Dear tourists, if you want to discover India, then travel by road as much as you can and do not forget to drink ‘masala chai’ every now and then. I call it the travel elixir! Ok, so what is masala chai? Its tea leaves brewed to perfection while adding certain aromatic Indian spices and herbs like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, ground cloves and black peppercorns in small proportions. Trust me, masala chai can be very soothing and blissful! It’s a tad time-consuming preparation if it has to be brewed the traditional way though.

masala tea

Masala Chai. Image courtesy : dishmaps.com

Hence let me take you through some Indian teas that come close to the joy of masala chai while being easy to brew and quicker. As I sip on some of them, lets see what The Sandalwood Room has to offer for the tea-loving people of Singapore. Indian teas are loved the world over for their powers of rejuvenating and energizing, and rightfully so.

Before we head to the experience of tea, some trivia about Indian teas.

India is the second largest producer of tea in the world after China and according to some reports, consumes nearly 30 percent of the global output! But, despite the consumption, India is also the largest exporter of tea after China and that’s evident from the many global tea brands that the Indian tea industry has grown to own, harnessing the best technology to reach there. There is this Tea Board of India that monitors tea production, certification, exportation and all other aspects of the tea trade, thereby giving the best of their teas to the world.

Sample of Nilgiri tea estates

A sample of the tea estates in India

And then there are these herbal teas based on the practice of Ayurveda. Certain Indian plants and spices offer amazing medicinal properties that heal and cure many ailments, some minor and some others not so minor. Holy Basil (Tulsi), Cardamom (Elaichi), Pepper (Kaali Mirch), Liquorice (Mulethi), Mint (Pudina) are some of them. I am tempted to  post a tea quote from the Japanese scholar, Kakuzo Okakura from his Book Of Tea

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage“.

True that. Indian kitchens have long utilized these herbal teas as home remedies, the knowledge of our grandmothers has always worked. With advanced technology, the herbal teas are now being made available for mass consumption without compromising on their efficacy.

The No 3 Clive Road range at The Sandalwood Room

Malabar Blend

malabar-bland no 3 clive road, the sandalwood room

Malabar Blend tea, a breezy coastal blend

The tea leaves from the southern gardens of Nilgiris when brewed produce a distinct dark coloured tea with an intense aromatic flavour. Cultivated at elevations ranging from 1000 to 2500 metres, the weather imparts the Nilgiri teas with a characteristic briskness, exceptional flavour and an exquisite aroma. Earthy notes complimented by the sweet-scented vanilla which is a native crop of islands lying close to Malabar in the Indian Ocean.  Sipping on this sweet cup of Malabar blend, I must say I got transported to a world of a feeling of all-is-well types. Some teas have that effect. Here is how to make it :

SUGGESTIONS FOR SERVING

– Add 1 teaspoon to boiling water for 2 cups of tea
– Brew for 2-3 minutes
– Add a touch of honey to taste

Tip : Pairing Malabar Blend with tangy lemon cakes comes highly recommended.

Kashmiri Kahwa

Exotic Kashmiri Kahwa tea, the sandalwood room

Kashmiri Kahwa, an exotic tea from the tea gardens of Kashmir

This could be on the lines of masala chai I wrote about in the beginning. Justly so coming from Kashmir which is the confluence of tastes and cultures being on the Silk Road. A sweetened tea made from Kashmiri green tea, cardamom, rose petals and precious saffron strands and brewed in a samovar or copper kettle heated by charcoal and served with slivered roasted almonds. Is this why Kashmir was called paradise on earth by the sufi saints? The aromatic brew, Sufi mysticism and the beautiful landscape of Kashmir coupled with some great weather, sounds surreal.

SUGGESTIONS FOR SERVING

– Add 1 teaspoon to boiling water for 2 cups of tea
– Brew for 2 minutes
– Add honey to taste, garnish with slivered almonds

Tip : Pair Kashmiri Kahwa with delicate fennel & almond biscuits.

Diwali Blend Limited Edition 

Diwali Blend tea with basil tulsi extracts, the sandalwood room

Diwali Blend tea with Basil (tulsi) in it

Diwali, like Christmas has become an universal festival, a festival of lights, of celebrating good over evil. This blend of tea pays tribute to Goddess Lakshmi, the Indian deity for wealth and prosperity and celebrates the essence of Diwali. Green tea plucked from the lush hills of Himachal Pradesh and combined with Basil (Tulsi), the sacred plant of the land that is India, Diwali Blend has been curated specially for the festive season it appears. Basil (Tulsi) has digestive properties and Diwali is a feast for the palate too. You see the connection? But you don’t have to wait till Diwali to savour the tea. With the goodness of Basil (tulsi) in it, it makes for an anytime beverage.

