Friday, December 6, 2013

Food in the US cheaper than India

Look at that picture! Milk is so much cheaper here in the US. In India milk is now Rs 30 a litre and I wondered how the poor manage in our country straight away. Even chicken is way cheaper than India over here and I am really surprised. Fruit which I live on is also quite reasonable and I literally live on apples and pears. Why is food so expensive in India I wonder? It really is hard for me to understand.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Snow in Omaha

We left for 2 days to Pasco, Washington State for Andy and Annika to interview there. It was definitely warmer in Pasco and I was quite happy staying in the hotel room with Alaina as we were opposite the Columbia River and the bend infront of the hotel Marriott was full of ducks and geese. I enjoyed watching them when Aliana slept and even though it was too cold to go out, watching them swim around in groups was pretty interesting. Above large sea gulls coasted the wind currents and several cyclists and people walking dogs mossied around making it interesting for me. Coming back to Omaha, we were surprised to see snow everywhere. Infact little Alainas car seat was full of snow when it came off the carousel. I took a while dusting it down while Andy and Annika went to get the car which had been parked by us in the car lot. I dont like the snow. The view looks pretty, but beyond that its treacherous and scary walking on it. Even driving home from the airport one could feel the tyres skid slightly on it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Orchids blooming on our balcony!

When we were kids, Dad had a great collection of orchids on one of the large mango trees in the Hayes Road garden. Those were the variety that cling to trees and are quite different from the ones being grown and sold in pots today across Bangalore. Those we could only get from Singapore. Then two years ago we bought Mum a plant from Home Stop for her 80th Birthday. It has flowered once every year ever since! We live off the busy Richmond Road and it was such a great feeling to see a fresh spray come out and last for over a month before it died. Now all FOUR of our orchids have thrown sprays in the balcony and I think its because of the unseasonal rain and wet conditions. Let it rain and pour if we can have these beauties (see pic) bloom on the balcony!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Splendid exhibition of the diva of flowers -- Orchid!

Someone sent me a poster about the Orchid show on in the Mariegowda Hall in Lalbagh. The poster looked awesome, filled with pictures of the nice and large Phalaenopsis species of orchid, in different colours. It was amazing to know that they were being grown right here in Bangalore now and the prices were well within the reach of our pocket. Earlier I would buy one for Mum from the airport in Singapore and bring them back to be spoilt in the house in Hayes Road. I think Dad watered it every time he passed it! Probably that's why once its flowers died the plant died too, drowned with love!
However Dad had a beautiful collection of orchids which he hung on the mango tree in the garden and which gave him tons of joy. Ebery year the Blue Vanda that he brought all the way to Bangalore from Shillong would flower. That was celebration time and he would gather all his grandchildren around to admire the blooms and dosas were bought from the little hotel on the top of the road for us all to enjoy. That is why I took a picture of the orchid above in the exhibition because it reminded me of his orchid.
The exhibit had all sorts of orchids including the very special large variety that threw just single or double blooms like the ones above.Known as Cattleya, the corsage orchid is a popular and rewarding orchid to grow said one of the men behind the counter trying to get me to buy a plant. At Rs 1000/ I backed off!
The Lady slipper orchid was obviously a favourite of the crowd and this was because of their strange appearance. They are like no other types of flowers and have pouch-shaped lips.At the exhibit as you can see above they dressed a pair in what appeared to be sarees!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The 'excess' rain is welcome!

It's been raining every single day from the beginning of August right up now to the start of September 2013 here in Bangalore. The rain has made the garden perk up and it has never looked so good before. Take a look at the Anthuriums. They bloom once in a while to keep us happy, but this year they all are in bloom together and have grown gigantic leaves as well.
This strange and variegated spiky sort of fern we brought from Hoskote. Took a tiny plant which has now grown into a massive bunch as you can see. There are plans afoot to make them into at least 20 gifts to give people over the coming Christmas season.
That is the gifts given to me by KP Shetty from his gorgeous Wild Wood Spa in Kundapur. The leaves are in a beautiful shade of hushed red and make such a wonderful contrast to the wandering Jew which seems to over run the entrance to the house.
And then the strangely coloured Elephant eared Cladium which is thriving in a pot full of home made wet waste compost. If everyone could see the way the garden is thriving in the rain, aided by the compost made from our own kitchen waste I am sure none of us would chuck any more kitchen waste on the road.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A bonsai beauty!

