Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Short Life, this ........

Coffee beans, captured in this lovely photograph by my FB friend Rekha Kakkar, who does food photography, Custom Gourmet Food Images, commercial Food portfolios for advertising and Editorial photography along with Brand coverage. 

An award winning food photographer (recently judged Best Lifestyle Photography Blog amongst almost 4000+ blogs at the Indian Blogger Awards 2013),  this visual of the roasted coffee beans enjoying each other's company before their daily grind begins.

Like the message says. Life is short.  But for the coffee beans ....  

     (photograph used with permission of Rekha Kakkar)
Like us,
they too,
face the daily
heat,rush and grind.


And soon after,
dripping flavourfully
into a glass house,
watched by the world,
in the light of the rising sun,
they end their life
so we can begin ours.....

Message from Salmagundi....

This is Salmagundi. I don't blame you for thinking that it is a name of a place near Hyderabad or a powerful  lady.  It is neither.

Actually , it is the name of a salad made from disparate vegetables and stuff, which normally wouldn't look at each other so to speak.  Seriously, Salmagundi is a mixture or a mixed plated salad comprising many disparate ingredients, which dates back to 17th century England.

My FB and food blogger friend, educationist,  instructional designer, photographer and great cook, Shruti Nargundkar  of Melbourne  posted this on FB.  A salad made of blood oranges, pomelos (tangerine + grapefruit) offspring)), green beans, onions, pistas, etc.

Read the entire recipe post here .

It kind of reminded me of disparate types that purport to inhabit legislatures , here in India, that  are supposed to work for our welfare.   Very clearly, the veggies here are far more sensible and superior.

Some unbending
stiff greens,
blowing hot and cold,
a few reds
with saffron angvastras

around their shoulders,
and the more flexible cheeses
willing to
mix with everyone
as and how required.

Some bitter
but yet hopeful grapefruit,
hiding under
tangerine cover,
yet not too tearful
or frustrated
at the arrival
of the cunning onions
willing to bend every which way.

Someone even offers
a commission
of pistas and olive oil
amidst a shower of salt,
pepper and thyme,
but no one
in Parliament
is willing to listen.

They do not know what
every salad knows.

Things work
when you work together....

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Real Khel Ratna......

With all the fuss being reported over the National awards for Sports, including the Khel Ratna (~Sports Gem), including so many openly fighting for it, accusing others and so on, it is so refreshing to see this set of photocaptures by my FB and blogger friend Priyadarshan Kale, on his forays , into the heart of Mumbai.

Very clearly, the girl who uses this handcart to practice  a game of carom on a innovatively simulated carom board,  after business hours, deserves a prize for innovation and dedication .

See some more photos of this enterprising girl here ...

Unfortunately, in a country where corrupt politicians , stuck to their power chairs, ignorant of sport and sporting spirit, rule the roost, she will get disqualified  simply because she is sitting on the game itself.   

जी रत्ने
आपली आपण,
आहे त्याचात
खेळ शोधतात ,
आणि प्राविण्य मिळवतात ,

त्यांना कधीही
खेळ रत्न मिळत नाही ………
आपले खुर्चीला चिकटलेले विद्वान लोक
त्यांना खेळावर बसून खेळले
ह्या सबबीवर
डिस्क्वालिफ़ाय करतात ...
The (Ratnas)Gems
who  seek
a sport
to practice
and excel
deep within
their own mind resources,
are never the ones
who qualify for
the Khel Ratna.

Those worthies
who never shift
from their Fevicol Chairs,
disqualify them
for trespassing and sitting
on the game itself......

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nimbu and the Seven Mirchis

A typical scene in the belly of the Mumbai city, technology and superstition, sitting , fender to ground, as clicked by my FB and blogger friend Priyadarshan Kale, on his random trips in search of native tongue tickling festival food .

An enterprising, but helpless mother, doing her bit with the available raw material,  preparing contraptions, that are supposed to ward off the evil eye .