SUGGESTIONS FOR SERVING

– Add 1 teaspoon to boiling water for 2 cups of tea
– Brew for 2 minutes

Tip : We recommend pairing Diwali Blend with festive Indian sweets such as Gulab Jamon, Kaju Katli and Boondi Ladoo. Head to an Indian sweetmeat shop to get the pairing right.

Tea time is luxury time.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future“.

With that quote of Thich Nhat Hanh from his book The Miracle of Mindfulness, I leave you to pick up your cuppa, swirl the tea liquor, take in the aroma and travel to your land of fantasy or quiet contemplation.

tea_quote

The Sandalwood Room on Tras Street, close to Tanjong Pagar, Singapore is an exclusive boutique with gifts and collectibles, ethnic fashion, jewelry, home decor and art, an eclectic mix of merchandise and an art gallery that hosts periodic exhibitions by international artists. For those with a penchant for contemporary arts and traditional crafts…this is the place to be !

indian teas, the sandalwood room

Indian Teas at The Sandalwood Room

Teas are a great option for gifts, specially when they are exotic!

If you have liked any of the above teas , click here to explore more and if you wish to place an order email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier your order to you.

  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below
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  • All products subject to availability.
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New Address :

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com

Website : The Sandalwood Room

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room

 

Spinach Powder, The King of Super Foods

Hablis Hotel is close to the heart of the city, yet is a mere 10 minutes away from the airport. Is that the best of both worlds?

The hotel recently played host to about 20 ‘connoisseurs of food and fashion’ at their poolside-rooftop restaurant called HabLife Novella. The mention of any rooftop space raises expectations, but this one can really surprise you with its ambience of quiet beauty and warm décor.

Hablife Novella, the rooftop poolside restaurant at Hotel Hablis, my thought lane

Hablife Novella, the rooftop restaurant at Hotel Hablis

A quick tour of the sprawling open space of the restaurant was probably on the cards, but I refused to be rushed through. The place was far too magical to miss out on anything and as I traced my steps indulgently, the strong cool breeze ruffled my carefully styled hair completely, but I couldn’t care less. As the beauty of the place sunk into me, I knew why I had slipped into that feeling of peace and calm. The Five Elements were all there around me, earth, wind, water, space and fire. Ok, I must credit the kitchen too for contributing to the fire part along with the rustic wrought iron lamps on the tables, emanating a certain earthiness to the place.

Rooftop poolside fine dining restaurant HabLife Novella, my thought lane

Rooftop poolside fine dining restaurant HabLife Novella

Far from the madding crowd, under the starlit sky with water from the pool gently lapping against its sides and the city lights gleaming in the distance, HabLife Novella seemed like a haven. Add to it the soothing soft music. In fact, the ideal getaway for hard-core romantics. I shall reserve another slot for their food, it deserves a post dedicated to it. The Aqua-gym seen in the picture above is the first of its kind in the city. More about it another time after I try it out.

Well fed and satiated as we got up to leave, a bag of goodies came as a takeaway. Beautifully packaged, four little jar-boxes nestled against each other in a compact carton. Caraway Seeds, Spinach Powder, Dehydrated Blueberries and Melon seeds, fresh and organic I was told. Two aesthetically designed spice cards told the story of each ‘super-food’.

Spinach Powder and other super foods in a HabLife gift pack and stories about the goodies, my thought lane

HabLife giftpack , spinach powder, caraway seeds, melon seeds and dehydrated blueberries

I set out to tell the stories of all four, but clearly Spinach Powder emerged champion. There is oodles to write about the versatile spinach and so here we go…..

Do any of you think the cartoon sailor Popeye overdid it every time he ate spinach and gained super-human strength? You will not when you see how much of a nutrition-packed ‘power green’ spinach is. We are in a dynamic period of reinventing ourselves and by products like spinach powder are the gems that emerge out of hours of research and invention. All along we have been eating delicacies made of spinach leaves, we now have powdered spinach so that we have the ‘goodness of green’ handy all the time.

