Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A mommy moment again!

I and my best half are early  risers. Both of  us are up before the sunrise,  anywhere between 5 to 5.15( after a few snooze buttons). It is during these early  morning hours  most times, we get a call from our daughter  telling she would be going to sleep at that hour. Most days, our daughter studying from a hostel works all through the night to complete her assignments, sleeps for just 3-4 hours per day and then rushes to her college which is within the campus. But then,  such is her nature of branch study  which is design oriented ,creative and her assignment work has to be innovative. It is not just her, the status of her hardworking friends too read similar to “ Sleep?! What’s that? “. Sleep is the only area they complain, else they seem to enjoy their work.

So, when she came home for the first semester break, I was too happy for her.  I thought  she would get 15 days of proper rest, leisure and I would pamper her with  home made food.  My parents had also timed their visit so that they could spend time with their grandchildren.  My son who is in Class X had no winter break, we decided to spend our vacation at home with a few local outings and have a great family time.

All was well, till her  4th day of vacation. On the 5th day, she had planned to go out for lunch  and catch up with her friends who had also come down for their semester breaks. That is when she got a call from her lecturer asking her to join for an internship in “Communication design” for a couture show to be held at one of the leading hotel .

Indeed, It was a lifetime opportunity for her  but now  once again she came to her  cycle of hardwork, workplace food at erratic timings the only solace was she would come back home for a 5 hour sleep.

Although the mom in me sulked that she had no proper food and rest, the other side was proud that she interned for a leading couture designer & pioneer who had clients like Princess Esra and she could get to speak to such noble people, interact with some leading lights at such an young age. It was a lifetime experience for her and that certificate of internship would be a feather on  her cap and she was one of the 3 member student(she got to choose the 3rd student) crew in the show and was chosen because of her first semester work and that designer is Tarun Tahiliani.

It was a mommy moment for me yesterday,  when i held that internship certificate in my hand. 

Am very proud of my girl!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Growing tomatoes - Some memories and life lessons

Growing tomatoes is a childhood memory, a memory that will last a lifetime for me, because, even if I want to forget, some of my older relatives remind me the tale often. Recently, when I harvested my first ripened tomato and tasted it raw, it released the  memory again. But before that, I must write down and share the “Tomato tale” of my  first balcony grown tomato with almost zero investment supporting my sustainability and organic mantra.

I don't want to miss any point and so with a long post alert i begin......

It all started when one of my store brought tomatoes had somewhat rotten,(not fully) and  I did’nt think it was good for cooking, Instead of adding it to my compost bin, I scooped out the seeds and along with the peel sprinkled it across an old existing  pot.  Like the previous time, almost all  the seeds germinated but unlike last time where overwatering killed them, I was cautious not to overwater them this time. They slowly grew up into many saplings jostling for space in the 5 inch pot.  One fine morning, I transplanted the  8 strong ones into nearby pots. I was short of space in pots and so even transplanted one into a 1 litre kinley bottle. In a week’s time, 6 of them  recovered from the transplantation shocks and started inching up and the one in the kinley bottle too was doing extremely well.  Almost, every day  I would go into my little garden patch , admire them and  oversee their growth.   One of the two saplings growing in the parent pot was doing well, ahead of the others.  I had no stakes or sticks around me to support them so, I had tied them to the small window grill in the patio.

One fine day, around Diwali time, our maintenance staff while cleaning for Diwali, totally unaware of the sapling tied to the grill for support pulled the pot and when I came back from my outing, my heart almost jumped out on seeing the displacement. I immediately went near and adjusted the support and placement and to my surprise I found a beautiful bouquet of yellow blossoms. “I  was excited” will be an understatement, nobody can measure the happiness that I felt that day, especially,  I strictly believe and follow “Winnie the Poohisms” and one of his philosophical quote is “ Sometimes, the smallest things take most room in your heart”.  The blossoms were totally  hidden from my direct line of vision as they were behind the grill and so it was unexpected joy.

 Not wanting to put them them to anymore stress/ trouble, I brought them to my balcony and almost every day  I would begin my  winter morning by watching the blossom through the  misty French Windows of my balcony. I was totally excited when they dried up and almost woke up  daily  with the expectation to see them form little tomatoes. Three days passed, there was no sign of the tomato forming, instead they had shriveled, dried and dropped along with the stalk.  The day  they fell, My whole day was dull and the loss weighed on my  sensitive mind. No amount of consolation from my family helped and that day I realized “ Gardening like life is not all about happiness”.  

