Month: September 2021

collage of 4 hand-painted terracotta planters with plants

DIY Painted Planters

Once I figured that I could paint pretty much any surface, it was hard to control myself. In one of my previous posts, I’ve talked about painting some decor items. Next, I wanted to revamp my balcony garden. The boring old brown and black plastic pots are a thing of the past. Welcome to the terracotta age. These pots look gorgeous even if you don’t decorate them. They are also a much better option for growing healthy plants. The terracotta wicks away the extra water, and since it’s a breathable material, the plants stay happy. I got my set of pots from The Handcraftian. The set of four came wrapped in a newspaper without a single crack. No unnecessary plastic or thermocol. These are sturdy pots with a large drainage hole at the bottom so you can be sure your plant roots will not rot if you overwater them by accident. I had purchased some clay pots from local nurseries, but I found them to be thinner and developed cracks quickly.  I wanted to try …

collage of hand painted cotton bags and a child using them

DIY Hand-painted Cotton Bags

Have you gotten used to carrying your own bags for shopping? Be it groceries or clothes, most cashiers will check with you if you’re carrying your own bag. It’s a refreshing change from just handing you a plastic bag. Even paper bags need resources to make and a whole pile of unused ones generate a lot of waste. I have various cloth bags distributed all over the place – a few in my car, a foldable one in my purse, a few next to my main door, and a few ‘fancy totes’ to be used for the upscale flea markets. I had a few plain cotton cloth bags lying around and thought about giving them a makeover. I had never painted on fabric before and was sceptical if they’d last. After having used and washed them over the past year, I was pleasantly surprised. I even tried embellishing some of them with beads and parts of junk jewellery that weren’t getting used, and I was thrilled with the results. All you need are some fabric …

plate of 3 sesame and jaggery squares

Sesame and Jaggery Squares (Tilgud)

Sesame and jaggery squares, or Tilgud as it is better known across India, is usually made in January when the harvest season begins in the region. I always look forward to eating it during this time. I’m not sure why I don’t make it at any other time of the year, but I guess the rarity also makes it more special. Ingredients: Makes about 8-10 square bites 1 cup white sesame seeds 1 cup jaggery 1 tbsp ghee ¼ cup roasted peanuts (skin removed) Method: In a flat-bottomed pan on medium heat, roast the sesame seeds. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as it starts to brown a little, turn off the heat and let it cool. You could use black sesame seeds or a mix of both. Just be aware that they have a stronger flavour. Grind the roasted peanuts coarsely. I find it a big chore to roast and remove the peels from raw peanuts, so I buy roasted unsalted peanuts and keep in the freezer to …

Books by Ismat Chughtai on a blue backdrop with a gold necklace

Book Review: Ismat Chughtai

For someone who loves to read and has studied English literature in school and college in India, it was very disappointing to learn about writers like Maanto and Chughtai so late in life. It enrages me that we teach a handful of English writers and completely ignore great Indian writers. “Faith is one thing, the culture of one’s country is quite another. I have an equal share in it, in its earth, sunshine and water. If I splash myself with colour during Holi, or light up diyas during Diwali, will my faith suffer an erosion? Are my beliefs so brittle and judgements so shaky that they will fall to pieces?” Ismat Chughtai – the story-teller Ismat Chughtai was a contemporary of Saadat Hasan Manto. They wrote during the time of India’s independence. Both were put on trial for indecency in their writing then finally acquitted. However, it put a downer on both their temperaments.  Chughtai’s Lihaaf or the Quilt was considered quite progressive for its time, talking about female sexuality. She has also written screenplays …

Child sitting in the decorative niche of a wall with the japanese pagoda behind him

Ramoji Film City

I remember visiting Ramoji Film City over 20 years ago. It was a novelty then – new swanky restaurants and all the movie sets were a great pull. Over the years, the charm has faded a little bit, but in times of local travels, we thought, why not take a weekend break here. At least the green spaces around will be a welcome change. We booked ourselves for a night at Sitara. We were informed that many of the usual attractions like the adventure park and butterfly garden were closed post-COVID lockdown. One tour was available that covered the garden areas, the bird park, and the highlight of the City at the moment – the Bahubali set. Things to do at Ramoji Film City Private vehicles are not allowed to drive on the premises. We had to park our car at the hotel parking bay. Instead, you need to book an in-house tour bus tour or just walk around.  They have two tours – one in the afternoon and another in the evening. We took …

Child with a curry leaves plant in home balcony

How to grow your own food?

