Thursday, December 23, 2010

Miss Earth 2010

Ian and Honey's daughter Nicole has won the Miss Earth 2010 crown in Vietnam. That makes me feel old and decidedly so cause now its really rammed home that our kids are all grown up and we are past the golden mark!
Iasnt Nicole gorgeous? And she is Miss Earth to boot which is a title after my heart. She pushes earth related matters and brings to the medias attn all the pressing problems that our planet is having to face and tolerate with so much human intrusion.
In one fell swoop Nicole can do with her pretty little smile what most of us environmental journalists have been plugging away for years.Thats good news for us and I am sure she can bring home to Bangalore the desperate need to eain water harvest and that our lakes need to be cleaned up to solve our looming water crisis.

Three cheers for Nicole! Look at her pics and tell me, wouldn't you give her your vote?!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Diesel guzzling monsters!

Three cheers for Jairam Ramesh, our environment minister here in India.After hearing him speak in Copenhagen last year during COP 15, his new stance on diesel guzzling SUV's that are more a status symbol than a convenience, is like a breath of fresh air supporting our eternal rant, as environment journos. Never have we had a minister come out so blatantly to hit out on these vehicles that guzzle diesel which is actually heavily subsidized for the poor farmer by the government.

So to cash in to these subsidies, these huge cars run on diesel and clog our roads and crush all the smaller vehicles through sheer dint of size. Most often there is just one macho male in it, looking down on us 'lesser' mortals from his raised platform of a seat.

If the government taxes diesel now, I hope it throws these cars out of the country for good. In Europe most people have gone back to the system of one car per household, several cycles and public transport is used by every family including those with babies. In Stockholm where we were housed for COP 15, we took a really fast train which took us into Copenhagen in 20 minutes! We walked to the station but naturally,but we saw the locals cycle to the station on regular, ordinary cycles, lock them in the stand for the day, ride the train into Copenhagen to work and then returned later in the night to ride the cycle back home once again!But naturally the roads in Malmo were virtually empty!

Take a look at the pics I have uploaded of Malmo station where we caught our train. The hundreds of cycles are mind boggling and we wondered how people could spot their bikes in the dark esp since in winter it grew dark by 4pm!

I admired their determination in that freezing cold. When are we going to imitate them? Only by 2050?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My book reading in Bethany School!

On the 8th morning, bright and bushy tailed at 8am Bonny and I went off to Bethany for my book reading. There was a special assembly and I was the chief guest! Wish I knew cause I just went dressed in a sweater and jeans!Should have realised, Aakash Rayall the principal has been an old and valued friend and he introduced me to his school like that!

Felt so good and he also said my Mum had taught him English in FAPS and had been the best English teacher he had ever had! I sat alongside his Mum and Bonny in the large and well built school auditorium which was totally state-of-the-art!Instead of carrying a big banner, I can just take a soft copy of it and use their projector to 'throw' a large image of it on the screen already provided.

It was a great morning, all the kids enjoyed my cover story about the One -eyed ogre and I sold 100 books immediately.

My next reading for the junior school is slotted for the 19th November and that should be even nicer than the one already done for the older kids.

The head mistress said she LOVED the book and she was sure the kids would love it too! Yipeeee!

Hoskote in the rains!

We went to Hoskote or 'housecoat' as Andrew calls it to let him see how he trees and place has evolved. He was very pleased to see the chickoo trees loaded with fruit and a whole patch of chillies growing and full of chillies.

My brand new hibiscus which I took from home and planted there is naturally thrilled to bits to be in the ground rather than a pot and is flowering plate sized blooms as you can see in the picture.

I am very very happy that ONE croton from Hayes Road, which my grandfather had planted there has thrown new leaves and looks well. Picture shows the fresh new spotted green and yellow leaves. Bangalore always had great varieties of crotons which seem to have gone out of fashion in Bangalores gardens now!

Dads Rose apple plant which he had growing in an old bucket in the garden has grown rapidly into a tree and is full of the pretty feathery white blooms you can see. I am sure it fruits but we dont see any cause Narsimappas kids demolish them and the pomogranates before we get to see them!

