Creative Thoughts

Creative Thoughts

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Mumbai Street Art 1

There's this square in Mumbai called Kala Ghoda (meaning Black Horse).  The statue of the man on a black horse has been relocated years back but the name sticks.  And there is me......

For all lovers of street art here are photos I took quite some time ago and which I'll post in parts.

 the typical Mumbai man trying to balance salary and inflation 

this car (our good ole Ambassador) was entirely covered in glitter.

More in another post !

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fancy Envelopes

I think somehow we were all made to create things.  There's this energy that doesn't allow me to sit still, particularly when there are some craft materials staring back at me and pleading to be brought to life.
Come November it will be wedding season in India.  I always keep about a dozen envelopes ready as there's always someone who needs a fancy envelope to gift money, not just for weddings but also birthdays or to welcome a new born baby.

I would appreciate your valuable comments.
If you do make anything from my blog and post it on yours please be sure to give me credit and a link back to my blog.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Dussehra Festival

Dussehra is a popular festival celebrated by Hindus all over India.
The name Dussehra is derived from the Sanskrit word Dasha-hara  literally meaning remover of ten referring to Lord Rama's defeat of the ten-headed demon king Ravana.   It is believed that it was on this day that Lord Rama killed Ravana and rescued his abducted wife, Sita.  In other words, it signifies the triumph of good over evil.

In India, the harvest season begins at this time and so the Mother Goddess is invoked to start the new harvest season and reactivate the vigour and fertility of the soil. This is done through religious performances and rituals which are thought to invoke cosmic forces that rejuvenate the soil.

The legendary triumph is re-enacted to the day.  In the northern parts of India, huge effigies of Ravana, stuffed with fireworks and fire crackers are placed in vast open grounds. Actors dressed as Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, enact the final moments of the battle. After the enactment of the climax of the war with Ravana, the character playing Rama shoots an arrow with a flaming tip at the effigy from a safe distance and the crowd bursts into cheer as the crackers catch fire.  Merriment follows, as people indulge in dance and music.
In West Bengal, a state located in eastern India, the Bengalis celebrate Dussehra as a part of their main festival - Durga Puja. This day marks the end of Durga Pooja celebrations, the preceding nine days being collectively referred to as 'Navratri'.

I took some pictures today - all those below except the last one.
.  This deity was installed bang in the middle of a busy street !  That's Mumbai !

in a quiet by lane
Mother Goddess Shakti, who incarnated in the form of Goddess Durga, a combined manifestation of the divine energies of the Holy Trinity - when they summoned her to kill the mighty demon known as Mahishasura and freed the world from his terror.
 Marigold flowers and mango leaves are hung over shops and even homes.  These garlands adorn cars, machines and even tools.

Corner bazaar - It's all orange and green today !

 Marigold garlands on the popular Colaba Causeway, a shopping centre.
Mango leaves and marigold flowers represent festivity in Hindu culture and they are used on every auspicious occasion

Garba - Dandiya - dancing for nine evenings (in Mumbai) preceding the festival.  A  time when young couples have a good time even though many are chaperoned !

Although Dussehra is celebrated in different ways across India, the motive remains the same - to spread good cheer and celebrate the victory of good over the evil

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Events at the Pavement Club

16th October
A "together" moment just before the start of a fun day.

a small batch of the Pavement School kids and me

 Rocky Fernandes (in blue) who's been with them for many years !

a little girl doing a welcome dance for the visitors from Costa deRomantica, a cruise ship that docked in our port for two days.

 Mr. Lawrence Hardinge giving a lecture on the Pavement Club and School

 the littlest ones !
All the kids got lots of candy, books and colour boxes, harmonicas and fancy pencils as well as costume jewellery and bags for the older girls.
 taking lots of photos !
and in the afternoon - students from the Chinese International School, Hong Kong.
They donated 12 laptops which were given away to the older children.

The kids had fun talking to all the visitors even though it meant volunteers translating.  Most of them do not speak English.  They attend Hindi medium schools run by the Bombay Municipality. The older kids are computer literate.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Shawn's Chicago Marathon October 2012

Joe and I are very proud to announce our son, Shawn ran the Chicago Marathon and has another medal in his bag.

In the past few years he's been trying something different and each time he accomplishes what he set out to do, whether it's trekking up to Machu Pichu or skydiving.  This is besides being a highly successful IT professional which involves a lot of travelling.

September 2012 he ran the Chicago Half Marathon.

his badge then 

and on to the mega event.....

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the pinnacle of achievement for elite athletes and everyday runners alike. On Sunday, October 7, 2012, 45,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries will set out to accomplish a personal dream. 

 It was 0 degrees C when he started....

4 to 5 hours to go.....

" The last stretch comes down Michigan Ave from the south and I knew I was on the final few miles. You’d hear people screaming there’s only 2.5 miles to go! It still hadn’t hit me that I would be finishing a marathon until I saw (picture attached) a fire truck the fire department brought out with the ladder extended and a mammoth flag of the USA. That stirred up a lot of emotion in me knowing the finish line was close. "   Shawn

Congratulations Shawn !  We are very proud of you !

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Dr. Neha Gala aka Crafty Doctor

The first ever craft stall that includes art rubber stamping as a hobby craft, was at the Kutch Vagad Trade Expo 2012 in Mumbai on 13th and 14th October.

A-1 Craft Supply is a joint effort of Dr. Neha Gala aka Crafty Doctor  and her partner, Vikram.  They have been busy in the past couple of years selling craft products online.

