Monday, 22 June 2015

Summers are here ~

Every Summer has it's own story ~
 Summer has come blazing and is playing havoc in our lives as usual. In our part of the world, it's not exactly a time when your lips break into a song or the heart jumps with joy like it does in Spring. On the contrary, the flowers wither and perish, streams and rivers dry up bereft of their smooth, clear glass curves leaving behind a sluggish, muddy residue along their pebbly beds, the cloudless skies show no promise of any rain while the Earth bakes in the heat of an unforgiving sun. As life carries on with a semblance of normality it won't be wrong to say I despise ill health and the month of June with equal passion .
If I have already painted a sorry picture of the long endless summer days, let me make it up by saying that there is a LOT to love about summers too and there are ways and means to tackle this sweet monster and every year just before the onset of this terribly harsh but equally enjoyable season, I set aside my list of grievances and put on my rose tinted glasses to peer at the myriad colours that ONLY a Summer palette can display :)

As April starts to knock on our doors, we know that Summers are peeping inside, ready to barge in any moment and the signs of Gulmohar buds starting to open on their deep-in-slumber trees only reiterates the fact. It's amazing how the trees that have silently been there all along suddenly shed their ghost and start blooming in profusion. Our entire neighbourhood is dotted with many Gulmohar trees and walking under them is almost like walking under a bright red flowery sky. The red awning of blooms stretches from one corner to another endlessly. There is a huge tree just next to my house and the guy who irons clothes of the entire neighbourhood stands under it carrying out his daily ironing chores making me envy his life that particular time of the year ;) Whenever the managing society decides to prune the branches that hinder the electrical wires , my 'iron man' very sweetly brings some of those discarded branches to me. They happily adorn some corners of my home for the next few days :)

Bougainvilleas are the only flowers apart from Gulmohars that play an important role in decking up the corners of my home mainly because they are the only ones that bloom in a fuss free manner in the maddening summer heat .

Home is where the heart finds solace and in summers, even the body ! Who would want to leave the cool confines of home and venture out in the sun . To make the surroundings even more appealing , heavy drapes make way for finer sheers. Whenever an errant breeze whispers through the garden, rustling the leaves, the soft fabric ripples inward  letting in a small gush of wind :)

The jamuns laden on trees start to show their true colour which differs from green to different hues of purple , slowly taking shape :)

Other fruits and berries also start to make their annual albeit short appearance vying for attention :)

But the pride and popularity of a mango tree cannot be substituted for anything in the world. It is the undisputed king of all fruits and nothing can take it's crown away during the summer season.

There are numerous ways in which mangoes find a way into our homes and hearts and no matter how hard you try to refuse, you cannot resist it for long :)

On a given day, it will soothe your parched throats in the form of aam panna and also save you from a heat stroke. The combination of mint and boiled raw mangoes spiced with rock salt and sugar is a sure winner on a hot blazing day !

The ones that are 'pickled' in a barni and put under the strong sun tickle the taste buds throughout the year :) 

The ones cooked with jaggery, chilly flakes and spices make a sweet and sour chutney that will happily accompany your meals and leave you greedy for more .

Attending a mango festival where thousands of varieties are on display , makes you believe that there is no other fruit on earth that enjoys such adulation by people from all walks of life :)

Indoor greens are the only kind of greenery the eyes get to see during Summers ( well, mostly) . I try and bring most of my plants indoors or create a kind of conservatory for my plants to save them from the harsh rays of the sun .

The only thing that is constant in my life irrespective of the changing season is my love for chai and I always find a reason good enough even in the heat to enjoy a nice hot cuppa and if there is a good setting as an ambiance , it enhances the chai time moments :)

Just when the Gulmohars,  done with their duty of brightening our days, get ready to make an exit, the Amaltash or laburnum makes it's much awaited appearance :) The bright blooms hang like a chandelier on the streets and at our doorstep opening their warm, yellow hearts to all and sundry .

While in my own garden, there is not much colour to boast of but this Golden Duranta surprises us with it's lovely, velvety blooms making up for the lack of others !

\Another hardy flowering plant that loves the heat and enjoys the scorching sun is the bat face cuphea. The stronger the sun, the brighter it blushes . The naughty impish flower looks  like a mosquito's face to me but the purple-crimson combination gives a lovely effect in my garden :)


The house interiors always suffer a pounding during Summers I feel. There are days when I don't pay any attention to anything except for keeping them clutter free and clean. It's always too hot to spend time doing up the rooms . I just let them be as they are till it starts to bother me . The quickest way to repair my conscience on such days is to change the covers, the sheets, the mats , quickly put together a few stems of flowers in my favourite containers and dress them up as gaudily as taste permits :)

 When it comes to home decor, colour therapy always works for me and coupled with different textures, it emerges a winner in every sense of the word :)
Wrapping up with happy thoughts of spending my solitary moments here in this corner for the next couple of days till I'm ready to change it yet again :) Will see you next time  along with the rains :)
So long ..... enjoy the summers and keep those dreams alive !!!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Upcycling event in Lucknow !

