Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stretching and twisting

Nothing like seeing the youngsters taking an interest in Yoga. 

International Yoga day was celebrated last Wednesday and the participants were  a mix of the elderly and young ones. 

For those who could not sit on the floor, special chairs were provided. 

Stretching is one of those basic body movements that we forget to do on a daily basis. 

And the same goes for twisting. With proper guidance from the instructors, practically all could do it well. 

Some exercises work well with the help of a partner. While performing there is also a sense of “helping each other” 

While doing the “vrikshasan” alone, your raised palm goes only up to the top of your head, whereas while doing it with a partner your palm moves further by which there is a good stretch on the side ribs. 

The eye exercise is very relevant especially in the present era of computer screens 

I captured the complete program in a video of 16 minutes, but had to break it up in parts to send it across in 1.5 min capsules through WhatsApp. (the latest mode of communication for all) 

On the whole a good experience. My recommendation - make Yoga a daily habit.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Pulpit

It is said that you can make three wishes when you visit a new church.
Last week we had been to the Cathedral at New Delhi (Gol Dak Khana) on Easter day. 

Was impressed by the way it is maintained with no major changes from the time it was built. Even the distance between the pews was something to be appreciated as it gave enough leg space as well as space for kneeling. 

The Sacred Heart Cathedral was the second Catholic Church built in Delhi by the O.F.M. Cap priests.
Out of the eight architects invited to submit their plans, the one by Mr Henry Med was finally selected. 

The benches too were designed by Mr Med and was made by a Chinese Catholic at a cost of Rs 75/- each.
There are many stories about how the church came up, including the donations from Japan and China.
One day an unknown young man came to meet Fr Luke. He left after leaving a short message: “withdraw your money from the bank for it is going to crash” Fr Luke did not question the veracity of the message, and withdrew his building fund from the Alliance Bank. The day after the Church building fund was withdrawn, the bank indeed crashed.
The mural of the last supper is also unique. It is one of those rare ones in which Judas is not shown. The Capuchin Friars working at that time in Agra Archdiocese were used as models for the Apostles and Jesus. The names of the Apostles whom these Fathers represent are painted below the mural.  For example Fr Basil, portraying Jesus was an Irish. 

The choir loft used to house a massive pipe organ which was functional till the early seventies 

For such a big and renowned church I found that the sound system was not up to the mark and there was some sort of an echo or reverberation. Later while reading the history of the church I found the reason for the echo.  The dome was so designed that it used to enhance the voice of the celebrant or preacher . The architecture of the thirties had no way of foreseeing the acoustic needs of the electronic era. During the seventies the church consulted many companies including Philips to make the sound system effective. It looks like the mystery of feedback of the sound system could not be fully resolved.
I got to photograph the place at night. The sunflowers are sort of confused (don’t know which side to face) 

I am always fascinated by the pulpit of the churches I visit (if there is one that still stands) The pulpit is not in use now anywhere in the world for almost half a century.
The woodwork of the pulpit in this Cathedral is simple but elegant. 

Compare this with the one I clicked at Brussels (Belgium) What intricate work. 

And the one at Notre Dame Paris

Here is the simplest one I found at a Cathedral near Normandy (France) The idea was that the priest should have an elevated place for his sermon. 

And here is the one depicted by our own cartoonist Mario Miranda with a humorous twist to it.  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Manga Chammandi

There is a mango tree right outside my window and looking at those mangoes reminds me of the lovely “Manga chammandi” (Mango Chutney) my aunt used to make. 

I had to just pluck a mango and give it to her and she would make it in a jiffy, grinding all the ingredients together manually on a grinding stone.
With a vague memory of how she made it, I tried to do the same. Plucked a mango, added a few leaves of Kadipatta (curry leaves) and just three of these chillies from the garden. 

Got a medium sized coconut from the store, and grated half of it.
Adding a pinch of salt for taste, ground the whole thing in a mixer. (would have loved to do it manually on a grinding stone, but unfortunately we  don’t have one now)
The end result was not bad, but I am sure that my aunt’s chammandi was better. 

Plucking the mango was a bit tricky. It was a case of “so near and yet so far” 

Was thinking of designing a fruit plucker, when I came across a small video which showed “many uses of plastic bottles” and I used one of the ideas mentioned there.  Simple but very effective. 

All in all, it was a very fruitful experience. (reminded me of how we used to steal mangoes as a kid) 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Squashed rat

I was at the comp typing out my new blog post when wifey casually said “There is a new man in my life”
I turned and looked at her, trying to comprehend what she said.
She said “meet Mr Cute” and dangled this little guy in front of me. 

I knew that she was into crochet of late, but this little guy took me by surprise and brought a smile on my face.
In December she was busy making angels of different sizes and shapes.

I asked her “They are so colourful, aren’t  angels supposed to be all white?” 
She said “These are for kids and they enjoy colourful things”

Last week I got a shock when I saw this head lying on the cot. 

When I asked her she said “Oh that is just the head, wait till you see the rest of the body”
I love the small things that she makes, like these key chain Owls 

Or the little book marks. This cow with a big head.

I photographed this squished mice book mark on a Spice book and inside the book titled "Sholay" that I was reading

Some of the things that she has crocheted has reached different parts of the world, like this pillow case which has reached Canada 

This scarf and cap has reached Australia (waiting for the cold season to set in) 

These frocks and skirt has reached California 

I wonder how the Australian immigration allowed a squished rat to enter their country. 

Frogies are her favourite, whether it be a simple one or a book mark. 

Her work table where she was working on a doll as well as a rattle. 

Finally she finished her work on the doll and asked me “Can you pack this and courier it to Chennai?” 

Now that put me in a fix as I had to ensure that it was properly packed and more important was the fact that it should reach the recipient at Chennai.
My anxiety reached new heights when there was no news from Chennai even after six days !!   I consoled myself that maybe they were sorting out the squabble between Sasikala and Paneerselvam and delivery of a crocheted doll is last on their priority list.
It was only when I  got a photograph on WhatsApp on the seventh day saying that it was safely delivered, did I leave a sigh of relief.  

Even the dolls looked tired after all the travelling they did.

So I decided to take one more picture of our Mr Cute in our garden happily sitting next to the onion sprigs.      

Talking of the garden, this is the last flower of the season (Vanilla) There are eleven beans holding on which means about 30% success in pollination. The longest bean is 9 inches. 

Now for the next step – Vanilla  extraction. 

PS: addition on 11th March - Little Mrs Mousy gingerly standing at the edge of the Ikea table. 

PS: 12th March - The Hedgehog came creeping in today.  

PS: 13th March - The Koala refused to look at the camera

PS: 24th March - This doll took some time and some say that the previous one was better.  PS: 24th June - The Angel sisters are pretty happy and don't mind standing on the "nut case" 

PS: 24th June - The Angel sisters are pretty happy and don't mind standing on the "nut case"