Monday, December 27, 2010

Chikki cannot cross the world

In India, I LOVED Chikki! The first time I had it was from this shop:

I don't know the name of that very dinky village. It was "in Velhe," which (I guess) is a district, and it was past the only real village of any size (which might itself have been named "Velhe" but I don't know). If anyone who was there that day can name me names, I'd appreciate it.

I ate chikki several times in India, and then I brought three kinds home. But... it was hard as a rock. We don't have the low elevation and the humidity it needs to live its long life.

I went to check the elevation of Pune:
560 m (1,840 ft) above sea level ... with its tallest hill, Vetal Hill, rising to 800 m (2,600 ft) above sea level
Albuquerque is
4,900 feet (1,490 m) above sea level near the Rio Grande (in the Valley) to over 6,700 feet (1,950 m) in the foothill areas
I'm in the foothills. Chikki doesn't like that.

Chikki is made of ground nuts and jaggery. We have ground nuts. Peanuts, we call them. We don't have jaggery. I think it's a cousin of molasses but it looks nothing on earth like molasses.

While I was in there, I see the temperatures by season:
Winter begins in November; November in particular is referred to as the Rosy Cold (literal translation) (Marathi: गुलाबी थंडी). The daytime temperature hovers around 28 °C (82 °F) while night temperature is below 10 °C (50 °F) for most of December and January, often dropping to 5 to 6 °C (41 to 43 °F). The lowest temperature ever recorded was 1.7 °C on January 17, 1935.
So it hasn't frozen in the city ever!?

Well.... chikki freezes when it goes from Pune to Albuquerque. I'm just sayin'...
(Haven't attempted microwaving it to see if it will soften it up a little, temporarily.)

Source of stats:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I own this

Take a careful look at the printed bedspread hanging on this wall in a shop in Bangalore. The matching pillow cases are up to the right.

I own this! It is in a suitcase upstairs, and I am about to sleep in my own bed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flying Hanuman

The day after I got here, we were at an intersection where a guy was selling these plastic figures, and nothing but these— he probably had 150 of them or more, all this dark orange. We got one for Hema's car and one for me to take home, and I have spent the rest of the time looking for more of them without luck.

After that day, though, we've seen them in four other vehicles, and I'm glad to have one. They bounce along just as happily as can be, watching the road. It's about (as Raghu explained to me) when Hanuman went to get a certain plant from a mountain that would cure Ram's brother. He wasn't sure which plant, or he didn't have time or something, so he made himself big (which is his super power—to be huge or tiny if he needs to be) and flew back with his mace in one hand and the mountain in the other. Raghu told me that Hanuman's mace doesn't need spikes because he doesn't actually even need the mace. He can beat anyone with his bare hands.

See Hanuman there in the upper right?
The car in front of us had one, too:

Here's Hema's, candidly, out in the country. I was taking a picture of the roller, and the road work.

Here it is posed:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time for Ganesha

This one isn't a clock, but it reminded me of Ninja Turtles. He has a rat, too.

In a museum, marked just "20th century":



Chitra gave me these flowers. She wrote the name down as rajneekandh but said it might have a g. I found them as Rajanigandha, and the photo is the same.

Here's a photo of Pradnya, me, Hema and Chitra:

Here's a cool photo showing all five kids, doing various things:

More about the flower:

I saw some in Hawaii, too, and I think they might have been what the lei was made of that Jihong brought when she met me at the airport. It feels the same and smells like Hawaii to me. :-)

The Meridien Hotel

Lunch at the The Meridien Hotel in Pune:

The elevators have mirrors in them. This is my flash in a mirror in a fancy elevator I did not go into.

The first two are elevators. The third one is a supply closet. Nice, huh? Really nice camouflage. The elevator that never arrives.

Hema was having a beautiful hair day.

This ice was put into the glass at the table, with tongs, one cube at a time. Artfully arranged. Then he poured water over it. Very pretty.

A floral display without flowers.

The hotel had just bought three matching new cars and had them blessed/Christened [no, not Christened...] ...had a car puja... and the license plate numbers are all in a row.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sandra Dodd's Wild Rides

More video from auto rickshaws!

Dusk, Laxmi Road in Pune, the stores with their lights on:

Here's the preview to the one above, a wild wait, while Pradnya got a second rickshaw and then gathered our party together so we could go back to her mom's place where she had left her car.