Meanwhile the rest of the plants too started blossoming and they too dropped. I almost became an expert on “Blossom drop” subject after reading the reasons and remedies on internet. I experimented with each remedy week after  week to avoid blossom drop  like mulching, adding nutrients, micro nutrients( like hing, epsom salt , compost, sour curd) etc., nothing worked.

I stopped expecting anymore from my plants, I attributed the  “blossom drop” to poor quality of seeds, lack of sunlight, etc. I decided I will accept them as flowering plants and nurture them and……. I nurtured them religiously by adding home made compost and watering them adequately.

One fine day, the tomato plant  that grew in my patio without adequate sunlight  had formed a beautiful tiny green fruit  and the joy that day… …..I did’nt jump with joy….. it  was measured. I felt happy but not overjoyed but the joy, happiness or pride was underlined with the fact that when we fight a few challenges, there is a sense of achievement especially when you fight against limitations and convert them into possibilities. Also, these are the natural instances  that teach that we have to enjoy the present and the future will go on without worry.  This part of my green journey also taught me patience and with patience we can alter every failure into a success story.  This was a huge learning lesson for me especially since I cared to slowdown, pause and learn.

Coming to my tomato plant, At this stage, I did’nt want our maintenance staff to tamper with my sapling in my patio and so I transferred the big pot to my balcony. And then on, I almost witnessed, admired   and clicked the little transformation from a small green round ball to dirty green ( a mix of light green and red) to  a  bigger red beauty without any expectation at any step.

It took almost two months for it grew to this stage. And as for the rest of the blossoms, they have  overcome the  “ blossom drop” puzzle and I see plenty of  small green tomatoes carrying the tail of  the dried flowers.
There is  so much of beauty in my little balcony garden, especially I love the wintry sun glistening on my tomato and through sunset I would watch them through my balcony doors.  Sowing,  transplanting, taking care with watering , organic nutritive and keeping a pest check…..all these are part of my green journey but the additional advantage is the beautiful little sights that it throws at every transformation , this tells me beauty does not lie in the faraway Swiss or  Venice but right here back in my balcony at my little gardening patch. Sometimes, I sit on the moda sipping tea and enjoy the little ajwains, the green lettuce, my strawberry throwing new leaves,thai basil, the little micro green leaves of the just germinated raddish, the mustard micro greens etc.,

I harvested  the red one yesterday and each of us shared a quadrant which was filled with tangy sweetness and enjoyed the fruits of labour and like I said in the beginning  the taste  of the homegrown organic tomato and the smell of the plants released the memory again of my childhood.

A memory which is famous in my family circles especially with my mom’s maternal aunt’s family.It was in the 70’s when we lived in NR colony area in South Bangalore, We had some unexpected guests  from my mom’s side and  there were no vegetables at home.  My mom had to fix a quick meal and I  who was around 5 or 6 ventured into the garden , plucked the raw tomatoes and my mom quickly fixed the meal with roti and thakkali kai kootu( a tasty dal made with unripened tomatoes).  So, I helped overcome the mini crisis at home at such an young age  is a popular anecdote in the family. This is a memory that I don’t remember but  it is kept alive by my mom’s aunt’s family  who often narrates this in weddings and other occasions when we gather. Other than this, I do remember growing tomatoes in my Vijayanagar home and the  unique fragrance of the leaves of the  tomato plants do open many memories of my “Tomato experiences” of my childhood. Some of them remain unchallenged and holds a treasured place in my heart.

some pics which i enjoyed clicking at every step.

The parent pot from which most seeds germinated

On the ledge for sunning

transplanted to a kinley bottle 

                                                             and an atta bag ( this did'nt survive the transplant shock)

the first blossom which dropped and thereafter many blossoms dropped

                                                The first tomato formed in my patio without proper direct sunlight. I shifted it to my balcony. I love the way the dried flower is tailing out of  the baby tomato.

                                                  The next stage and  i missed clicking the dirty green tomato the intermediate stage between the above and below( it happened in just 3-4 days)
                           and this stage reached two months from the baby tomato stage.

Hoping for more.........

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I feel like an urban farmer:)

 Today at noon,  I went to my patio to dig out the haldi saplings that i had sown in June last. It is a practice in tamil homes to tie haldi saplings around the pongal pot( i have already blogged about its significance).