Got him to dig around the borewell so the rain water percolates down and replen ishes the ground table.All along the property too he has dug pits to collct the rain and let it percolate into the land. " Not a drop that falls here can run off he says," with a huge smile, cause he knows how rabid I am about replenishing the ground table.

The village pond too looks quite smashing with lots of brown muddy water filled up and cows and buffaloes swimming merrily in it. I convinced them to dredge the pond during the dry season which has helped. Education is the key, otherwise the farmer just leaves his pump on and drains out all the ground water in his ignorance.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Black naped Orioles are here!

Isn't the bird something to look at? I remember a long time ago my Dad had shown me the bird and I was fascinated by its colour. Plus the fact that anything so beautiful was for real!

I particularly love this picture which has caught the bird in his favourite past time - eating fruit. Here it is definitely making a meal of the luscious mango it happened to get lucky to find ripe on the tree!

My Doc son Andrew says "Grandpa showed me the bird once or twice on Convent Road as he held my hand and took me to school." Guess at that time I was not so educated on the fact that these birds are migrants from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and can be seen mostly in the Western Ghats and South India at this time. That is why we get lucky and are able to see them in the less congested parts of the city and outside.

Ripe mangoes for Christmas?

It's been bugging me -- seeing the mango tree in VF David's compound out of my bedroom window covered with flowers from the beginning of October. Now at the end of October look at the pic -- the tree is loaded with mangos! Thats weird cause we all know mangos are seasonal and are a summer fruit available only from April to the end of May or early June. NEVER ever did mangos fruit in October!

Talking to a senior botanist, Mr Yellappa Reddy he explained that the trigger for mangos to flower is heat, and we can all see how hot it has become in Bangalore even in October. The trees nearer large arterial roads are affected more than those in interior residential areas with the heat of idling traffic during traffic jams.

If this is not a true pointer to Climate Change for all those sceptics out there then nothing can convince them, as they do not want to be convinced.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Toxic red sludge in Hungary

As an environmental journalist I was taken to Kathmandu to be educated on the bursting of the boundaries of lakes which have been formed in the Himalayas due to the melting of the glaciers. These lakes called GLOFS suddenly can burst their banks if the levels of water, pressure a weak embankment and poof! whole villages get swept away in the deluge.This is a phenomenon occuring due to Climate Change due to who else? We of course- man increasing his carbon footprint and green house gas emissions and causing galloping Climate Change.

Now in Hungary, again it is a manmade disaster - toxic red sludge has leaked out of lakes formed by man to hold this waste product of aluminium production. 100 miles south west of Budapest, in a town called Ajka there was an aluminium plant. Thirty million tons of sludge was put into these lakes. Now 35.3 million tons has leaked out so far poisoning 15.4 square miles of land.The sludge has engulfed three villages killing three and injuring 123.

Plumes heading for the Danube river have been reported and tons of plaster has been poured into the Marcal river to prevent the sludge from flowing forward and contaminating larger areas.

Look at the catastrophe occuring under our very own noses in the Western Ghats. How many of us realise that all that ore is being dug out to send off to China without thinking of the destruction happening to biodivesity and forest cover of the Western Ghats?

Its man's greed that will finally be the destruction of this once beautiful planet of ours. If we think that it may happen in 2020 or later in 2050 - I doubt it. The way we are racing ahead unmindful of the consequences, I doubt there will be anything left for our children to inherit, leave alone our children's children!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My brand new creeper!

I decided to cover at least part of the front of the house with an ornamental creeper.The reason being simple, the neighbour is always redoing his building and not just dirt and dust, but the mess of rework is a constant eye sore to put up with. So I bought a creeper from Lalbagh a couple of months ago and put it into a large pot and trained its searching 'creeps' onto the wire fence. I knew it was a pretty flower, but phew the way it flowers is really amazing!
It throws out a spray of blooms which stand out separately from the main stem and the flowers are a pretty purplish blue. Check out the pic!

I was concerned the morning flower thief would denude it of its flowers before I even woke to enjoy them like he does the red hibiscus upfront, but strangely he only steals the hibiscus and the bougainvillea. I guess his god is picky and does not like my flowers which is fine for me! I get to enjoy them till they fall off and the wrinkled dried flowers go to make a compost for the same vine!

