Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Bazar

Last week a Christmas Bazar was held at the church compound of St Patrick’s Cathedral (Pune)
It was fun and I also had some time to observe the place (and people) in detail.
As I was there before sunrise, I had a good opportunity to see the sun coming up, casting long shadows (a photographer’s delight)

People were getting ready with the stalls, sipping in hot tea and waiting for the customers to come in.

The 8 O’clock sun was a good time to click the steeple of the church. Sitting at one of the stalls I had ample time to observe the eagle sitting on one of the steeples. (or rather on the lightening conductor)  Its mate came down and both went gliding together around the steeple, and when they were tired they would rest for some time. I presume there is a nest around.

St Patrick's

Now looking at the close up of the eagle, I was wondering if the pole of the lightening conductor is designed with the forethought that a heavy bird can possibly sit on it.

The sun caught the banana tree in the right mood.

And so was the path to the Bishop’s house.

After every service, people thronged in and the deserted tables were full of activity.

Some liked the home made pickles while others bought the young saplings that were for sale. 

Oh yes there were eatables too and who wanted to miss the yummy and hot cutlets. Some preferred the Vindaloo over the Sorpotel. 

Vindaloo Vegetables  (the above photograph is by Marianne from Flickr)

I saw some making a beeline to the fried fish and chicken roast counter (probably with the hope that they don’t have to cook for the Sunday afternoon)
Chicken Roast

I liked the way this gentleman parked his walking stick around his neck while sipping the hot coffee.

As far as the buying power is concerned, it is the kids that decide and steer the parents about what to buy. No wonder most of the ads on the television are aimed with the kids in mind.

Starting from the tiny tot. This one (above) was attracted by the bright colours on the next table and kept leaning towards that (even though there were lovely brownies right under her nose) But the brownie table was not attractive and colourful for this one year old !!

Then there were the young ones and teenagers who knew what a Brownie really meant and how it activates the salivary glands. 

The best brownie in town So here was a boy who kept pulling his dad back, coaxing and cajoling him to buy “just one daddy , only one pleeeese”

Finally his dad relented and bought a box full (can see the boy’s happiness who just could not believe that he is finally going to slurp his Brownies)
I had to keep clicking without anyone noticing the camera, but this smart girl did spot me, while her parents were busy making the purchase.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Poona Coffee House

After reading the papers, I am getting the jitters.
Daily there is some news about some one or the other getting raided based on the connection between that person and Mr Kalmadi.
Poor guy, he conducted the Commonwealth games so well and India bagged so many medals, but now that the games are over, all are pouncing on him and accusing him of so many things. Nobody is praising him for the lovely opening ceremony that he orchestrated. How can one forget the lovely and colourful Indian dances that were performed.

I confided my fears to my wife about the raids that are conducted.
Wifey  “but why are you so worried about it?”
Me  : “you see once upon a time I had given him some money”
Wifey : “What ? and when was that ?”
Me : “in 1975”
Wifey: So long ago? And how much was that amount?”
Me : “Three rupees fifty paise”

Wifey : “That’s all? And why did you pay him that princely amount?”
Me: “Three rupees for Idli chutney (with sambhar of course) and fifty paise for the coffee”
Wifey: “Now this is all getting very confusing. Why did you have to pay the great Kalmadi for Idli and Coffee?”
Me: “Please correct yourself, it was Idli with chutney and Sambhar and Coffee. Let me explain. I was strolling down Deccan Gymkhana when I saw this Poona Coffee House and decided to get some coffee. Once inside, I decided to have some Idli too. So they served me hot Idlis (of course with Chutney and Sambhar) and with some nice coffee. The bill amount came to three rupees and fifty paise. I dutifully paid the bill at the counter to a man clad in crisp white kurta pajamas. It was only later that I realized that this gentleman sitting at the cash till was none other than the great Suresh Kalmadi who owned the place.”

Wifey: “ Wow you came face to face with Mr Suresh Kalmadi. Now I can tell my friends that my husband met Mr Kalmadi and ….”
Me : “You will tell no such thing. As it is I am worried about having paid him money. What if the CBI comes to some conclusion that I paid Mr Kalmadi with some ulterior motive?”
Wifey: “Wait a minute, do you have the bill?”
Me : “What bill? Oh you mean the one I got at the hotel? No I don't have it. Kamladi took it from me and stuck it on some pointed skewer that he had on his table. In fact there were lots of bills on that skewer. I wonder if all those poor people will get arrested. I hope he has not  destroyed those bills. At least that could prove that I paid him for the Idli (with chutney and Sambhar) with Coffee”
Wifey : “Its just a piece of bad luck that you had to go into the Poona Coffee House”
Me : “Do you know Narayana Murthy proposed to Sudha at the Poona Coffee House