Why is Spinach Powder a Super Food?

 An extremely potent source for antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins A, C, E, K, B2 and B6, magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and the list goes on and on! Practically the most nutrient dense food product on the planet!

Its Health Benefits

The antioxidants and plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids in spinach powder help reduce inflammation in the body, lower the risks of certain types of cancer and heart disease, preserve and strengthen vision and boost the immune system. It is known to alleviate Irritable Bowel Syndrome effectively.

You Can Use Spinach Powder Deliciousness In

  • Homemade Spinach Pasta Noodles
  • Homemade Spinach Tortillas
  • Spinach Pizza Crust
  • Falafel
  • Hummus
  • Green Egg Scrambles
  • Green Pesto Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Smoothies
  • Spinach and Garlic Dip
  • Popcorn Seasoning
  • Veggie CasserolesQuiche Florentine
  • White Bean Soup

You can even add a dash of Spinach Powder to your Bloody Mary! Try it at home or carry some along the next time you go partying.

✅Tips And Tricks To Slip In Goodness Into Everyday Meals
  • Replace ¼ cup of flour with dried spinach powder in your breads.
  • Use it as a natural colour additive to your soups.
  • Use it in equal parts with kelp powder to get a nourishing face mask. Beauty specialists swear by its power to reduce puffiness and redness. Keep it handy for an after-party treatment!
  • You have a picky eater at home? Sneak in some green leafy goodness into their meals and they wont know.
✅Storage Tips
  • Shelf life : 3 months. Buy in suitable quantities as per consumption at your homes.
  • Store in a cool and dry place. It does not require refrigeration.

✅Choose A Good Source For Your Spinach Powder Stock

 Spinach is a widely consumed veggie and one of those crops that is generously sprayed with pesticides. This is a bane in our present days of crop cultivation, but there is a way of ensuring you are spared of the harmful toxins. Choose where you buy your Spinach Powder from, get it from a certified organic source.

If you are in Chennai, you can head to Hablis Hotel to buy dried Spinach Powder. Procured from a certified organic supplier, hygiene is guaranteed without losing out on nutrition. You will find many, many other goodies at the hotel like spices, gluten-free nuts, dehydrated fruits, seed mixes, jams, pickles and more, all giving a richness in taste and the goodness of organic food.

hablife merchandise, organic available at Hablis Hotel, my thought lane

HabLife organic merchandise

Address

Hablis Hotels, 19 GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032, India, Tel : 91 44 4023 5555. Ask to be connected to SPICE restaurant to buy their merchandise.

This post to be continued with Spinach Powder recipes and applications soon. Till then, wishing you Wellness!

Shopping, Food And Fun on Tras Street

Tras Street can be a fun place to hang out either way I found out. With your friends, or if you are in a mood for ‘me time’. I would try out both on different days of course!

A friend from Istanbul came sojourning to Singapore and obviously looked to us for suggestions on spending her four days in the magical city. We set out early in the day and took a walk down Tras Street and around while she earmarked outlets she would like to visit after she was done with her eclectic shopping at The Sandalwood Room. I made a note too of the establishments neighbouring The Sandalwood Room and here I am putting them together to say how complete and indulgent your day can be on Tras Street.

A day out on Tras Street

This is the entrance to The Sandalwood Room. Lets take a look around the insides of the lifestyle boutique and then you will find a list of things (later in the post) that you can do to chill out and pamper yourself on Tras Street.

The Sandalwood Room entrance

Entrance of The Sandalwood Room on Tras Street

 

Transport

Transport is every shopper’s first concern. No worries, Tanjong Pagar MRT Station (EW15) is about 1 km from The Sandalwood Room. So hop over.

Facade of Tanjong Pagar

Facade of Tanjong Pagar

Parking

You can get lucky with street parking. Then there are the Orchid Hotel, Oasis Hotel and the Ritz Carlton who will lend you their parking spaces.

Having reached Tras Street, if you are looking to satiate your taste buds, here are a few restaurants you could do with.

Gastronomic Delights

Violet Herbs housed in the Acclaim House is a new age semi-formal and spacious fine dining restaurant serving modern European cuisines with Asian influences. True to its moniker, they spice their food and cocktails with an extensive use of exotic and eclectic herbs.

