Tuesday, September 16, 2014


It is interesting to see the different signs that are put up in the washrooms of hotels and restaurants.
Some are very simple like these

These are from a hotel in Amsterdam.

The entrance for this one is a common one (for Men and Women) This was in California where we had brunch at the Cliffhouse. The type of art used here is from the early fifties.

This is from La Bularia, an eating place in Amsterdam. From the drawings, one can make out that it is a Spanish joint.


One that I saw in France

I don’t know where I clicked this but the braille letters at the bottom indicate that they have thought of the blind people too.

In case people can’t read the “Ladies” sign, there is a picture of a girl alongside it. The drawing of the girl is in Mario Miranda style, but not actually by Mario. This is at the Baga beach, Goa (Hotel Britto)

Talking of toilets, I found this feedback system installed in Singapore airport (Changi) very interesting. After using the toilet, you can give your feedback by just pressing a button. What a simple and effective way for instant feedback.

Like me, all must have pressed “excellent” as can be seen here.

Coming back to washroom, this is one sign which needs no description. Every Indian anywhere in the world will know the meaning of this. Clicked this in an eating place in the suburbs of Mumbai.




Friday, August 29, 2014

The coconut tree climber

Recently when I had been to Kerala (south India), I saw this guy named Thomachan who came to climb the coconut tree. Everyone kept talking about the “tree climbing machine” But what this guy had was not a machine but a contraption which helped him to climb the tree.

The design was simple. The contraption gets locked on to the tree when you put your weight on it (by stepping on it) There were two, one for each leg.

He carefully strapped the pair on to the tree and climbed up with confidence.  

Once he reached the top, he cut lose all the coconut that was ready to be plucked. In all we got 32 coconuts from this single tree.  

I was comparing this with a black and white picture of mine where I could climb a coconut tree half way without any assistance. (this was clicked about 45 years ago)

OK, in case you are wondering how I did it, this particular tree had nicks carved out in the trunk to enable the toddy tapper to climb up.   

Coming back to our guy Thomachan, while he was gathering all the coconuts, I saw him picking up an aluminium coat hanger. I asked him where it come from. He said “It is usually the crows, they take it from the clothesline to build their nest”   

Now that rang a bell. I remember seeing the same phenomena here in Pune just a month ago. In fact there were two hangers that were used in the crow’s nest here in Pune.

Here it is seen from another angle clicked again after a month. Probably the hangers slipped down after a heavy downpour.

Have to give  credit to the crows that they chose to pick only aluminium hangers (being lightweight) The ingenuity of the crows are universal, even if they are separated by about 1200 kms. (distance from Pune to Cochin)

Have made a small video to show how Thomachan climbed the coconut tree.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Drumstick flower

Liked the way this single stalk of Orchid stood out, braving the rain and the strong breeze.

Had been for a short visit to Kerala and the heavy rains kept us indoor most of the time but from the window one can see some interesting things, like this irumban puli (Averrhoa bilimbi)

They are good as a substitute for tamarind or tomato in an emergency. They are easy to pluck as they grow low – on the trunk of the tree.

Another view from the window is this big bunch of banana.

We may have to wait for another month to cut it down, but there is no harm in cutting its flower (some call it Banana hearts)  We did just that and made it into a lovely curry. (the flavour resembles that of the artichoke

A close look at this rope showed some busy ants. When I followed their trail, I found that they were building their home in one of the low slung trees. We humans can learn a few things by observing their team work. 

I spied these flowers on the drumstick tree.

Always liked the side dish that was prepared from the drumstick flower. So I collected as much as I could, and carefully removed the flowers and segregated them.

These were properly washed and soaked.

After draining the water they were sauted on slow fire. Added some grated coconut and further sauted them.

The end result was really sumptuous.

Drumstick flowers prevent frequent infection of the throat, chest and the skin.
(all pics clicked in and around the house)

Next post - some more on the Kerala trip. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Never a dull moment

The grey Langur paid us a visit the other day. In fact there were two of them. How I came to know about it was by the distress call of the Koel. To add to this the crows were all excited and were concentrating on the mango tree.   I had a closer look at the tree. After carefully scanning through the gaps in the tree, I found this cute face looking back at me. 

Had enough time to grab my camera and take some quick shots.

The crows were getting really agitated (and frustrated) as they could not swoop down on them. The second line of attackers were waiting above for action:

Meanwhile our friends decided to change location and descended on our garden. One of them perched on the bamboo scaffold and relished our flat bean shoots. 

Later while checking the net, I found that Langurs are indeed known as “leaf eating monkeys” as they feed mostly on leaves.  Other than leaves they eat fruits, shoots, roots, seeds, flowers, grass.
While enjoying the shoots, I saw him eyeing the Dutchman’s pipe (or queen of the night) flowers at the other end of the garden. I presume he gave up the idea, probably guessing that that they were the ‘already bloomed ones’ (these flowers bloom once a year and that too in the night)

The front line attackers had a clear target now and resumed their attack.  

Our friends now moved on to the adjacent tree and found the flowers on this tree really delicious. (this is the same tree on which the bats come at dusk during this season)
I suppose they had their fill on that tree and moved away, as the concentration of the crows shifted away from our house.

With some greenery around the house, there is never a dull moment.

I did manage to take some video footing too and you can see it here:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The fruit market

While in the fruit market, I saw this lady, almost lost in the heap of newspaper that was used to wrap up these papaya.  I think her job was to unwrap them.  It is said that that by covering the fruit in paper the ethylene gas emitted is trapped inside which helps the fruit to ripen faster.  I would be more worried by the printer’s ink that gets rubbed on to the fruit when a newspaper is used (especially if it is not soy ink)

Once unwrapped and segregated, these ripe ones make a pretty picture, with a dash of yellow and green.  

The variety of fruit that one gets to see in a fruit market is something that I look forward to.

For example this Dragon Fruit caught my eye. One of those fruits that I have yet to taste.

The Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) is being hailed as having remarkable health giving properties including the ability to regulate the blood sugar level in diabetics as well as providing a dose of anti-oxidants.  

For those who want to know, they were sold at Rs 200/- per kg. (may be, next time I will buy a few)

Haggling and selecting the fruit is one of the things that I enjoy watching in a market.

The heap of watermelon says that it is still in good supply even though it is well past summer time.

Saw these fresh dates and bought some. (I never knew fresh dates were red in colour) 

All these fruits reminded me of the water apple (syzygium samarangense) that I clicked at my sister's place last month. They make excellent wine. 

Talking of fruits, we usually club tomatoes under vegetables even though they are fruits.

The same goes for coconuts. We never consume them as fruits, but is used mainly for cooking in “coconut based curries”

And talking about coconuts, these pictures shows how coconut trunks are used as goal posts in “God’s own country”

Considering the world cup fever, I think this is the right picture to sign off with. 

May the best team win.