Another day, another auto; same part of town:


Some of my favorite images from yesterday. I'm behind on processing thoughts and pictures both.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Arvind Gupta's science toys

Chitra arranged a brief visit to Arvind Gupta's lab/workshop on Friday. He designs science toys that can be made by street kids from easily obtainable Indian trash. His site is linked below. Here's a brief video I made that day:
He showed us the balancing nails trick (which they have at Explora in Albuquerque, too).

There was a flexagon with drawings of stages of evolution. In this video (linked from his site, to YouTube) he shows a food chain. Any four-part series could be illustrated on those, he said. (He told us who discovered/created this design first, too, but I don't remember the name, so if anyone does know, please leave a note.

Pictures of the building in which he and his team work, and some of the things we saw:

Highway traffic with Christmas music

On the piece of cardboard on which I've been taking notes on which photos to delete and which are brooms and whatnot, I had noted: "Good 1454.mp4" I can't say at the moment what I thought was good about it, but I will trust my notes from day before yesterday and share it.


I wasn't tall enough to get the flag fully. Had I backed up more, other trees would have been between me and the moon. It was getting dark and getting cloudy at the same time. It's not a great photo, but will be a memory jogger for me. I was in the driveway of Pradnya's mom's house.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Outside the zoo

I thought I would bring something interesting since I might not get time for a careful post today:

Kids' rides, and all the sounds, outside the ticket booth of the zoo.

Sari shop

I got to be in a fancy sari shop while Chitra bought a sari for her mother-in-law. Because she wanted a typical local sari, Pradnya was advising.

This is the second floor (third, by American reckoning)--there was another place over the entry room). Shoes off for this one, and the floor was covered in pads about 3" thick, like old-style futons. There were three salesmen, and when we came in they indicated a corner for us to sit, and brought me a plastic stool (which I didn't mind, because I was really tired and would've had an awkward get-back-up).

Behind me was the entry, where the shoes were, and the windows to the street. I should've just captured everything, but I was the last of the people in our group, and anyway one can't capture everything.

When we went downstairs to pay, I started to do a 360° view, but was interrupted by a man having brought me a chair. How nice of him! How rude to interrupt my nosy, touristy capture of his store, though. :-)

Pradnya says, "Sandra, he's getting you a chair," so I stopped.

I'm scheduled to be back down on that street again before I leave, so I'll try to get a shot of the front of the store to add here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

an old woman with a broom

This is my favorite photo from yesterday:

Here it is with more context:

There are old women with brooms cleaning paths and roadsides all over the place, but this one was at the zoo. She was taking a break. I took the photo for my brooms collection (to which I'm still adding, and I don't expect anyone else to care as much as I do).

The proper zoo photos will come later. I had an upload problem and need to figure out which images failed. I was glad to see this one come through, though.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Library dog

A dog with a picturesque sleeping spot, outside an old library with a large rose garden in front and lots of trees around:

(Library insides to follow in a later post; I need to go to the zoo soon.)

Tricks and Flowers

Yesterday I went for a little "explore" with Tejas (on the bike, who lived there, and whom I'd known before), Shakthi and Shree (Chitra's daughters, who arrived from Coimbatore yesterday).

Tejas showed us how well he could ride his bicycle with one hand, and even turn.

Shakthi is an artist, and I had some of her work before by e-mail, but yesterday I saw some of her more 3-D art, and how quickly she can make beautiful things. She told me Shree, her younger sister, was a naturalist and cared about flowers and plants. When we went on the walk, sure enough Shree pointed out each new flower, and told me to take pictures. These were just along the pool and parking lot at the housing society where Tejas lives. Shree knew the names of a lot of them, but I didn't take notes. Tejas knew some of them too, and took us to the larger papaya tree for photos of those too.

Click to see all the flowers Shree pointed at.

Competitive problem

The grandparents of unschoolers I spoke with the first week I was here were all worried about competitive tests. Since then I've seen what they're thinking:

In a library in Bangalore:

There does seem to be an atmosphere of competition, and that will affect unschoolers in the way they deal with others (and especially with other people's questions and fears).

Ganesha specialities

Doctor (vet?), gamer and computer Ganeshas:

Oh! That's his mouse, each time.

The stylized image on the right, nearly to the bottom, is interesting. In figurines, there are round Ganesha's, very modern seeming, nearly round, with only the slightest of details.

He's recognizeable even in minimal or abstract ways: