Nov 22, 2014

Faces of India - 188

Standing atop ruins of Aguada Fort, probably trying to mimic his favorite hero, he was immensely happy when a lady photographer asked him to give a pose.

Faces of India, a series through which I intend to portray the various characters of my country whom I met during my travels. See more here

Nov 20, 2014

Clouds, Clouds and Clouds

A couple of drive by shots while on our way back from Goa. The blue of the sky and the white and grey of the clouds looked mesmerizing. The distant dark ones looked like water bags almost waiting to pour down about the white ones in the foreground were in an amazing pattern. The first pic isn’t edited; the blues of the sky in it surprised me. The sky had different shades in the same frame. I wished to stop and stare then, but we were speeding back to Bangalore to make it before being caught in the peak hours of traffic.

If you want to relax, watch the clouds pass by if you're laying on the grass, 
or sit in front of the creek; just doing nothing and
having those still moments is what really rejuvenates the body. 
Miranda Kerr 

SkyWatch Friday 

Nov 18, 2014

Toilet For Babli

 (This blogpost is for a social cause.)

The statistics are alarming: Of the 1.27 billion people in India 597 million people defecate in open! The reasons are many: No proper sanitation facilities, blind superstitious beliefs of not having toilets inside house, shortage of water. Men go about their daily routine with no concerns as if toilets hardly mattered, it is the women who bear the brunt of this severely. 

When you and I are having sound sleep in the comforts of our beds, there is some Babli (imaginary name for a girl), women in rural parts of India are trying to finish off the call before day break. Some of them fall prey to anti social elements. The danger of sexual assault always lurking in their minds. Women control their urge (I can’t comprehend how one can hold for 13hrs!) which gives rise to severe health issues. At places with few toilets there are long queues and sewerage problems, which give rise to health issues. Those in slums live in pathetic conditions. There is no privacy. Women get commented on, stared at making the trip to toilet most uncomfortable. Girls wait when the crowd around these public urinals would thin down, but how long and Oh! How painful! 

In cities like Mumbai and Delhi the condition is same. It is such a contrast to observe in the early morning hours when there are men well dressed traveling in trains to offices there are many who use these same rail tracks to relieve themselves. This is in broad daylight, because they are men! The children fall prey to diseases like diarrhea, yet they have no options but to expose to such unhygienic conditions because of lack of basic sanitation facilities. 

Girls refuse to go schools as they lack proper sanitation facilities for them. Many schools have shared toilet system for the students which make the grown up girls hesitant to attend classes. Threatening to close down schools not providing this basic facility to girls is no solution. What has been ignored for so long has to be taken up on priority basis. Financial assistance to these small time government schools is the need of the hour. 

Awareness is slowly setting in. Girls are not married into families that do not have toilets. “No Toilet, No Bride!” Public sector Units and Corporate offices are being roped in to build toilets for girls in schools. Domex, the leading toilet cleaner brand of Hindustan Unilever Limited too is contributing to this social cause. They launched the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) in November 2013. Their motto: “to build 24,000 toilets by 2015 in areas faced with the problem of open defecation and where people do not have access to improved sanitation.” 

The Domex Toilet Academy is targeting to educate people on the importance of hygienic sanitation. They intend to help them in getting access to improved sanitation creating a network of local entrepreneurs to sell and build the toilets. They believe this initiative will create a positive impact on the health and well-being of the community whilst stimulating the local economy. The DTA is also providing business skills and training to local entrepreneurs and masons. They are urging them to supply toilets to their local communities thus providing jobs while at the same time promoting the importance of safe and hygienic sanitation practices in local communities. 

You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

Nov 17, 2014

Aguada Fort, Goa

Aguada Fort is the most famous and most visited fort of Goa. Often tourists who holiday in Goa for a short duration feel the visit is complete with a trip to this Aguada Fort. Several Bollywood movies have been shot in this beautiful location and that has increased the popularity of this fort. Though it was the Chapora Fort where where the movie "Dil Chahta Hai" was shot, tourists sit on the fort walls just as Aamir Khan and his friends sat for the movie in that fort. There is no end to photo sessions there. If you have the patience you will be amused by the antics some of the tourists do there.

