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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows- Book Review

Bali Kaur Jaswal has done an excellent job of engaging the reader’s attention with a story that involves Punjabi widows.

Nikki, a young law-student drop-out, takes up the job of English tutor at the Indian Community Centre at Southhall gurudwara, where widows enroll. The women don’t know to read or write but they have bold fantasies and stories beneath their white garment. The English workshop turns into erotic story-telling club.

Nikki encourages women to share their dark secrets of longings and womanhood, The widow have great fun. Only one woman writes the stories while others relate.  The thrill begins when the stories leak out of the classroom, and are passed through emails and photocopies to the whole of Indian community in London.

At first, I was stunned to read about the erotic detail of the older women of Indian community. Such topics are taboo in our culture and we hardly hear such intimate stories. (not even amongst our close friends). I even hid the book, when I had visitors at home, fearing judgement for a single person like me seeking pleasures on a sly. 

But as the story progressed, I found Ms Jaswal cleverly weave the story of sex, murder and mystery into most interesting plot that captivated me till the last page.

A hilarious book, enjoyed reading it.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Yugpurush- A must-see-play-you-are-sure-to-enjoy

This week, I was invited to watch the play Yugpurush (in Hindi) at Nehru Centre. Until now (forgive my ignorance) I was not aware that our great leader Mahatama Gandhi also had mentor who played a pivotical role in shaping up his strong character of peace through non-violence.

This is the best play I have watched in a long time. I was very impressed by the dialogue delivery, the expressions (that were so realistic) and the way the play was handled. It transported me to another century where Mahatma tells the story of his mentor, Shripad Rajchandra, a  poet, philosopher, spiritual guru and one of the Mahatama’s closest friend, and how he was responsible for shaping up his personality and his belief in non-violence and his peaceful solution to grave problems.

The props kept changing with great efficiency, relating the story during different times and I sat mesmerised as I watched the scene and the situation move from one location to another.  At one point, you are in his humble home, where he is sitting by his loom weaving cloth, at another moment he is in Bombay, as a young Lawyer looking for a job, where he meets his mentor,  At another instant he is at the ship yard with tourist on route to his trip to Africa and at another instant, he is in Jail with his freedom fighters behind the bars. The play scores the most in creating realistic and visually stunning scenarios throughout its duration.The story moves from present to past to present again and the inert positions of the actors  transports you to that era.

At one scene, Mahatma is caught up between two religions, Muslim and Christianity and he is in dilema as to which religion should he follow, Muslim or Christian or should he continue to uphold his own values as a Hindu. He is advised to look within him to find answers.

After Gandhi moved to South Africa, the duo corresponded through thousand of letters. It is through this correspondence that Mahatma understands the value of non-violence, the fearlessness and his tranforming character and consciousness.

Directed by Rajesh Joshi and written by Uttam Gada, the play features Parthsarthi Vaidya, Pulkit Solanki and Babul Bhavsar in important roles. The credit goes to the director for handling difficult scenes and to the lighting and the props used as well.

It is worth a watch. There is no moment of boredom. I would love to watch it again and again.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Visit to Tea Gardens At Kerala

Dear Rohit

I have not seen you on the Facebook since a long time.  Each day I go to check your timeline I do not see any fresh status on your block under  "Whats on your mind".  I had posted some pictures lately of my trip to Kerala but there were no  likes nor any comments from you. Did you do that on purpose? Did you ignore my post or have you been away from  Facebook lately? Hope all is well with you.

 Last week I spent few days at the tea estate at Peermade, four hours drive away from Cochin. I was with my women companions...friends who are beautiful inside out..ones who I love most dearly..ones who add sunshine to my life, the combination of their presence with the beautiful stretch of greenery spread over miles and miles of open space transported me to another world..of happiness and bliss...a pure personal delight.  My virtual friends  on social media, who saw the pictures of my trip thought that I was at the most boring place to be, since they could not see any other people besides us. They wondered as to what fun could we have in such a lonely place.

But believe me Rohit, it was a wonderful experience. I wish you had also come along with us, I am sure you would have liked it. I know, I know, its my fault. But then, I couldn't have invited you since we were a group of only five women. 

Early mornings were the best. The crisp air had lovely fragrance, perfect time to practise Ramdev's pranayams. We would spend the time on cane furniture, out at the porch, soaking in the sun, sipping warm jeera flavored water, chit chatting in our night clothes, our hands clutching the shawl wrapped tightly over our shoulder. So many stories to share..of family, of friends,  of good times, of bad times, knitting the canvas of past memories together, bridging the moments with laughter and fun. Each day was so precious, that I would wish it could last forever.    Not that there was no moment of silence, there were. Sometimes I sought an empty corner of the house to be check my thoughts..but it lasted just a while. The murmurs of group chat always distracted me...I didn't want to miss on those conversations.

Days were spent exploring the area, driving through the uneven dirt tracks in between long stretches of small neatly arranged shrubs of tea plantation., some of roads were too narrow and bumpy, so dangerous that we slipped off our seats. Since seat belt is not an Indian culture...we held on tightly to seats or to the friends arm for support....eyes popping off sockets with instant fear. Diverting our attention to a game of Antakshree was the best option.

