Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Spent the day at this quaint little town, where every second house seems to be a workshop of artisans making wooden toys, beads and bowls. Where all colour seems to be reserved for the wooden knick knacks. Where the world seems to go by under a fine layer of saw dust. If zipping down the Bangalore-Mysore highway, you would hardly notice the town but for its row of stores with brightly painted wooden horses.

The carpentry is all around. From bits of wood lying around to piles of logs to the finished products at the stores that line the highway. In the artisan's hands, we watch as the shapeless piece of wood attains shape, character and eventually, colour. Bright shades, happy faces, simple technology.

They have trouble sourcing the wood, but they put immense trust in Mother Nature. There will be wood, it won't be a problem. They have to bribe forest officials, they get into trouble when they are trying to procure the wood, but they have to go on. They have found alternates in cheaper, easier to source wood. But it just isn't the same.

Rather than the domestic market, they prefer the international. Of course, the money is better. And perhaps the recognition too. They export just about anything from napkin rings to jewellery. For these foreign shores, the artisans have drawn up new designs, thought up more and more innovative things they can do with wood. For the local markets, they remain the toy makers.

It's been a year since the Channapatna toys got the Geographical Indication (GI) certificate. But no one knows. Not the craftsmen, not the government official who sits at the government establishment that offers training to young carpenters as well as employs them and sources products for the government showrooms. So obviously, questions as to whether the GI certification has made any difference, draws a blank.

The bigger workshops have their own "design studios". When an export order is placed, they sometimes get bits of fabric. Their job? To match all the products -- be it rings or salt cellars or jars -- to the pattern on the piece of fabric. With some skilled painting, they can make the wood look like terracotta or metal.

They tell us that many people have to write about them. They come, speak to them, take pictures, and then disappear. Never hear from them again. We aren't going to be any different, are we?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Experiment of the day

Pancakes served with generous helpings of maple syrup :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

100th post!

yip yip yip 100th post 100th post 100th post!!!!


It's taken one year and five months, but hey, 100th post 100th post 100th post!!!
San, thanks for your... err... three and a half posts. It wouldn't have been possible without you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I'm reading reviews of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag like one possessed. Why? This is why:

"The men are hardly there in the film" says Rediff
"And the fact is the men here -- Abhishek Bachchan and Kunal Kapoor -- are nothing more than mere props" says The Hindu
"As for the male actors, well they don’t really have much to do" says The Indian Express
And CNN IBN doesn't even have a mention of the male characters

Is this happening? Isn't this what we have been reading for decades about women in cinema? Ha!

Of course, it's a completely different story that the film has been unanimously trashed :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Bangalore Walk

Last Sunday found us waiting in front of Trinity Church on MG Road as early as 6.45 in the morning. All ready to take Arun Pai's popular Victorian Bangalore walk. We had been promised that no matter how many times we have walked down MG Road, Mr Pai would still manage to surprise us.

And surprise he did. Unknown bungalows, private tennis courts, farms -- all on MG Road. And trivia. That the road is built along a ridge, that all the roads branching away from it slope down, that the Trinity Church was then the highest point in the town, that the road is this wide because the army parades needed wide roads. And history. The plot where Winston Churchill probably had his house on, the memorial plaques at the church, the dancing hall that later became Plaza, the suit maker who still runs a roaring business.

Talk about colonial hangover! For the two of us now, MG Road has transformed to South Parade. We see the spires of old buildings, we notice the slope of the road, before we see the swanky sign boards and glittering window displays.

And of course, sigh over what development and "Namma Metro" is eating up. The promenade and Plaza, for instance.

Starting point, Trinity Church, 7 am

The stained glass, facing the rising sun

Err... I am just pretending that is mist. It's smoke :)

Basking in early sunlight

The East Parade Church

Mayo Hall

Beauty and the beast: Mayo Hall and Utility Building

More of the same

Plaza. Soon to be Metro station

Sunflowers :)

Not in a field though...

But in a vase, at office

Pretty nevertheless :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Where is the restroom?

Bangalore's own version of the Oktober fest is on. Sponsored by -- who else -- the king of good times, beer flows. Bands play. Stalls sell everything from clothes to jewellery to shoes to food. Contests that can win you goodies. People sat around on patches of grass, at tables randomly scattered around, in the middle of the roads. Great atmosphere.

And then one went looking for the loo and there ended the happiness. All of two stalls for the women, while the men had the luxury of at least six. True, there were more men than women. But of course, men don't need loos, do they? They chose dark corners, not-so-dark corners, random walls -- in short, anywhere they pleased -- to do their business. But of course, women have no choice do they? The queue to the women's loos had at any point in time some 20-25 desperate women. Of the three hours I spent at the event, a good one hour was spent standing in the darned queue.

And the men who were with me politely waited till I returned from the excruciating wait, said "let's leave" as soon as they saw me, walked out, and promptly found a dark corner and excused themselves.