Friday, November 14, 2014

These birds





The point of attraction in the above picture is surely not the rose. There are three of our avian friends over there (if you look closely there are four) but then if you look at the picture below you may have trouble counting them.


Every year during monsoon they flock to this balcony for the bird feed that they get. In fact this housing complex has got about 110 flats, but these birds like to visit only this balcony (probably they know where the bird feed is available in plenty) 


Its amazing how nature works. This year the rains were late but the Munias were here (at the dot on the onset of the monsoon as per the calendar)


They are extremely shy. So they don’t come directly to the balcony. Their first stop is this tree close to the balcony 


Once they know that the coast is clear, they move on to the next stop – the balcony.   


Then they take turns hoping on to the floor where the bird feed is spread.   



The slightest sound or movement from inside the house makes them scamper back to the first base. (as can be seen in the video)
I remember a pair had made a nest at my place exactly four years ago on which I had written a blog.

Incidentally this is the balcony of the house where our 93 year old friend keeps herself busy by painting and knitting.  While I was there clicking the Munia, I saw her painting a bird on a fabric. 



The video  below is the result of clicking and shooting for three consecutive days by hiding, stalking, peeping and sometimes even using camouflage.
Enjoy . . . . . (if you are watching it on YouTube, keep the setting to 720pHD for clarity)


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Horse Race in Pune


The picture above was clicked about two years ago but was never used in any blog.  I keep passing through this way (the race course) on a regular basis and have seen this guy peering out most of the time. I wonder if he is thinking about the free world outside. 


I like the area around the race course. It has still maintained its old world charm with bamboo trees, bungalows and picket fence 


While enjoying the Oktoberfest, I got to see the horse race. In fact this is the first live race that I have witnessed. Frankly speaking I have no idea of how to bet, nor to calculate the probabilities of a winning horse. 



But I was mighty impressed by the way the race was conducted with everything well planned and executed. There was no time lapse between races, but at the same time there was enough time provided for people to place their bets. 



Huge screens and small TV screen were provided at strategic places to follow the race. 


After every race there were some cleaners who went through the complete track, probably making sure that it was race worthy for the next race.



It was interesting to note that everyone had a Cole race card, commonly known as the ‘Cole Book’. It is the Bible for the race goers. The blue and white cover of this book has never changed for the last 94 years and is supplied to race courses at Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangaluru, Mysore and Kolkata.  


I noticed some frantic last minute betting at these kiosks 



In the foyer there was a top view of the layout of the race course with some detailed information of the gradient of the starting point and the ending point.




It seems these gradients are also taken into consideration when preparing the Cole book to assess the performance of a horse. 

I liked the way the ambiance of the enclosure is maintained. The woodwork, the latches, and the balustrades are just the same as they were during the British era.




The famous Deccan Queen was started in 1930 as a weekend train for the British people in India to ferry race fans from Bombay (Mumbai) to Poona (Pune)
Somehow I missed those fancy hats which is synonymous with races, but still there were some interesting ones 




The Indo German Chamber of Commerce and the DieSulmtaler band was in attendance during the last race of the day. 




Observed that people from all walks of life converge on this point when it comes to betting. You can see the anxiety and the suspense written on these faces as they keenly observe the giant screen to see if “their horse” is in the lead. 


I was observing this old man, with the small chit in his hand where he had jotted down all the probabilities, but the final result did not match, as can be seen from his face. Probably an old timer, who thinks of making it big one day.


Made a small video of my experience of the day. 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Lakeland in India

Wifey was very excited when she got back from a visit to Phoenix mall. Apparently she had visited a store (with her friend) which had home appliances
“You won’t believe the items they have in their store! You should have seen the way they did the icing on the cake. It was so easy and so smooth. Here we struggle and everything gets stuck in the icing bag. I simply love what they have at their baking section”

I was curious about this icing thing and wanted to know what it was and where she saw it.
“It’s a new store that has come up at the Phoenix mall. You know they have all the items that one requires for baking, and here we have to request our friends to get things when they come from abroad. That reminds me . . . . . . I have to mail Linda and tell her not to get that enamel pie dish. The dish I want is available here”

Now this was news to me. So I decided to visit the store. The next weekend we drove down to Phoenix market city and she showed me the Lakeland store. The first thing that I liked about the store was that the items displayed there were mostly made in UK, Germany or Sweden.


The guarantee says The Lakeland guarantee is probably the simplest guarantee in the world! If you are not satisfied with your product any time, you receive your money back! This is our promise.

Initially I was a bit wary about the price tags but if the above guarantee comes with it, then I think it is worth it.
Wifey lead me to a shelf and showed me the Pie dish. 


It was indeed made of enamel and said “oven safe up to 250 deg” Somehow these enamel dishes reminded me of the enamel mug and dish my dad had which was a carryover from his army days.  


Old things are back in fashion I suppose.



I liked those bottles. The milk bottles reminded me of the days when I used to go to fetch milk early in the morning as a kid.  



Wifey showed me the Bundt cake pan and said, “I know we have one at home but it is made of silicon which has a life of its own and tilts to one side. I would like to have this metal one”
It seems the Lakeland store was recently opened here in India, with only two outlets. One in Pune and the other one in Bangalore (at the Forum mall) There is also talk about one being opened in Mumbai. I believe they are brought to you by the Westside stores


 I read a little about the Lakeland store. It started about half a century ago in UK and is owned by a British family. They search the world for innovative products to make everyday life easy and enjoyable.
They had a variety of items, like plastic spoon spatula, parchment papers, latte glass, knife sets, colour changing egg timer, reusable ice cubes (I must Google and find out how those cubes work)





The layout of the store too was good with ample space to browse as well as to push a pram without disturbing other customers.  



There were some good recipe books too on display  


  
I saw wifey avidly eyeing the Ravioli maker (yes, I know what it is. I can hardly miss it when the telly is religiously switched on at home for Masterchef-Australia)  

“What about that icing tool that you wanted?”  I asked her.
She said that it was presently out of stock, but she has apparently placed an order and the store would inform her when the stock arrived.


So now on priority it’s the icing tool, the enamel pie dish and the Bundt Cake pan that will be coming home shortly.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Oktoberfest in Pune India


I made it a point to attend the Oktoberfest this year. This is the sixth year that it is being held in Pune and I kept missing it for one reason or the other. It was a three day affair, held at the race course and conducted by the Indo-German Chambers of Commerce.

Having a ring side view of the horse race was an added privilege as that was a part of the Oktoberfest. (more on the horse race in the next post

In fact horse races in the presence of the Royal family (in 1810) marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent years gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest. A painting of the horse race held in 1813. 


  Coming back to Pune, the German band Die Sulmtaler was in attendance and I must say that they did a good job of keeping the crowd entertained.


Matthias was liberal with his smatter of Hindi “Maja aa raha hai?” 


Many had turned up in the Dirndls. 



Almost all hit the dance floor (or swayed with the music) 





The kids too had a gala time




There were photo opportunities for many



Some liked to be clicked 





but I found that the candid ones were better and had a natural appeal 









The second day being a Saturday, the dance floor was jam packed, so many decided to make do with the table top 


A special mention should be made about the beer and the German food. 



and the sale of the food coupons was brisk


Had the opportunity to witness the "tapping" of the beer keg. (and drank some beer directly from the keg)




The only thing that I found out of place were the plastic glasses.



I mean when you think of beer you always associate it with beer bottles or beer mugs 







Have compiled some videos with more photographs. 

Noticed that these videos were also uploaded at the PuneOktoberfest FB site