Ode to an Indian Summer – Wholewheat Eggless Elaichi Cupcakes with Mango Custard & Shrikhand Frosting

I read somewhere that..”An empty stomach and a full mind do not let you sleep” or in the likes of it. Obsession, Passion, whatever you choose to call it, the mind refuses to believe in logic and the results are insomnia and groggy mornings. You must wonder how this is pertinent in an article regarding cupcakes & frosting, let me clarify. It is when the sun hides in the horizon, paints the sky with a dark navy blue and the night is saturated with silence, that my brain ostensibly decides to plug the switch on. Ideas flash like light bulbs, sometimes riveting, sometimes not and refuse to abate until appeased. If not for my husband who is constantly wary of my whereabouts in the kitchen or my art table, I wouldn’t  make the effort to sleep for 8 hrs a day. I’ve always been in my opinion that 24 hrs is far too less….why spend prized moments in dreamland when you can paint a prettier picture with reality.

Just a brief halt before we get on to today’s food journey, I’m happy & humbled to share with you all that I’m now officially a Cake Decorating Instructor (Wilton Method Instructor)! What excites me most is that this is synonymous with the few things I love aka Art, Baking & Teaching! Although I have been teaching art & craft for about 3 years now this is a new arena for me to explore and I’m beyond excited…Here are some of my creations….
An official website is on the way but please do check out my page on INSTAGRAM
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Now, we go back to this summer recipe!IMG_1779
It was on one such night when my mind was hovering around my caking obsession,  that it dawned upon me make these cupcakes. I’m all for chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut & oreos but a large part me & my food come from a land where every flavour is infused with the richness of spices. Be it a savory or a sweet dish, we are almost lost without them!  Therefore,  I decided to stick to my roots & conjure up something that included my love for baking with an Indian twist. The result….Elaichi Cupcakes with Mango Custard and a Shrikhand Frosting aka a recipe that screams an Indian Summer! Let me elaborate…
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Elaichi/ Cardamom with it’s sweet, pungent taste is a mandatory in most Indian desserts and nothing can contest a piping hot cup of Elaichi tea/chai after a tiring day at work. They work up their magic in these cupcakes too and the entire kitchen is suffused with the aroma they emanate.
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Mangoes are a part & parcel of Indian summers. Grandmothers pickle the raw ones while the ripe ones are demolished by the grandchildren! My mom erased the boredom out of regular humdrum dinners by indulging us in a particularly decadent yet simple dessert…she squeezes out pulps of the raw mangoes and mixes it with a little milk, sugar & Elaichi to eat with chapatis/rotis & summer dinners suddenly became exciting! The Mango Custard I’ve used in this recipe is inspired from that and it makes for a delicious filling in these elaichi cupcakes.
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Shrikhand is a creamy, delicious dessert made with hung yogurt & sugar and risen into added vigor with the addition of Saffron! Now, Saffron,…reputed to be rather expensive but, aside from bringing in a natural “golden like the rising sun” tinge to the food, the aroma it exudes is beyond ordinary. It’s no surprise that my mom always insists that I incorporate saffron in the sweet dishes I offer to the Gods! The BEST accompaniment with Shrikhand has to be Pooris ( very bluntly, deep fried rotis) and weekend breakfasts with my grandma were synonymous with this but I’ve used it to dress up these cupcakes!
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Like Helen Keller said, “Alone you can do so little, together we can do so much.”
The union of Elaichi, Mango & the Shrikhand is divine but I take no credit because the discovery goes back ages to my forefathers and all I can is that I’m beyond grateful. I’m thankful for the inspiration and the chance to experiment with creative diversity.
Also I’ve used wholewheat in this recipe given it’s health benefits and as always it’s eggless too. Not to worry about the cakes being dense and all. They are super moist, spongy and the golden yellow luscious custard and the creamy aromatic frosting make this a perfect dessert to indulge in.
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I’m going to stop my chitchatting and get on with the recipe….I do hope you try this dessert and do let me know if you liked it!


