Tuesday, 14 April 2015


RECENTLY I HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY THE SUCCULENT BUG.....these little beauties are so versatile yet so unbelievably low maintenance . Succulents are basically desert plants which have adapted themselves to low water availability conditions. So here are some tit bits about succulents and their wonderful world
1) although succulents are desert plants, the most rich collection of succulents are owned by nurseries in the hill stations.... NOw is'nt that interesting.....These plants can thrive well in almost all types of climates provided the the water intake is regulated.

2)succulents can grow amazingly well both indoors and outdoors....making it a wonderful option for our urban spaces where outdoor gardening is a far fetched dream. If planted indoors , succulents need to be kept in a space with at least four to five hours of sunlight

3) succulents grow best in a soil less mixture of coacpeat, sand, vermicompost all in equal ratio.

4)I water my succlents from sunday to sunday.....water is a critical issue with succulents...over watering can kill them...never leave them out in rain

5) You can even plant them in beautiful containers which dont have hole in them.....only be careful about watering.

6) I am a fauji wife.and a passionate gardener as well.... My gardens keep shifting owing to my husbands frequent postings......so for me succulents, which thrive without water for days during shifting period work like magic

happy gardening.....


 THIS is probably my last home tour in wellington...all set to say good bye to the hills of nilgiris...This is dear Radhika aunty's home on slope of these blue hills...She with her husband made these mountains their home post retirement,.....and they have done it so beautifully.... WON'T write much here...let the pictures talk......

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

TRYST WITH THE RETRO........HOME TOUR (2) Shabana and Simrat

Home tour of Simrat and Shabana.......

Two homes which take you back in time , and welcome you with the warmth and aesthetics of  a bygone era. The collection of accessories is antique and vintage...one of the best suited theme for indian homes. Shabana who specializes in literature and linguistics and has worked with british council, inherits an artistic heritage.....Her mother gifted her this handmade batik on silk which stands a centerpiece on the wall.....this batik work is undoubtedly the showstopper in her sitting area.

 Shabana is very proud of her manpuri black pottery tea set and her little knicks and knacks of jaipuri blue pottery....This black pottery from our north eastern states make for a very ethnic decor piece as well as a very eco friendly  way of serving and dining.
 Coming to Simrats abode........her house has a lovely collection of stocking and paper flowers....needless to say made all by herself....Simrat teaches in a management course conducted by Defence services staff college and loves to keep herself busy with various hobby classes as well.

 Above is a view of her own colourful creations being illuminated by the morning light.
 I particularly loved this little box at simrats house which has a riot of colors and patters ....behind it stands a carved wood flower vase....which has a typical rajasthani royal look to it. Below you can see the lovely antique tea set from Shabana's home which she has paired with some hand painted pine cones...and they go together as if they are made for each other ..

 Some beautiful details at shabanas home........love the peacocks on the ceramic tray

A DWARBAND with kutch embroidery beautifying Simrats doorway


Those who live in glass houses..........

 Simrat has collected these artworks from france.....watercolour on paper

Monday, 16 March 2015

Four Traditional Indian Dolls and Toys To Look Out For

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my toys will break.
So none of the other kids can use 'em....
― Shel SilversteinA Light in the Attic

well, this is how much a child loves his/her toys....But it saddens me when I see little boys and girls surrounded by heaps of toxic plastic which adds little value to their thoughts and life. So lets turn over a new leaf...lets peep into the enchanting world of traditional Indian eco friendly toys

a kondapalli  doll from andhra

There are a bucket full of reasons why you should give your kids these traditional dolls to play with....but the most compelling one for me is that these toys double up as beautiful home decor accessories ...adding the much needed desi zing to your shelves. As for your little darlings these plastic free toys promise safety and increased sensitivity towards eco living. More importantly these toys bring them closer to their culture. When you buy one of these hand made toys you give hope to many artisans who put in their love and labor into these toys.