Wifey: “You mean Narayana Murthy of Infosys? Oh my God see where they have reached. If only you too had proposed to me at Poona Coffee House, instead of some lousy place at East Street
Me: “You are straying away from the point. Here I am worried about not getting caught for three rupees fifty paise”
Wifey: “You are really turning yourself into a celebrity isn’t it. Last month you told me you had met some one who met Hitler, and now this. I wonder what else you have up your sleeve.
I suggest you keep mum about it and don’t tell anyone that you ever paid any money to any politician”
Me : “and you will not tell anyone that I met Mr Kalmadi. Oh how I wish I had not entered that Coffee house and instead had gone to the Sunshine Hotel next door and enjoyed the music from the juke box ”
Wifey : “Now where in Poona did we have juke box?”
Me: “well that is another long story about my right handed friend who drank coffee with his left hand, but I am not repeating the whole saga again. But you can read it here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hitler’s Guest from Pune dies at 103

Yes that was what the papers said  ”Hitler’s guest from Pune dies at 103

That sounded interesting and I read through. It said that Mahadeo Kashinath Gokhale who took part in the 1936 Berlin Olympics was a special guest of Hitler for four months as Hitler was impressed by his barefoot running. Mahadeo was sponsored by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda.

I remember reading about the Maharaja and his generous nature. When Dr B R Ambedkar did not have the money to study further, it was this Maharaja who sponsored his education in Britain for this brilliant student from the backward classes of the society which was unthinkable back then.
So I read a little more about the Maharaja and came up with this:
 Maharaja Gaekwad signed a secret pact with Hitler to get his support for India's freedom.

It was known as the Baroda-Berlin Pact. Gaekwad's personal assistant Vishnu Nene was sent to Germany to arrange the meeting. "Gaekwad believed an enemy's enemy is a friend. So, he decided to join hands with Hitler," says Dr Damodar Nene, who has written a new biography of Gaekwad.

To ensure that the British don't suspect anything, Gaekwad took their permission to attend the Berlin Olympics. "His box was placed right under Hitler's during the opening ceremony," Nene says.
Gaekwad is believed to have promised Hitler the support of all Hindu princes in case of a war in Europe. "It was agreed that Hindu princes would back Hitler during the World War II and Hitler would support India in its freedom struggle. The pact was kept a well-guarded secret as the British would have considered it an act of treason," adds Nene.
So all this explained Hitler’s hospitality towards the (non Aryan) athlets !!
Coming back to our sportsman Mahadeo, he had many records to his credit.
He has cycled from Pune to Delhi and Mansarovar.
He has cast his vote for elections 35 times (from the age of 21 till 103)
He is one of the few people who was alive to have seen the freedom fighters Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi.
For teaching Marathi, Hindi and cross-country sport to the British governor between 1938 and 1941, he used to get 1 kg pedha and burfi as fees.

At 98, he used to consume 1.25 kg of shrikhand (yogurt cream dessert) and 90 jalebis (Indian sweet) if challenged at any wedding ceremony.
He visited Karachi to teach Balgandharva's songs to Jaddanbai (mother of late Bollywood actress Nargis), Begum Para and Husna Bano

He could play the Tabla and compose music.

As I read along I realized that I had met and photographed this multitalented man about 4 years ago, but I was not aware of his achievements then.

Here is one of the pictures that I clicked of Mahadeo after having a small talk with him. (he was a man of few words)
100 years and still going strong
Click on the above picture for more information.
So I met a man who met Adolf Hitler.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The market place

Love to go to the market. I remember the days when I used to go to the Byculla wholesale vegetable market with my dad. You can’t buy anything less than 5 kg in the mornings and in the evenings it was 2.5 kg minimum. (now that market has been shifted to Vashi in Navi Mumbai )

One can imagine how the markets were about a century ago. It must have been more of a barter. This is an old market scene at Shaniwar wada.

Down south if you go to the market you will get a view like this:

Now a days I go to the open market here in Pune (with my camera)
There is no saying what opportunities come up. Like I realized that dogs like to go to the market. I mean which dog won’t like it if it is going to be carried around.

Or if it is the mango season, it is nice to see raw mangoes being cut for pickle.

The sight of fresh Ginger and Garlic is something that cannot be missed:
Ginger and Garlic

Apart from buying fresh vegetables and fruits, it is interesting to observe the customers who haggle with the shop keepers. And there are some customers who have their fixed shopkeepers. Like we know one guy whom we call “Lord of the Rings”
Yes he is a vegetable seller and he has some items which is not kept by other shop keepers like Chena (Yam) Chembu (Colocasia/Taro) etc.
So when wifey hands me the list of things that I have to buy, she adds “and buy the chena from the Lord of the Rings”
In fact it was I who christened this guy as “The Lord of the Rings” because he was covered from head to toe with gold ornaments.
His domain
(click on the above picture to see the chunks of chain that he is wearing, along with his earing)
And all his fingers had rings. It was with great difficulty that I managed to click his photograph, because I had no idea how he would react to being clicked. So I pretended that I was clicking the tomatoes and took a long shot and later zoomed in and cropped the part showing his rings.
Lord of the rings
I have this habit of taking prints and giving them a copy of the print. It is worth it to see the smile on their face when they see themselves in print. Like this one that I took

and then in the next week I handed over a print to the lady who was in the forefront of the picture. She could not believe that she was the one in the print,

and she handed it over to her colleague who was all smiles on seeing the picture. Meanwhile our lady here was dying of embarrassment. May be she has never been clicked at her workplace.