History: It was constructed in 1612 and had served as a good defence for the Portuguese rulers against Dutch and Marathas for 450 long years. The walls are 5m high and 1.3m wide. 200 cannons once protected this fort; none are there now, probably housed in some museum. The deep moat that went around this fort is dry and seemed uncared. Within the walls of the fort is a huge well fed by fresh water springs. And this provided fresh drinking water to the voyagers that arrived by ship.

At a distance you can see 13 meter high lighthouse. This lighthouse, built in 1864, initially used an oil lamp. It was later renovated and modernized in 1976.

Time for peekaboo with my younger daughter in the ruins of the Aguada Fort.

In the middle of the courtyard of this fort (in red paint) is an enormous vaulted cistern capable of storing ten million liters of fresh water.

I keep looking out for some interesting scenes to share with you all. And here is one: A newly married couple posing for their wedding photographer.

Our World Tuesday

Nov 16, 2014

Peri-Peri, Nando's Restaurant

The motive was to taste the newly launched Butterfly Chicken Breast Meal of Nando’s and I came back not just tummy full but with enhanced vocabulary; a whole set new words, facts and figures about chilies and chicken.

 First a word about Nando’s: Nando's - the international chain of a casual dining restaurant group, originated in SouthAfrica with a Portuguese/Mozambican theme. It was the brainchild of Robert Brozin and Fernando Duarte, two South African entrepreneurs, and was set it up in 1987. The chain has restaurants in 5 continents and is famous for its legendary ‘butterfly cut’ flame grilled, Peri- Peri chicken. In India alone it has 7 restaurants of which 2 are in Bangalore.

 The first time I heard the word ‘Peri-Peri’ I thought it sounded funny. I never imagined it would be something HOT. There is lot of history to the word. In the 15th century, Portuguese explorers discovered southern Africa’s best kept secret, the African Bird’s Eye Chilli. The Nando’s use this Bird Eye chilli. Its taste is unique to southern Africa because of the particular climate and soil composition and specific rainfall patterns of the region. A spice so nice, they named it twice, they added this fiery little number to a handful of herbs, spices, a squeeze of sun-ripened lemons and a dash of garlic to create the first ever PERi-PERi sauce. Now, that combination of herbs and spices is a secret!

Spicy mixed olives, Roasted veg dip, Hummus and warm pita.


Nando’s peri-peri sauces come in different ranges of hotness. Over a chat there with Shambhavi Misra, the PR manager there I came to know that there is a way to measure the heat of a chilli. In 1912, a chemist called Wibur Scoville developed a method to measure heat of chilli. One gram of specific chilli pepper is diluted in water till the point where the burning sensation can no longer be felt. The amount of water required to reach this dilution is calculated and defined in Scoville heat units.

I also learned that the substance responsible for heat in chillies is Capsaicin and pure Capsaicin has Scoville unit rating of over 15,000,000. Peri-Peri is not just about taste, it has amazing food value. It has high levels of Vitamin C, an excellent purifying agent and good source of vitamin A, thymine, riboflavin and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorous and iron. Capsaicin lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. No harm getting the food a bit more spicy!

Chicken livers and Portuguese Roll- Served with a roll to soak up the sauce.

Nando’s have their own Peri-ometer! It helps consumers identify with various heat levels of their sauces, marinades and chicken. The little flags inserted on the food are indicator of spice levels. Blue flag indicates 'mild peri-peri', while the red one indicates ‘hot peri-peri’. There is 'extra hot peri-peri' and 'lemon and herb peri-peri'.

The Meal: The Butterfly Chicken Breast is their unique A-grade, trimmed off excess fat, 24 hours marinated, flame grilled chicken served in customer's choice of PERi-PERi flavors. The Portion of chicken is butterflied and off the bone. This distinctive flame grilled double breasted delight is served with Crispy Wedges, Fresh side salad and a Refreshing Designer Drink. It’s the best of everything on the table at Rs 499.
Butterfly Chicken Breast Meal

Caution: Taste according to your tolerance to the various spicy levels. In case of excessive heat and burning sensation try drinking milk or eating ice cream or yoghurt. Capsaicin is not water soluble but oil soluble, it will dissolve in fat globules of dairy products and be washed away when swallowed.