The Expo was at a distant suburb of Mumbai and although it would involve a good amount of time commuting by train, Joe insisted I support Neha's efforts and he accompanied me to the Expo.   That's him at Churchgate Station.

Dr. Neha Gala is a practising doctor at KEM Hospital, Mumbai.  She says she would rather be a crafter !
Her stall at the Expo. 
She and Vikram had to explain to visitors what art stamping was all about !
the entrance to the hall

A welcoming flower arrangement of yellow and orange marigolds.


Eriko's Mini Japanese Lanterns

My guest today is Mrs. Eriko Matsuda from Tokyo.

Eriko's and my friendship spans more than two decades.  We worked for the same company....she at the Tokyo branch and I at the head office in Mumbai.  Now, besides being a full time homemaker and a social worker, Eriko still makes time to learn new hobbies.  She has been crafting for many years and, with pride, I show below her latest painting on Japanese mini lanterns !

She's drawn the design free hand on the lamps !  I wish I could paint half as beautifully as that !


Friday, 12 October 2012

Chicken Xacuti

CHICKEN XACUTI (Goan Chicken Curry)

1 kg. whole chicken cut into pieces.  Rub some salt into them and keep aside.
8 Kashmiri chillies or any not-too-hot dry, red chillies.
3 tsp dry daniya seeds (coriander)
½ tsp whole jeera (cumin)
1 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)
5 peppercorns
2 tsp. peanuts (optional)
½ cup desiccated or freshly grated coconut.
½ tsp turmeric powder
4 small elaichi (cardamoms) peeled
6 cloves
1" piece cinnamon
1/2 tsp khus khus (poppy seeds)
one medium sized red onion - finely chopped
A walnut sized ball of tamarind. Soak in a little water to make a thick paste.
If you don't have tamarind, use 2 tablespoons red vinegar 
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar

Roast the cumin, coriander, chillies, fenugreek, pepper, peanuts, cinnamon and cloves. on a tava or dry pan.  Take care not to burn any of the ingredients.
Separately dry roast the coconut.  It should be lightly browned. 
Put this all in a grinder. 
Add the turmeric, poppy seeds & cardamoms, to the grinder. 
Grind to a fine paste with a little water.

Heat oil and fry onion till golden brown.
Add the ground spices.  Fry till the mixture begins to stick to bottom of pan and gives off a wonderful aroma.  Add the chicken pieces and coat them well.  Then add the tamarind paste (or vinegar) and a cup of warm water.  Put in a pinch of sugar.  This enhances the flavour.  Stir well and add more water if gravy appears too thick.
Cook on low flame till chicken is tender.  Usually takes half an hour.
Add more salt if needed.  
The gravy should not be too thick.

Serve with steamed rice or rotis.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The joy of working with children

The Pavement Club

I’ve always loved working with children. It actually started when I was in my late teens and helped as a “study class” assistant in our parish school. Two classrooms were kept open from 6 to 8 pm so children living in cramped homes could study in peace and were also provided help with subjects they found difficult.

And now, almost 40 years later, Monday to Thursday afternoons, I can be found at the Pavement School. I am a volunteer at The Pavement Club & School which is an outreach programme of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Columba, Mumbai. Approximately 200 children come here irrespective of caste, creed or religion.  Most of them are keen to study and are given help to build their sense of self-worth. The Pavement Club gives a street kid an opportunity to study in a safe and peaceful environment, a healthy meal, help with studies, fun & games and most essentially, receive a little love.

Our daughter, Simone, volunteered here in her university days.  Evenings at home, she would talk about her work with compassion and love. 

The Pavement Club was started in 1991 to provide basic education and skills to under-privileged street children.  The head is Mr Lawrence, who has been building wonderful  relationships with the kids, down the years  he  has enriched their lives in many ways.  He has been watching and supporting them as they learn and grow and sometimes shares his experiences and memories with us. Many of these children started coming to the Pavement School when they were 4 and continued till they turned 16 and went to university.

preparing for the next school day

 Mr. Rocky Fernandes supervising play time

 Young volunteers from St. Xavier's College helping with homework
Most of these children stay in makeshift shelters on pavements or in hutments.  They attend local municipal (BMC) schools where the fees are very low. BMC Schools are open in the mornings. After school, they come to the Pavement Club and do their homework from 2 in the afternoon till 4 pm. Then it’s play time in the grounds -  till 4.30 pm when they are served a hot meal which comes from the kitchens of The Times of India, a leading daily.

The older children have special classes in computers, cooking, sewing and a complete course in Madhubani and Warli painting.

Friday is "Open Day".  It's a day for fun and games.  Occasionally magic shows, parties and ice cream treats are organised by corporate houses and others.

2 to 4 pm is when I help with homework or I carry a book from home and read out so they learn just that little bit more about the world outside India. I love seeing how their minds work and how excited they get about learning that there exist people of a different culture in the world outside. Very often I take along an album of photos of any one particular country I've visited and then an animated discussion takes place.
It is wonderful watching and learning the varying ways that children absorb information.

It’s always a joyful experience to share time with them in study and play. The welcoming smiles are a rich reward.

The photos below were taken by the InterContinental Hotel, Mumbai. They had organised lunch and a drawing competition for these street children.

 Grace before meals

 separate line for boys

meal time

The Pavement Club is financed entirely by private donors.  Used clothes and accessories in good condition as also school bags, books and snacks are welcome.  

You can visit the Pavement Club at