KOndapalli toys
Kondapalli, Nirmal and Etikoppaka toys are the most significant wooden toys made in the Andhra Pradesh. Out of all these most popular Kondapalli toys are made of wood available locally called as Tella Poniki (White Sander wood and botanically called Jiuotia Rotteri Fromis).
The Kondapalli craftsmen use this particular wood because this wood is soft, light weight and can be easily carved. The wood is brought by the craftsmen from the nearby forests of Gangineni, Adlapadu, Konduru, Chevuturu and Madhavaram. Most of the times, instead of cutting down the entire tree, they just cut the branches so that the tree develops the branches again and the wood is available for more time.Kondapalli toys in bright and vibrant colors portray and depict themes relating to spirituality and village life falling under any one or more of the following distinct categories namely:

1) animals and birds, 
2) rural life, 
3) mythological figures, 
4) contemporary designs and 
5) paper maché doll
you can find them easily at lepakshi emporium, vizag www.lepakshihandicrafts.gov.in/

channapatana toys
Channapatna which has been known as the “Toy Town” of Karnatakais a small city located 80 km south-west of Bangalore, on Bangalore-Mysore state highway and has a legacy of toys which goes back to more than 200 years. Centuries ago Tipu Sultan invited artisans from Persia to train the locals of Channapatna. They started by carving toys out of ivory initially then switched to rubber, cedar, and teak.   The art has gone global in the recent years and there has been a great demand of toys from the UK and The US. Rocking horses, jumping clowns and the clapping monkeys have recently become one of the favourites amongst the children in India and abroad.


a channapatna rocking horse toy

wooden toys ( katwa dolls} from poush mela shantiniketan
Katwa dolls
Ethnic looking dolls handmade from Katwa (Bardhamaan District, West Bengal); carved in wood and decoratively painted by a group of rural artists. These artisans are referred to as 'Sutradhars' (meaning 'narrator' or 'story teller'), probably because they make characters from ancient folklore and mythology and tell stories through their dolls. People bring these dolls home as an auspicious element, like Lord Krishna with Radha and the owl, the 'Vahana' (Vehicle that carries a deity) for Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth
you can find them at-
POUSH MELA- An annual fair and festival that takes place in Santiniketan, in Birbhum District in the Indian state of West Bengal, marking the harvest season. Commencing on the 7th day of the month of Poush (around 21/22 December), the fair officially lasts for three days, although vendors may stay up until the month-end. 

terracotta toys west bengal 
Clay toys of bengal
West Bengal is also famous for its clay toys. Clay toys are also made in Jainagar and Rajgarh and Krishnanagar in Nadia district and in Shantiniketan. The features of Krishnanagar toys is that they are very sharp and beautiful where as the toys from Shantiniketan in Bolpur are very realistic. The designs are predominantly rural and have scenes and figures of the rural houses apart from temples and domestic animals. Clay Dolls depicting religious deities are commonly made. Making clay figures involves a lot of detailing and has been done using hand since ages. Once the moulds are made by hand, the toys are dried and then fired. The fired clay toys are then painted with bright colors. This is a hereditary art form. The toys are smooth and shine due to the application of an extract of tamarind seed.
you can get them at

tanjore dolls

channapatna toys from karnataka

Sunday, 15 March 2015


This temple here is miles away from all human  habitation.....in midst of a vast uninhabited soho grasslands.......Hardly anyone comes here. Yet the gods sit here in full serenity, waiting for no-one to come. Sitting with my legs dipped in cool, gurgling cascade of water near this temple I felt my gods near me...very close indeed..  I  have not felt so very often....and definitely not in temples and mosques...but this one was different,THE architecture was almost reiterating my belief that god is to be found in nature , in art, in water , in sky, in land . My god can never be tied within four walls. My god is way too powerful for that....My god is not over and above me..he/she is within me. My god is not a supervising force punishing and rewarding me. HE/ she is a form of shakti  within which helps me decide between wrong and right, which makes me tolerant towards other beings and their varied opinions, which makes me loathe all forms hatred. My god does not want my offerings....my god rather just wants me to be as I was meant to be - A human.  { PHOTOGRAPHS BY ASHUTOSH KUMAR}