May May , the sister establishment of Blue Ginger restaurant is inspired by the smells and flavours from around the region and combines the best elements of Asian cuisine ranging from the Japanese and Korean cuisine to Thai flavours. Illuminated by natural light from the skylight during the day and lit by chic intimate lighting in the evenings, it pays tribute to Singapore’s identity as the garden city.

Terra is an interesting restaurant on Tras Street termed as Tokyo-Italian, yet the cuisine not to be interpreted as ‘Japanese-Italian’. They call it a dining experience, claiming remaining faithful to authentic Italian cuisine without using any Japanese cooking techniques. However, they revel in using the celebrated fresh ingredients native to Japan.

Conclave Bistro is a Western-Chinese Fusion Restaurant and Bistro that serves great food and wine at affordable prices in a cozy environment with a Singaporean touch. And makes it a perfect venue to host private and corporate functions. Whats unique about them is their interiors, handmade using old wood and transforming them into art pieces. And that includes their chairs and tables, cups and coasters, wall decorations and menus.

Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare is a contemporary Italian and Mediterranean restaurant that recognizes seafood as being the soul and life of South Italy and uses only sustainable seafood at Gattopardo.

Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl is all about showcasing great produce, be it food ingredients, wine or whisky from their producers. Good food, fine wine and spirits served in casual ambience that reminds of home is their USP.

Fleur De Sel, a charming shophouse on Tras astreet, serves fine French cuisine. With a sophisticated, yet functional kitchen, you can choose to dine at the counter seating enjoying watching the chef whip up delectable dishes, or in an intimate private space with carefully curated food and wine.

House of Dandy (H.O.D), a cocktail bar with vintage charm decked in hues of purple and gold exudes luxury combined with comfort. Dimly lit and soft jazz playing in the background, it conjures up a mood of romance.

M Hotel is a business hotel where contemporary chic meets stylish sophistication. A unique urban getaway in a central location to mix business and pleasure.

Couture

Ted Wu has come to be reckoned as one of the finest bridal labels in Singapore, both for men and women. Their customers tell me that this is one outfitter where compromise on quality has no place and where design meets elegance.

My Dream Wedding is another option for wedding gowns and pre-wedding photography.

Imanuel B Couture is a boutique that offers comfort and coziness like a home. Added to it is the soft music that soothes you while you get measured and fitted with customized gowns and dresses for all occasions. You can also find customized jewellery, hair styling and makeup to match the outfits. They undertake car rentals and decoration along with photography, outdoor and indoor. Seems like an oasis for party planning.

Tired feet and weary hands from all the shopping can be soothed at the following wellness houses.

Beauty and Wellness

Discover Chiropractic is a wellness center where you can indulge in discovering ways of enjoying life physically, mentally and socially, where you can learn preventive measures for a higher state of wellness.

Morinda : A company that has dedicated itself to create age awareness and help people look younger and live longer. They are on a mission to discover earth’s best ingredients and transform them into supplements and products that enhance the quality of life.

Bella Luna is a modern contemporary day spa. They believe that perfecting beauty begins with wellness and hence use ancient therapeutic formulas to foster in overall wellness. They offer facials and body massages by certified therapists towards rejuvenate and restoration of beauty and energies.

If you are spending a few days in Singapore and want that quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the throbbing city, try this.

Singapore School of Meditation and Yoga : A school that strives to improve on the wellness of body, mind and soul is open to all people of all ages, gender and fitness levels. Their classes are available for hospitals and corporates too.

Then some for beauty treatments:

Pure Tincture Organic Beauty : If you are looking for organic facials and organic skin care products, this is the place. Their products are claimed to have helped maintain very sensitive skin affected by Eczema, Rosacea, Acne etc.

Sanctuary Beauty specializes in facials, slimming and spa services, combining the best of technology and gentle caring hands.

And if you or any of your folks are working at R3 Business Management and Consultancy or Guggenheim Assets, then you have the luxury of availing all the pampering whenever you wish to break free from the daily grind.

A view of the beautiful archway at Tras Street that some houses the above and so many more businesses.

Beautiful archway at Tras Street

Beautiful archway at Tras Street

The Sandalwood Room prides itself on being the only one of its kind in Singapore with most of the products handmade and sourced from all over the world giving it a global feel. It is a boutique for those who love the finer things of life. 

  • If you wish to browse for their products, check out their website and Facebook page with the links given below. If you like any of the products , walk in to shop and if you wish to place an order email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier your order to you.
  • Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
  • Payments are routed through PayPal.
  • All products subject to availability.
  • Give them a Facebook like here.