Have you ever thought about growing your own food? It doesn’t interest me, to be honest. It’s too much work. However, during the lockdown, I had some time on hand, and I wanted my son to experience the joy of growing something from seed then harvesting it to eat. We have a small balcony garden, so I wasn’t sure how to accommodate growing vegetables. We started small by growing some methi (fenugreek) from seeds from the spice cupboard. We just used a paper cup with holes poked at the bottom. They were quick to sprout, and the handful of micro-greens were enough to make one roti for my son. He was mighty pleased. Armed with some confidence, we turned an unused under-bed storage box into a flatbed by drilling holes at the bottom and filling it with soil. We planted some spinach and amaranth seeds.  Once they grew about 7 to 8 inches long, we harvested the leaves by cutting just the matured leaves and leaving the stem as is. This way, we got another …

2 of the Qutub shahi tombs with blue skies above and lush greenery all around

Qutub Shahi Tombs

Sometimes you take things closest to you for granted. It’s true not only for relationships but also for travels. We were always so busy planning for our next out-of-city travels that we had utterly ignored the varied and rich heritage of the city we live in. We had visited some of the city’s more famous landmarks – the Golconda Fort, Salar Jung Museum, Chowmahalla Palace, Charminar, etc. but hadn’t been to the Qutub Shahi Tombs that were quite close to where we live. I had expected to find some dilapidated old ruins but was pleasantly surprised at the well-maintained oasis I found.  We hired a tour guide who offered us his services at the entrance. He gave us a detailed history of the cluster of seven tombs. To show us the acoustics in one of the domes, he gave us a beautiful prayer rendition that echoed through the chambers. The tombs were once furnished with carpets, chandeliers and velvet canopies on silver poles. Copies of the Quran were kept on pedestals and readers recited verses …

Card saying happy birthday on top of a black and white striped book and a branch of leaves on the side

On Birthdays

Do you celebrate your birthday? I always have celebrated mine. Sometimes with a big party, and sometimes with just a single cupcake. 
Over the years since then, I have met many people for whom birthdays are no different from any other day. I have also met people who celebrate with all the enthusiasm of a child who’s just realised you get gifts on your birthday.

Top view of a Child with a science activity box making a fizzy bomb

Activities for kids at home

At no other time was my creativity (and patience) as a parent tested more than during the 2020 lockdown.  Containing a high energy child within an apartment for two whole months was not easy for anyone. There were days when we over-extended screen time to give all of us a break. But by and large, we were in a position to engage our then four-year-old in multiple activities that did not involve a screen. Fun activities for kids at home Activities for kids at home during lockdown wouldn’t be complete without some amount of screen time every day. Even if it was educational, it still added up. Thankfully, our 4-year-old only had an hour of class time, and he barely kept still during that time. His screentime for the day included activities as well as TV shows or movies. Activities for kids online gave us parents some respite.  Some of the online activities for kids that we tried and loved are listed below. 1. Online Storytime  One of the most heartwarming things to come out …

Gajapati Kulapati series of 4 books

Book Review: Gajapati Kulapati

Ganesh Chaturti is the perfect time to talk about our favourite elephant. The Gajapati Kulapati series by Ashok Rajagopalan, published by Tulika Books, is a favourite in our house. We bought the first one when our son was about a year old, and now five years later, we have the complete set and still love reading them. The story is simple and hilarious. Each book is about an adventure Gajapati Kulapati has with his friends in the village where he lives. The sound effects will make kids and adults giggle with delight. There are four books in the series. We meet the same characters in each book and love to see how they’re getting on. Tulika Books publishes these books in Indian regional languages as well. They’re sure to delight young readers for a long time to come. Note: Some links are part of an affiliate program, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, I might receive a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you.