  The Evil Eye Warder also known as “NAZAR BATTU”  is used to keep home and businesses safe from all the evil spirits and let all the happiness be yours for always. This Battu or the “Nimbu-Mirchi Totka” as it is called, traditionally has “seven mirchis” (chilies) and “one nimbu” (lemon) to protect your home from all the bad and evil spirits.

A tough call in today's expensive times,  Just be grateful they dont use onions and ginger ....


मिरच्या आहेत, पण खोब्र कोथिम्बिर नाही,
लिंब मिळाली , पण नळाला पाणी नाही
आणि साखर किती महाग,
आणि पाणि आलच,
तर पाठोपाठ खड्डे;

सात हझार सातशे नौव्याण्णो
तितक्याच पेव्हर दगडांवर
वाढवलेली भाडी शोधत उभ्या ,
कुणा बेकार वाया गेलेल्या
वाईट संगतीच्या मुलाची
म्हातारी आई ,
जीव टांगणीला लाउन ,
टांगाय्च्या लिंबू मिरच्या
तिच्या आयुष्याच्या कच्च्या दोर्यात बान्ध्ते.
आणि कुणाला नझर लागू नये
म्हणून विकते .
आणि आम्ही किल्ली फिरवतो ,
आमच्या आयुष्याची चाके फिरवतो,
मागे न बघता
रेस जिंकायला झर्रकन निघून जातो
आमचा महाराष्ट्र (MH 01 NA ) नम्बर वन ,ना ?
So many hot chillies,
but no coconut coriander,
numerous lemons,
but no lemonade,
thanks to expensive sugar,
and water,
that if it comes at all,
only brings potholes in its wake.

7799 taxis,
searching for takers,
sitting back
on same number of paver blocks,
and she sits,
the desolate mother
of a good-for-nothing
vagabond son,
desperate to earn,
stringing the chillies and lemons
on the weak threads of her life,
selling them
so we can ward off
the evil eye on us.

While we,
turn on the ignition,
swirl the wheels,
accelerate and zoom off,
without looking back.

It really is,
about being MH-01 NA;
a selfish number one
all the time,
in the state of Maharashtra, Na ?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rang Barse....

My blogger and FB friend Bhavesh Chhatbar, probably didn't realize, the significance of the  photograph he clicked,  on a trek to Purandar Fort , near Pune, sometime in 2009.

It is impossible to decide whether the goat is pretty , or the background flowers.

And somewhere therein. I feel, lies a message ....   (for all those who swear by "Fair and Lovely" etc...)

with our obsession
for minimal melanin
will never learn,

beauty is not
about your own color.

It is about
the color
of your thoughts,
how the darkest
beautiful eyes
see the yellow and the orange
and bring a
happy smile to a white face,
as it contemplates
a great gamboling
amidst the green.

Will those who chant
"Fair and Lovely"
learn from the little goat
who knows it all ?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Bozoical suggestion...

Bozo, Mumbai's blogging dog,  is very upset.  He feels ashamed of Mumbai and the fact that women who work, are now so unsafe here.  Which was not the case earlier.

He has been thinking. There has to be someway he and his friends can help.

Lying down near the sofa
watching TV,
and peering over shoulders
at newpapers
is sometimes
so depressing
and distrurbing,
the only think I can do,
is lie down
somewhere quiet
and think.

Some news
just makes you go numb
and you start wondering
if there is any way
that you can help.

I've been so proud of my cousins,
like Janjeer,
who helped the police
sniffing out crimes,
all his life;
like Moti,
who guides
someone I know of,
who cannot see.
and Moti is,
actually his eyes.

Some of my cousins
are even great friends
with some kids
with schooling problems,
and helping them successfully. 

It just occurred to me,
that if the brave
photojournalist team
a trained brave dog
accompanying them,
maybe ,
just maybe,
she wouldnt have faced what she did.

I offer the services
of me and all my brethren.
Train us, and we will learn.
We will accompany,
and fight
anyone who tries to attack
the hard working, brave, Mumbai ladies.