Green Living ~

I'm already a week late in reporting this beautiful event that took place in my city  but since it's so close to my heart , I just couldn't let it go without sharing  it here :)
The theme was 'Upcycling' and the event was conceptualised, planned and executed by two very enterprising girls Swati Seth and Shinjini Singh which resulted in an amazing event and an unforgettable evening for the Lucknowites :)
The words 'Recycle, reuse and reduce' seem to be the 'in-thing' these days. People talk about it a lot but I wonder if they do enough to make it a part of their day- to-day life. How much thought do they give before disposing off things that they don't need any more or simpler still, how do they dispose off their daily garbage ? !

Why is recycling important ?

For decades we have been creating toxic wastes and dumping it in our environment without realising the damage it's causing. It's not only industrial waste that is the culprit but also our daily waste ( plastic bottles, food wrappers, gadgets etc. ) If we do not take steps right away to minimize the damage we do to our environment, it will be too late to rectify it and the future generations will get affected. I believe much damage is already done but it's never too late to play our part in protecting our precious world and making it greener and less toxic.

Recycling - With recycling, we break down some portion of our waste into the original element  and produce new materials, new consumer products but often of a lesser quality. In this way, we can reduce harmful waste .

This particular event also talked about 'Upcycling ' which means to reuse discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. By upcycling, you refashion an item and give it a better purpose.
Upcycling makes a positive impact on our environment because when you upcycle, you remove items from the global garbage stream and we should all play our part in recycling , protecting our precious world and making it greener and less toxic.
So, now why don't we move ahead to the main event and take a look at the what transpired there ! It took place in the verandahs and adjoining areas of the famous Habibullah estate , in the heart of Hazratganj.

 'Kala Srot' constructed this reindeer model out of waste materials and it stood right at the entrance to welcome the guests :)

 And some areas festooned with plastic bottles made pretty decorative corners  as well :)

 Some stalls and refreshment counters overtook the sprawling verandah.

 It was a hot day and this stall from 'The Cherry Tree' did wonders with their cool beverages !

The 'Sanatkada' stall was up with their eco- friendly products too :)

And so were some more .....

 Loved this stall where they made bags and purses out of discarded scraps of cloth. The result was a fine mix of  vibrant colours in different shapes and sizes:)

 300 Stories , a lending library, had their stall up too ! You just have to get registered to have books of your choice delivered at your doorstep. How wonderful is that ! Perfect way to kill the upcoming Summer hols :)

The girls from La Martiniere girls' college had their own set of  pretty things on display :)

Okay, my favourite stall has to be the 'Ecomitra' one . I have a special corner in my heart for all things green and when it zeroes down to plants, I don't look else where ;)  The display of such lovely plants in equally lovely containers took my breath away. There was one growing from a shell too and then there was this planter shaped like a whale's mouth spewing happiness in the form of greens :)

 'The Color Caravan' had some amazing stuff too :) Loved those terracotta tea light holders :)

The baskets made out of waste material looked quite exotic too :)

Okay, time for the workshop ! I had the pleasure of conducting a workshop for kids on 'upcycling' and it turned out to be a fun filled, thrilling event. We gave the kids discarded jam bottles along with paints, stickers. paper cut outs , old beads, scraps of laces and cloth and told them to 'upcycle' them into pen/ pencil holders or lanterns. I was also happy to see a bunch of kids, from ' Swatantra Talim', a school for the underprivileged who attended the workshop and left us speechless with their creative skills.  There was a varied mix of kids from diverse sections from age 5 to 14 and they displayed some amazing creativity :)

They love getting dirty , don't they ?? ! ;)

Wasn't that lovely with a hint of patriotism too ? :)

So, that was what they made and took home with them along with a lesson on the importance of upcycling so it can be termed as one successfully creative workshop :)

There was a Farmers' market too where people had brought in the fresh produce of homegrown stuff, free from pesticides and other chemicals. It was up for grabs:) There was a counter where you could donate old clothes, toys , books etc. and there was also a counter where you could contribute something for the recent Nepal earthquake victims.  There was also a workshop where project KHEL gave some valuable lessons to girls /women on hygiene during Menstrual cycle and there was also a workshop for adults on the topic of  'gardening and composting' which made the entire event so complete and enriching. Unfortunately , I don't have any pics of the above mentioned events otherwise I would have loved to share them with you too :)

So, those were snippets from the Green flea market and the Upcycling event. It was a great initiative and I do wish we get to see more of such events in the days to come .
All efforts count even on an individual level so why don't we start right away if we haven't already ?? Recycling and Upcycling are a good way to start doing so :)