Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Strawberries, ah those lusciously juicy and tempting red fruit, exotic and mouth watering. Mostly and I mean mostly save for my traditional at heart and taste father love the fruit. We all have romantic connotations and slurpy dreams the minute strawberries are mentioned, well do you think it also has to do with its red passion color and the heart shape. Everyone from those following a south beach or protein rich or carbohydrate counting diets also can and do add strawberries to their list of fruits to eat. The fruit lends itself to making some of the really yum treats in form of cheese cakes, preserves, glazed, shakes, in cream, squashes and toppings.
So when my sis-in-law suggested we go strawberry picking when I was in Canada, I jumped at the thought of it. However as the picking season (mid June) neared our holidays were also nearing its end, so she searched and crawled the internet and finally did manage to find a place within 20 miles of our home. But but to everything there are detractors like the husband said and in this case it was three not feeling too well little kids, I was reluctant but shilpi my sis-in-law adamant. She was sure it will be a great treat and outing for all including my nature lover and ever ready to try new experiences mum, so after some initial resistance we set on our trip. The weather was lovely and fully cooperative, nice and sunny though not warm.
After a picturesque ride through farms and orchards we reached our destination, and hearts and moods were uplifted and kids were scampering now with, thank god, renewed energy. Anyone with kids can vouch for the fact that if kids are happy and uncranky(is this a word oh well) parents and grandparents enjoy and indulge that much more. Well we reached the so called open barnish looking reception and asked the whats and hows. To our whooping joy the charges were only on the per pound rate of the strawberries we would pick.
We all rushed with our basket to the waiting tractor. Wow from the littlest three year old to the oldest seven year old all the three kids were ecstatic to say the least. We jumped on to the wagon so to say and headed for an experience that will stay with us forever. First we decided on the strategy under the instructions from the experienced farm hand, he pointed to us the areas or the beds where we will find good and plenty strawberries. Also we didn’t want to go too inside the area as the collective little feet would have trampled and crushed the strawberries before they reached the basket. We decided to stay on the periphery.
The kids started picking up and imaging shapes in them arnaav looked for a rabbit shape while arkin discovered a car and arnay was trying to figure out which one to pluck. And in all of that me, shilpi and mum were also busy picking as if there was no tomorrow and well picked loads of it. Suddenly a little tantrum jolted us out of our individual reveries and we separated the two imps only to find and say ok this is the last one, ok now this is the last one, hey look that one is so red and sooo big how can we miss that, ok now arkin stop, stop arnaav, hey look ma another one lets pick that. Finally the lack of space in the basket made us stop and we reached the reception to get them weighed, mum said well they may be 4 pounds on the outset and we almost fainted when the lady said 8 pound, well mum!
Anyway it was a great experience and kids loved it. Now another daunting task was to finish all of those strawberries and that’s what troubled shilpi. But my god the kids were damn excited and asked to eat them the minute we reached the car, what started as one piece, two pieces …went on for a while. It encouraged the kids as they had picked them themselves and the excitement was like as if it was their harvest. Then came strawberry milkshakes, strawberries on the go, and well well the best was strawberries coated with chocolate courtesy of shilpi which she did to perfection. Gosh I am hungry now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ravana o Ravana

Ravana being made and made up
The story of Lord Rama (7th incarnation of lord Vishnu) and his war with Ravana is a staple that almost all kids in India grow up with. The festivities that abound around the time and the holidays that accompany it are a source of major joy, happiness and cheer. It is the season of triumph of good over evil, of spring cleaning and sprucing, of shopping wearing new clothes and cracker bursting. And who can not but be a part of this hugely popular north Indian festival of diwali. Diwali or deepawali which translated literally means string of lights falls on the amavasya or the no moon night following dusherra. It is this festival of Dusherra, the precursor to Diwali, when the effigies of Ravana, kumbhakaran, and meghnath go up in the flames to the cheering and hooting of the crowds. This festival is also popularly known as vijaydashmi, vijay which when translated means victory and dashmi meaning tenth, as this falls on the tenth day of the lunar month of Ashwin, also the battle between Rama and Ravana lasted for ten days.
Well the making of the effigies of the three asuras that’s where my story really begins from. In the west of Delhi, a colony called Titarpur, is the Ravana colony. As this is the only place where most of the artisans who are crafting these effigies are based. A couple of days back my drive through the place on the main road turned out to be an exciting journey, spotting the bellies of the yet unstuffed Ravanas and his kin lying around all over set the mood. They were all over the place on the roof tops, either sides of the road even on the central verge. The Ravanas from here are supplied all over India and even exported. The twirl of the moustache, the glint on the eyes, and the smirk on the face on the effigies was really not to be missed. It was an eye-opener for the hubby, who was seeing this for the first time. He kept calling out time and again “o look there, and there and then there too.” Dusshera is a time for celebration for all these Ravanwallahs who are engaged in making these effigies, procuring bamboo sticks and other raw material starting from july onwards. And as this is a seasonal event the ravanwallahs are usually involved in something or the other the rest of the year to keep their income coming. However this is the time when the entire families and even friends are engaged in the making and decorating of the effigies. The rush and the continuous buzz of activity in this colony is un missable and a delight to watch. These effigies will go up in the flame on Dusshera and we will all be cheering and jeering at the demon king. And this will also be the time when these craftspersons will heave a collective sigh of well…. a sigh tinged with elation and that little regret of seeing their art go up in flames in a matter of moments. But well another dusshera, another day, and another hope isn’t that what we all live for and look forward to.
My son wanted a picture with Ravana and his big mooch (moustache). And poor ravana obliged, he did!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This sketch is of the goddess Tara, reverently followed in Budhism. I got really attracted to a sketch that i saw and decided to draw it for myself. i have used only black sketch pen and a microtip point while making this. i have also emplyed the technique of madhubani art while detailing my sketch. it came to life it seems by just some kind of a divine guidance, infact i loved it so much i am deciding to get this framed and put up in my room.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

canada capers

woh brava ki bottle, woh bbq ki nights.
woh arkin ka bhagna, woh nay nay ka gana.
woh mummy ke haathon ka bana hua khaana.
woh smoke alarm aur woh weeds ko nikalna.
woh shopping pe jaana, woh timbits pe jhagda.
woh papa ke pjs, woh ana ke questions.
woh shilpi ke tuesdays, woh aayush ka karate.
koi mujh ko lauta do woh Canada ki masti, woh pyara sa mausam, aur
woh sath sath rehna!