With so many policemen
guarding so many insecure
and corrupt politicians,
and so few left
to maintain womens' security,
someone can give us a chance ?

Limitless sweetness, अमर्याद मोदकांची कथा ....

My FB and blogging friend, Priyadarshan Kale , primarily of South Mumbai, besides being a finance person at a multinational, is a walking encyclopedia regarding the best places to get traitional festival food across Mumbai.

 Madhavashram, almost a "heritage" place, with a no nonsense  "decor" but an amazing traditional meal ethos and taste, is a historic dining place , (visited over the years by many historic names) opposite Harkisondas Hospital, Parekh St.  in the Giragum area.  They offer an "unlimited Modak" thali  meal,  for dinner,  post moonrise, on Sankashti Chaturthi, for those that follow the old fasting customs.

Sankashti Chaturthi, (Sankashti = obstacle remover) , dedicated to Lord Ganesh,  is the fourth day of the Indian Lunar Calendar, during the fortnight, when the moon is in its waning phase.  Several folks regularly fast on these days, and eat only after moonrise. 

Naturally, the offer made by Madhavashram, of unlimited Modaks was something my bloggerfriend simply could not refuse.  He rushed there as soon as the moonrise happened.

Far away, a few hours later, this poem happened, as the moon , peered in through the window, possibly salivating at the photographs...

(all photographs and eating by Priyadarshan Kale)

कुणा एका थाळी पार्टीची
जाहीर सभा ,
आपापले वरण घेउन बसलेल्या
भाताच्या मुदी ,
आपल्याच स्पेशल तोर्यात शेजारी

पराती भरभरून आलेला
बटाटे वाड्याकडे नाक मुरडून बघणारा मसाले भात ,
लिंबाच्या सोबतीने सभेला
घाबरत घाबरत आलेली खमंग काकडी ,
खुणा केल्या बरोबर टाळ्या वाजवून
खूष करणारा बटाटा भाजी परिवार ,
अत्यंत बेशिस्त पणे स्वतःला राजा समजणारा
अस्ताव्यस्त पडलेला पापड ,
आणि तेव्ह्ड्यात वढ्प्याञ्च्या जलद हालचाली दिसतात,
सगळ्यांचे डोळे दरवाज्याशी खिळून रहातात ,
राजाभौंच्या मनात उकळ्या फुटतात ,
झेड प्लस सिक्यूरीटीत एका स्पेशल ताटात
मोदक्मोहिनीचे आगमन होते .

सभा सुरु होते ,
आणि तुपाच्या धारेत भिजलेली मोदाक्मोहिनी ,
भाषण न देता ,
मताची पर्वा न करता ,
हळू हळु रजभौम्च्या दिशेने जाउ लागते
आणि म्हणते
"तरी मी म्हणत होते ,
पातोळ्या खायला उद्या माटुङ्ग्याला जायची
काय जरूर आहे …?

मै हु ना ?… "

Friday, August 23, 2013

Those nonpricey Taylor Ladies......

My FB friend, food blogger, botanical research scholar, nutritionist, trekker, photographer, and birder, Sangeeta Khanna, has a green thumb, and the good fortune to live in Delhi amidst lots of trees and a garden where she grows her own stuff.

In keeping with her environment, she also keeps birdbaths and water for creatures who visit. The birds have so much confidence in her that an injured Myna once actually recuperated at her house, in a special basket, after being treated and cared for by her.

This time, it was a female Taylor bird, that called out to her in a full throated song, where upon, the following photos happened.

The poems were written separately in response to the 2 photos.

Putting them together here, side by side.  I think Mrs Taylor and Mrs Khanna might approve ......

We nonpricey
Taylor ladies,
like to celebrate
when we get
some free time
from planning nests,
sipping some good water
from birdbaths,
and pecking at seeds,
and tree trunks.

And much like
the songs you sing
on important days,
we too
celebrate our freedom...

