Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kala Ghoda Art Fair - 1

Day 1 of the much anticipated Kala Ghoda Art Fair had me making my way to Rampart Row - the street where the festival is held each year. A few topics that were highlighted by multiple installations were - gender equality, prevention of child abuse, fighting corruption and social responsibility.

One of my favourite aspects about this festival is the opportunity that it provides the "commoners" to interact with the art installations. Unlike the stuffy and formal settings that are observed when art is on display in galleries - this place is fun. Of course, you do see the occasional idiots who want to stand on the art work and use it as a prop in their photographs; but by and large, people respect the work and are careful when posing with it.
On the right you see an installation that says - "Money is the root of all evil" and shows a seat (of power) corrupted by money.

Each year the Kala Ghoda (black horse) is represented in various ways and holds pride of place at the festival. The sculpture this year was made from motor cycle spare parts, and was a great example of creativity. Notice the mobike chain being used as the horse's mane.

I spent  a wonderful few hours browsing through the exhibits and came away thinking that I really should engage in more right-brained activities ... However, only time will tell whether I keep to that!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Embracing the power of social network ... as a foodie!

A positive experience with a food delivery service today - led me to sign up for Zomato. I've often used their site to decide whether / not to dine at a certain establishment, and feel that its time I contributed to it as well. There are a bunch of places that I've dined at, and being the self-professed foodie that I am - can still recall what I ate there! Well - guess its time to put those thoughts down.


Monday, September 09, 2013

Gearing up for Lord Ganesha's visit

Its that time of the year again, when traffic snarls in Mumbai get worse, roads rendered potholed by the rains, and narrowed by various stalls (do not call these encroachments, for they claim to be "legal occupants" of the land), bear with makeshift tents ("mandaps") and the ever-resilient Mumbaite just shrugs it off with a smile, as he navigates his bike / car / his own two feet through it all. After all - even he can't help but respond to the call of "Ganpati bappa" ... with an enthusiastic "Morya". Such is the culture of this island city, that it welcomes every visitor whether it be for a day or for a lifetime, and before you realise it, rubs off some of its religious, social fervour on you.

The Ganesh festival is one such occasion where the people irrespective of religious beliefs and social strata, come together and enjoy the many facets of this 10 day long festival.

Beginning with the open markets selling all kinds of seasonal produce and those specific items that are traditionally cooked and served during this festival, to workshops selling idols of the elephant headed Lord Ganesha and makeshift tents that seem to spring up in the midst of crowded junctions - you can't miss the signs.

Every family has their own traditions, mostly centered around food and pleasing the much awaited, revered guest - Ganesha. On his part, he graces their homes in his idol form - seated on thrones and pillows, with his little mouse for company. The sculptors imagination holds little back, having the Lord play music on a harmonium, with various other dieties for company as long as the theme is mythologically relevant, no scene or sculpture is too far-fetched.


Weekend in Bangalore ...

Last week I found myself making the once familiar trip to Bangalore (ooops ... now, Bengaluru). While Bangalore now boasts of a swanky new airport with state of the art facilities, the connectivity to this transportation hub is still experiencing some growing pains. Potholed roads (albeit, much better than those in Mumbai) and flyovers under construction are a common sight that create traffic snarls which welcome you to this once pristine and quiet, garden city.

Apart from work, I embarked on my culinary journey which included a visit to the world-famous MTR kitchen and gorging on various "meals", the equivalent of a "thaali" or an assortment of food that makes a complete meal at various joints. As usual, the trip was far too short and I returned with promises to myself of taking another trip to sample even more food!


A getaway to the Konkan coast

Lush green woods, a winding mud road that cuts through the greenery… like a brown ribbon… disappearing in parts, but continuous.
Along these paths trundles a red bus; dusty and rickety; picking up people & their luggage. This is the lifeline of the Konkan region. The railways have arrived here about two decades ago; but the remote villages are still accessible only by road.
Little surprise then, that for the natives – it is the humble red bus that they identify with. They know the times the bus will arrive – not always governed by the timetable; they know the drivers by name, often offering them a cup of tea as they drive by. The driver will often be the unofficial messenger carrying small notes and packages not for money, but knowing that the elders rely on him for their bit of news and gossip.
Is it a wonder then, that it is this bus that they eagerly await … come rain or shine?

Taking advantage of a long weekend, I headed down to the picturesque village of Dapoli near on Konkan coast. As we drove through, it was raining hard as we navigated the "ghats", but we eventually managed to reach the Konkan plains. We stayed in a sleepy little hamlet called Karde that was located by the sea shore. While the shore has been littered by humans (you see plastic and non-bio degradable waste all along the beach), the sight of the vast ocean uninterrupted and in all its glory - is a pleasing sight.