RECIPE FOR EGGLESS WHOLEWHEAT ELAICHI CUPCAKES WITH MANGO CUSTARD AND SHRIKHAND FROSTING(Makes 8 regular sized cupcakes)

INGREDIENTS
FOR ELAICHI CUPCAKES
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp oil
1/2 white vinegar + 1/2 tsp
1/2 cup milk( I used skim)
4 green elaichis/cardamoms + a pinch of sugar
FOR MANGO CUSTARD
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
4 tbsp milk + 1 cup milk
2.5 – 3 tbsp mango puree
1 tbsp sugar + 1 tbsp sugar
FOR SHRIKHAND
2 cups thick curd ( I used 3%) hung overnight in a cheese cloth
1-1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
1 green cardamom+ a pinch of sugar
a good pinch of saffron strandsMETHOD
To make Elaichi Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line the tray with cupcake liners.
2. Preparing the elaichi powder – Remove the seeds from the elaichi pods. Add them to a mortar & pestle along with a pinch of sugar and crush them into a fine powder.
3. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients- wholewheat flour, sugar, baking soda and elaichi powder.
4. Make buttermilk by adding 1/2 tsp vinegar to the milk. Add this to the large bowl (with the dry ingredients)along with oil and vinegar. Mix well and ensure there are no lumps.
5. Fill 2/3 rds of the cupcake liners with the batter and bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool Completely.
 To make Mango Custard- 
1. Heat 1 cup of milk with 1 tbsp sugar over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a small cup, mix the custard powder with 4 tablespoons of cold milk.
2. Once the milk is boiling, put off the stove. Add the custard-milk mixture to the hot milk while whisking in one hand. Make sure there are no lumps. Let it cool.
3. Add the mango puree to the custard along with 1 tbsp sugar and blitz using a hand blender.(SEE NOTES BELOW)
4. Transfer to a piping bag and keep it ready. If the mixture is too thin, just keep it in the freezer for 5 minutes.
To make Shrikhand- 
1.Transfer the hung curd from the cheesecloth to a medium sized bowl.
2. Make elaichi powder with 1 elaichi as explained above.
3. Prepare the saffron- In a tiny cup, heat 1 tsp of milk or add a tsp of hot milk and add a good pinch of lightly crushed saffron strands. ( You can lightly crush them using your fingers as you add them into the cup). Let it sit for a minute or 2 and you will see a beautiful yellow-orange colour imparted to the milk.
3. Add this milk to the hung curd along with sugar and elaichi powder. Fold them into the hung curd very gently for a minute.
4. Transfer to a piping bag and keep in the freezer for 5-10 minutes so that it firms up a little.
TO ASSEMBLE CUPCAKES
1. Using a large piping tip, just core out the centre of the cupcakes. ( I used my piping tips to do that)
2. Fill with the Mango custard.
3. Frost the cupcakes with the creamy Shrikhand and garnish with elaichi powder and saffron strands. ( I’ve use a Wilton 2D to pipe the rosettes).
NOTES:
1. Instead of homemade Cardamom/elaichi powder you can use readymade cardamom powder too.

2.The amount of sugar in the custard can be increased if you like. I have used only 1 tablespoon. Taste it and if you feel it’s less, add more.
3. Again, I’ve added a tbsp of sugar to the mango puree as well because the mangoes I used were a little sour. Depending on the sweetness of the mango, you can reduce or increase the sugar.
4. Readymade mango puree can be used as well. I just squeezed the pulp of the mango into a bowl and used it.

 

Oops! I stained the Coffee Table!