Not by
chirping from behind
an enclosure,
and saying things which
no one hears,
but by
bursting forth
in full throated music,
well situated on
a magnificent branch
in the greens,
calling out
to our friend
the Music Lady,
who we see
time and again,
filling water in the birdbaths,
sorting things in her garden,
and sometimes,
playing doctor
to our mynah friend.

And she
glances at us from the window,
puts down her teacup,
and emerges outside
the dew
and the morning sun,
as we reach the
"Jai Ho"
of our song ....
 It's really
all about balance.

I don't see
too much of it

around me,
as I see
blatant greys and browns
killing and destroying
the greens;
corrosive minds
throwing like minded liquids
on faces
that question them;
who think
money and possessions
replaces time;
greedy power types
who think
rules change for them.

These guys
once had a tailbone
and then
they simply
lost it all.

Thank God,
mine enables me
to keep my balance
in the most
difficult situations,
as I turn my back
to the camera
to attend to my little one
practicing below...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chocolate Soliloquies

My FB and blogging friend Harish Krishnan exhibits great self control when faced with sweet baked delights, and gets completely mesmerized by chocolate and icing.

He recently celebrated a birthday at his office by creating a photographic portfolio  for the chocolate cake  specially ordered for the occasion.  That was before it was demolished  by all.

You may drool over the entire portfolio here

Hmm. It's difficult  being a chocolate cake.....

(photo and eating by Harish Krishnan)
normally a very traditional
peaceful type,
all agitated,

curling in embarrassment
and simply going to pieces,
the piercing gaze
of a lens,
held by someone
who said he loved her.

A valiant defence
by some
stiff upright
conservative types
stuck amidst the pieces,
and she
sees the guy
with the knife,
in the light of the candle,
and says ,
"Hmmm. Happy Birthday, !
I always wondered
what you did at the office....!"

Life and Times of a Liberated Mirchi.....एका मिरचीची गोष्ट

My FB friend Amit Amembal, recently posted a photograph  of a mirchi (hot green/jalapeno pepper)  growing in his balcony.  Somehow, this one had escaped being harvested along with the other green ones, and turned red.

Turns out, it had turned red in anger.  Not at being left on the tree. But something else.

It had something to do with the behaviour of onions today.  With their skyrocketing prices and extravagant sense of self worth.....

Read on.  As the mirchi spouts forth, first in Marathi, and then in English.

(photo by Amit Amembal)

कुटुंबाच्या छायेत वाढली ,
भावंडान बरोबर हिरवाई मध्ये
लपत छपत खेळत मोठी झाली .

कधी छोटी खाउन पियुन धष्ट पुष्ठ ,
आणि शेलाट्या बांध्यातले यौवन;
पानांच्या आडून आडून बघित्लेली स्थळ ,
चेहर्यावर उमललेले गुलाब ,
आणि कान्देरावाशी झालेला साखरपुडा .

मग कठीण दिवस,
कांदेराव न सांगता नाहीसे,
कुणी म्हणतात त्याना ज्यास्त हुंडा हवा .

आणि ती रागाने लालेलाल झाली ,
पानामागून बाहेर आली
आणि म्हणाली ,
"एक वेळ झाडावर कुमारी राहीन ,
पण असला हुंडा वगैरे माग्णार्याशि लग्न करणार नाही ….
काय हो, नारळपंत , बरोबर ना? …."
A child hood
spent amidst
green family folks,
playing hide and seek with siblings,
and she grew up.

Precociously chubby
and then a slim and svelte teenage,
a coming of age
as she peered
through the leaves
at assorted suitors;
some, like Sir Onion,
who brought the pink back
at their engagement.

Then one day,
he simply disappeared,
and some whispered
that he wanted  more dowry.

red in anger,
she emerged from behind the greens,
ramrod straight,
facing them all,
and said,
"I would prefer
to say single on my tree,
rather than kowtow
to such dowry demanding folks...."

And she nodded
at an admiring
Sir Coconut,
and asked,
"Isn't that so ?"