Not so gingerly


This morning, as we began making tea, Atul placed a piece of ginger on the kitchen counter and made an interesting observation. “This looks like a rockstar!”

And why not?

The humble ginger has been rocking my life ever since I can remember.

When we were kids, every year, on Diwali (that’s Naraka Chadurdashi or choti Diwali for folks in the north), my mother would heat up sesame oil and crackle black pepper and chopped ginger. Once the oil cooled down a little, and while it was still warm, she would tell us to eat the spices and then apply the oil directly on our scalp.

Diwali signifies the onset of winter, and this little ritual was performed to avoid catching a cold in the changing season. It wasn’t the most pleasant thing to do, and we reluctantly gave in. Over time, though, we began appreciating it for its health benefits, and now, I willingly follow this practice.

Today, as the nip in the winter air pierces my skin, the comfort of ginger makes me feel warm. So I wrote a small ode to the versatile spice, that doesn’t discriminate.

The versatile ginger,
Some love to hate.
But that doesn’t affect her
She doesn’t discriminate.

She blends in well
In my tea as a spice.
And with garlic too,
She plays super nice.

She lifts me up
In bread and cookies
She’s the kick and tang
In my hot curries.

She’s the antidote
To my cold and sores
As well as a soothing balm
To my burning throat.

Ginger, there are some
Who can’t stand your sight,
But ginger, to me
You’re a rock star alright!

Here’s a picture of her, rocking her usual self.

I'm a #rockstar #ginger

A post shared by Kasturika (@kasturika.r) on

With this week’s daily post challenge asking bloggers to experiment, we decided to play around with the picture. I wanted to add fancy stickers and hashtags, and I assumed Instagram would let me do that. So I signed up – today. Turns out, it’s Facebook app that really fulfilled the requirements. (Yes, I’m terribly ill informed about social media apps!)

Here’s what Atul dished up:

She’s so happy I made it past the half way mark!

Psst. Since I’m celebrating my first day on Instagram, can I request you all to follow me? 😉


This is post #16 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

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Defining eyes


I first applied homemade kajal when I visited an acquaintance many years ago. While I waited for my friend to get ready to head out, I chatted with her mother — a tall and slim, simple rural Haryanvi lady. As our mundane conversation veered towards the use of kajal, she mentioned that she had prepared some herself.

I had a vague idea about kajal being nothing but soot. But the small boxes available in the market contain a sticky substance which smeared, so I wasn’t quite sure. She showed me her preparation. The homemade kajal that I saw was, indeed, soot and a tad rough to the touch. I gingerly dipped my finger in it and applied it to the waterline of my eyes. To my surprise, it spread easily and gave a beautiful definition to my eyes. I wondered how she had made it, but our conversation was interrupted, and I didn’t get the chance to ask her.

Life has a funny way of answering our questions, and seemingly disconnected memories find themselves being connected into one big picture. I had shelved this memory of the homemade kajal in the corners of my brain. Until one fine day — on the first Deepavali after our wedding, to be precise — I saw my in-laws performing a puja.

I saw them pray, and then light a large earthen lamp. They then placed an empty lamp, upside down atop the flame, supported by smaller lamps around the flame.

The next morning, I saw our own kajal, ready to be used.

Kajal
The soot collected overnight, a.k.a kajal

This is post #13 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

Lamps in the sun


Diwali may have gone by, but that doesn’t stop me from posting about it 🙂

In this day of fairy lights and tea lights, the protagonist of Diwali, for me, is still the humble clay lamp, or the diya.

Diyas are usually soaked in water before oil is poured in. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing it is to ensure that there are no air bubbles inside the earthen lamps, which would ‘drink’ a lot of oil!

This past Diwali, I caught dozens of diyas lazing on a weathered wooden table, drying under the sun after a nice soak. The contrasting colours and textures of the scene were quite different from what they would end up looking like at night!

Diyas drying in the sun
Diyas drying in the sun

In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Rounded

Picture captured with a Moto G3, edited with Befunky. Click/tap on the picture to enter my Flickr photostream

Happy Deepavali!


As is the tradition in these parts of the world, here’s a few Deepavali pictures 🙂

The Daily Post asks us to post something that glows. Nothing better than the glow of festivity, piety, family and lights.