You know how little kids bursting with an overzealous creative effulgence wind up drawing the most haphazard but one-of-a-kind designs making for the most adorable wall art,  sometimes capable of even putting a Picasso to shame.Well,  I’m no child but admittedly ridden with a perpetual itch to create, to slather empty spaces with paints & splotches, to suffuse the blank with prints and finally to render to that my very own signature.Long story short, I’m on a relentless hunt for a Blank Canvas. To help make this all a reality, I’m blessed with a husband who may not know his way around a brush or pencil but whose mind is a store of ideas and is guilty of many, many light bulb moments.  Like when a sober looking ivory wall in our Bangalore bedroom constantly tickled the right side of my brain: The following weekend, we painted the wall a nice light sap green and framed an old, frayed, gold & ivory satin cloth to make for wall decor. And Voila! Life turned a tad greener, fresher & so much better.
Now that you get the picture, let’s move on to the chief protagonists of this article.
Back when we were in Jersey City (if only I had a dollar for every time I used this phrase!), we had just moved into our studio and were on a constant lookout for inexpensive furniture. An apartment above ours turned into our very own flea market, replete with abandoned tables, shelves & cupboards. We drank in the treasure but a 30″ coffee table became the object of interest to the both of us and the same evening, it had our name on it! The table seemed rather antique, with a rosewood like finish which was polished off in a jiffy after a visit to Home Depot. What grabbed my attention though was the spotless glass top, enormous, hefty, mundane and most importantly, Empty……
The next couple of weeks, I donned my messy apron and austerely immersed myself in a tunnel of colors, hoping to make it my own. Nothing beautifies glass like imitation Stained Glass Painting and after a round of thick outlining, I have to admit, painting it was a breeze. I wound up using a ton of crimson to keep in tandem with the The Wall of Warli & our red ottomans. Here’s the outcome, the table which inevitably became a part of many date nights, got a taste of all my experiments from the kitchen, that selflessly lent itself for my crafty projects which also meant tolerating sticky glue stains , held freshly baked birthday cakes with candles and became a significant part of that home.
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Onto the next part of the story. The other protagonist. For obvious reasons, we couldn’t carry this 80 pound glass top back to Bangalore and saw ourselves yearning for another center table that permitted tea spills, provided a temporary home for my books, friend-ed & accommodated the extra set of my students and for those rare meal times when we were tempted to stretch our legs & indulge in a nail biting televison series. The long and short of it, every home deserves a coffee table, so did this one.
Glass switched with wood & paper this time and weeks of intense imitation Minakari Painting, transpired in this.(The original Minakari Painting is a gift from the very talented artisans of Rajasthan and can be seen adorning palaces.The one you see below is just a imitation and made using fevicryl products). The copper bronze finish was implemented in order to compliment the brown beige cushions & carpet. I jazzed up these earthy tones with some hot pink & yellow, in other words, the perks of unshackled creative freedom. (Once the painting was complete, a very kind person who specializes in framing paintings did the needful aka framed it, fixed the additional wooden logs for legs and fitted it with an appropriate sized glasstop.)
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(Please ignore the red mat below)
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After a two year stint in Bangalore, it was time to move again although this time the table made it’s way, flying 9000 miles, to Canada. The husband has now cleverly transformed my work of art into a little high top dining table.
But, this home still lacks a coffee table and my brain is on overdrive…..

I do hope you liked this one!

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A Love Story with New York City – 2

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
– Tom Wolfe
A journey
October 23rd, 2010. The cold, nippy air, despite bearing a stark contrast from the world I come from, spurred feelings of pure elation and I vividly recall, I wasn’t going to let a moderate amount of jet lag or a massive amount of “missing home” stop me from experiencing that.  Call me crazy but this was the land of ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ after all and every red bricked building had me hoping it contained the purple walls of Monica’s apartment(don’t worry, I knew they shot the whole thing in LA). Call me silly but this was the land where Serena & Blair fought & made up but, through it all, granted alluring, scenic views of the city & a glimpse of the lavish, sequined & sparkling piece of the city, The Upper East Side.
Maybe that’s when the fascination began, 10000 miles away and was bottled up tight until this chilly morning, when it all came bubbling out…..the funny thing is, four years later and many miles farther, the fascination still silently continues. That would explain my undiluted love for books that allow me to indulge in the magnetism of this city:
Truman Capote’s, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ where he so explicitly describes Holly Golightly & Paul’s horse ride amid a leafy , autumn ridden Central Park. The glamour of Tiffany’s still intrigues me although I only have my imagination to rely on.(On the Bucket List.)
Melanie Benjamin’s ‘Swans of Fifth Avenue’ where she takes the reader to a classy 1970’s New York, Bergdorf’s, tea time at the Plaza & Babe Ruth. “Delicious sounds of the city”, she so rightly narrates.
Wednesday Martin’s Memoir, ‘Primates of Park Avenue’ where she forays into the contrasting lives  of the West & the East Side of the city…Birkins, sprawling views of the Central park & Lulu lemon.
As we took our first drive in the hollows of the Holland Tunnel that chilly morning, encapsulated by the waters of the Hudson River, I failed to fathom the magic I was about to encounter in the coming couple of years. Here are some of those moments…..