New Address:

The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017

Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896

Email: thesandalwoodroom@gmail.com

Website: http://www.thesandalwoodroom.com

Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room 

 

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge – Much Ado About Everything

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge, thank you – I get to publish these photos that I have been clinging on to, not being sure if I wanted to Instagram them or post them on Facebook. Ain’t I glad to be in the blogging world where there is always a corner to publish our thoughts?

This one here was clicked at a restaurant called Chennai Express in the Chennai city airport. Metal trunks of days when people lugged these heavy luggage boxes into trains and buses. You either had to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger or you needed a porter to carry them on their heads. Nice way to customise one’s trunks with those painted flowers on them. And then we have kettles and metal canisters in which grain was stored in quantities. Neatly stacked up  on an antique wooden box. My mood was upbeat being Mumbai-bound and this visual only added to it.

metal trunks, cannisters, kettles and antique wooden box at Chennai Express restaurant in the city airport

Old world charm with metal trunks, canisters and kettles and an antique wooden trunk

Candle stands, spoons and bowls made of wood that I bought in Kerala, a southern state in India. My husband and I fought over these – we had excess baggage and I insisted on bringing these home.

wooden artefacts from Kerala

Candle stands, spoons and bowls made of wood from Kerala

Clicked on a busy shopping street in Mumbai, India – a needy boy paid to spread cheer with his balloons. It tugged at my heart to see boys his age buy balloons from him and swish them into the air merrily while this lad had no right over any one of the balloons.

Boy selling balloons

A needy boy sells balloons to make his living

This is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, one of the finest functional railway station buildings of the world and is used by more than three million commuters every day. Designed by F W Stevens, it spawns across a 2.85 hectare area and took more than 10 years to be completed having started in 1878. The style of the architecture is Victorian Gothic Revival and is the coming together of two cultures, British architects working with Indian craftsmen to infuse Indian architectural tradition, making it unique to Mumbai, then called Bombay. The terminus remains lit beautifully from early evening till late into midnight. From the harsh light of the cameras to the soothingly lit Victoria Terminus. A mood change.

Victoria Terminus Mumbai

The beautiful Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus formerly called Victoria Terminus

I have memories linked to this photo. It is a shooting spot in Mumbai where a Hollywood movie was being filmed. The place that was teeming with actors, cameramen, makeup artists and tons of apparatus suddenly took on a bare look as the director wrapped up the filming and I couldn’t help but capture the mood of transience. I also loved the early evening sunlight streaming in.

a shooting spot in Mumbai

A shooting spot in Mumbai

This is the Heliconia Golden Torch species of flowers from India that I found in a resort in Mysore of South India. Who would have the heart to delete this photo ?

Vibrant Heliconia Torch Gold flowers from India

Vibrant Heliconia Torch Gold flowers from India

Lush green lawn grass strewn with flowers. No man made pattern this. I marvelled at the symmetry of nature when I clicked this picture fit to be made a wallpaper on smartphones.

green grass with flowers

A carpet of lush green lawn grass with flowers strewn by Nature from the nearby tree

Feels good to have made use of the photographs. Hope you all like them. Leave behind a comment, I would love to know.

Ciao !

Wildlife Photography ‘Moods Of Wildlife’ Through The Lens Of Dilip Chacko

Innocent and vulnerable. Playful yet ferocious. A little kindness here, a trifle killer instinct there. Call it their moods – Moods of Wildlife. Beasts are beautiful and they are endowed with emotions too like the Homo sapiens. Only a lucky few, those that have the sensitivity get a peek into wildlife emotions. The closest I got to was in the Kabini Reserve Forest in India. Beholding the fatherly instinct of an elephant that herded his baby into the cover of the forest and would not budge from our way till the baby disappeared into the thickets. And as he swayed his huge form to follow his child, he turned around one last time and in those tiny eyes I thought I could see relief.

This is not the elephant I encountered, but the photography of the artist Dilip John Chacko featured below.

Matriarch herd leader Timbavati Reserve South Africa

Matriarch, the herd leader at Timbavati Reserve, South Africa

Wildlife fascinates me no end, but I didn’t ever think I would get an opportunity to feature Moods of Wildlife. The Sandalwood Room provided me that. I hope this is the beginning and I get to explore my interest further. These gorgeous photo prints are on exhibition and sale at The Sandalwood Room.