Rohit, I am sure you would have enjoyed the South Indian cuisine.  When in Kerala, eat what locals south Indian food was our regular diet. We had three cooks in the kitchen who pampered us with their delicious cuisine. Fish  made regular appearance at our dining table so much so that our vegetarian friends wondered how we could enjoy the fish everyday. But we did. It may seem like same fish everyday to my vegetarian friends, what do they know the difference in taste between Rawas, Tuna or Sardines? For them fish means fish, with tail, head, fins. One afternoon I even spend some time in the kitchen watching the cooks churn out a  tasty fish curry. I have made a note of the recipe and clicked pictures too and I plan to cook for you sometime. Coconut rice was another dish that I enjoyed a would have loved the delicious coconut bits with dash of mustard seeds and curry leaves...You missed it, I am telling you, you really missed it. For my vegetarian friends there were dosas and appam with stew or sambar...and spicy coconut chutney. 

We were not totally cut off from reality. Although it was difficult to get telephone range, we were lucky. We had wifi. It was easy to stay connected on line. I was able to post pictures on Instagram and also tweeted some interesting moments. We heard music on U-tube. Lazy hours were dotted with music and game of cards. We played with only plastic chips, winning a game brought so much pleasure. I also cheated in game of cards, (like I always do) but then it was not with real money, so its okay to cheat and be caught in that act.  I captured many candid shots on my camera to share on Facebook and Watsapp hoping that you would see. But you didn't. People who saw the pictures were not very impressed. They felt impossible to believe that I could enjoy in such wilderness...there is not a soul...just greenery...But we did.... 

On our third day, we went into the city at Tekkady..We walked down a busy street, shopping for silver jewellery, ate freshly fried hot banana chips. In the south, they fry banana chip on the road like they fry batatawadas in Mumbai. The air smelt strongly of burnt oil. 

I even sneaked into a beauty parlour for instant kerala spa. I wanted to try the Shirodhara massage, an Ayurvedic treatment that consists on dripping oil on the forehead, exactly in the place where the traditional Indian culture says the third eye is located, I was told that we could find the gate to our inner realms, in a randomised, controlled protocol involving regular movements. But then, I would have to wait for two more hours at the place and then go out with oily body. (Friend tells me that after such massage you are in daze, you walk like zomby with irregular gait). Time was short, so I went for just head massage.

We went to see Kathakali dance. Have you see this beautiful cultural performance? This dance focussed on facial expressions. The performers are dressed in huge stiff colorful dress, their face painted with thick different color mask. The colors reflect certain categories of emotions and gunas (attributes). For example Green goes with godliness, white with spirituality, red with ambition and violence, yellow with passivity and black with evil. Rohit, did you know that?

Their eyes rolled to the rhythm of mridangam from left to right, up and down like marble chips on a billiard board, their face expressions narrating a mythological story without words. You have to see this performance Rohit, this is so amazing. 

Later, we walked down the spice garden, plucking out the bark of cinnamon off the tree, or nibbling on fresh, soft cardamom seeds. There were bay leaves, and cloves, and edible leaves and herbs,  spice fragrance was so strong that I had an urge to cook a Briyani. We did some spice shopping at the end of spice trail. Unnecessary expenses, you would say, if you would see the number of bags I bought back home.

The days passed too soon. There is so much more I could tell you about this trip but I am saving the interesting part to share with you when I meet you personally. I have to go back to Kerala again and this time it will be with you.


PS: I have posted a video of my trip on Utube, do watch when you have time. Here is thelink 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Decoupage Workshop With 50 Young

I have always been interested in decoupage art. It is very simple to make, all it requires is patience and innovation. The best part is that we can use almost any thing, tissue paper, greeting cards, fabric, magazine clippings, newspaper, photographs, etc. All you need to do is to cut, paste and then cover with several coats of varnish or lacquer. Some of the decoupage work that I have done in the past……

Lately I attended a decoupage workshop to get into the groove and re-hone my creative skills. 50-young group had organised the decoupage workshop and Sangeeta Pardeshi was our mentor.

All the things that were required for this session on decoupage were neatly assembled on the table. Colorful tissue paper, glue, sponge, sandpaper, Mod fudge, latex white paint and wooden pencil holder.

We started by painting the wooden pencil holder with latex white paint and kept it for drying.

The printed tissue paper was a special kind and it had three layers. We separated the three layers, discarded the plane ones and worked on printed layer only. The border had to be torn off. Tearing the paper is better than cutting, the rough edges of the tissue blends easily with the back ground.

For 3d work that I had work on some time back, a very sharp scissors was used to cut the prints separately, the white edges were painted black before I could use it. Three layers of same print were placed one over the other to give depth by folding the second and third layer. (well that is for advance work)

Coming back, the three layers of tissue paper were separated, and the colorful printed top layer was used for the project.

Working slowly, we applied glue to the white pencil holder (that we had painted earlier)…stuck the tissue paper with the brush and applied glue neatly (inside and outside of tissue) in one direction only over the print. Care must be taken to avoid crease and to iron out the bubble (if any). Left it to dry

To give the gloss, it was covered with few layers of ModPodge, drying each layer before applying the next coat.

Sandpaper is used to smoothen the rough edges and give a good finish.

The decoupage session was of two hours, but time just tick by. There was a lucky draw and I won one more article.

I was excited to share this art with my friends. We met over lunch at friend’s home and then sat down to work on making more things.

It was an enjoyable evening creating designs on drinking glasses.

There are many videos on decoupage available on line. If you seriously want to practise this art, you could watch tutorials on U-tube. One link that clearly explains this art, gives step by step tutorials. Do visit it at


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