Like the luminous Brooklyn Bridge spanning the East River. Admittedly, it’s not a smart idea to stand atop a bridge to admire the masterpiece that it is,  especially in the freezing  -1° winter of December whilst fighting cold winds. So, we waited for the warmth of spring. Decked in golden lights and surrounded by skyscrapers seemingly lit by glowing fireflies, the Brooklyn Bridge waterfront park promises a stunning view.
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Roosevelt Island is a little island in the East River and the idea of travelling in a cable car, speeding past the Queensboro Bridge while being able to appreciate the nonchalant waters & the hustle bustle of the city below seemed perfect. Unlike the history of this island which is far from perfect aka a harbor for asylums & prisons.


The unfurl of glitter that occurs in a Manhattan Christmas draws everyone like a moth to a flame. The flood of lights and bombardment of colors at every corner translates into warmth & joy regardless of the winter mayhem. Synonymous with a New York Christmas is  the Rockefeller Tree which has been spoken about enough & more in romantic comedies but allow me to share with you some other spots that scream & shine with colour & shimmer.


Travel back a month before Christmas & we have Thanksgiving. No turkey for me but I’ll have a big serving of Pumpkin pie & the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade please! While a giant Snoopy, Kung Fu Panda & Mc Donald’s soared in the skies, there’s a minute possibility I raced back to childhood and an innocent excitement got the better of me.


Talking about childhood, I have to make a mention of the Spider man Broadway Show, an indulgence but every penny’s worth. The mind fails to reason for few moments when Spider man uninhibitedly & undauntedly flies high above whilst shooting out fake webs…is there a one in million chance that he could be real? (Here’s hoping!)

The American Museum of Natural History aside from spawning memories of  Ben Stiller’s ‘Night at the Museum’ also makes for a fun day trip but beware of your legs falling off! (The museum is massive and a day is too short to explore). Although a little time at the butterfly conservatory can make one forget the turmoils of not just the long walks & the million photo clicks around museum but the trials and tribulations of life itself. Fearlessly, they flapped, fluttered & perched on my head, the husband’s bag and another’s dress & posed with utmost poise for the cameras around….
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Say hello to Rexy & Dum Dum!

And finally, every September 11th, some friends & us stood at the edge of the waters of the Hudson River in Jersey City and witnessed the Tribute in Lights, two columns of lights ascending heroically to the skies, much like the brave hearts the world lost on that fateful morning….IMG_8453.CR2

This ends my NYC series on the blog. I’ve pushed hard to try and recount my experiences, the byzantine thoughts that crossed my mind as I explored the choked up streets but for some reason I feel these articles will always be incomplete, something amiss like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle…maybe because some feelings can never be wholly described….

Do read the rest of the NYC series here…
Times Square, NYC
Highline Park, NYC
Cherry Blossom, Brooklyn Botanical Garden
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Next on our travel adventures, come with us to the glorious Canadian Rockies, where nature stole our breath, one mountain at a time!