The wildlife photography that follows is the work of the avid amateur wildlife photographer Dilip John Chacko, whose interest and passion for wildlife was kindled at a very young and impressionable age. He accompanied his father on two safaris at a tender age, days when safaris were primitive and tough. He braved it all and got wedded to a lifetime of passion for wildlife conservation. India and South Africa seem to be his favourite haunts.

Tigress Machli at Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

Tigress Machli chilling out at Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

This adorable tigress Machli is so called since she has a fish-shaped mark on her face. Machali in Hindi translates to fish. She is also known as the Lady of the Lake, rightfully so. See, animals have their favourite spots too and they like solitude! I would give anything to find out what goes on in their minds in their private moments! Machli is the most photographed tigress in India, she seems to have earned the privilege. Her fight with a 14 feet crocodile is the most talked about encounter amongst wildlife enthusiasts; in fact the first to be recorded and filmed.

Now this is probably called testing the waters. Here is a sub adult tiger doing just that perhaps.

A sub adult tiger at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A sub adult tiger at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A tigress and her cub seem to be caught up in a tender moment. This photograph brings to my mind the cat stretch that we are told to do at the gyms, except that even a dancer cannot be as graceful as the feline.

A tigress and her cub at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A tigress and her cub at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

A crouching tiger does not always pounce and leap, it could just be quenching its thirst.

The tigress lapping up water at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

The tigress lapping up water at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve

This one certainly stalking her prey. Padding softly and silently.

A tigress stalking her prey at bandhavgarh wildlife reserve india

A tigress stalking her prey at Bandhavgarh Wildlife Reserve, India

Bringing a bit of relief from the fierce and the ferocious are these gentle chitals drinking from a pond. The lens of Dilip Chacko capturing the images of the chitals beautifully in the water.

A herd of chitals at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

A herd of chitals at the Ranthambore Wildlife Reserve, India

This cheetah is certainly not doing what you think it is. Not roaring but probably yawning. Did you know cheetahs cannot roar? They growl and hiss and make a few other bleat kind of noises. Would you laugh at me if I said they chirp? They do, check it out on here, but mind you the chirps can be heard for miles!

A cheetah and her cub at the Sabi Sands Reserve, South Africa

A cheetah and her languid cub at the Sabi Sands Reserve, South Africa

Do beasts enjoy the cool blow of air on their faces? Looks like they do going by the stance of this lion and its mane being swept gently across its neck and head.

An alpha male at the Maasai Mara national Reserve, Kenya

An alpha male at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Coming back to the artist, Dilip Chacko does two safaris every year. In 2010, he was privileged to go to Africa on a training trip working with two National Geographic professionals on how to shoot wildlife on the field. He was one of twelve amateur photographers selected for this programme. The photographs that he sent in from his earlier trips were his passport to an experience that will never be erased from his memory.

He is on board for several panel discussions of Aircel and Sanctuary Asia.

The Paper:

Matte : Hahnemuhle photo rag 308 gsm

Glossy: Hahnemuhle photo silk rag 308 gsm

Photo Rag is the most popular paper chosen by photographers to create high quality fine art prints. The fine, smooth surface and feel of Photo Rag lends versatility to the paper, making it ideal for printing both, black and white and colour photographs. Art reproductions on this paper make for impressive pictorial depth. They are archival quality papers.

Catch these Moods of Wildlife at The Sandalwood Room. The title Moods of Wildlife is my encapsulation of the photographs and not assigned by the artist or The Sandalwood Room. That is the way I have envisaged while writing about the photographs. The photo prints are available in specific sizes, but can be customised to suit your requirements.

The Sandalwood Room prides itself on being the only one of its kind in Singapore. It is a boutique for those who love the finer things of life and you can unwind  and feel pampered. In a store like this and for the kind of products they retail in, the touch and feel factor makes a big difference. So best to walk in and feel the experience.

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Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge – Two feelings and an object !

A picture clicked one early morning in the sleepy town of Mysore in Karnataka , India , while on a walk. Two lines of thoughts shot across my mind at that moment. A sense of emptiness . Or a round of hot aromatic cups of coffee had been shared between a family before the busy-ness of the day rushed in. Much later in the day as I took a re-look in my phone camera did I notice the distressed state of two of the chairs. The beautiful chairs look coveted and probably would be refurbished soon. As much as that may be , I , for reasons unknown had no heart to delete it from my gallery and here we are.

