Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sorry -- couldn't resist that ghastly pun in the title.

This morning (or was it last night?) I got a forwarded message from my excellent friend Peter Griffin about a culinary twend (ouch! Sorry again) involving the social networking phenom known as Twitter.

I am not interested in Twitter. About a month ago, I struggled mightily against the forces of inertia and wriggled out of the clutches of FaceBook because, after two years of being Fbooked I found it annoying and time-draining and I was delighted to cut my links.

So I do NOT want to become interested in Twittering on any other activities that make me wonder whether that's a bird in my brain or just the wind whistling in through one ear and out the other.

NEVERTHELESS ... reading the piece below had me wondering whether there IS something in all that social networking after all ... something cute and (oh dear, here it comes) TWEET!

Read on:

Take 1 Recipe, Mince, Reduce, Serve
OF what possible use to me is Twitter? I’m not interesting enough to follow around. To convey the capsulized brilliance of my life at any moment, 140 characters are too many. The same, I reluctantly add, goes for you: unless you’re hemorrhaging, I think I can wait to know what you’re doing until the next time we talk. Let’s get coffee later. My tweet.

But wait. There is one thing. A woman in Northern Ireland has turned Twitter’s solipsism upside down. She sends tweets that tell followers nothing about herself. Instead, they tell useful, interesting things, things they might really want to know.

She tweets recipes.

Honeyed Tagine: brwn lb/500g yam or lamb/T oil&butter/t tumeric&ging&s+p&cinn; +c onion&carrot9m; +c broth/3T honey/9prune. Cvr~h@400F/205C.

Biscotti: mix 1/3c sug/3T oil/egg/t anise flavr; +c flour/t bkgpwdr. Roll log to fit bkgpan; pat down. 30m@375/190C. Slice~14; brwn+6m/side.

Look closely. These are awesome acts of compression. Ingredients, actions, quantities, times and temperatures — both Fahrenheit and Celsius — boiled down to utmost richness, density and clarity. A dish, a meal, a trip to deliciousness magically packed into the tiniest carry-on bag.

.... (the rest of the article is available here. It's really worth reading. I twick you not!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


If ever you've wondered about the intro-graphics at Animal Planet -- last year's signature clip, I think -- the one showing animals being formed out of some kind of smoky substance, by a pair of hands -- well, you'll see more of the same at a site called Sand Fantasy. The home page takes about 10 seconds to load properly and it's a good idea to just wait for it to load before clicking one of the video clips. It's magical, lyrical and clever all at once, as the artist ILANA YAHAV forms, de-forms and then reforms images out of sand (on glass, presumably, with a light shining behind it) using just her hands. I watched the one called "You've Got A Friend" ...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tattoo Zen?

So anyway: a friend sent me the image below, along with the text that goes with it. I'd seen the image before but not the text. The way it appears in an e-mail window, you see the opening statement, then the image and then scroll down a bit before you see the second statement.

Initially, I just grinned and shuddered. A moment later, I got to thinking: all right, so what sort of reaction was the owner of the tattoo soliciting, anyway?

After all, if, based on his choice of image, we imagine that he's attracted to women then why would he want to display one on his back (or anywhere else!)? Because that would very likely be unsettling to his lady friends, unless they were gay, in which case ... ummm ... they probably wouldn't be interested in his bum. But if we suppose that he's gay, then his choice of image would ... ummm ... maybe attract straight men? So then he's a gay man who solicits sex from straight men who, let's face it, would have to be just a leetle bit bent to be romancing another man's back.

Whatever the case, my guess is, this man would actually be quite HAPPY in prison after all!

(and another guess: that's not a tattoo at all, but just a bit of body-paint).

This man had what he thought was the best tattoo in the world...

Until he went to prison.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Chandigarh Visit

Last Friday, I and novelist Githa Hariharan travelled to Chandigarh, where we were guests of the Arts and Heritage Festival taking place in that city. I think I can speak for both of us when I say we enjoyed our visit tremendously. I've visited C'garh once before and enjoyed it then too. We were both struck by how clean and orderly it was -- a reminder that it's actually possible for an Indian city NOT to look as if it is inhabited exclusively by Homo Garbagensis.

It was a time of year when many flowering trees were sporting their colours. Particularly eye-catching was a tree with small, bright leaves -- they looked like flowers from a distance, but weren't. When I say "bright" I mean a really lovely, gleaming scarlet. When I was back in Delhi I got out our copy of Pradip Krishen's excellent
Delhi's Trees: A Field Guide and thumbed through it till I found what I was looking for and there it was: !Schleichera oleosa, familiarly known as the Kusum or Kosom tree and a good host for the lac-producing insect, Laccifer lacca. As a result of visiting C'garh and seeing this tree, I now own one more tiny fragment of trivia (via Krishen's book)! The seeds from this tree yield an oil with the name "Macassar" which was used in Victorian times as a hair oil. On account of the popularity of this hair oil, Victorian home-owners used to protect their sofas with a sort of doily, draped over the back and arms. Countless variations of this decorarive cloth are visible still in middle-class Indian homes. And the name for this doily-like item is ... antimacassar!