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#Raspberry Yogurt Cake with White Chocolate Ganache- Eggless

“There is only one happiness in life. To love & be loved.”
– George Sand
I’m drifting from my NYC series to indulge you all in a decadent, fit-for-the-Gods dessert. So, my 31st happened to be a special one….we had landed in a new country just hours before we rang in my birthday. Still jet lagged from a 22 hour flight, I dozed off putting aside the brimming excitement that normally accompanies me before a birthday.  My husband woke me at 12 AM with a broad smile & the most sinful Raspberry White chocolate cake blanketed in little white chocolate curls. A surprise indeed and the sweet, romantic guy that he is, he managed to scour the city he’s never been in before, at midnight, to find this cake. I’m not sure if it was the jet lag or the enthusiasm to begin new adventures or just that the cake was plain & simple, delicious but it made me forget all about being a year older!
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That was my first tryst with a raspberry-white chocolate combination and on most celebratory occasions, we run to the same store to get one. I would tell myself to make an eggless version at home but kept putting it off for no particular reason.  A few days back, fed up with my procrastination, I decided to heed to my heart’s calling & make a Raspberry cake with a silky, luscious, white chocolate ganache on top. Although I generally use buttermilk to make the cake, I decided to opt for yogurt this time. It’s ultra moist , infused with the freshness of lemon zest, sweet & delicious! I personally crave for a ganache that’s ooey gooey flowy & floods the delicate sponge rather than one that’s more like a slather of frosting.
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A friend who is new to the concept of eggless cakes was eager to try mine & I decided this cake would be perfect for a dinner party at my place “I don’t miss the egg” she said with the first bite and the remaining cake went home with her in my tupperware.
I do hope you try this cake & as always I love me a feedback! Thanks!

RECIPE FOR EGGLESS RASPBERRY YOGURT CAKE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE (for a 6″ cake)
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup of Self raising flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Baking soda
3 tbsp oil ( I use sunflower)
1/2 cup plain skim yogurt ( store bought)
1/2 tbsp white vinegar
2 – 3 tbsp of hot water
1.5 cups of fresh raspberries (1 cup halved for the batter and remaining to top)
1 tsp lemon zest  + extra for topping
FOR WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
170 gms of Baking white chocolate, chopped
75 ml of Heavy cream 

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease and flour a 6″ cake pan.
2. In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients( flour, baking soda and sugar ) and mix well.
3. Then add, vinegar, oil, yogurt and whisk to ensure there are no lumps.
4. Add hot water and mix.
5. Fold in chopped raspberries and lemon zest gently.
6. Bake for 30- 35 min or until toothpick comes out clean.
7. Cool completely.
8. To make the white chocolate ganache,
-Chop the white chocolate into tiny pieces or grate and place in a bowl.
-Add the cream into a small vessel and heat it on a stove on medium heat until you see a boil. Put off the stove and add the heavy cream to the bowl of white chocolate. Cover with a lid and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Then stir with a whisk to ensure there are no lumps. (Alternatively, you can heat the cream in the microwave for a minute)
9. Immediately refrigerate for about 1o minutes to cool. Place the cake on a wired rack and pour the ganache on top of the cooled cake.
10. Place some more fresh raspberries on top and sprinkle caster sugar.

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A Love Story with New York City – 1