Poor light you may say , but it’s precisely that which has made this photograph warm and endearing to me. Care and comfort as its title. This is a cousin that loves her puppy to distraction.

Would you guess what these are , unless you have seen them before ? Seats in the lobby of a star hotel. Not that I found them particularly pretty , but they just caught my attention. Amn’t I glad I didn’t delete these pictures ! As a blogger , every bit of your thought and every pic is food for thought and the pen ! Thank you WordPress !

Haute Arts – My Wall is My Story

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Wall.”

The Significant Wall tells our story

A wall that tells the story of a business , their vision and their commitment to environment by Haute Arts.

Haute Arts Mural Wall

Haute Arts Wall Mural

A work of art on the wall of a business-house , created and illustrated aesthetically and convincingly by the artistic couple-team Amrithaa and Subash for their client Vijay Associates in Chennai , India , who are builders of luxury apartments.

The story : Sun depicts prosperity , the tree of life stands for their commitment to ecology , the skyline in the background signifying growth and the stairs for achievement.

Amrithaa and Subash encourage local artisans , giving them a means of employment and empowerment. A great step in todays times when most commercial art is digitized and  ‘synthetic’ is sought after for reasons of cost and time. I could say they are Chennai’s claim to originality and exclusivity in art – indoor and outdoor.

They are my dear , dear friends and it was sheer coincidence that I chanced upon their art from Haute Arts , just in time for the Daily Post’s prompt : Wall.

Orange Glory , Colour of India – Photo Challenge

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Orange you glad it’s photo challenge time?.”

Orange you glad it’s photo challenge time?“>

Orange , The Colour of India 

Orange is sensational , orange is symbolic , orange is not just a decorative colour in India , but is woven into our fabric of religion and culture. It is the colour of the enlightened , it is the colour of the ascetics , it is also the colour of the fashion loving generation. There is no dearth of orange in our everyday living , as we are wont to term it and we dont have to go looking for the colour in India. Here are a few pictures to annotate that and by the way , I love the colour. Who doesnt ?

And here is a little boy , after a ritual , innocence personified as he stands in front of the image carved in stone of our Hindu deity Lord Hanuman in orange. For those of you interested in Hindu mythology and more about Hanuman , you can look for our epic books The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. This picture was taken in a temple in Nuggikeri on the outskirts of Dharwad.

Hindu deity Hanuman in orange

Hindu deity Hanuman in orange

If we talk about our deities , then our lambent lamps ( diyas ) cannot be far behind. The warm orange glow of lamps lit during Diwali , the festival of lights brighten our homes in the months of September or October.

Warm orange glow of the diyas

Warm orange glow of the diyas

This was sheer serendipity , just when I had planned my post in response to the Orange photo challenge , to find this spattering of orange on my way to work this morning. I have no idea what the statuettes signify , but as I said they came just in time. At the gates of VGP , an amusement resort in Chennai.

Orange for fun

Orange for fun at VGP Chennai

Our villages and cities alike show fondness for the colour , very evident in this city-woman dressed as a village belle in an endearing shade of orange.

Traditional saree Orange

As I said the colour of the enlightened and the ascetics is clearly illustrated in the saffron colour robes of our Guru Sri Sai Baba.

Sai Baba in saffron orange robes

Sai Baba in saffron orange robes

Even some of our foods are orange in colour. These are Jalebis , a yummy sweetmeat of our country.

Jalebis , dripping sugar and dipped orange

Jalebis , dripping sugar and dipped orange

And finally , the orange of the dusk is for all of us , every land , every age ! Wish I could go back in time to my childhood to play in the mud and yet not mind the dirty feet or the sneezes from all the dust.

The Orange of the dusk

The Orange of the dusk

Of Holi , Bhang , Lord Shiva , Amitabh Bachchan and ………..

Flirting with Bhang

Our Indian festival Holi is a fun-lovers’ paradise. Its my favourite festival too. And its marked by fun , frolic , colours , food and Bhang ! Bhang is the hero of my blog post today. Watch the video for all the fun and romance at the end of this post , the song sung by the star himself to the lyrics of his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan.

Amitabh Bachchan & Bhaang

Amitabh Bachchan & Bhaang

I would have loved to write about Holi elaborately , but lots has been written about  it in WordPress itself. But just to cap it all , Holi is a spring festival , a colour festival and a love festival. Though its an ancient Hindu festival , it is now being celebrated with great gusto in many parts of South Asia and all places where we have the Indian diaspora.

