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Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Surprise Flower that visited my Garden



There was this surprise flower that came up on its own in my garden. It was a total surprise since I had no indication whatsoever, of this plant growing in my garden, forget about a flower appearing on the top of the plant! I have also posted an image of this flower on Google + about  2 days ago. But in case you haven’t seen it, I am going to describe my pure, extremely delightful  excitement this surprise flower made me experience !
 
Flower in the morning light
I had a really crazy morning on the day in question. My younger one woke up with an upset stomach and I was dealing with her sickness. There was news of a transformer burning due to which, we were deprived of electricity all night. The fans were running because of the stored battery power (inverter) but it was such a hot night, I kept waking up many times and kept on trying to go back to sleep. 

When I found out what was happening with my daughter, I tossed my crankiness into the trash bin and started going about the day as if nothing really happened.  

In India, during the course of the day, you could really not predict who might show up on your door unannounced. It may be your milk man, domestic helper, gardener, electrician, newspaper person - you name it, they are all pressing your door bell (and pushing your buttons) for some reason! 

So, my morning went about having to attend to these impromptu visitors and the garden supervisor was one among them. At 11 am, I hadn’t had my breakfast when he showed up in my garden (to request me to check the watering) . I told him it better be important! 

And  there, all of a sudden this beautiful flower made its way into my tired and bored vision. It seemed to yell out, “Why aren’t you looking at me?!” I was so astonished that I  screamed so loud that the garden supervisor jumped back with a jerk; it looked like he got struck by lighting! 
Flower babies on its trunk

I screamed so loud not because this flower wasn’t supposed to exist in the middle of the lawn but because this flower was so beautiful! A gorgeous shade of dark pink adorned its top, gradually blending into a lighter tone going down, then ultimately ending in a wonderful light green. It just has one central stem/body covered with leaves all around. 
Yellow Flower Babies

 And the most interesting part is the little yellow flower babies that it is sporting all over its body! The first time I saw, it had just 2 or 3 of them; today she has several of them. 

I was frustrated not finding the identity of this flower/plant on the internet, and just some time back, a photographer had pointed it out to me that they are wild turmeric flowers. I did have turmeric in my garden for a few years now, and from the root stalk, this flower developed due to, may be excessive watering.

I would love to hear from you, what you think of this post, please leave a comment.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

May be I helped in causing a great positive change in a girl who was living on the street

This was something that really happened 10 days ago and I posted it on G+ the same day, which happened to be World Poetry Day!

Today happens to be one of the happiest days of my life. I came to know about a girl, 16-17 years old, who was begging on the street because she was a run away from home and she knew she wasn't going to be accepted back in her home even when her life might be in danger.

I came to know about her from a lady who works as a domestic help, she wanted to help her but didn't know how. Most of my day was spent today, coordinating between the child help line members and the domestic helper lady who knew where the girl could be found. I received a call this afternoon from a child help line member informing me that she was finally rescued and was safe and sound.
Thank god she wasn't begging far away from where she was spotted initially so they could find her, although with some difficulty!
I am celebrating world poetry day, here is my attempt, based on the life of this girl:

"The Beggar Girl"

The outside world looked so beautiful
From the confines of my home
And my home, was such a drag
Dull, monotonous and gloomy..
My life had just school with tons of homework that I hated..

So,
One fine day,
I decided to fulfill my sweetheart's wish...
To run away with him to an exciting place he promised...
And I did;

To my horror, I realized that my sweet heart was,
After all not so sweet,
Instead, was getting bitter over every other thing, until..

One fine day I found only darkness around me,
There was neither sweet nor bitter to be found anywhere!
Nowhere to go, nothing to look forward to..

I cried so much until my tears lost all energy to come out,
My stomach churned with hunger, I couldn’t  bear it anymore…

So, here I am, the beggar girl..
I extend my arm out to anyone on the street,
Asking for food or money or even clothes.
I sleep in the day so I could be awake at night..
And guard myself against the vultures that roamed the streets,

Once a nice old man who gave me some food,
Brought me to this big temple.
Told me I would be safer here..

Here I am, the beggar girl,
I beg here, I live here, I exist with all of you
On this big space called planet earth.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Laughing Dove/Bird



When I saw this bird for the first time, I just stood there gazing at it for a long time and didn’t want to move away at all. More than the soft colors painting its body, it was the peace in its eyes that had me rooted to the ground. 

It has a beautiful face and the way it looked back at me made me almost feel as though it was thinking about me. You can instantly feel the friendly vibes radiating from this bird, because it doesn’t immediately fly away as soon as a slight noise is raised. 

I see this bird only occasionally. There was this specific happening one morning when I was taking a walk. This bird was perched so beautifully on a lamp post almost at my eye level. 

Again, it was looking back at me. It didn’t move even as I went really close to it ! It kept sitting there making me feel as if these were events unfolding in a beautiful dream! 

I smiled at the bird and continued standing there while the bird was still sitting there. We stayed like this for quite a while!  Finally I broke away and continued on my walk wondering why I didn’t carry my camera that morning! 

After that day, I kept thinking why I wasn’t being granted more sights of this bird while I had been photographing so many other birds in the neighborhood. I always had this thought in the back of my mind that, I had that one-on-one moment with the bird which I lost, and I deeply regretted the loss of that amazing shot. 

And then, it happened one day… That was yesterday when the real story began..