The grey, cracked & decrepit sidewalks, the swarm of people scurrying past, their minds as crammed as the streets. The million food trucks & hot dog stands suffusing the air with wafts of warm food that  admittedly I’m not a fan of, being a vegetarian but saw myself yearning for the same warmth in the crisp New York winter. The roads choked with teeming traffic, the sunshine-bright-chrome-yellow taxis not just driving but blazing by, they probably imagine they’re part of a race car event. The subway stations: the most efficient of labyrinths so much so, we’ve ended up in the wrong destinations at times more than once. Having said that, they make for the best escape from the winter winds & will let you revel in the best musical entertainment in those few minutes of wait time. The steam grates aka plumes of steam arising from manholes. Throw in some rain, a man in a hat & trench coat and voila!, you’re on the sets of a 1950’s suspense thriller. Later I learnt that the steam is actually the by product of electricity generation. The Pizzas, oh the Pizzas!, slices as big as the  paper plates they come in but sinful, cheesy, greasy & divine.
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The glorious Empire State Building (West 33rd & 34th street). Aside from standing proud amid all the hustle bustle, also the reason for an everyday ritual at our home in Jersey City: spotting the colors it drapes on itself, red, pink, purple, the Indian tricolors on August 15th. If it happened to be a lucky day, then fireworks lit up the skies against the backdrop of the glittery New York skyline. We didn’t just admire it from afar, we rid the elevators to the 86th floor one afternoon & treated ourselves to sweeping views of Midtown Manhattan, the green of Central Park, the blue of the Hudson River, ant-people & toy-cars. Along with a burgeon of skyscrapers that compete to see “Who’s the tallest?” & conjoined with a sparse breathing space, there are some that stand out with hardly any effort aka, the ornamented spire of The Chrysler Building.
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If you’re visiting/live close to NYC, then you go to Central Park. You go in the 100 degree Fahrenheit summers to get some respite in the calming lush of greens. You go to ride the bicycle along it’s vast expanses and realize it’s so much bigger than your imagination can fathom, you realize by the end of it you’ve arrived at another corner of the city. You walk, jog, get some exercise and then go to listen to musicians whilst gulping ice cream after ice cream. Then, after 3 months of hot & humid, fall arrives and you had no clue the beauty of this place could triple in a trice. Seas of ochre & sienna brushed dried leaves cover the ground and the slightest breeze can beguile you into being on the sets of a Karan Johar movie.
(On a side note, if you to appreciate jaw dropping views of Central Park, watch Gossip Girl!XOXO)
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Image Source: Google
Summers in New York City are synonymous with outdoor movies at Bryant Park on the 40th Street. A weekday evening, with a couple of friends we sat back, relaxed & watched Audrey Hepburn in the Roman Holiday. Although, I have to confess, we arrived late because we had to have the Margarita Pizza from Pronto’s (obviously!) and were forced to sit way back. We spent the next 2 hours craning our necks trying to comprehend bits of the movie but we still had our fun and made a plan to visit again. Never happened. 3 years later, I watched the movie on my laptop & fell in love with Audrey.

The Grand Central Station on 42nd Street  as the name perfectly defines has never been a train terminal for us but rather a place to delve in grandeur & history. We would go to repeatedly admire the sprawling blue astronomical ceiling with stars & constellations,to whisper in the Whispering Arch, where whispers from afar can be heard crystal clear.( To learn more about the the secrets of the Grand central, go HERE )
One of these casual visits, we also witnessed a romantic proposal, the man organizing a mini flash mob to woo his lady into marrying him…needless to say, she said YES!
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Clearly, I can’t stop! The little things, the big things, there’s so much more. I can go on & on & I will…Stay tuned for Part- 2.

When age is just a number….

Before I begin, the two beautiful people/students of mine,  who are the inspiration behind this post, are the loveliest ladies with chubby little grandchildren to boast of. (and thanks to technology we still keep in touch) .
Now, let me a paint the background. Back in Bangalore I was busy running & managing a little art/craft school . Working from the comforts of home, it was more than just something done to pass the time. The passion for art combined with the satisfaction of teaching made the experience incredibly satiating & divine. Every morning & evening, I delightfully welcomed students of all ages, introduced them to my world  ( a possible topic for another post), invariably putting a smile on their faces. Some were kind enough to let me be a part of their lives and we went on to become friends, relationships I will cherish for life. Every moment, a coveted privilege.

Two among this family,  that remain to be special are Uma aunty & Lakshmi aunty (I call them “aunty” out of respect, them being around my mom’s age) and I unapologetically call them my favorite students. As you read further, you’ll see yourself agreeing with me.