Then there was this vegetable seller who said “why don’t you click me” So I did just that, which looked like this:

So I did some cleaning up of his stall to make his surrounding look respectable and came up with this:

Two weeks later I handed him that print and this is how he reacted.

Then he wanted me to click him with the picture in his hand !!

But I have yet to hand over the picture of the “Lord of the Rings” (like I said he is very burly and I am wary of his reaction)

By the way I Googled for marketplace and came up with my own picture which I clicked about 4 years ago.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

But the clock still works

There is this table clock in my bed room.
Every day in the morning it tells me that it is really time to get up and get moving if I have to catch that 7.30 bus.
During its lifetime it had its share of being knocked about and survived some falls. The corners have been chipped off. It was a clock cum photo frame. Now only the hinges remain to remind us of  the frame side.  But the clock still works.

The back cover does get dislodged at times. I don’t see any screw that can fix that. Maybe it was glued in earlier. So I have tied a small thin thread that holds it together.  But the clock still works.

Then we have our Shantabai (maid) who does a thorough cleaning of the place (including the clock) and all that handling freezes the time. So when I come back from work and find that the clock has stopped at 2.23, I put on my Sherlock Holmes cap and infer that "today the maid did the cleaning of my study at 2.23 pm"
I do some readjusting with love and care … . . . . . .  and the clock still works.
Many have told me to throw away that old thing and get some thing new which will look hep and savvy. I refuse to do so because  . . . . . .  .  the clock still works.
About 20 years ago when I had been to Bombay (Mumbai) one of my aunts give me a basket of fruits and hidden in those fruits was “a little something for you”
Only when I reached back home did I realize that the little something was a clock cum photo frame.

 During the course of time the dreaded disease of cancer caught up with her, and after a brief battle, she passed away.
Whenever I look at that clock I think of her and what better way to be reminded of a person who was dear to me.

The clock still works.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New around here

Hi there
I am the new face around here. This is my profile. I am brown coloured on the back and scaly white on the breast. In fact I am known as the scaly breasted Munia. 

Don’t get fooled by the size that you see here on the screen. Actually I am very tiny. Can you locate me in the picture below?

Ok, for the ones who could not locate me, see the same picture now where I have been highlighted (sitting on that thin bamboo pole)

Now you get some idea as to how tiny I am. (actually about 11 cms)

We decided to build our nest here in this clump of the creeper. As it happens to be close to a nest of the bulbul, Mr H (Mr Haddock) feels that we have come here for publicity (like the one the bulbul family got from the previous blog that he wrote) I think he is reading a lot of Hollywood stories about how stars flock to Beverly Hills to be in the limelight. But believe me we are very camera shy. So keeping that in mind, he did click some pictures from far.

I along with my partner did a good search in the neighbourhood and decided that this place is good so we started work. Making the base is the critical part. As you can see we use long leaves and the female does most of the interior design. We don’t use twigs and sticks (like the bulbul’s nest that you see in the foreground)

I am supposed to fetch the leaves.
It is not an easy task as you can see the size and length of the leaf that I fetch. Mr H has got the hang of it. I first sit on the pole with the leaf.

Then I make a dash into the nest with the leaf. 

From the above picture you can see the size of the leaf that I have to lug.
Once the merchandise is delivered I make sure that the coast is clear by first looking to the right and then to the left

And then make a quick dash out to fetch the next leaf.

 It is mostly green leaves but intermittently we use dry leaves too. 

At times my partner too comes with me to select the appropriate leaf (you know how females are) and then we both fly back to take that first halt on the pole.

The idea is to make an oblong house with an opening on the side. It is quite big as some times we do have community nests. It may look like an untidy globe as we don’t weave them but are just pushed  to one side. It may not look neat but it is robust and waterproof.

And this is the opening which is facing east. We usually have the opening facing east/south east so that the morning sunlight comes in.

Once this job is in progress it is my work to go around the nest from the out side and see that the loose ends are tied up.
If the loose ends are too long and hanging out then I pull them out and take them back in through the opening so that the female can rearrange the furniture. Ugggghhh this one is real tough but I have to tug and tug till it comes out.
Some times the leaf slips off from the beak and we try to retrieve it (better than going all the way back for a new one)
Here one fell into that potted plant below and I am trying to get it back, but sitting on that huge palm is a bit slippery.
Making a visual inspection from the north side. All clear here.

On day two we get thinner and smaller leaves so that the fine work can be done inside.
During this nest building there are many other birds who do pass by and have a look at our work in progress. For example this white breasted Robin sat down there and was observing me tying up the loose ends.

Or this yellow breasted Robin who was feeding on the red flowers and buds

who did a hanging survey to have  a closer look at our nest.

Then there was this Mynah (with his neatly combed hair) who kept roaming around the terrace.

Oh the racket they  make . . . . . . .what is he trying to do? Neck exercise?  

I don’t think Mr H will be able to show you the eggs as our nest is well enclosed.
But may be when they are hatched and the young ones will come out you may get  a glimpse of them (if you are lucky)
So have a nice time till then.