I was on Google+ drooling over some nice photographs which some real photographers had taken, when all of a sudden I saw something coming towards my backyard walk-out door. I opened the wire mesh with great caution, gently walked out and there it was! The Laughing Dove that probably was perched on my Mulberry tree, flew a bit and comfortably placed itself on my garden fence. 

I could hardly believe that the bird could read my thoughts and it came looking for me!
I came running in and got my camera and got a couple of pictures and like all those other times, it stayed there! 


I managed to get a few pictures when it flew away to my neighbor’s window and perched there for a few minutes. I kept clicking it, each and every time going one step closer to it. Finally it flew away but I was still inexplicably happy that I got to photograph this bird! But then, I realized that the grill didn’t match with the serenity of the bird’s face, making me wonder if I should post the photos online. 

It was sometime back today just about noon time that I saw something on my Mulberry tree from inside the house! Lo and behold, my bird was back! 

Look at the way it is saying hello to me!!
I gently opened the wire mesh door again and pointed my camera at whatever angle the bird was sitting … It slowly turned and looked at me (or my camera) while I shot it for a while. 
 
And then it turned little by little towards me and completed a 3150 angle to give me beautiful pictures of itself ! ! This Beauty made my day today and I am still in a trance like state; it feels like I was/am in a beautiful dream; I feel light headed now.. He he he… It feels so nice to be in this state. 

Elegance Birdsonified!

I hope to hear this bird laugh some time (it’s call sounds like a human’s laughter which is why the bird is called so) ; it was so funny to hear it’s laughter on clips over the internet and to read the discussion about what people had to say about their domesticated doves. I must say that God sometimes works in weird ways; this bird was given such an elegant face but with a funny call (unlike the Hyena)! 

Just for your information, the scientific name of the laughing dove is Spilopelia senegalensis”. It has beautiful mauve-pink, state blue brownish red colors on its body as you can see from the photographs. The most interesting aspect is its beautiful collar of black and golden feathers on the sides of its neck which my younger one found scary!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Hibiscus Tea ( My own recipe )



My garden is devoid of any red hibiscus plants, so be forewarned that I am left only with  the option of using the beautiful pink and dark pink varieties of hibiscus flowers for my Hibiscus tea. Yep, you guessed right! I use fresh hibiscus flowers in my tea. 

In fact, my tea could also be called as a hibiscus ginger tea or hibiscus lemon grass tea, or even hibiscus herbal tea. As you might already know, all the ingredients that I mentioned so far are beneficial to human health. You just have to “Google” the specific benefits! 

I am a huge supporter of natural healing and wellness.  It is by habit, that I keep exploring and researching about many different plants. Lately, I am enlightened by the knowledge (although I was initially baffled by the discovery) that, I live “surrounded” by plants that are healthful or medicinal in nature! 

I also learned that many Ayurvedic Medicines are prepared with many of the everyday plants that are found in India. Naturally, I decided to use some of these plants to my advantage. And so, with a little experimentation, my evening herbal tea was born!

Preparation Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1)  Hibiscus flowers – about 4 to 5
2) Dried Lemon Grass – 1 ½ table spoon (If fresh, use 2 thick base stems that are 3 inches long)
3) Ginger (Skin removed) – 1 inch cube approximately, cut into thin slices (do not julienne)  
4)  Fresh Mint – 2 or 3 sprigs (*1)
5)  Water – 1 ½ cups or less (10-12 oz.)
6) Honey – 3 table spoons or less, depending on the sweetness preferred

Method:

Pour the water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. 


It is OK to just combine everything together and then boil as well..

Add all of the above ingredients, except honey.


I use 3/4 cup of Indian Basil since the flavor is not so intense as the Thai variety!
Let it boil for 5-8 minutes in medium heat, or until the flowers turn pale in color (*2).

Take the tea off the stove, let stand for about 3 minutes. 

Different kinds of tea strainers. The one on the left is ideal for straining traditional Indian tea

Pour the tea through a tea strainer into a cup.



A warm cup of Hibiscus Tea

Now, add the honey and stir well. If you prefer a tea that is sweeter, try adding a half teaspoonful of natural sugar.
Look at the beautiful color!
Your splendid and extremely healthy herbal tea is ready!


I love the slight tartness the hibiscus flowers and the lemon grass add to the tea, and the beautiful maroon color that eventually translates into the tea. 

The hibiscus plant is greatly used in Ayurveda and its flowers are believed to have the beneficial properties for lowering cholesterol levels in the body. 

I remember from my childhood, my mother  would make us scrub the hibiscus leaves and some stems on a rock to create a concoction to be used as shampoo for our hair. This was an organic shampoo for our hair care needs. We were a family who had thick black hair, my mother was known as “the girl with hair” when she was growing up, as her hair when let loose, would almost reach her calves. In fact it still does reach up to her knees!!!

Lemongrass is known for its ability to relax the mind and it is supposed to be very good for digestion. 

In recent times, the goodness of ginger root has also been universally accepted!


(*1) I have Thai basil and Indian Basil in my garden which I sometimes add (about 6 to 7 leaves Thai Basil or 4-5 sprigs of Indian Basil); but, if you are someone who gets overwhelmed with too many flavors, it is better not to use it.
(*2) You could experiment with the quantity of water and the time taken for the flowers to completely run out of color since the amount of heat varies with respect to the make/technology of your stove. In the end, you should be left with about 8oz of tea after all the evaporation and draining out through the tea strainer is done.


I hope you enjoy your hibiscus tea! 


And since I will be curious about your thoughts, please send me your comments/feedback as well!