When I first met them, hardly did I know that these two friends would gain the honour of becoming the “back-benchers” of my little classroom. Since they catered to a multitude of responsibilities at home, it almost always ensued a late arrival to class but the loud burst of energy they brought with them was infectious at the least. Always attired elegantly in the crispest of cotton saris painted in an array of pleasing colors & prints, it would be a matter of moments before peals of laughter reverberated through the walls of my living room. Rare lackadaisical mornings merely expected their presence in order to be uplifted. They beckoned us to look beyond that room, beyond art, beyond craft, beyond the paper & paint because “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and if not for them, I probably would have been ignorant of that lesson. Their affable nature was undoubtedly popular among adults but I always thought it’s their experience that procured them the very prized attention of the little children.
Having said that, none of this hindered their progress in class. Be it paper art or painting, they were pros and constantly brimming with creativity(take a look at the pictures below). They were always battle ready to learn new forms of art, a thirst I failed to spot in the hearts of most of the younger generation. Maybe it’s because we delve in the turmoils of uncertainty and prefer to procrastinate,  that we neglect the “present” that is so gloriously offered to us. Lesson learnt.
I won’t deny that I taught them the ways of the paper strips & the brush but the truth is I learnt more from them than they did from me. I learnt that age is just a number, I learnt that being happy or making someone else happy is hardly dependent on the pitfalls of life. Although they are much older than I am,( and not that I expected it), they showered me with the respect they would offer a teacher.To be honest, it spoke more of their humility rather than anything about me. Another lesson learnt.
But, before I conclude, the one thing I am certain I will never learn from them is the magic they pour into their spicy, flavour jammed Indian Mango pickles & the myriad of chutneys, for some things can  never be replicated…..

Here’s  glimpse of their creative journey…..
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Where all the lights glisten…Times Square, NYC

“New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
The lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York, New York,
New York”
Jay Z & Alicia Keys have hit the mark in ‘Empire State of Mind’! Manhattan was a mere five miles from home (Jersey City) & we didn’t really have to wait for the weekend for a rendezvous. I’m sometimes a victim of frayed memories, remembering the special moments & willingly omitting the rest but never with Times Square. The  unremitting burgeon of lights, the glamour, the electrifying joy….every bit is firmly etched in my mind. I admit, natural beauty, silence & calm have their perks & have a way of rejuvenating but there are times when a blast of euphoria helps too. Sometimes, all you need to cheer up is to watch happy people, drown in the deluge of glinting lights, devour greasy food and shop till you drop, all of which one can easily indulge in at the Times Square.

Here’s what I brought back…..
I remember having a celebrity moment when I saw myself up a mammoth screen draped atop a store. Although, I have to confess, giggling & jumping about waving hands, doesn’t really scream “celebrity”.

I remember shopping like a maniac at 2:30 AM with a bunch of cousins at Forever 21. It was more the thrill of being able to shop at midnight rather than actually wanting something. But, we girls do that, right?

I remember cuddling with the husband on the neon red steps after being shot from all the walking. Not that I needed a reason but the crisp New York autumn breeze sure helped.

I remember taking a picture with a shaggy Red Muppet. I come from the land of Amar Chitra Katha & Malgudi Days, ignorant of who a Muppet is. But he looked adorable & so what if his woolly costume was a little old?

I remember Batman rescuing me from a couple of villains. Let me rephrase that. I remember a guy pretending to be Batman, imploring us to take pictures and swinging me right into his arms.I’m not complaining, this is as close to Christian Bale as it’ll get.

I remember a perpetual yearning to visit the Starbucks reveling in the midst of all the action. The throngs of people striving for a cup of coffee in a moderately claustrophobic environment constantly put me off. Maybe another time?

I remember venturing into the world of M & M’s despite having a clear distaste for them. But, let me tell you, I’m a big fan of cheesy photographs with round, smiling faces! I also  sanctimoniously revere organizational & color coding skills that assuage the OCD side of me, which happens to be in abundance here.

I remember the luminous billboards & marquees, NYPD in navy blue riding sturdy horses, the thrums of people handing out pamphlets for comedy shows, the sounds of laughter & glee, the frenzy, the lights , the lights, the lights…..
Take a look,

IMG_4402IMG_9169IMG_9186IMG_9533Times Square