It being the rainy season, this was "off-peak" time, limiting the tourists to a few adventurous souls who were visiting to enjoy the peace and quiet away from the bustle of the city. This gave me ample opportunity to observe the locals as they went about their daily chores, and the scenic coastline. The sea has made several inlets into the bordering villages that serve as creeks, dotted with coconut trees and other shrubs characteristic to the region.

The narrow country lanes are dotted with reeds of grassy vegetation and village folk treading through the patches of green. Bent almost halfway covered with a straw tent-like cape that offered scant protection from the heavy rain, it seemed like back breaking work to me. I went up to one of the ladies and asked what they were up to. "Sowing rice" was the reply I got and the response left me humbled.It is thanks to  the hardworking farmer's toils that we enjoy the various delicacies that tingle our tastebuds and provide us with the much needed nutrients.

How many times do we give a second thought to the rice on our plates? From today, I know I will ... will you?


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Feathered friends ... 2

The rains have arrived in full swing, and for the past few weeks, the skies have been a dull gray. While my euphoria about the rain fades away as quickly as the first cloudburst, the birds that frequent the trees by my window add an element of interest to an otherwise dreary day.
Here are a few shots of a magpie robin that seems to enjoy perching on a branch by my window ...
The magpie robins have a sweet call, and wag their tail up and down as they chirp. While they appear a solid black and white from a distance, a closer look reveals shades of black among their feathers. Further reading on Wikipedia informed me that the ones I've clicked are male oriental magpie robins.

Now does that explain why they were "busy" hopping from branch to branch, swinging in the wind, chirping their songs while the other birds were industriously flitting from flower to flower in search of nectar?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Feathered friends by my window ... 1

Despite living in a bustling metropolis, I am fortunate to have a few large trees near my window. I was surprised to notice the varieties of birds that frequent this green haven. I guess - given their dwindling options - these trees held appeal ...

One of the first early morning visitors - was this female Purple Sunbird .. While the male is deep purple, the female is yellowish in color. I found the sharp beak intriguing, and soon had the opportunity to watch it fluff its feathers for a good few minutes! Here is it - all done after a good fluffing/cleaning... As soon as it deemed itself sufficiently clean - off it flew into the green leaves.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A culture of hospitality, but missing common courtesy

Indian culture has traditionally been known for its hospitality. As you step into airports, train stations or inter-city bus stations, posters of Incredible India, pictures of the traditional folded hands – the “namaste” greet passengers. However, these symbols of hospitality seem to be relegated to hoardings and Indian tourism propaganda.

For a culture that prides itself on its hospitality, majority of the population seems to be lacking common courtesy. Anyone who has seen the traffic in India (in effect this means anyone who has set foot outside any port on Indian soil) will agree when I say that traffic here is congested and chaotic. Courteous driving seems to be an alien and unheard of concept. Traffic rules are merely considered as guidelines and not always followed.

With the advent of the tech boom, a young and educated workforce now has the means to enjoy the latest gadgets and gizmos while indulging their tastes for food, clothing and consumables from around the world. This has led to a spurt of malls carrying high-end luxury brands from around the world, all-in-one grocery stores aka Safeway, Marks & Spencer, Whole Foods mainly catering to the reasonably well to do, and based on their economic status, a literate and educated strata of society.

A recent visit to one of these stores was an eye-opener. This store was stocked with the latest electronic goods and gadgets, groceries, packaged foods, fresh fruit and vegetables and was spread well over 30,000 square ft. Some areas of the store expectedly were busier than others. However, the sheer lack of politeness and courtesy among the shoppers was appalling. People were pushing and shoving each other to select abundantly available onions and potatoes. When I held out a bag for the shopper next to me (yes, some of you may call me an idiot for this), she grabbed it without so much as an acknowledgement in my direction and went on to elbow me in her rush to bag her choice of vegetables.

In other parts of the store, I noticed younger presumably college going shoppers, bumping into or pushing the elderly to get ahead. I understand that people can be in a hurry and most of us have schedules to keep, but is it so difficult to excuse ourselves as we pass another?

Have we become a nation of that is merely literate but uncultured? Of people who have the money in their pockets to buy whatever catches their fancy but lacking the courtesy and politeness that form the core of being human?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cricket fever ...

Being in the Indian sub-continent during cricket season is exciting, but being here during the ICC Cricket World Cup tournament, is an experience not to be missed. India is a cricket crazy nation, and having sent in a team that is winning matches has exponentially increased the interest and following for the "Men in Blue", the nickname for the Indian cricket team. The cricket matches have resulted in roads being rather empty and in some cases, offices declaring a half day holiday to enable people to enjoy the matches!