23 May 2016


As I have crossed 50 and marching well towards 60, I meet more youngsters who want to touch my feet out of respect. I am at a loss to what to say to bless them. I have grown up hearing my elders almost singing....' दूधो नहाओ, पूतो फलो....' Which is absolutely obsolete now. Just saying 'खुश रहो' on every occasion is too monotonous. After much contemplation, I have coined my own blessings......
"निरोगी काया, पास हो माया।
मन में शान्ति, हरित क्रान्ति"

With love to you all who intend to seek my blessings !
What say?

18 January 2016

Some Quick-fixes from my Kitchen

              Carrot Kanji- a probiotic drink



250 gms red carrots
1 small size beetroot
2 tbsp powdered rai/mustard seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste


Place 2l of water in a saucepan for boiling.
Peel, wash and cut carrots and beetroot into 2inch long and thin pieces.
When the water is boiling, put vegetables in it, cover the pan and switch off the heat.
Add dry spices to it and keep covered. Let it cool. When at room temp, fill the preparation in an air-tight glass jar.
Place the jar in sunlight and stir the contents daily twice.
On the third or the fourth day, just taste some kaanji, if it tastes sour and not bitter raw rai, your kanji is ready to be savoured.
It can be served as a welcome drink or just sit in the sun and relish a glassful of it [discard the vegetables].
Sometimes, I use it to fill Panipuris for a change.

25 March 2015

Chappan Kaddu

Chappan Kaddu from my kitchen garden

You must be wondering  why a write-up on a vegetable which is hardly relished by people. It so happened that I had posted the above picture on my FB coverline and was surprised to know that many of my friends did not recognise the vegetable. I think the vegetable, once so commonly seen in the vegetable market, has vanished from the dining table and people's mind as well. I hope this happens to `lauki' too one day!

Chappan Kaddu (Summer Squash) also known as vegetable marrow, Botanical name Cucurbita pepo is the common vegetable in India.

The fruit is rounded to spindle in shape and pale green from outside. The flesh is white with no cavity and the seeds are embedded in the flesh.

 The short stalk of the fruit is hard and deeply furrowed with 5 or 8 ridges and is only slightly swollen where it joins the fruit.

It belongs to the zucchini and other gourds family and has a very bland flavour and can be made stuffed to add taste.

The fruit is used immature and is a boiled vegetable.

It is largely available in North India especially in Punjab during the summer months and the one shown here, grew in my kitchen garden when I was in Patiala.

It has great ant-acidic and nutritional value but still not a favourite among the family members due to its bland taste.

26 March 2013

Rock Garden, Chandigarh - It Rocks!

I recently made my third visit to the famous Rock Garden in Chandigarh. Every time I go, I find new additions to art pieces, but this time I observed that the garden has undergone a sea-change and become a popular amusement place for picnickers and families.
A small hole in this wall(behind these visitors) is the ticket window.
The Rock Garden has expanded in area, and has now three phases.  The entry ticket, is a nominal Rs 20/-. The ticket window itself is a small hole in the boundary wall which I found quite interesting and it goes well with the very small arch-doors and narrow and twisted walkways that lead inside to Phase 2.

Phase 2 has exhibits which gives a hint of how waste material can be used in a creative way. There are displays on use of electrical wastes, broken terracotta pitchers. The Phase 2’s  winding corridor takes one to a scenic waterfall, which is always crowded as everyone wants to take a picture here. On the remaining stretch, I walked through rock sculptures of human figures,` man-made’ -real-looking tree-roots and other fancy structures.

Artificial and real trees!
Phase 3 begins with a low arch entrance, just when the Phase 2 ends.
The walkways are pebbled  throughout using medium size rocks which gives the the feel of a complete rocky environment along. The rough finish on the vertical constructions like pillars and walls adds to the terrain. In some places, they have erected huge pillars and walls by simply stacking cement-bags above each other, which I assume had become unusable elsewhere by getting wet or moist. Phase 3 is the largest in terms of areas and is full of small galleries. 
One gallery has fish aquarium alongside its wall, another gallery has several fun mirrors which distort the onlookers body image causing much laughter. Everyone laughs at themselves. There is a toy train and an open auditorium which is used for various cultural programmes. Phase 3 is more of an amusement park with very little original, typical Nek Chand- style mosaic statues. It is an arena for entertainment and picnicking.

The Phase I is the oldest  site, the original part from where this garden took off and is now the last part on the visit. It still has the same charisma and awesomeness and you are spellbound by the site of hundreds and hundreds of figurines covered with colourful broken crockery, tiles and bangles.