Holika bonfires lit in late evenings mark the beginning of the festival. Effigies are burnt to celebrate good over evil , a lot of merriment happens with song and dance and the following morning is a free for all carnival of colours. Streets , parks and most open areas are the frolickers’ playground that day , and get sprayed around with coloured water and powders . Men , women and children , age no bar , drench each other with colours and are unrecognisable by mid-morning to the accompaniment of drums and other musical instruments. Do you know , Holi unites people , fences get mended and goodwill is restored ?

Cannabis leaves

Cannabis leaves

Where merriment is , food and drink cannot be far behind. That brings us to Bhang. Its an intoxicating potion made from Cannabis leaves and is mixed in sweets and drinks. Bhang has become the epic drink of Holi. Holi is incomplete without Bhang , in being the ideal catalyst for uninhibited camaraderie. In many parts of India , Government authorised shops selling Bhang spurt up during the period. The fun potion is supposed to be an anxiety releaser and is believed to fight depression. It has a lot of medicinal uses , but we are in fun mood and shall only talk about that.

“One sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight, beyond the bliss of dreams.” ― John MiltonComus ( Milton on another intoxication though )

Lord Shiva's nectar

Lord Shiva’s nectar

We mortals are not the only ones to delight in Bhang. Lord Shiva is believed to have discovered the transcendental powers of cannabis and thereupon it became his favourite holy drink. Sufi mystics consume it too , they believe it aids them in their meditation.

I have flirted with Bhang a couple of years ago and the memory is still fresh and lingering in my mind. It was at a Holi party I first tasted Thandai , a delicious concoction made from almonds , milk , saffron , cardomom and sugar , laced moderately with Bhang. Tasted yummy and another glass followed transporting me into a happy zone , such a happy zone that I went around wishing all a Happy Diwali !!!!!! Diwali , by the way is a much sober festival with religious and spiritual connotations. A friend then corrected me , I laughed and wished the next friend a Happy Diwali again. She looked at my glass knowingly , but didn’t mind. It was Holi after all !Thandai in parties

Uncontrollable laughter is another jolly effect of Bhang and I became a happy victim again. Small mercy it didn’t get uncontrollable , but yet simple questions like ‘hey , how are you’ elicited peals of laughter from yours truly. On our way back home , my driver asked for directions to drop a friend to his house , and there I was squealing with laughter ! I was concerned he might think that much lesser of me , expressed it to my husband and started laughing again ! I don’t remember when the laughing spree ended , probably after I hit the bed after I had showered and scrubbed myself clean of the yellows and the reds and the blues and the greens off me.

But , all is fair in love and Holi ! And precisely why our Indian Hindi film indusrty is obsessed with featuring Holi in romances of the silver screen , of which Bhang is an undisputed badshah . A case in point out of the many would be the inimitable actor Amitabh Bachchan in high spirits under the happy influence of Bhang in the song sequence of Rang Barase Beege Chunarwaali…….. , from the movie Silsila.

Our man , who is at his best in drunken scenes throws caution to the winds and flirts outrageously with his ex-flame to the discomfort of the spouses (and hell breaks loose thereafter ). The man and the song have made it an epic song of all Holi celebrations and romances.

Well as Huseyn Raza puts it “There is no intoxicant more dangerous than the passion of love; intoxicating both the holder and the beholder.” What then becomes of love married to Bhang …… Rang Barase…….

And in my own words…..

“Oh sweet intoxication , lift my spirits just enough

Hold me not by my cuff

Let me glide , gently slide to my normal self !”

Just a word more , if Bhang is to leave pleasant memories :

Bhang in strict moderation please , else the headache can make you feel sick !

Lace your stomach with a few healthy snacks before and after you consume Bhang.

Do not mix it with alcohol. It can give an added kick but can be fatal too.

Remedy your hangover;

♥ Herbal cure: Have a cup of herbal tea like rose tea or jasmine tea; it can alleviate the headache and help counter the effects of bhaang.

♥ Lemon water:
 Lemon water with its vitamin C is a great source of antioxidant , it helps prevent the formation of free radicals.

♥ Hydrate your system: Flush out the intoxicants with lots of water, dehydration can make the hangover worse.

Happy Holi once again !

.