Here’s wishing you all a very happy Deepavali!

Shine


This weekend India will celebrate Diwali. And preparations for the festival are in full swing. Homes are being scrubbed squeaky clean. Renovated houses are getting last minute paint jobs. Traders – both online and offline – are running promotional offers. And all of us are busy shopping for clothes and gifts!

The most important aspect of the festival, of course, are the lights. With every nook and corner being illuminated, the streets are one of the most beautiful sights to see this time of the year. Even the most common, everyday routes we take, turn glamourous.

As I was walking near a popular market a few days back, lights caught my eye from behind the trees. I would normally just walk past the glittery market, but this time, I took a detour just to soak in the festive ambience.

All decked up – Diwali preparations in full swing

Unfortunately, Diwali is also the worst possible time to head out because pollution levels skyrocket. It’s a shame that noisy and noxious crackers are still so popular. I’ll admit we used to burst crackers as children too. And it’s been years since we stopped. I hope you, my dear reader, will refrain from contributing to the pollution levels this year and enjoy the sights without the sounds.

Update: Big Bazaar does a fabulous job of getting the message across with their paper patakha ad. Check this out:

Here’s wishing you a very happy, prosperous and safe Diwali.


To see more shiny posts from around the globe, head over the the Daily Post.

Lighting up Diwali with colourful candles


Wishing you all a very happy Deepavali and a prosperous year ahead!


nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #11 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

The Owl


‘Come, quick! You have to take a look at this!’

My father’s voice conveyed both his excitement and the urgency of the moment. We rushed to where he stood – at the door to the balcony. He signalled us to wait there and pointed outside.

A huge white bird sat perched on the railing of our balcony. All around it, the crows cawed as loud as their hoarse voices allowed them. This new bird was clearly not welcome. But the commotion didn’t faze the uninvited guest. We gazed in awe at its majestic presence. That was the first time I had ever seen an owl.

My grandmother (father’s mother) was sitting on her bed, when we asked her to join us. She was weak with old age and walked slowly. We prayed that the bird would wait for her. We didn’t dare step outside, fearing we may scare her* away. And she obliged. My grandmother was as excited to see the bird as we were. ‘Goddess Lakshmi has paid us a visit,’ she said.

She must have sat there for half an hour, clearly in no hurry to go anywhere. The crows could caw straight into her ear, and she couldn’t care less! We looked outside from our door to the balcony the entire time she sat there. We just couldn’t get enough of her!

* * *

The owl is called ullu in Hindi, and the word ullu also refers to a fool. I wonder why. With eyes wide open, they seem to be observant creatures. With greying hair and a deep thoughtful expression, to me, they are at once a picture of wisdom, peace and soft, furry, cuddly goodness. I’ve also seen very few owls — which may be the real reason why I find them fascinating.

As northern India prepares to welcome Goddess Lakshmi to their homes on Diwali, I wonder, will they call her consort a fool?

Wishing you a Happy Naraka Chathurdasi (and a happy chhoti Diwali, for those of you in the north!)

* I’m not sure if the owl was a him or a her. But I’d like to think of it as her. 🙂

One of the several bird paintings while I was in high school
One of the several birds I painted while I was in high school. It is now perched on the mantle at my grandparents’ (mother’s parents) home

nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #10 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

A Very Happy Deepavali


We hadn’t really planned on making a rangoli this year. It isn’t something we do traditionally.

All that changed, however, when a close friend of mine sent me a photograph of a beautiful rangoli she had made with her sister.

My cousin and I went shopping for colours, and with the help of my mother, drew a rangoli together.

Wishing you all a very very happy and prosperous (and hopefully cracker-free) Deepavali.

Happy Diwali


We mixed up the traditional white stone Kolam powder with colourful Rangoli powders to create a small message. A couple of shots of our little decoration for this year’s Diwali…

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Deepavali!

Happy Deepavali!


Diya Painting
Happy Deepavali!

Today, on the festive occasion of Diwali, I painted this little Diya…

Here’s hoping every home has a lamp, and a bright future.
Wishing everyone a very happy, cracker-free and safe Diwali!