It was a overwhelming feeling when i dug out the soil to uproot the tubers of the haldi saplings. 
It  was a feast to my senses, when i felt and smelt the earthy soil combined with the fresh fragrance of the tender haldi tubers with little earth worms wriggling and adding life to the soil.  With each sapling costing around Rs.30 each, i felt proud to have raised 10 saplings with limitations of space , sunlight and pigeon menace, whats more it got its nutrition from kitchen wastes which turned into compost and added soul to the soil. I know its a very small harvest, but i am glad about the little organic harvest:)

I have got to show and share microgreens,  lettuce,  strawberry saplings,  tomato story,  twin bean tale,  amaranthus,  alternanthera,  curry leaf, mint,  chilli tale and more... all grown in upcycled containers  and most from kitchen spice box seeds (except lettuce, SB and curry plant)...let my erratic BSNL get fixed, will share more of my organic mini produce.....with all these i feel like a mini,a macro.....or may be even a nano farmer.....but i am enjoying the little produce and the mixed emotions I go through while the tomato blossoms drop, the chilli flowers form a beautiful red chilli,  when that little bean plant gets affected with aphids, when my yellow capsicum plant sprouts from the seed and the seed coat precariously hangs on to the baby plant.....million mixed emotion of loss, gain, pleasure and pain.

If such a small patch of garden with less or no  investment can give me such a mixed feeling, i sometimes think of the farmers who take loans and face losses after sweating and toiling against man made and natural odds. And after all these odds, when they do reap a harvest, what they get is a paltry sum that does'nt match their efforts. Being a farmer is a tough job indeed!
Bravo Farmers!

I could have waited for more days to get a better harvest of haldi, but my idea was to grow the saplings and harvest for pongal to tie it around the pongal pot.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

@ the TATA Bolt arena

Last evening,  It was purely by chance that I landed at GVK One,  a world class mall known for homing international brands .  I went through the security check and was about to ascend to G+1 floor, when  a gleaming red Ferrari color road machine arrested me on the ground floor under the banner “GET. SET. BOLT”.

I immediately  descended the  few steps to reach the  BOLT arena, where many curious  machine lovers were engaged  in  running their hands and feeling the machine and listening to the promoters. I , for the first time followed my machine crazy family in listening to the technical and design details. I sat in the comfortable back seat and listened to, the emerging markets manager of TATA Motors who patiently and fluently  explained the features of the car.

Pics from the Bolt arena @GVK one

                                           A compliment from TATA motors- a friendship band

To begin with he said this is a first time ever multi-drive mode car: Sport/Eco/city…. One can choose sport mode when one wants to feel the burst of the power, eco mode for excellent fuel efficiency or city mode when one wants a perfect balance for the two.

Second this is built with First in class,  Revotron 1.2 turbocharged MPFi petrol engine (also quadrajet  diesel version) to give an exceptionally powerful driving experience.

Third it has Gennext safe with ABS by BOSCH, corner stability control and dual airbags. Which puts the stay in control at all times and one can drive safely with advanced safety features.

Fourth it has spacious interiors which I could feel with ample leg space and relatively high roof compared to other cars. The seats called body hugging  premium rugby shoulder seats which fits you snugly and does not dislodge or shake you from your position  during swerves or turns.  He also demonstrated the 60;40 split foldable rear seats.

Fifth  he played the touchscreen infotainment by HARMAN, which he said was  first in class. one can access an array of entertainment and connectivity  features like smartphone enabled navigation from MapmyIndia and advanced voice command recognition. One can even adjust the speakers to rear end, front end etc., by just touching the speaker location on the screen.

Then he showed us the external design features.

 He pointed to a Black matte pillar on the rear door side which he said gave a floating roof appearance and forward pouncing stance.

He pointed to the wheels which he said was 15” sporty alloy wheels to give a sturdy grip, it also had a dual tone rear bumper with scratch resistant material which avoids rear end damage to the vehicle.

He opened the boot to show the space which could comfortably fit in a cabin and hand luggage and more.

Finally he opened the bonnet to show the engine and the ample free space for dissipation of heat, for the first time, I think even I felt I was seeing such a clutter free bonnet.

After all this, I was curious to know if this was totally indigenous and he said this was made at their Tata motors (nano) facility at Pune with design philosophy created across their Tata motors studio at UK, Italy and Pune design centres.

 Bolt  is the the new road machine from TATA stable to be launched by Tata motors on 22nd Jan 2015 in diesel and petrol variants.   

                      “This post is a part of the Get. Set. Bolt. activity at BlogAdda.”