Am hoping I can propagate a new vine from the plant to grow in Hoskote. There it will go beserk for sure with the red fertile soil and now the rain watering the place.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Involve women in countering climate change

Climate Change is one of the most pressing issues which we humans have to face today.

Extreme weather and natural disasters are more common now and the results real enough for you and me to feel. Devastating floods in Asia and Africa, a deadly European heat wave, the wreckage of hurricanes in the Americas are all the obvious signs.

Inspite of media coverage and raising of public awareness many governments are adopting a wait and watch attitude. Unquestionably climate change will affect everyone in the world. But strangely it is women who are, inspite of being the most vulnerable, are the best equipped to help curb the effects. Governments have to look at mitigation measures to slow down global warming and adaptation of measures to decrease the consequences.

In every society, men and women have distinct responsibilities, knowledge and needs which are essential to addressing the effects of climate change. Women’s historic disadvantages, their restricted access to resources and information and their limited power in decision making, make them the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

As the majority of the world’s poor, women are disproportionately affected by swift environmental changes. Even in the rich USA, hurricane Katrina, hit poor African-American women the most. As climates change, access to basic needs and natural resources becomes a challenge. Natural disasters often reinforce traditional gender roles.

Rural women in developing countries are still largely responsible for securing food, water and energy for cooking and heating. Drought, deforestation and erratic rainfall cause women to work even harder to secure these resources. Women therefore have less time to earn an income, get an education or provide care to their families. Girls regularly have to drop out of school to help mothers gather wood for fuel and collect water.

In nearly all societies, women still have unequal access to information and capital and less power to make decisions. During natural disasters often many more women die than men because they aren’t warned, can’t swim, or can’t leave the house alone. Women usually have fewer assets than men to recover from natural disasters, and they often don’t own land that can be sold to secure income in an emergency. Women also make up the majority of the worlds agricultural labourers and rely heavily on fertile land and regular rainfall.

Climate Change fuels conflict and a shortage of natural resources will lead to conflict which magnifies gender inequalities. While men are more likely to be killed or injured in fighting, women suffer greatly from the indirect consequences of conflict.

However women can be key agents of adaptation to climate change. Their responsibilities in households, communities and as stewards of natural resources position them well to develop strategies for adapting to environmental realities. Women tend to share information related to community well being, choose less polluting energy sources and adapt more easily to environmental changes when their family’s survival is at stake.

Global climate change negotiations including the UNFCCC and the Kyoto protocol have never considered this aspect at all. They should, its about time the world realised the enormous role women play in the web of life and give her due when it is so desperately needed now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Birding in Bangalore!

This picture was taken by birder Deepa Mohan and loaded on the email forum bngbirds where hundreds of birders log in and cite their exciting birding outings. Apparently bird watching has become the second most enjoyable hobby in the world of hobbies and seems to be growing.

I love birds and have begun to notice them through the eyes of this site. I have also begun to write about the more common ones to sensitize readers about the birds that live alongside us in our cities and their outskirts.

Today there is an excited post from Naveen Swamy who spotted 26 pelicans flying in formation towards the Hebbal lake. Swamy and friends were playing frisbee on the Police Grounds on MG Road. "it surely made our day :)" he said.

Take a look at the pics. You can see the birders are of all ages and truly enjoy their Sunday morning outings on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Sunday of every month.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pictures tell stories of their own!

An environment journalist - Joydeep Mukherjee based in Kolkatta has won UNDP prizes for the attached pictures. I think its amazing how pictures can tell a story. No matter how much we journalists write, without that all important picture our story makes no sense!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mad about Scaly Breasted Munias!

Its been fun, working THREE stories on Scaly Breasted Munias for the Hindu, Travel Karnataka and for Furs Fins and Feathers. Each has its own policy and so each story is so very different.

I got so many GREAT pics from birders across the country. Considering the bird is little at 11cm the pics are amazing. Just check them out, I loved them and look forward to seeing how Mini uses it in the Hindu and then of course the spread in Travel Karnataka and Furs Fins and Feathers!

Check out the pic and keep an keep an out for the bird. Its nesting time!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is this going to become common place in Bangalore as well? It might just be, 'cause we are building up and drying out all the lakes and where water used to collect in the earlier days. When it rains heavily there is no where for this water to run off into and that can be fatal.

This picture is obviously from one of the coastal areas where the water does not go down, with inexorable sea level rise. I wonder how many will keep smiling for the camera especially when diseases like cholera and malaria besides the debilitating Chikangunya and Dengu hit.

I think our administrators have to be stopped when they start drying out tanks and encroaching on wetlands. Otherwise, this is the soon to be common scenario in all cities, not just the coast.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Furniture brands from the 18th century!

During a recent visit to the Fernhill Palace belonging to the Mysore Maharaja in Ooty, what caught my eye was the fabulous collection of branded furniture which the Palace showcases.Every piece was a collectors delight and obviously the Maharajas not only had deep pockets, but impeccable taste.

Take a look at them, they have withstood the test of time for over a century. How many pieces of furniture that we buy today can be used for more than a couple of years at best before something gives way and needs to be attended to ?

In Bangalore there was once an aution house which was popular in Richmond Town where excellent pieces of furniture dating from the days of the Raj were sold. They were sold by families leaving for the west or just that big homes were making way for smaller homes and this furniture needed the old gracious, rambling bungalows of the past.

I have a few pieces like a Mahogany Chest-of-drawers and a beautiful old Linen cupboard with a bevelled edged looking glass on one door. Few treasures we have left to enjoy in this age of formica and block board.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

When I see a tree being cut!

When I see a tree being cut, I go ballistic. As an environmental journo I KNOW that by doing that we are inexorably killing ourselves. In our ignorance we only see the tree as a block to the city's so called 'development'. Boader roads, cut the tree, Namma Metro, cut the trees, turn a bungalow into flats, cut the trees, electric lines being 'disturbed' by the branches, hack the tree branches off, dig for cables, dig for drains. Its a never ending scenario where we are sounding our own death knells.

In a recent Climate Change meeting of the UNFCCC in Bonn, an organization called the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) from the UK explained that “ old trees go beyond carbon sequestration and storage, and act as giant utilities providing vital ecosystems services to the city. They generate rainfall, buffer the climate, maintain biodiversity and also stabilize the soil. Although we all benefit from these services, nobody pays for them, they are for free. Therefore keeping them safe, keeps us safe.”

There is no policy in place which promises that these trees will be replaced.It is upto us, let us plant a tree on our pavements, two or four if you have the space, and nuture them like children till they reach maturity. We need to help ourselves or soon not only will pollution levels spiral out of control, those of us with lung ailments are sure to get worse and the old and infirm will succumb to the dust and dirt.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's a stunner - the Doumo in Milan!

It was my first trip to Milan and this time there was the internet at my finger tips. The amazing internet which in minutes told me what were the best places to see in Milan. The Piazza del Doumo was the main piazza of the city I was told, which is dominated by the Doumo di Milano or the Milan Catheral.

As you climb up the stairs of the metro to come out into the sunshine, the Duomo made its breathtaking and stunning appearance. I love churches in Europe for their grandeur and their intricate decorative scultures, but nothing had prepared me for the marvel of this cathedral. It took five centuries to complete and no wonder -- take a look at the detail which is found all over the exterior of the massive cathedral.

I loved the flooring too - take a look at the picture. For someone who is crazy about stone, these churches used them to the fullest extent and they have held through the centuries to give us pleasure, so many hundreds of years later.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Water colours!

Across Europe I have found the most amazing water colours being sold in all the little tourist gift shops. Whether is was Copenhagen or Amsterdam,Bonn or Rome, Florence or Madrid, these water colours beckoned and beckoned me to buy them and then have the hapless hassle of lugging them home!

In Amsterdam, I had to get a HUGE one 3 feet by 2 feet from the Van Gogh museum. Apparently thats the most bought touristy souvenir taken across the world from Amsterdam--- a copy of a Van Gogh masterpiece! You bet I have one and it was such hell lugging it home. Every painting comes in its own tube, but its only out of Amsterdam they are very understanding of you carrying such a big bazooka looking tube! If you have the hapless luck of transitting through Paris or Frankfurt, you will get suspicious looking security almost making you feel like a leper, no, actually more like the Taliban when you go through security.

This time I just looked the other way every time I saw a gorgeous water colour. Whether it was Torino or Milan, Venice or Rome, I assidiously looked away refusing to be hijacked yet again. The fact that we were back packing too helped, I might add! However, it was in Florence, finally the the sinuous arm of desire clinched its hold and by the scruff of my neck dragged me - albeit very willingly towards the stand. It took a minute to choose and two to pay for them and then- I stood totally and completely at peace with myself in the warm Tuscany sunshine!

I felt like the cat that had got the cream, as they were not that large, just a foot each in height and it was just one train back to Torino I told myself. Then they would be safe in my back pack along with my notebook computer. There is no need to plan with me - impusiveness is the name of the game!

Albert the frame man on King Street, smiled indulgently when I walked in with them. He encourages my weakness by saying wonderful things about the pictures I buy. He even tells me with pride, how many people come by and ask to buy them. That helps vindicate my fetish for water colours! And the house, I promise looks great with them, almost in every room.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Italian Pizza & Kebaps!

For two weeks Italy indulged my craving for the real Pizza, not the faux pizza that we spend huge money for here in India. There, the Pizza were baked in wood fired ovens and literally doused in cheese. Infact I think it was in Rome that I shamelessly indulged in a big slice of pizza smothered in four varieties of cheeses!The only trouble was one of them tasted like the famous 'blue' which I detest!

You could just walk into a pizzeria and poke your finger through the glass at the slice you wanted and he would chop off the size you indicated. Then it was slopped onto a weighing scale, so he knew what to charge you and then heated in the oven. The enormous slice was then slapped onto grease proof paper and you happily ate it as you walked along the roads of Milan, Venice, Florence and of course Rome.My slices never went beyond 3 Euro at the most.

If you are in Italy you just cannot and should not, go away without indulging in Gelatos as well. I am diabetic so cannot enjoy sweet stuff, but it was on my last night in Rome that I decided to binge and bought a two scoop 1.5 Euro Gelato with organic Cantaloupe flavour. It was to die for, every slurp and chomp was delicious and I tried to make the experience last for longer than normal in the warm Italian weather!

Eating in Italy is cheap in comparison to elsewhere in Europe, but its eat on the go thats reasonalbe. If you go to enjoy a sit down meal, then be prepared to pay for everything including the ambience!

The Church of the Shroud -- Torino

So, I finally got to see the Church of the Shroud in Turin. I can't imagine why I thought I would see the actual Shroud because obviously it was the height of summer in July when we were there and the exposition was over.
However I was able to visit the church and actually look at the shrine where it is kept in a temperature controlled box.

For years as a young girl and then a young woman and now at this point of my life, seeing the Shroud had been a dream which I needed to fulfill. I had followed the stories about it,about the tests undertaken by scientists and that they had come out clear and crisp, that the shroud was indeed human blood and the date too was right. Graphic stories in the National Geographic had pictures which I had pored over and the image stayed fresh in my mind. Theimage of a man thrashed and crucified to death and that image seemed burned by his blood on the Shroud.

Funnily enough there were other journos in my group who dreamed of doing exactly the very same thing. So, even though the church was shut when we arrived, we walked around the Egyptian museum and then walked back to the Church of the Shroud no matter how tired we were.

For me it was a pilgrimage of sorts. I am glad I went, even though I never saw the actual Shroud, but I was lucky to be in its presence and was happy to be able to ask for very special favours that I know will be granted.

It's all about faith and what you believe. I believe and I saw others believe and if religion brings peace and happiness to us, thats all that is necessary.I am just grateful I got a chance to go.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mallika madness!