Was writing a story on Star fruit for the Hindu when a lady named Minette Rajan who runs the Green Thumbs Boutique in Kamanahalli sent me these awesome pics of their eight year old Bonsai Star Fruit Tree. I nearly fell off my chair, just look at the tiny thing and just loaded with quite normal looking fruit! Interestingly this is what she had to say --"This tree is 8 years old and has been with us ever since it has been a sapling of 5 inches or about 2 - 3 months old.This is the fourth year of it bearing fruit and it tastes delicious. We get between 10 - 15 fruits each year. As it is a bonsai, the number of fruits is restricted and as the years go by, the flesh becomes a bit more tangy in taste when compared to a regular grown star fruit. This sapling was picked up by my husband, Ranjit a bonsai enthusiast. He has trained, nurtured and grown this beautiful plant and the fruit is relished by all in the family, on a first come first serve basis." I was so tickled with the little tree, as I have just put down two saplings which are barely six months old in Hoskote. And today I could not believe my eyes, as one of the baby trees, had around eight fruit on it and its just 2 feet off the ground! I took off all the fruit, raw and ripe, as they say it weakens the tree to allow it to fruit when it is so young. Have to train it to grow tall into a regular tree.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Save over watering your trees in Summer!

When I saw this in the Serai Bandipur I was thrilled, cause this is what I do in my little farm in Hoskote. Put a lot of dry leaves, coconut husks or just cut branches around the roots of the trees to keep the moisture from evaporating too fast. In The Serai they put a 'crust' of pine needles around the roots to prevent the evaporation! Look at the pic! There they desperately need measures like these as water is a scarce commodity. We can even do it in the city. Put a lot of dried leaves in your pots to prevent the evaporation and it will help our thirsty plants manage through the dry season.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Roots can be a problem!

See the roots of this tree of ours in Goa is such a problem, its causing the wall infront to lift and crack. That is why we had to get Bhujang to cut back on them and then Basker the mason filled the cracks with cement. It's just a temporary measure, we cant really do much by cutting the roots as there are plenty of others under the wall which we cant see. But I refuse to cut the tree down.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Birds caught with my new SLR

We went on a work cum holiday to Pilerne, my little village in Goa. In tow was my new Canon EOS 1100D which I picked up in Dubai on my way back from a UNEP conference in Nairobi. I knew nothing about the camera except how to hold it and switch it on and off and charge the battery! Little did I expect to have such fun because in a matter of minutes I was able to zoom in on birds which flitted around the tree cover in the village just beyond the homestead. Taking an old Kadai, I filled it with clean fresh water and left it outside for the birds. In minutes a pair of Tickell's Blue Flycathers were enjoying swift forays into the kadai and splashing around having quick baths. While one waited on the rim the other jumped in and splashed around to glory! Then One morning I heard the raucous call of a white breasted Kingfisher with its cherry red beak and multicoloured plumage including the trademark metallic blue wings. The shot was a quick one taken in a rush and I was lucky as you can see to get a really creative shot! There were Jungle Babblers and the regular Oriental Magpie Robin. But one afternoon as a treat came the Asian Paradise Flycatcher in all its russet glory. It kept dive bombing up and down and then I realised, it was catching insects on the wing. What a beauty! I had to rub my eyes to believe it was for real. Just its harsh cries made me realise, yes it was a real live bird! Goa is a birders paradise! Go if you like to spend time with nature and her feathered beauties which are fast getting extinct in the name of 'development'.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Solar light birdies for your garden!

We were wandering around the gardening area in the huge B & Q, home depot store in New Malden, London, when we came upon these cute solar powered garden lights in the shape of birds. I had never seen anything quite like them (see pic) and was most tickled with the tiny solar panel in its back. The birds were perfectly sculpted black birds in porcelain. Obviously when and if the sun came up in the UK it would charge the battery via the solar panel and the bulb would light up. The birds were not cheap and came with a price tag of 6 quid each and the only reason I did not buy one was most of them had their beaks broken. Obviously some mean shopper had taken great pleasure in snapping the yellow or black beaks of the birds and leaving them there with no hope of them being bought.