I will like to share the depiction of the place verbatim, as expressed by the authorities at the site -
`Chand & Chandigarh - The making of Chandigarh provided the site, opportunity and material for Nek Chand's own creation and the city's people and Government have supported his work. Without Chandigarh there would be no rock garden. Yet there is a clear contrast between, the city's grid pattern streets linking sector to sector and the Rock Garden's labyrinthine paths on which the journey is the purpose.’ - Nek Chand Foundation.

The small room  where this creative journey took off!
Rock Garden for the World - In over 50 years of endeavour, Nek Chand has used his technical know-how to turn his vision into a reality. From its heart at the hut that was once a secret, it is now a total environment that is open to all. Some see the Rock Garden as a recreation of the childhood village of Nek Chand's memories lost to him through the trauma of partition in 1947. Others see a universal home that unites the creatures and elements of nature, and soothes the spirit of the peoples of the globe.'--expressed outside a small mud hut where he first started making these wonderful pieces secretly during his free time.

Please follow me here to take a journey to the garden--

14 March 2013

Nalanda Mahavihar - A Treasure unearthed!

As I travel more and more, my country India, keeps surprising me. I realise that one life-time is too short to see all the wonders this land has inherited. I had always heard of the ancient city Nalanda, and when I visited I was absolutely amazed by its modernity in planning and vision thousands years back.

History of Nalanda goes back to the days of Mahavira and Buddha in 6thC B.C. It was the birth place of Sariputra, one of the famous disciples of Buddha. In 5thC AD, the place became popular as a major monastic-cum-education centre in learning oriental art and education in the Buddhism world and attracted students from all over the world. The galaxy of scholars associated with Nalanda includes Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Vishubandhu, Dhrmapal and Suvishnu. The celebrated Chinese travellers like Hiuen Tsiang and I-Tsing  have extensively described the monasteries and the lives of monks here. As evident from the inscriptions, various subjects like Theology, Medicine, Astronomy, Metaphysics and Philosophy were taught here and the Gurukal was funded by the revenues collected from the villages for education.

Nalanda Mahavihar is considered as the greatest university of the ancient world. It was founded and supported by King Kumargupta I of the Great Gupta Dynasty in 4th-5th C AD, King Harshvardhana of Kannauj (7thC AD) and continued getting support from the subsequent kings. The decline started from Pala Dynasty and its final fall came from invasion by Bakhtiar Khilji in 12thC AD.The excavations done by ASI starting from 1915, revealed the vastness of the university, and it showed a clear presence of a very organised and systematic layout of six brick-shrines and eleven monasteries.

Nalanda was one of the world’s first residential universities with dormitories for students. It was also one of the most famous universities. In its heyday, it accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The university was considered an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a lofty wall and one gate. Its library was the most renowned repository of Hindu and Buddhist knowledge in the world at the time. Its collection was said to comprise hundreds of thousands of volumes, so extensive that it burned for approximately more than three months when set aflame by Turkish invaders!

A 30 meters passage passes from north to south through the entire campus with temples and monasteries on either side.

The most extensive is temple no. 3, which was constructed in seven phases and is surrounded by a number of votive stupas and a group of many small shrines. The first four phases revealed during the excavations were small, dilapidated and, therefore, covered back. The 5th, 6th and 7th phases are clearly marked by the presence of staircase at different levels. A large number of small votive stupas and shrines, perhaps, were added by the devotees at different times. Among these is a distinct chariot shaped shrine, which is visible to this day.

Similarly, monastery no. 1 is very significant from chronological revealing of nine levels of occupations indicated in superimposed structures like drains and rooms.

The basic structures in all the monasteries are same. All of them have classrooms, Monks residences and student hostels with washrooms and a library. The courtyard has a kitchen and granaries to store grains.

In addition to the structures, many sculptures and images in stone and metal have been unearthed. Prominent among these are the various postures of Buddha and the sculptures of Hindu deities and Mythological figures. I was told that the other significant excavations like murals, copper plates, coins, brick inscriptions and terracotta pottery etc. have been shifted to a nearby museum.

Unfortunately,I could not see these collections at the museum, as the museum was closed on that day. But the information unfolded before me, when I stood there amongst ruins, took me back into the history thousands of years back and I could see  monks roaming everywhere, engaged in different activities. I could see Guru-shishyas in the classrooms, people meditating in small rooms and under the trees and others engaged in stone-sculpturing surrounded by beautifully carved statues. No wonder, India is known as the birth-place of all civilizations.

Sources: Wikipedia; Printed material and Guide at the site on my personal Visit.