This year in particular, Bangalore seems to have got a bumper crop of Mallika mangoes. For a 'sensible' Rs.40-45/- one can buy a kg of the ripe and wonderfully flavoursome variety which I prefer over the Bainganpallis and (well its debatable) Raspuris. No one can change my love for the Malgoba which we Bangaloreans have always enjoyed in season. But this year in particular we were told that due to 'unseasonal' rains, the mango crop will be dismal.
However, the crop has been astounding and particularly the huge quantitites of Mallika. They have made me into a mango addict and thats not very good for a diabetic!

On the farm two trees got beautifully large fruit, but as usual when the time came for picking, I was told by the venerable (he is a young rogue) Narsimappa, that the fruit had fallen with the breeze and so he threw them away. I could have gladly strangled him. BUT, in his usual casual fashion said, the next round I will see that you get them Amma --- and that by the way is NEXT year, IF the mango trees fruit!

As kids we always gorged on really HUGE Malgobas which grew on the tree on Hayes Road. However the trees just stopped fruiting for years now, no matter what we feed them.The Mallikas are a graft and just 5 feet off the ground have begun to fruit.They are apparently a new variety, so hats off to the Botanist or Dendrologist who stumbled on this delicious variety. They are fleshy, divinely falvourful and the seeds are narrow almost flat, giving the fruit much more meat!

I have cubed three kgs and frozen them in the freezer for Dave and Andy to make trifle when they come for the wedding in October!They are not fruit crazy, but I have tasted the awful Jamaican mangoes in the US and after paying an arm and a leg for them, I can say without a doubt, our Indian mangoes are the best!

Here's my friend Caroline Martis Radhakrishnan's ( & I thought I had a long name!) recipe to enjoy -
Pulp from 1kg mango(any fibreless one), 200g nilgiri cream, sugar pdr if needed, gelatine 3tbs. Puree pulp & sugar pdr (if using). Whip cream til stiff. Soak gel in 3 tbs water for 5min & then melt over double boiler. blend pulp, gel well. Fold in cream well. chill til set. decorate with mango slivers or piped cream ... or just your tongue :-))

Try it, I am going to tomorrow. As you can see I have got the mangos!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Castle Street or Moonscape?

We are living in the dark ages on Castle Street. It's unbelievable the way we have had to bear the brunt of first unfinished drain digging and now the KEB laying cables.
First they began digging and making a drain on both sides of the road. The contractor was obviously not paid, so he stopped the job halfway and left.
Now the KEB is digging the road itself and since last night we are without water as they cut our water pipe supplying water from the road connection. Its hellish living in Bangalore. If you don't get water, you have sewage problems or traffic jams. Its an endless stream of problems and there does not seem to be an end in sight.
Now to get after the BWSSB guys otherwise how will we live with no water? And , get ready for shelling out huge sums for no fault of ours.
Oh yes! The BWSSB guy said it's not our fault get to the KPTCL, and the KPTCL guys said its not our fault, get after the BWSSB. Finally I took pics and said look fellows, fix the damn pipe or I will take these pics to the papers. The press card, that powerful, magical presscard, and the creeps who said Kannada gottila to my Hindi are quickly fixing the pipe.
Bangalore has gone to the dogs, errr! to the goons whom we pay to run the infrastructure.Three cheers for the press, jaago re!

After a week: Finally in desperation and no water for 3 days the pics got the reporters down here.Then the inaccessible Ramesh (BWSSB)who was ever so nasty arrived at our door to enquire how he could help.I almost fainted at his feet. The story must have had his boss kick his ass ( no do not pardon my french, I am so furious)Miracle of miracles he knows to speak Hindi, or English, or Tamil or any language.
We bought the pipe but they fixed it and the corporation goons who terrorised us are absconding. You should have just given them 500 bucks for their Sunday liquor said the plumber. NO I WILL NEVER DO THAT. We all have to stand together and stop this shamefull paying our way to get anything done in this country. If you are strong enough to fight the cowards will cow down.
I am vindicated and the road is at last seeing some semblance of normalcy coming to it.But its a continuous fight. Today the BSNL was opening the road, checking their broken cables.Our country cannot have state of the art underground systems as we do not follow any systems.
Onwards untill the next collision, thats the way we live in Bangalore today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Traffic jams and grafitti!

We were stuck in the most awful traffic jam on our way out of the city to the Bird of Paradise resort last week. And by the way it was just 8am in the morning.Plus we had decided to stop at the Kamath's restaurant on the way out for breakfast instead of eating anything before leaving. Kamath is a fav stop over and if you have never been there, please do indulge in their dosas and vadas and idlis all wrapped up in banana leaves. I digress, so as we were grouching about the traffic, the road opened up slightly and there infront of us was this car and I did a double take when I saw what was written across the back windscreen! Steve quickly took my camera and shot it through the wind screen for posterity! It gave us a good laugh and we were curious about what the driver looked like. Unfortunately he sped away before we could!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quirky drift wood art!

In the Bird of Paradise homestay Prasad has a collection of the most quirky art I have ever seen! Check out the pics I have loaded. They are amazingly original and I couldnt resist clicking pics of many of them. The Don Qixote especially was superb! Check him out --- down to the last detail and by the way these are discarded Tea trees!My Dad would have loved them if he was alive. He loved the quirky gnarls that pine trees grew in the North East and collected them insisting that they looked like this and that. Here the artist has brought the piece to life with an actual painting that he sees in the gnarled tree stump! Enjoy! I did!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crab Claws and the Cauvery!

Homestays open up people's inherited treasures to the world and thats a great new concept being encouraged by the govt of Karnataka. So we went down to see this beautiful homestay on the banks of the river Cauvery where PADDAMBAIL MUDDAPPA SHIVAPRASAD had opened out his 7 acre property for the us to enjoy.
It was a wonderful experience to see how this agriculturalist has grown acres of crab claws -- see photos- on a commercial basis on this farm and opened it out for the public to enjoy as well. For me and environment journo it was the ideal place to teach city dwellers what it means to go back into the arms of nature. If you are looking for resort like facilities forget it, but he does have a HUGE swimming pool which we throughly enjoyed.
Evenings were spent sitting on the banks of the river just lotus eating and listening to the strident 'Did-you-do-it'or the Lapwing fly by.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kiddy book getting printed at last!

My kiddy book is getting printed at last. I am so very thrilled that Yatish has finished the illustrations and even though he has taken THREE years, it is finally done.
There are a couple more which may be needed as we go along laying out the book, but as is it seems like the book will come out well with the 35 illustrations he has done.
Even my David who can be devastatingly critical said nice!
Fingers crossed, I have a lot of money riding on the book, but I need to keep it really cheap for the kids to buy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our beloved Pilerne on Hayes Road.

That is my parents home. The house my grandfather built after seeking his fortune in the 20's and 30's in Nairobi. Then he came home to India and instead of going back to Goa bought a very large piece of Hayes Road for the Furtado family. He built two large houses there - one he rented out and one he lived in and then he retired to a life of gentility, raising his family in this lovely house he called 'Pilerne' after the village we come from in Goa.Dad inherited the house, while the second house was left to Uncle Alfred who sold it and an ugly monstrosity is coming up in its place.
Dad has now left the house to us and to keep it in the family we are demolishing it and building exactly where the original house stands. Five sets of flats for the five of us. The fruit trees and the garden remain.
People might say, why cant you keep it - maintaining the house has been very expensive and hopefully we can salvage most of the Italian tiles and burma teak to use in the new building.
My brother John who is one of Bangalore's better known architects plans to build it and NO glass and chrome please, we are hoping for a more Portuguese looking building with our Portuguese ancestry.
It is going to break my heart, I dont want to go there while its being brought down, but life goes on and we all want to live there together anyway, those of us who are in India.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Torino- Turin the shroud and science!

For me the Shroud of Turin has always been a weird phenomenon which I have followed closely over the years. Prob cause of the framed picture I used to see as a young woman when I went to church in St. Patrick's Church. Now with the ESOF Science Journalists conference scheduled to be held in July in Turin I am excitedly looking forward to the trip. The first evening free and I will go to actually see the shroud.
Please check--
It's been a weird thought - imagine Jesus's actual photo outline in blood on a piece of linen that was used to cover him. I am no fanatic but the shroud has baffled scientists and the National Geographic ran a great story on it as well.
Now! I am going to see it myself. Hope I reach early enough to do that immediately!